Parsi Meter: Going Down
The day after Pateti this year, an article appeared in the Hindustan Times, commenting upon the state of Parsis in the National Capital Region of Delhi (click on the picture above to enlarge and read). You can also read it online here, on the author’s blog.
It is a short and simple, yet thought provoking commentary on the sad state of our numbers, and draws from our own DelhiParsis.com Parsi Meter (top right on this page).
“In the National Capital Region, their (Parsis) number is embarrassingly low. Check out the ‘Parsi Meter’ at delhiparsis.com. The population stat displayed there is so low that if you catch all Parsis in town, you would still not be able to fill the 980-seater Delite cinema.”
With respect to our diminishing numbers, our community is clearly divided between the orthodox hard-liners, and the progressive liberals.
One side we have those who would rather “uphold the purity of our bloodlines, than have any bloodline surving at all”.
On the other hand, we have those who would “rather infuse fresh new blood, to uphold the tenets of Zoroastrianism and what Parsis stand for – for a long time to come.”
On a more bizarre note, there are some in the community who actually debate the authenticity of our miniscule numbers and the theory of our extinction in little over a century from now!
And so, the debate will rage on.
Meanwhile, our community will continue to battle issues of a large beyond-reproduction age population. And problems of infertility among the actual reproductive age-band.
We will continue to eject daughters and their children, if they choose to marry outside their community. And we will praise our sons who marry within, even if they don’t wear a sudreh-kusti or do anything to nurture the community beyond procreating more offspring, who in turn become ambivalent towards the whole ‘parsi thing’.
On this site itself, we will receive congratulatory notes and comments for raising the issue. And for sure we will receive angry notes and threats for ‘talking nonsense’.
This is a free country. And we are free people. We live with the tenets of Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds. All we need now, is a huge dose of Good Sense.
Here’s another article I came across on the subject: Parsis may be silenced by success via Asia Times Online.
“The community’s very success appears to be threatening its survival. Parsis are keen to get a higher education, establish themselves in a profession, and buy an apartment and a car before getting married. This often means late marriage or remaining unmarried; 30% of Parsis are single. Those who marry tend to have fewer children. (more)”
I have tried interacting with parsis, but found them a bit rude, especially when I once visited the Parsi samaj in Delhi. Are they really like that???
I would like to, on behalf of the entire Parsi community, apologise for what came across as rude to you.
Parsis are not generally rude, so you must have caught someone on a bad day. Or it could be, that there was some sort of language barrier that prevented easy communication.
Parsis are known for their hospitality and friendly nature. I hope you experience that side of us in your next interaction.
[…] came across this article via the Delhi Parsis website. Image courtesy DP. The text is from the author’s […]
Times are changing, and so must we. If only our orthodox elders will get off their high horses and smell the roses.
Contribution done by Parsi community to nation… We can’t express in words.
Little worried for Paris Community, as are shrinking day by day. I think Parsi Panchayat should encourage / counsel young genration to overcome this serious issue.
1) The word “Parsi” really stands for an ethnic minority. I don’t see how “infusing fresh blood” (whatever that means!) can reverse the declining numbers. It goes against every principle of Anthropology. If “infusing fresh blood” was the mantra to save every dying tribe in the world, the conservationists wouldn’t be spending billions on protecting the tribes of the Congo, Amazon and the Andaman…
2) The Delhi Parsis have already opened all doors and are accepting/converting/infusing every Tom Dick and Harry into their fold since almost a decade now. So then why are the numbers STILL going down? Isn’t there a fundamental flaw in this warped logic?
It is a proven fact, that any ethnic minority that opens its doors, gets assimilated into the mainstream. Its never the other way around. So the “numbers argument” is the daftest thing Ive ever heard!
3) The Parsis have NEVER numbered more than a few thousand in the 10 centuries that they have been in India. Yet our contribution in every area has been phenomenal. So what is this newfound obsession with numbers? Are we competing with the rats in our metros now?
4) Heres a “gem”:
# Taraporewala Says:
Times are changing, and so must we. If only our orthodox elders will get off their high horses and smell the roses.
Sigh! And these empty cliches and mindless arguments, devoid of simple logic are put up by a community that boasts a 99% literacy rate. Now that according to me, is the real tragedy. LOL.
“Thank you Zubin for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.
Apologies for the delay in publishing your comment, but I was out of town and not accessing my email yesterday.
Admittedly, healthy informed debates usually lead to finding solutions and resolving issues – which is why it will help, if you can educate us with more information around some of the points you made, rather than leave our readers confounded with sweeping statements.
Perhaps you can provide specifics on how the conservationists are spending “billions” to protect various tribes around the world. Perhaps Parsis around the world can learn from your insights, and see if all of us, and projects like UNESCO PARZOR are missing something big, in terms of action.
