Zarathushti Presence in Zanzibar


July 23, 2012

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A great post and some photographs of the Zoroastrians in Zanzibar by Farah Bala

If you are familiar with the Zoroastrian community, you probably know that it is one whose numbers are dwindling very rapidly with an approximate world population of 300,000, including both the Iranian and Parsi Zoroastrians. When 2 Zoroastrians meet for the first time, there is an instant sense of familiarity followed by a barrage of questions inquiring about families, home towns, ancestry and a whole lot more. Yes, I am a Parsi Zoroastrian.

During my conversations with the locals when I heard, first of a likelihood, and then a definitive assurance, that there was indeed a Parsi family still living in Zanzibar, there was no way I was leaving the Island without meeting them. Finding out where they lived wasn’t as difficult as I would have thought. Just then, Amanda told me she had read an article not too long ago of the existence of an Agiary (Parsi Temple) in Zanzibar, relatively close to Stone Town. I was now on a mission! However, not too many people knew about this temple. Although there was a thriving Zoroastrian community in Zanzibar for hundreds of years, a majority of them had left during the revolution. Those who stayed on had slowly passed away. We tried to find the woman who had written the article on the internet, but to no avail.

After more inquiries, I found out that the Agiary had been sold a few years ago, to the Muzammill family – they own high end appliance stores in Zanzibar. The building was supposedly still there and if anyone would have more information about it, it would be one of the owners at the Muzammil store. I was supposed to leave the next day, but decided to extend my stay for a day. I had to meet this Parsi family, and visit the Agiary.

Continue reading on Farah’s blog.