The Parsis in India

Jennifer Takhar

The Muslim conquest of Iran, which destroyed the Sassanide Empire (651), brought about the conversion to Islam of the overwhelming majority of Iranian Parsis. Today the most dynamic remaining Zoroastrian community resides in the Gujerat region of India -- Surat, Bombay, Puna. These Parsis are supposedly descendants of those who fled Iran by way of the sea in the eighth century, but they are more likely the descendants of long -standing Iranian merchant colonies on the west coast of India.

Few Parsis made their living as farmers and as owners of small shops. With the arrival of the British however they gained considerably, converting themselves to the values of an industrial society and acquiring a newfound important economic standing, far beyond the relatively small size of their community (roughly 100 000). In present-day India, the industrial empire that certain Parsi families -- the Tatas for example -- have erected, is a source of great admiration.

Postcolonial Web India OV