Perhaps you can provide specific details of the so-called “conversions” that have happened in Delhi because there is not a single conversion on record here, unless you mean the Navjotes of children born to Parsi mothers, and non-parsi fathers.
Ex-communicating Zoroastrian women who marry outside the community is for us terrible. Not accepting her children should they choose to become Zoroastrians, is out of the question.
Yes, Delhi Parsis are more open and accepting of non-Parsi spouses, and non-Parsis in general. Religious tolerance and respect for other communities is something we (and all Parsis) hold dear, and we are not about to give that up.
After all, there is enough religious bigotry causing havoc in the world today, and we certainly don’t want to add to it.
We look forward to more educated and informed comments from our readers.”
Thank you Webmaster, for pointing out Zubin’s comment to me. Since the gentleman chose to single me out in his rant, it is appropriate that I respond.
Since he’s obviously reacting to my statement about our orthodox elders, it’s quite clear where he comes from.
That said and done, I will not get personal, but react to his points with “educated simple logic”.
1) Parsis as an “ethnic minority”:
Since the learned gentleman seeks clarity, let me point out that the word “minority” is not part of any definition of Parsi people, but the correct term is “ethnic group”. But thank you for admitting the minority angle, thereby acknowledging our miniscule numbers.
2) The context of Anthropology:
Firstly, there is no such thing as “principles of Anthropology”. Anthropology simply means study of humanity and (ethnic groups in particular). Anthropology in the context of various peoples, including cross-cultural comparisons and influnces is about credible documentation and experiential research, which enables the survival/revival/nurturing of people, but does not directly provide protection. Providing protection, is what conservationists attempt.
3) Conservation of an ethnic group:
Yes, a lot of money is spent by conservationists to conserve various diminishing tribes and ethnic groups. Yes, a lot of money is spent to protect the lost tribes of Africa, South America, and some money is being spent on the Andaman people.
But in most of these cases, we are talking about people who have deliberately stayed hidden, and have refused to join the mainstream world and evolve with the times. Their extinction is fed by the fact that they often deny themselves basic amenities of life, prejudiced that simple things like electricity and modern medicine will destroy their culture and way of life!
Conservationists are trying to get them to strengthen their way of life and join the mainstream with education, healthcare, and financial intelligence. Conservationists help these people protect their lands, their women, and fight other forms of basic and blatant exploitation.
Putting Parsis and/or Zoroastrians in the same boat as these indegeneous people is ridiculous and misleading, considering we are a part of mainstream, and have been for centuries. Our challenges are very different from those of the above mentioned people.
We are a tribe that has charged ahead and embraced the future, and is suddenly wondering if our supply chain of people and culture is robust enough to sustain us as we march even further ahead.
4) Refusing to infuse fresh blood:
There is a saying that if two Parsis discuss their family trees long enough, they will figure out they are related in some way. And with just about 69,000 Parsis/Zoroastrians left in India, we’re saying we expect our children to eventually marry someone who is a relative (!)
Simple science says that repeated procreation within a small gene pool will create offspring that will be prone to various physical and mental abnormalities – if at all procreation happens!
Common sense says you don’t marry a cousin, even if he or she is twice removed.
Add to this the fact that ambition and related income levels of our people have dropped dramatically over the years, resulting in the few ambitious ones among us to look outside the community for a “good life partner”.
Look around any Parsi colony today, to see what I mean.
5) Delhi Parsis:
I sense a lot of angst from Zubin against the Delhi Parsis, prejudice even…
I live in the UK, but visit Delhi often. I always visit the Dar-e-Meher there, and I have certainly not met any “converted Tom, Dick or Harry” there.
However, I have met non-Parsi mothers, who bring their children-of-Parsi-husbands every Saturday to attend Farohar classes at the Dharamshala. Helping their kids learn about Zoroastrianism, as well as Parsi culture and rituals, so that they may one day grown up to be good Parsis.
It will please Zubin to note, that none of these women are dying to convert and become Parsis. They are proud Hindus, Moslems, Sikhs, and whatever… but they are quite happy to let help their children add to the Parsi faith. Which is more than I can say about many true-blue Parsi parents here in the west, and in Bombay.
6) Few Thousand Numbers are enough:
Agreed that we have always been a minority, and our few numbers have enriched India and the world in many, many ways. Our community is rich with stories of family businesses passing on from father to son, and to grandson… We have seen little children become big lawyers, bankers, and engineers…
The question is, will we continue to do so? Will there still be sons and daughters to take forward what we have started?
Despite all the bluster and bravado, when the the gentleman Zubin’s rant came down to the fact of numbers, he dramatically chose to discard reality by calling this concern “an obsession” competing with metro rats! Well in the final run, Zubin whoever is showcasing a classic case of “grapes are sour”.
How’s that for educated, simple logic?
Good to read about Parsi culture. I love these dancing and singing people. I would like to know more about their places of workshop etc.