India

Parsis

A Religious Sect in India.


Zoroastrianism was a religion established by Zarathustra in the 6th or 7th century B C in Persia. The followers of this religion were exiled from Iran in the 7th century because of religious persecution by the Muslims. The word Parsi literally means a resident of Pars, the name of a province in south-western Iran in ancient times. Around 766 AD, a small group of Iranian Zoroastrians set sail in open sailing vessels, and landed at Divo Dui, a tiny island at the tip of Kathiawar coast. After settling there for nineteen years to practice their path in peace, they again sailed and landed at the fishing village of Sanjan where Jadav Rana gave them refuge.

The Parsis spread in small colonies all along the west coast of Gujarat. Between the eighth and fifteenth centuries, the Parsis settled in various small towns on the Gujarat coast as farmers, agriculturists, fruit growers, toddy planters, carpenters, and weavers, who gave India three ancient crafts, namely the Surti ghat, the Garo, and the Tanchoi. They are now abundantly settled in Mumbai, India.

The Parsis believe in the existence of one invisible God. Strongly rooted in the belief that there is a continuous war between the good forces (forces of light) and the evil forces (forces of darkness), the Parsis believe that one can realise God only through good deeds. God is represented in their temples through fire, which symbolizes light.The village of Udvada in Gujarat is the holiest place for them. The holy language of the Parsis is an ancient language spoken in Iran, Avesta. For Parsis, fire, water, air and earth are pure elements to be preserved and therefore they do not cremate or bury their dead ones but leave them on high towers, specially built for this purpose, to be eaten by hawks and crows.

Though less than 0.02 percent of the population of India, the Parsis have made significant contribution. Many of them have figured in the Indian Nationalist Movement. A number of them are flourishing industrialists and businessmen.



Updated on 19th June, 2005

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