Parsi Community – Who are the Parsis?: The Parsi community used to believe in ‘AHURA MAZDA’ the great giver of life. The term ‘AHURA’ means God and ‘MAZDA’ means intelligence. It is not a person, instead, it is positive energy. To know many more interesting facts about the Parsi community let us go for an exploration.
The word Parsi is derived from the Farasi word of the Faras Empire. The history of the Parsi community is almost 4000 years old. The Parsis of India follow Zoroastrianism. Zarathustra is the founder of Zoroastrianism. In the beginning, the Parsis used to pray to the fire, water, air, sky, and trees. But, in 600 BC Zarathustra was blessed with divine knowledge. According to which, behind every good or evil in the world, there is either a positive or negative energy. And there is just one God, whose name is ‘Ahura Mazda.’
Later this religion came to be known as Zorabian Dharma. Almost 3500 years ago, Persian Empire was considered the largest and most powerful empire in the world. Xerxes the great (486 to 465 BC) and Cyrus the Great (600 to 530 BC) were the emperors of the Persian Dynasty. From 633 to 654 AD, an Arabian ruler Rashidun Caliphate attacked Persia and uprooted the Zorabian religion along with the Sassanian Empire. When the Arab invaders started converting Persians into their religion, the Persians started to migrate. As the Persians were familiar with the culture and peaceful nature of India. So, some Persians came to India. Qissa-e-Sanjan is a book about the Parsi community migrating from Iran to India.
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As per this, in the 8th Century, after the attack by Arab invaders, the Persians took their holy fire and hid in the north Iranian mountains for several years. Then in 800 AD, they arrived at the Diu Coast in India, where they spent 19 years. Later, on the instructions of Dastur, their Dharma Guru Persians decided to take shelter in Gujarat. But during this journey, the Persians got stuck in a sea storm. And then they prayed to their God, ‘Ahura Mazda’ for safety. They promised God that they will establish the Holy fire once they reach safe and sound. Eventually, the Persians reached Gujarat safely.
There, they asked for shelter from the emperor Jadi Rana. King Jadi Rana, in a fascinating poetic, manner handed the Persians a vessel filled with milk and denied them shelter with the counter that his empire was already full like the milk vessel. Then the Persian religious leader added some sugar to the milk and replied, that even after adding the sugar to the milk, it didn’t even spill, and instead it increased its sweetness. Likewise, we will blend among your citizens the way sugar is dissolved in the milk. The Emperor was impressed by his way of expression.
And he decided to give shelter to Persians but with certain conditions. The conditions were to give a brief description of their religion and customs, give up their native language and adopt the local one. women must wear the local dresses, surrender their weapons, and marriages should take place at night only. After accepting these conditions, the Persians were offered shelter in Valsad, which was named after the holy place in Persia as Sanjan.
There, the Persians established their holy fire. Today, it is known as ‘Athaas Behram.’Nawroz is the main festival for the Persians. This festival was named Emperor Balban. Later in India, the Persians renamed it after their Iranian Emperor Jamshed and called it Jamshedji Nawroz. Parsis celebrate this as Nawroz-Parsi New Year or Pateti. There is one thing very typical about the Parsi community, If someone of this religion dies then the dead body is neither burnt nor buried. Instead, they lay the dead body on the Tower of Silence, which is built like a well on a height.
And the dead body is offered to the birds. In this way, the Persians arrived in India for asylum and happily stayed here as Parsis. Even though their population is very less, the Parsi community has contributed a great deal to the progress of our country. India will always appreciate their contribution.
How and why did the Kayastha community originate? Why are they called Accountants? We will find the fascinating story about their origin in the next episode.