Tracing a way of life from the Bronze age

Tracing a way of life from the Bronze age

Jaideep Deo Bhanj

For a micro-minority community with a population of just 69,000 persons living in India according to the 2011 Census, the Parsi community has managed to stand out for its excellence in business, industry, food and unique rituals.

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However, as their numbers dwindle, efforts are being made to keep their lifestyle and culture alive.

A recently inaugurated two-month exhibition at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), “Threads of Continuity: Zoroastrian Life and Culture,” traces a philosophy of life, an ethos that has come down in an unbroken thread from the Bronze Age.

Curated by Shernaz Cama, Dadi Pudumjee, Ashdeen Lilaowala and Kritika Mudgal, the exhibition attempts to explain the Zoroastrian philosophy, where the sacred thread signifies a continuity that links together all creation.

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Dr. Cama said: “The Zoroastrian journey has not been easy. However, the threads of continuity, which bind this small community and their capacity to adapt to circumstances while keeping their core beliefs intact, has enabled this population of less that one lakh individuals across the word to integrate both the East and West, drawing colour and strength from the warp and weft that weaves together a unique tapestry of humanity.”

The exhibition is like an illustrated history lesson. As visitors wind their way through artefacts sourced from museums across the world, maps, ancient texts and videos, a lot can be learned about the origins of one of the oldest religions dating back nearly 3,500 years in Central Asia and following it into the 21{+s}{+t}Century.

Tributes have also been paid to Homi J. Bhabha and Jamsetji Tata. Detailed sections have been dedicated to the Parsis settled in the Deccan region — Mumbai and Gujarat. They have even set up a model of an Irani café that have, over the years through their food, given non-Parsis a taste and feel of the community.

The exhibition is part of the “Everlasting Flame International Programme,” organised by “the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs under the “Hamari Dharohar” collaboration with the Culture Ministry and Parzor Foundation. The programme will be on till May 27.