The Parsi community in the city continues to play a vital role in the field of education and business
While the dictionary defines them as members of Zoroastrian origin who came to India from Pars or Persia – but the small yet fun loving community of Parsis are, in true sense, an important part of both — the city’s demography and culture. The religion that has gracefully absorbed traditions from Hinduism, Christianity and Islam, has on many occasions given a proof of its friendly nature and expandable limitations, which is more on the lines of humanity than any other religion.
History too, holds proof of the contribution of members of the relatively small community to the growth and development of society. Dr Homi Bhabha, Sooni Taraporewala, Zubin Mehta and Wadia’s and Persis Khambatta – all of them have contributed much to society.
Tehmasp Bharucha, chairman of Parsi Panchayat (Pune Chapter) and trustee to various charitable organisation for the Parsis says, "We are Fire worshippers, as we believe it is a source of energy, and life. Our Fire temples or "Agiarys" has the holy fire burning all the time. We also worship all the elements of nature and hence our dead are not cremated in fire or buried as we think this will pollute the elements."
The community is one of the most peace loving and god fearing religion-Zoroastrianism or the ‘Parsi’, as we popularly know them as, and is the world’s oldest monotheistic religion, which doctrinates ideas of single deity, worship every element of nature, dualistic universe of good versus evil and a final Judgment Day.
"Our community believes in blending in with the locals’," adds Bharucha.
Arzaan Cooper, director and founder of a primary school, says, "All religions preach more or less the same message beautifully, that is, the message of peaceful co-existence and our religion does the same. Our community, too, is humane, honest and we are very tolerant towards everything."
The community firmly believes that education is answer to problems and gives a lot of stress on imparting education.
"We value education a lot, hence we provide scholarships and grants for not only our community but who ever needs or deserves it. We run various youth centric programmes at our ‘Poona Parsi Dramateurs’, like dramas and plays, so that the youngsters too get to know about our culture deeply, without compromising on the humor and fun," says Bahrucha.
Members of the community also provide facilities to fellow Parsis and youngsters, who wish to be entrepreneurs by providing guidance, funds and loans through the World Zarathushtri Chamber of Commerce. Speaking about what makes Zoroastrians great entrepreneurs, he adds with a smile, "When our ancestors landed in India in Gujarat, we took to business as the local community in Gujarat was a business community, we blended in, and have been into business ever since. Today the number of service oriented Parsis is increasing. And we are trying to encourage our younger generation to take up business."
Parsis mainly observe two big festivals – Navroz, that is New Year Day, which falls on first day of spring season, and Khordad Saal, the birth of their Prophet. Their celebration mainly comprise offering prayer at the Fire temple, socialization and preparing traditional delicacies like pulav and other non-veg dishes. "Every visitor to the house is welcomed with a sprinkling of rose water and offering faluda," adds Cooper.