The Parsi community is facing a unique problem. With only one Parsi priest left in the state, the community is facing difficulties in performing religious rituals. Such is the situation that now they have to depend on audio cassettes to perform various rituals.
For the population of about 300 in the state, the community has just one priest living in Kanpur and he, too, has seen over 75 winters. For getting performed the ‘navjote’ ceremony of their children, Parsis living in any part of the state have to visit Kanpur or Mumbai. Navjote ceremony is a must for children because only after this ritual a child is officially accorded the status of Parsi.
But the situation turns grim in case of the death of a Parsi as it is almost impossible to seek the services of the only priest available in the state in short notice. In absence of a priest, last rites are performed by senior members of the community and the role of priest is performed by an audio cassette.
It is worth mentioning that the number of Parsis has been steadily declining for several decades: the highest census count was 1,14,890 in 1940-41. But now, with the decline of approximately nine per cent per decade, demographic trends project that by 2020 their number will decrease to 23,000. In Allahabad, there are only 11 families which have formed the Allahabad Parsi Zoroastrian Anjuman. Out of total 27 members only three are below 25 and most of the rest have crossed 60. Earlier, there used to be a ‘mobed’ for performing rituals in the Fire Temple of the city.