April 22, 2003 9:58 PM   Subscribe

90,000 rare manuscripts on the history of India's Parsi community have been discovered at the Dastoor Meherjirana Library at Navsari, and will be preserved by the Parzor Foundation. The Parsis are Zoroastrians who were driven from Persia by the Muslim invasion 1400 years ago. But today, the Parsi population is fading, largely due to the orthodox refusal to recognize intermarriage. Some Parsis, like the Association of Inter-Married Zoroastrians, are trying to change this. Ironically, the vultures who consume the Zoroastrian dead in Bombay are also declining, forcing the less orthodox to switch to solar panels.
posted by homunculus (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Here's a previous post about the vultures, and here's one about Parsi author Rohinton Mistry.
posted by homunculus at 10:14 PM on April 22, 2003

So why don't the Parsi Zoroastrians in India hook up with the Farsi Zoroastrians in Iran and intermingle?

By the way I think your "driven from Persia" link would piss off a lot of Iranians. First off, Iran was Islamicised, not overrun by Arabs as it would suggest, HUGE difference (a nice Iranian quote is "While the Arabs in the desert are dying of thist, even the dogs in Isfahan are drinking icewater"). Notice Iran is Shia, why? They think Arabs and their Sunni religion are beneath them, we won't go into the whole debate as to if they are right or not. Next the Zoroastrians were not "driven from Persia." Many are still there practicing their same (yes, that is on BIG fire) rituals (you know, like Dec. 21, the celebration of the longest night and the sun god incarnate's overcoming the powers of darkness through resurection, the god incarnate's birthday is Dec. 25 incidentally which they celebrate by decorating an evergreen tree [Mithra, which gave way to Mithrasism, Rome's most popular religion, wonder if early Christians got any ideas?]) and sporting their fancy pants and all! Anyway, the Parsis, although it wasn't a happy decision left their friends and family in the old Western Persian empire when it became islamicised for the Eastern empire, where Persians ruled until the British took over. The Brits packed up and India became ruled by Indians in 1948 so that pretty much ended the Parsis chances at becoming a growing religious force there.

The Zoroastrians I worry more about are the few last ones in Afghanistan.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:05 AM on April 23, 2003

great post, homunculus.
posted by aquafiend at 10:04 AM on April 23, 2003

Thanks for the links, Pollomacho and Zurishaddai. And if there are any pissed off Iranians reading this, I apologize. But Pollomacho, wasn't the defeat of the Sassanians was an essential step towards the conversion? I've always read that it was far from a gentle process. The Arab armies certainly weren't gentle with the Romans.

I was unaware of how many Zoroastrians there still are, apparently. I read somewhere (can't remember where) that young Iranians often celebrate the Zoroastrian festivals but don't observe the underlying Zoroastrian meaning. And I didn't know there were any Zoroastrians in Afghanistan, what part of the country are they in? Are they a distinct ethnic group like the Parsis?
posted by homunculus at 11:13 AM on April 23, 2003

There are very few left especially after the Taliban rule, less than the few Afghan Jews even! I don't know where the remnants are, but I do know that they, like all religious minorities were treated rather brutally. For the life of me I swear I saw on MeFi an old picture of some ancient Zoroastrian

There are about 200,000 total Zoroastrians remaining world wide, more than you'd think, after all Zoroaster (Zarathustra) reformed the existing religion (not invented it, mind you) around the 6th century BC. Around Yazd in Iran there are around 50,000 or so active Zoroastrians. Iranians, many Kurds, Azerbaijanis and the surrounding peoples and and their emigrant communities in the US, Canada, Britain and throughout the world regularly celebrate Zoroastrian holidays, recently was the new year celebration No Ruz, celebrated with egg balancing, fireworks, water fights, trick-or-treating and jumping through fires. The Empire of ancient Persia fell to the arabs and the people embraced Islam but its people remained Iranians and consider themselves VERY distinct from Arabs. Iran has had a very distinct religion, language, culture and physical boundary from the nomadic, tribal Arab peoples. You'll of course recall the Iran/Iraq war of the 80's fought over a tiny sliver of land the Iranians felt was unduly and unlawfully in Arab (Iraqi) hands. Zoroastrians in Iran were considered, Koranically speaking, "fire worshipers" and "unclean" like Jews, but Iran was pretty loose on the Koranic rules until 1979 so they were permitted to live rather freely (as were Jews, Christians, women, etc.).
posted by Pollomacho at 12:29 PM on April 23, 2003

« Older Children at Camp X-Ray   |   Nobody actually believes those TV ads, right? Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments