Dire demographics of Parsi-Zoroastrians

Between 1951 and 2001, when the country’s population increased by 185%, the number of Parsi-Zoroastrians fell by 37.7%. This probably explains why no other community in India watches its demographics as closely as the Parsi-Zoroastrians. While the country measures its demographic milestones in decennial censuses, the Parsis have an annual count that is keenly studied by community members who are worried about their declining numbers.

By Manoj R Nair | DNA India

Mumbai-based magazine Parsiana carries a weekly update on the number of births, marriages and deaths in their worldwide Diaspora. In Mumbai, where the majority of the community lives, the information comes from the municipal corporations, marriage venues and hospitals. The statistics from outside the country is collected from community associations. The weekly lists are then compiled into an annual report.

The latest annual report released last month has few surprises. The most remarkable statistic from the report says that 39% of community members who married in 2011 chose a non-Zoroastrian as a partner — a 1% increase over 2010. This means that two out of every five marriages are now inter-community unions. When Parsiana started compiling these statistics in 1988, around 14% of community members married non-Zoroastrians. In 2011, three out of every five men found a marital partner outside their community; among women, two out of five women took non-Zoroastrian partners.

The rising number of mixed marriages no longer makes news in the community, but when Parisana started carrying the information, it was not well received. “There was a huge outcry. Over the years, people have accepted this (mixed marriages); every family now has somebody who is married to a non-Zoroastrian,” said Patel.

The report also says that between 2010 and 2011, the number of births declined from 116 to 103; deaths declined from 933 to 763 in the same period. The average age at death was 79 years in 2011, rising from 75 years in 2010. In Mumbai where two out of every three Indian Zoroastrians live, their numbers are now estimated to be 40,000 — down from a peak of 70,000 in 1961.

Nationally, the figure is now 61,000 — almost a 50% decline from 1941 when the community’s numbers reached 1,14,000, its highest ever.

Dinshaw Tamboly, former trustee, Bombay Parsi Punchayet, the community’s apex body, estimates that if their numbers continue to fall at an average rate of 12% per year, the community’s head count will be down to just 12,000-15,000 by the end of this century.

The decline has been blamed on various factors, including migration, inter-community marriages and low fertility rate. To boost births, community trusts helped the establishment of a free fertility clinic in Mumbai a few years ago. The clinic has facilitated nearly 200 births, according to Tamboly.

But Tamboly says that 200 babies will hardly bolster the community’s falling numbers. A 2011 research by Zubin Shroff and Marcia Castro concluded that inter-community marriages had little to do with the decline. Migration figures were either not accurate or not readily available.

The researchers concluded that low fertility — the number of children per woman — as chiefly responsible for the dramatic decrease in the population. “Therefore, only a dramatic increase in fertility can arrest this trend and bring about the existence of a viable and demographically stable Parsi community in Mumbai,” the research paper concluded.

  • xyz

    Can you please give bifurcation of 61,000 parsis citywise. thanks in advance.

  • xyz

    Can you please give bifurcation of 61,000 parsis citywise. thanks in advance.

  • Siloo Kapadia

    In places like USA and Canada I would say that the vast majority of Parsis getting married will take on a non-Parsi spouse.  This is nothing surprising.  Many of these spouses have a keen interest in the religion and do attend all the local functions, while many even gladly allow their children into the religion.  Good for them.  These communities will survive and flourish. It is the old mind set that will die out.

  • Siloo Kapadia

    In places like USA and Canada I would say that the vast majority of Parsis getting married will take on a non-Parsi spouse.  This is nothing surprising.  Many of these spouses have a keen interest in the religion and do attend all the local functions, while many even gladly allow their children into the religion.  Good for them.  These communities will survive and flourish. It is the old mind set that will die out.

  • F. Kanga

    Siloo, FYI, In places like Gujarat you will find Parsee males married to such females whose face and the language they use, will show that they are ‘soda lemon’ products and yet enter all Fire Temples and Atash Behrams. 

  • F. Kanga

    Siloo, FYI, In places like Gujarat you will find Parsee males married to such females whose face and the language they use, will show that they are ‘soda lemon’ products and yet enter all Fire Temples and Atash Behrams. 

  • Phiroze

    Silly Siloo, can we have some figures to support your crap. Once the novelty wears off the non parsi spouse the so called keen interest wears of too. 

