UDVADA, India—From the Porch of to be century-old homeKhurshed Dahoor sits front row at a tragedy he fears is too late to turn back: the slow extinction of An people who helped build modern India.
On the wall of his salon hang portraits of the ancestors who guided prayers for generations of parsi, followers of zoroastrianism who escapes Muslim persecution in Persia 1,300 years ago and made India home. Outside, across a narrow alley, there once were workers again the majestic renovation fire temple, where the marble has been polished clean and the stone of the outer walls treated with chemicals to prevent spoilage.
The emptiness invades around him. Nothing but one of two families remain within the tasteful built houses on the surrounding streets. Moss grows on the brick walls. weeds grow out of curved windows.
congregation members remain in some of die homes, said Mr Dahoor, but many are too old and weak to attend the services.
“I’m 21st in the tradition,” said Mr Dahoor, 57, pointing to portraits of to be father, grandpa and greatgrandfather, all priests. “By the time I live my life and me pass my legacy to my son, I doubt of the last of the houses will also be open.”
the parsiah community’s legacy is deep met intertwined with the rise of modern India. Their dwindling numbers in share tell a tale of how orthodox religious rules have collided with an early and quick hug of modern values.
Always a little one drop in India’s vast population, the parsiah community quickly adapted to the British colonial rule. His merchant class built connections with India’s diverse communities. After independence they filled key roll in science, industry and trade. Parsi relies on funded affordable housing projects and grants and supports up important settings like the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the National Center for Performing arts.
Prominent Parsis include the founders of the huge Tata conglomerate, plus early members of the Indian independence movement and the Indian National Congress, once the dominant political party. The most famous Parsi outside could be india Freddie Mercury, the Queen singer, who was born Farrokh Bulsara.
But the community’s population, die in total amounted to 114,000 in 1941, now around 50,000 by some estimates. The drop has been so far-reaching that – even as India considers measures to discourage – more children in some states — the government has stimulated Parsi pairs to have more children, apparently little effect.
Walk a Parsi. within business in Bombay, home to the largest concentration in India of Parsis, and you will hardly see it anyone under 50. Parsi restaurants have the feeling of An senior burgers club.
Which community in Mumbai sees about 750 deaths a year year and only about 150 birthssaid local leaders. In Surat, another one city where parsis made a name, the death toll has almost tripled over the past three years while births remain Couple of.
“If your numbers are falling, where are you going to find that same number?” of people who excel in their fields?” said Jehangir Patel, who edits the Parsiana, one of the oldest magazines devoted to the community.
The question of continuity gets stuck over even the most famous name in the parsiah community: the Tata family, die runs one of the worldthe biggest business rich.
Ratan Tata, the man die sitting at the top of rich, is 83. He never married and doesn’t have one children.
“What one has watched in silence, the diminishing of An community known for to be excellencesaid Mr. Tata: in an interview on his coast home in Mumbai, where he lives with his dogs Tito and Tango. “There haven’t been that many leaders. And if there are leaders, there is none next generation.”
Mr. Tata blames the influence of the orthodoxy over institutions such as the Bombay Parsi Punchayat, the body that manages the community’s affairs as well as thousands of apartments and other properties of Parsi trusts.
They strictly define who counts as Parsi: die who have a parsi father. Community leaders estimate that up up to 40 percent of Parsi marriages are with outsiders, but women who chosen die often banned. In some parts of the community, they lose privileges if basic as attending the final rites of loved ones.
She also lose the right to live in affordable Parsi housing, a big benefit in Mumbai, where? property keep prices rising. Parsi leaders fear outsiders will work their way in the community taking advantage of die benefits, dilution of Parsi culture.
the Tata family history plays a role. 1908, community elders took Mr Tata’s grandfather to court to prevent his French wife from being recognized as Parsi, to begin with met series of events die set the precedent.
“We are shrinking as one race’ said Mr. Tata. “And We Have None” one fault, but ourselves.”
Armaity R. Tirandaz, President of the Bombay Parsi Punchayat, said high priests wanted until ensure Which changes not “swipe” out the religious practices of our faith.”
cries of “rules should be relaxed,” she said, were “alone” made by those who are not faithful of pride of the religion in which they were born in, of otherwise feel a lack in its precepts.”
“I think if you can’t ‘adapt’, try it in in any case not to ‘distort’ to suit your sensitivities,” said Ms. Tirandaz.
as factors for decreasing, some Punchayat leaders point to migration to the West and an increasing number of young people stay single.
Kainaz Jussawalla, a Parsi-based author in Bombay, said that, for professional and independent Parsi women, staying single is born of a dilemma: limited choice of partners within the communities and the discouragement die comes to see with Marry outside.
“Personally I have made a choice to be single because the pool is smaller and finding a partner tougher,” she said.
for those who marry, the national government offered help and stipends for elderly relatives to the cost of caring for parents. Parsis can receive about $50 per month per child under 8, and $50 per month parent over 60.
The program has hardly made a dent, supporting the birth of 330 children in it’s eight years, according to official numbers.
For Karmin and Yazad Gandhi, the program changed just their timing. The funds proved to be a boon during the Covid-19 outbreak, when Mr Gandhi — who organizes holiday tours to Europe — almost completely lost his income.
Mrs Gandhi, who works at a consultancy, said if not for the program, she would probably “not the” second child so fast – maybe five years apart of like this.”
Sarosh Bana, 65, a Parsi journalist who edits the publication Business India, quoted rising living cost in place like Bombay. Many Parsis would rather raise one child with a high-quality education within a city than have larger families in suburbs.
“The Parsis Wouldn’t” want any compromises in their standard of living and quality of life,” said Mr. Bana. “You won’t see many Parsis hanging out outside trains at 6 in the morning comes from the suburbs – they are not cut out for the.”
Some Parsis believe that the declining population will boost appearance of a savior. Mr Datoren, the priest of udvada, one of the oldest and most sacred temples in the faith, said it was prophesied that such a messiah would appear in 2000, 2007, 2011 and 2020.
“If he comes, it’s a jackpot for us,’ said Mr Datoren, but he… added, “We can not” just to sit.”
Mr. Dastur, like a lot of community leaders, believes that the population has crossed a point of no return. He has given up on to change your mind of his fellow high priests. Instead, he focuses on run the temple. When he was a child, 35 fulltime priests served the temple in udvada. Now there are seven.
mr. Datoren has two daughters and a son who, in 10th grade in Mumbai, is an ordained priest already. He wonders what tradition he can pass on.
“What is he going to do?” over here?” Mr. Datoren says. “Because there is no one over here.”
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