- Parsis or Parsees are an ethnoreligious group of the Indian subcontinent adhering to Zoroastrianism.
- it’s a very small community today – just 61,000 across India. • And the numbers are dwindling fast. The Parsi tradition of marrying only within the community resulted in large numbers of people remaining unmarried in the 1970s and 80s. That was when the decline began. The late marriages, health complications and a reluctance to have children have all contributed to the falling birth rates within the Parsi community.
- They are descended from Persians who migrated to Medieval India during and after the Arab conquest of Iran (part of the early Muslim conquests) in order to escape persecution by Muslims and preserve their Zoroastrian identity.
- Parsi, also spelled Parsee, member of a group of followers in India of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra). • The Parsis, whose name means “Persians,” are descended from Persian Zoroastrians who emigrated to India to avoid religious persecution by Muslims. They live chiefly in Mumbai and in a few towns and villages mostly to the north of Mumbai, in Gujrat but also at and Bengaluru (Karnataka, India).
Parsis arrival in India :
- The exact date of the Parsi migration is unknown . According to tradition, the Parsis initially settled at Hormuz on the Persian Gulf, but finding themselves still persecuted they set sail for India, arriving in the 8th century.
- The migration may in fact have taken place as late as the 10th century, or in both. They settled first at Diu in Käthiāwār but soon moved to Gujarat, where they remained about 800 years as a small agricultural community,
Age of Opportunity:
- East India Company obtained the exclusive rights to reside and build factories in Surat and other areas. Many Parsis, who until then had been living in farming communities throughout Gujarat, moved to the English-run settlements to take the new jobs offered.
- In 1668 the English East India Company leased the Seven Islands of Bombay from Charles Il of England. The company found the deep harbour on the east coast of the islands to be ideal for setting up their first port in the sub-continent, and in 1687 they transferred their headquarters from Surat to the fledgling settlement. The Parsis followed and soon began to occupy posts of trust in connection with government and public works.
- One of the early stars of the Parsi community was Rustom Maneck who had amassed a fortune under the Dutch and Portuguese. In 1702, he was appointed the first broker to the East India Company and he and his Parsi associates widened the occupational and financial horizons of the larger Parsi community.
- Gradually certain families acquired wealth and prominence (Sorabji, Modi, Cama, Wadia, Jeejeebhoy, Readymoney, Dadyseth, Petit, Patel, Mehta, Allbless, Tata, etc.). • In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Parsis had emerged as the foremost people in India in matters educational, industrial, and social. Jamsetji Tata, came to be regarded as the “Father of Indian Industry”.
- Many Indian business communities tried their hands at the opium trade but it was only the Parsis who really flourished. Some would credit it to adaptability, willingness to travel the seas and friendship with the British. The Parsis succeeded because they operated from Bombay,
- Opium wasn’t just another trade good for the British Empire. It was the necessary corollary to another commodity tea. The British were importing tens of millions of pounds of tea from China every year. There seemed to be no end to the demand and everyone involved was making huge profits. There was just one problem. They didn’t have the cold hard! cash or rather, cold hard silver to pay for it. With all of the Empire’s physical currency disappearing i China, the British were running a huge trade deficit. They needed something that the Chinese wanted as much as the wanted tea. Opium was the answer. And it was essential to keeping the Empire’s entire economy afloat.
- The opium came from the East India Company’s nearby colony, India. It was grown in Malwa and shipped from Bombay. At its height, almost one-third of the entire trad was going to one firm, Jardine’s trading house in Canto And the man who enabled this trade from India was becoming stunningly wealthy. By the time he was 40, Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy had alleged made more than 2 crore – in the 1820s. He wa one of the richest men in the entire country.
- First Steel Mill ,First Commercial Airline, First Luxury Hotel ,First Stock Exchange of India are all opened by Parsis.
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