  • Phiroze

    Silly Siloo, can we have some figures to support your crap. Once the novelty wears off the non parsi spouse the so called keen interest wears of too. 

  • Barak Aga

    The statistics are a tight slap in the face of the “Dhongidox” and the self-appointed High Priests. The youth of the community are not swayed by a bunch of charlatans. 3 out of 5 men choose to follow the teachings of Zarathustra, and only 2 out of 5 follow Kotwal and his pack.

  • Barak Aga

    The statistics are a tight slap in the face of the “Dhongidox” and the self-appointed High Priests. The youth of the community are not swayed by a bunch of charlatans. 3 out of 5 men choose to follow the teachings of Zarathustra, and only 2 out of 5 follow Kotwal and his pack.

  • Rustom

    Some how universities and scholars give more credence to the Likes of Kotwal.
     
     Barak you should now throw your tantrum and tirade agains Prof Hinnels, Late Prof Boyce( she wont even have a chance to intellectualy negate your theory), Prof Rusells,Universities of Cmbridge, Colorado, Munich,Jerusalem, etc etc as they have all awarded Kotwals and likes distinguishing them as scholars  for their contributions.
     
    Infact Barak you with your expertise and knowledge should try and evict the honor given by Sir Harold Bailey to Prof Kotwal.. Yoy should also immediately ask Universities in U.K, Germany and France to revoke the Phd in 1966-67 as according to you the universities did niot know that Kotwal is a charltan.You should write to internationaly renowned historians who have co authored or are in the process of writing with Prof Kotwal….maybe they might just open their eyes to reality and ask you to co author with them

    You may also ask Dr Dan Sheffield who has worked with Dr Prof Kotwal that he( Dan) should now work with the charltan..and probably you. Infact you should question Prof Dr Kotwal’s decission to chose Dr Dan Sheffield as editor to a series of Publications. You should ask Dr Sheffield to give upthe offer to work with this charltan called Prof Kotwal.

    You should ask all scholars to throw out thevarious publications written by Dr Kotwal, some of them which were titled by other scholars such as Prf Boyce
    You should also enlighten Prof Boyd as he has co authored several books with Prod Kotwal.
    Infact it will be a herculian task for you and your group to first finalise a list of scholars who regard Prof Kotwal in High esteem……but i guess in the end it will be worth the effort by your wisdom and ego, for a good laugh forthose who still have faith in the wisdom of such universities and scholars who regard Prof Kotwal as a brilliant contributer to studies of ancient Iranian civilisation and languages.

    Will look forward to your educating the above that Kotwal is a charltan…..hopefully you will do it quickly without wasting time on small chips like me for writing this…

  • Rustom

    Some how universities and scholars give more credence to the Likes of Kotwal.
     
     Barak you should now throw your tantrum and tirade agains Prof Hinnels, Late Prof Boyce( she wont even have a chance to intellectualy negate your theory), Prof Rusells,Universities of Cmbridge, Colorado, Munich,Jerusalem, etc etc as they have all awarded Kotwals and likes distinguishing them as scholars  for their contributions.
     
    Infact Barak you with your expertise and knowledge should try and evict the honor given by Sir Harold Bailey to Prof Kotwal.. Yoy should also immediately ask Universities in U.K, Germany and France to revoke the Phd in 1966-67 as according to you the universities did niot know that Kotwal is a charltan.You should write to internationaly renowned historians who have co authored or are in the process of writing with Prof Kotwal….maybe they might just open their eyes to reality and ask you to co author with them

    You may also ask Dr Dan Sheffield who has worked with Dr Prof Kotwal that he( Dan) should now work with the charltan..and probably you. Infact you should question Prof Dr Kotwal’s decission to chose Dr Dan Sheffield as editor to a series of Publications. You should ask Dr Sheffield to give upthe offer to work with this charltan called Prof Kotwal.

    You should ask all scholars to throw out thevarious publications written by Dr Kotwal, some of them which were titled by other scholars such as Prf Boyce
    You should also enlighten Prof Boyd as he has co authored several books with Prod Kotwal.
    Infact it will be a herculian task for you and your group to first finalise a list of scholars who regard Prof Kotwal in High esteem……but i guess in the end it will be worth the effort by your wisdom and ego, for a good laugh forthose who still have faith in the wisdom of such universities and scholars who regard Prof Kotwal as a brilliant contributer to studies of ancient Iranian civilisation and languages.

