Parsi community may constitute a small section of the city’s population but its contribution to Lucknow in trade and commerce has been immense, said Zarine Viccajee, the fifth generation descendant of Lucknow’s first Parsi family.
Viccajee said her family came to settle in Lucknow about 200 years ago. She was speaking at the launch of her book “My Way” at the Avadh Girls’ Degree College (AGDC) on Sunday. The event was organised by Metaphor Lit Fest in collaboration with AGDC.
“My great-great grandfather, Nowrojee Damkewala, belonged to Mansabdars family of Damka (Gujarat) and Diu. He moved to Awadh during the rule of third king of Awadh Mohammad Ali Shah and began trading in silks and pearls with the nawabs. He became the first Parsi to settle in Lucknow and contributed to a lot of trade here,” said Viccajee, who is also the president of AGDC.
“Later, he invited his doctor and lawyer friends here and thus began the settlement of a Parsi community in the city. With the passage of time, the family’s business changed and they opened a carriage manufacturing workshop where all sorts of fancy horse-drawn carriages were built for nawabs, aristocrats and the general public. There were 300 Parsis in Lucknow then, but now only 40-odd are left. The numbers have dwindled due to many reasons — mainly due to passing away of members and lack of employment avenues,” she added. Speaking about the Lucknow she has seen, Viccajee added that the city was full of charms in 1960s and 70s. “Lucknow has not lost its old charm but it has definitely changed. The ‘nazaakat’ and ‘nafaasat’ are missing,” she said, adding that the Parsi community made Lucknow its home and embraced its lifestyle.
Even though only a few members of the community are left, they come together during festivals and other social events.