UDHAGAMANDALAM: When theManekshawsbuilt a house in Coonoor in 1973 ,the Parsi community of the hill district cheered . "We were proud they chose to settle here ," said Homi Dheenjeebhoy ,trustee of Nilgiris Parsi Association.
Though the Parsi population in the district has dwindled to 31 from more than 150 in the 1940 s, the community has lived here since the 1800 s. The first Parsi who movedtoOoty from MumbaiwasPestonjeeN asserwanjee Bottlewala , who ran a provision shop . After Bottlewala’s arrival in the 1800 s, many Parsis from Mumbai and Gujarat settled in Ooty and other parts of the Nilgiris . "We are traders . Our forefathers excelled in business ," said Dheenjeebhoy . Of the 31 Parsis , four live in Ooty , two in Kotagiri , and 25in Coonoor ."Our population hasdwindled drastically in the Nilgiris in the last few decades ," said Homi Sethna , a trustee of the association . More than 150 Parsis lived in the Nilgiris during the 1940s.
Senior members of the community have retired , and their children have chosen not to continue in the family business ."Thereis nofuturefor youngstersin theNilgiris . So our children have migrated to cities or gone abroad ," said Dheenjeebhoy . He said the total number of Parsis in India was about 1,14,000 as per the 1901 census , and it has dropped to 60 ,000 now.