    Will look forward to your educating the above that Kotwal is a charltan…..hopefully you will do it quickly without wasting time on small chips like me for writing this…

  • Barak Aga

    Even more telling than the statistics on marriage, are the statistics on the number of students in Kotwal’s almost defunct, and crumbling seminary. By his own laments the self-appointed High Priest admits that only 4 students remain. Not just the laity, even the priestly class has turned its back on Kotwal.

  • Barak Aga

    Even more telling than the statistics on marriage, are the statistics on the number of students in Kotwal’s almost defunct, and crumbling seminary. By his own laments the self-appointed High Priest admits that only 4 students remain. Not just the laity, even the priestly class has turned its back on Kotwal.

  • Contradhongi

    ‘evict the honor given by Sir Harold Bailey to Prof Kotwal.”? One evicts a tenant. How can honour be ‘evicted”?

  • Contradhongi

    ‘evict the honor given by Sir Harold Bailey to Prof Kotwal.”? One evicts a tenant. How can honour be ‘evicted”?

  • Burzin

    Barak, we are all waiting for you to respond to Rustom below. And of course let us know once you hear back from the various universities and scholars worldwide who have worked with Dasturji Kotwal.
    Let us know if they buy your irrational rantings, since no right thinking Parsi is buying them.

  • Burzin

    Barak, we are all waiting for you to respond to Rustom below. And of course let us know once you hear back from the various universities and scholars worldwide who have worked with Dasturji Kotwal.
    Let us know if they buy your irrational rantings, since no right thinking Parsi is buying them.

  • RATHESTAR

    BURZIN:Does Kotwal speak in the same vein when he delivers talks in the West?

  • RATHESTAR

    BURZIN:Does Kotwal speak in the same vein when he delivers talks in the West?

  • Phiroz.

    Burzin. I am going to reproduce a quote from Parsi Pukar Jan.-Feb.-Mar. 2005 – Vol. 10; No. 3 to show what one High Priest thinks of other High Priests.
    “And look at the way Wapiz was germinated and launched. One Madrasi Mogralia said in Ahmedabad that Madras Parsis were richer than Ahmedabad Parsis. That irked Ahmedabadi Ariz to display Ahmedabadi sweet Rasna cheque of Rs. 1 crore on the opening of Wapiz. (Was it Rasna – orange coloured?). He was invoked to place Rs. 1000 cash in the Ashoodad packet of each of the 100 Jashan mobeds. Ashodaad means gift ro the holy (Asho). I know, some of the mobeds looked anything but holy (in our Khshnoomic sense). The five high priests also got packets containing fabulous amounts, it is rumoured, enough to lure them. Arizbhai!it may prove futile. Our “high” priests are known to swing and vacillate. Jamaspasha and Kotwal had three swings at the time of murder of lal Bag Agiary and “Navjote” of Neville Wadia, respectively. At present thelatest candidate on the swing is Udwada’s Khurshed Dastoor. The swing is between Ariz’s packet and BPP’s
    flat at Cusrow Bag. Take it, Ariz, from this 10 years older than you,(Ahemedabadi Baheramgore Dastoor’s brother) that you have wasted your good cash money, which you could have well utilised for the poor, Parsis and non-Parsis.”
    So, Burzin, who cares about opinion of Barak or myself or yours when you have authority of High Priest expressing his matured and perhaps authentic opinion about his fraternity?

  • Phiroz.

