Vintage Parsi Zoroastrian Photos
Sixteen vintage photos of Parsi Zoroastrian traditions and customs in India.
According to Dan Sheffield, “Indeed, this is the navjote ceremony, which is performed for all Zoroastrian children, usually between the ages of 7 and 12, in which they put on the sacred belt (“kusti”) for the first time. The chief priest in these photos (the one with the shawl and the glasses) is Dastoor Kaikhushroo Jamaspasa, who died a few years ago. The photos look like they’re probably from the 70s or so. Jamaspasa was a scholar as well as a priest, who translated a number of ancient texts over the course of his career.”
The Parsis (/ˈpɑːrsiː/) are an ethnoreligious group of the Indian subcontinent adhering to Zoroastrianism. They are descended from Persians who migrated to Medieval India during and after the Arab conquest of the Persian Empire (part of the early Muslim conquests) to escape religious persecution and conversion to Islam. The Parsi people comprise the older of the Indian subcontinent’s two Zoroastrian communities vis-à-vis the Iranis, whose ancestors migrated to British-ruled India from Qajar-era Iran. According to a 16th-century Parsi epic, Qissa-i Sanjan, Zoroastrian Persians continued to migrate to the Indian subcontinent from Greater Iran in between the 8th and 10th centuries, and ultimately settled in present-day Gujarat after being granted refuge by a local Hindu king, Jadi Rana.
Prior to the 7th-century fall of the Sassanid Empire to the Rashidun Caliphate, the Iranian mainland (historically known as ‘Persia’) had a Zoroastrian majority, and Zoroastrianism had served as the Iranian state religion since at least the time of the Achaemenid Empire. Despite the retreat of many Iranians to the Indian subcontinent, a number of Iranian revolutionary figures such as Piruz Nahavandi, Babak Khorramdin, Mardavij, Sunpadh and al-Isfahani remained in active rebellion against the Rashidun army and the later Islamic caliphates for almost 200 years after the Arab conquest. However, the decline of Zoroastrianism in Iran continued, and most Iranians had adopted Islam by the 10th century.
The word Parsi is derived from the Persian language, and literally translates to Persian. (پارسی, Pārsi).
The Parsi and Irani communities are the sole ethnoreligious groups practising Zoroastrianism in India. However, owing to the more recent migration of the Irani community to the Indian subcontinent, it is legally differentiated from the Parsi community. Despite this legal distinction, the terms “Parsi” and “Zoroastrian” are commonly utilized interchangeably to denote both communities. Notably, no substantial differences exist between the religious principles, convictions, and customs of Parsis and Irani Zoroastrians.