India is indubitably known as a melting pot of cultures. The largest democracy in the world is home to one of the most decorated communities - the Parsis. To many, the term ‘Parsi’ is synonymous with 'rich and elite.' However, there remains some truth to this stereotype. Granted that they are small in numbers, their contributions towards India's development are unparalleled despite their tragic ancestral past.
THE SOMBRE HISTORY OF PARSIS
Parsis originate from Persia, modern-day Iran. Continuous political turmoil and draconian acts of religious persecution forced this community to flee their war-ridden country. Huddled in ships, the travellers set out east, with no certainty on their destination, and miraculously landed in the Indian state of Gujarat.
Qissa-i Sanjan, an account of early Parsi settlers' history, recorded that the then-leader of Gujarat welcomed these refugees with open arms, provided that they abide by three simple conditions: they speak the local tongue, their women don saris, and that they refrain from harbouring any weapons. These persecuted Parsis agreed to the conditions and, not long after, founded a small settlement known as Sanjan along the western coast of the Indian subcontinent.
Parsi girls posing in India by simpleinsomnia (Source: Creative Commons)