    Burzin. I am going to reproduce a quote from Parsi Pukar Jan.-Feb.-Mar. 2005 – Vol. 10; No. 3 to show what one High Priest thinks of other High Priests.
    “And look at the way Wapiz was germinated and launched. One Madrasi Mogralia said in Ahmedabad that Madras Parsis were richer than Ahmedabad Parsis. That irked Ahmedabadi Ariz to display Ahmedabadi sweet Rasna cheque of Rs. 1 crore on the opening of Wapiz. (Was it Rasna – orange coloured?). He was invoked to place Rs. 1000 cash in the Ashoodad packet of each of the 100 Jashan mobeds. Ashodaad means gift ro the holy (Asho). I know, some of the mobeds looked anything but holy (in our Khshnoomic sense). The five high priests also got packets containing fabulous amounts, it is rumoured, enough to lure them. Arizbhai!it may prove futile. Our “high” priests are known to swing and vacillate. Jamaspasha and Kotwal had three swings at the time of murder of lal Bag Agiary and “Navjote” of Neville Wadia, respectively. At present thelatest candidate on the swing is Udwada’s Khurshed Dastoor. The swing is between Ariz’s packet and BPP’s
    flat at Cusrow Bag. Take it, Ariz, from this 10 years older than you,(Ahemedabadi Baheramgore Dastoor’s brother) that you have wasted your good cash money, which you could have well utilised for the poor, Parsis and non-Parsis.”
    So, Burzin, who cares about opinion of Barak or myself or yours when you have authority of High Priest expressing his matured and perhaps authentic opinion about his fraternity?

  • Behroze.

    So, Burzin deekra, According to you, what has been opined in Parsi Pukar as reproduced here-above by Phiroz is RATIONAL OR IRRATIONAL RANTING? PLEASE DO REVERT.

  • Behroze.

    So, Burzin deekra, According to you, what has been opined in Parsi Pukar as reproduced here-above by Phiroz is RATIONAL OR IRRATIONAL RANTING? PLEASE DO REVERT.

  • Barak Aga

    Burzin and Rustom,
    An analogy may be drawn between self-appointed High Priest Kotwal, and our beauty queens. At the time of the Miss World and Miss Universe contest, all our beauty queens claimed they wanted to work with Mother Teresa. Once the crown was won, their true colours emerged. They immersed themselves in the film industry and raked in the moolah.
    Similarly Kotwal said one thing to win awards, and then another to win apartments in Cushrow Baug and Rustom Baug, and still another to ward off the threat from true Zoroastrians such as Dasturji Madon.
    If Kotwal is not a charlatan, he should pick up the gauntlet thrown by Dasturji Madon, and quote chapter and verse from the Gathas in support of his claims.
    Let Kotwal, who claims to preserve our culture, explain his Gujarati surname, for a start.
    Then let Kotwal, who claims that only “Parsi” and “Irani” can be Zoroastrians, explain the fact that the first convert to Zoroastrianism was an Afghan King, from Balkh in Afghanistan.

  • Barak Aga

    Burzin and Rustom,
    An analogy may be drawn between self-appointed High Priest Kotwal, and our beauty queens. At the time of the Miss World and Miss Universe contest, all our beauty queens claimed they wanted to work with Mother Teresa. Once the crown was won, their true colours emerged. They immersed themselves in the film industry and raked in the moolah.
    Similarly Kotwal said one thing to win awards, and then another to win apartments in Cushrow Baug and Rustom Baug, and still another to ward off the threat from true Zoroastrians such as Dasturji Madon.
    If Kotwal is not a charlatan, he should pick up the gauntlet thrown by Dasturji Madon, and quote chapter and verse from the Gathas in support of his claims.
    Let Kotwal, who claims to preserve our culture, explain his Gujarati surname, for a start.
    Then let Kotwal, who claims that only “Parsi” and “Irani” can be Zoroastrians, explain the fact that the first convert to Zoroastrianism was an Afghan King, from Balkh in Afghanistan.

  • Burzin

    Phiroz, Barak and Behroz,
    Firstly, let us not address Er. Madon as a Dasturji. The title of Dastur is meant only for those members of the Athornan class who have attained that status due to their piety and deep religious knowledge. (though I even doubt the Ervad title for Madon, but lets leave that aside for now).
    Secondly, as for the write up in Parsi Pukar, I accept that there have been some instances in the past where actions of some of our recent Vada Dasturjis left much to be desired. But in my opinion, aren’t they human (like us) and hence prone to error?
    Here it is not fair to disregard their contributions just because of the above (they have devoted most of their lives to the disciplined study of our religion and its rituals due to which so many of our precious manuscripts have been preserved and translated).
    Before pointing fingers, how many of us can claim to have always done the right thing in all situations? I guess, none of us.
    Barak, why are you unnesesarily diverting to the topic of conversion now (mischevious intent?) – there was no Afghan King from Afghanistan who converted. Spitman Asho Zarathushtra lived over 6,500 BC. In those days there was no Afghanistan / Pakistan. As per our traditions, a large part of that territory was under rule of the Kyanian Padshahs who were Mazdayasnis (since the time of the Peshdadians). Prophet Zarathushtra brought back the ancient Mazdayasni glory and put in place a religious structure / tenets. Thus it was not as if any and every one were converted. In fact none of the current religions were present during those times.

