Irani (India)

The Irani (Persian: ایرانی‎; meaning Iranian) are an ethno-religious community in the Indian subcontinent; they belong to the Zoroastrians who emigrated from Iran to British India in the 19th and 20th centuries.[1] They are culturally, linguistically, ethnically and socially distinct from the Parsis, who – although also Zoroastrians – emigrated to the Indian subcontinent from Greater Iran many centuries before the Iranis did.

Distinction from ParsisEdit

The Parsis and Iranis are considered legally distinct. A 1909 obiter dictum relating to the Indian Zoroastrians observed that Iranis (of the now defunct Bombay Presidency) were not obliged to uphold the decisions of the then regulatory Parsi Panchayat. Some of the Irani community speaks an ethnolect called Zoroastrian Dari. However, the two communities increasingly intermarry and are said to have been "integrated well" with each other.[2]


Although the term 'Irani' is first attested during the Mughal era, most Iranis are descended from immigrants who left Iran and migrated to the Indian subcontinent during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. At the time, Iran was ruled by the Qajars and religious persecution of Zoroastrians was widespread. Some Iranis still speak Persian and the Dari dialects of the Zoroastrians of those provinces. Iranis are generally seen as a subset of the wider Parsi community.

As is also the case for the Parsis, the Iranis predominantly settled the west-coast of India, in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. A concentration of their people live in and around the city of Mumbai.

Notable IranisEdit

Irani is the generic surname for the community. Some families have adopted surnames related to their ancestral hometowns in Iran, such as Kermani, Yezdani, Khosravi, Faroodi, and Jafrabadi.

Notable members of the Irani community include:

  • Zerbanoo Gifford, Human rights activist
  • Zubin Irani, Businessman, husband of Smriti Irani

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Masashi, Haneda. "Emigration of Iranian Elites to India during the 16-18th centuries". Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  2. ^ Shastri, Padmaja. "What sets Zoroastrian-Iranis apart". Retrieved 24 June 2018.