  • Burzin

    Phiroz, Barak and Behroz,
    Firstly, let us not address Er. Madon as a Dasturji. The title of Dastur is meant only for those members of the Athornan class who have attained that status due to their piety and deep religious knowledge. (though I even doubt the Ervad title for Madon, but lets leave that aside for now).
    Secondly, as for the write up in Parsi Pukar, I accept that there have been some instances in the past where actions of some of our recent Vada Dasturjis left much to be desired. But in my opinion, aren’t they human (like us) and hence prone to error?
    Here it is not fair to disregard their contributions just because of the above (they have devoted most of their lives to the disciplined study of our religion and its rituals due to which so many of our precious manuscripts have been preserved and translated).
    Before pointing fingers, how many of us can claim to have always done the right thing in all situations? I guess, none of us.
    Barak, why are you unnesesarily diverting to the topic of conversion now (mischevious intent?) – there was no Afghan King from Afghanistan who converted. Spitman Asho Zarathushtra lived over 6,500 BC. In those days there was no Afghanistan / Pakistan. As per our traditions, a large part of that territory was under rule of the Kyanian Padshahs who were Mazdayasnis (since the time of the Peshdadians). Prophet Zarathushtra brought back the ancient Mazdayasni glory and put in place a religious structure / tenets. Thus it was not as if any and every one were converted. In fact none of the current religions were present during those times.

  • Phiroz.

    Burzin, Glad to note that you concede that the “High” Priests for whom you have admiration have same level of frailties as you or I have when you say ‘
    aren’t they human (like us) and hence prone to error?’ So there is no distinguishing feature to place them on a higher pedestal. Further, your statement that they performed ‘rituals
    due to which so many of our precious manuscripts have been preserved’ is read but needs to be substantiated. How can rituals performed in 20th Century salvage original manuscripts. As for conferring Dastoorship, it is well known that it is based on principle of heredity. The latest one- elevation at Navsari is of an incumbent who spent better part of his career as a Legal Advisor in two public sector banks and thereafter in a Lawyers firm and NOT as a practising clergy.For a moment, just imagine Burzin, had you not posted your initial comment, there would have been no reason for Barak, myself or Behroze to make factual statements much to the embarrassment of those for whom you have admiration. You could have spared them this embarrassing revelations.I do not wish to comment on the issue of conversion but you would do well to enquire as to how many times the the converted father and son duo of industrialists converted by Kotwal actually offered prayers at Fire Temples despite their overwhelming (!) desire to be Zoroastrians?

  • Phiroz.

    Burzin, Glad to note that you concede that the “High” Priests for whom you have admiration have same level of frailties as you or I have when you say ‘
    aren’t they human (like us) and hence prone to error?’ So there is no distinguishing feature to place them on a higher pedestal. Further, your statement that they performed ‘rituals
    due to which so many of our precious manuscripts have been preserved’ is read but needs to be substantiated. How can rituals performed in 20th Century salvage original manuscripts. As for conferring Dastoorship, it is well known that it is based on principle of heredity. The latest one- elevation at Navsari is of an incumbent who spent better part of his career as a Legal Advisor in two public sector banks and thereafter in a Lawyers firm and NOT as a practising clergy.For a moment, just imagine Burzin, had you not posted your initial comment, there would have been no reason for Barak, myself or Behroze to make factual statements much to the embarrassment of those for whom you have admiration. You could have spared them this embarrassing revelations.I do not wish to comment on the issue of conversion but you would do well to enquire as to how many times the the converted father and son duo of industrialists converted by Kotwal actually offered prayers at Fire Temples despite their overwhelming (!) desire to be Zoroastrians?

  • Phiroz.

    @Burzin, Will you please let us all know why you say,we should NOT address Madon as Dastoor Madon?
    If he is ‘guilty’ of converting, so is one ‘High’ responsible for converting father son industrialist. Like wise another “High” Priest authorised performing Uthamna of late JRD Tata at Doongerwadi. So what exactly, according to you, distinguishes Kotval, Jamaspasa and Madon.

  • Phiroz.

    @Burzin, Will you please let us all know why you say,we should NOT address Madon as Dastoor Madon?
    If he is ‘guilty’ of converting, so is one ‘High’ responsible for converting father son industrialist. Like wise another “High” Priest authorised performing Uthamna of late JRD Tata at Doongerwadi. So what exactly, according to you, distinguishes Kotval, Jamaspasa and Madon.

  • Barak Aga

    Dear Burzin,
    Let us not confuse religion (which is a set of beliefs) with ethnicity, in the way the self-appointed High Priest Kotwal has done, with mischievous intent. King Vistasp was the King of Balkh, which is located in Afghanistan 21 Kms. north of the city of Mazar-e-Sharif. True, Afghanistan as a political region did not exist in those days, but neither did Iran, nor Pars. The first Persian Empire came in to existence centuries after the passing away of Zarathustra. So if there was no Afghanistan, there was no Persia, no Pars, and no Iran either, and hence no “Parsi” or “Irani” existed in the times of Zarathustra. Permit me also to introduce you to the teachings of a True Ervad, a staunch follower of Dasturji Kotwal. “It was the practice in America and other countries to SEPARATE BLOOD DONATIONS ON THE BASIS OF RACE, ETHNICITY, OR RELIGION, OR TO EXCLUDE CERTAIN GROUPS FROM THE DONOR POOL ON THOSE BASES. UNFORTUNATELY THIS PRACTICE HAS NOW BEEN DISCONTINUED ON THE FAKE “EQUALITY” AND “NON-DISCRIMINATION” GROUNDS” (Reference : Frashogard website by Ervad Hathiram). Then Ervad Hathiram does a volte face and demands of the laity “please spend money and buy either good quality AFRICAN sandalwood or the best quality MALBARI sandalwood”. So African blood is polluted (according to our Ervads) but African sandalwood is not.

  • Barak Aga

    Dear Burzin,
    Let us not confuse religion (which is a set of beliefs) with ethnicity, in the way the self-appointed High Priest Kotwal has done, with mischievous intent. King Vistasp was the King of Balkh, which is located in Afghanistan 21 Kms. north of the city of Mazar-e-Sharif. True, Afghanistan as a political region did not exist in those days, but neither did Iran, nor Pars. The first Persian Empire came in to existence centuries after the passing away of Zarathustra. So if there was no Afghanistan, there was no Persia, no Pars, and no Iran either, and hence no “Parsi” or “Irani” existed in the times of Zarathustra. Permit me also to introduce you to the teachings of a True Ervad, a staunch follower of Dasturji Kotwal. “It was the practice in America and other countries to SEPARATE BLOOD DONATIONS ON THE BASIS OF RACE, ETHNICITY, OR RELIGION, OR TO EXCLUDE CERTAIN GROUPS FROM THE DONOR POOL ON THOSE BASES. UNFORTUNATELY THIS PRACTICE HAS NOW BEEN DISCONTINUED ON THE FAKE “EQUALITY” AND “NON-DISCRIMINATION” GROUNDS” (Reference : Frashogard website by Ervad Hathiram). Then Ervad Hathiram does a volte face and demands of the laity “please spend money and buy either good quality AFRICAN sandalwood or the best quality MALBARI sandalwood”. So African blood is polluted (according to our Ervads) but African sandalwood is not.

  • Piloomani

    Non – Parsi Husbands and their non-zoroastrian children attend such functions in order to get free or highly subsidised lunches at all local Zoroastrians functions. For them it is a novelty a change in food cuisine. Please note that most of the past Zoroastrian Communities in USA and Canada have vanished due to mixed marriages. The Zoroastrian populations decline is reduced due to constant emigration to USA and Canada from India and Pakistan. Hence, the numbers seem good.

  • Piloomani

    Non – Parsi Husbands and their non-zoroastrian children attend such functions in order to get free or highly subsidised lunches at all local Zoroastrians functions. For them it is a novelty a change in food cuisine. Please note that most of the past Zoroastrian Communities in USA and Canada have vanished due to mixed marriages. The Zoroastrian populations decline is reduced due to constant emigration to USA and Canada from India and Pakistan. Hence, the numbers seem good.