Zoroastrianism in India
|Regions with significant populations|
|All of India, but mostly Gujarat and Maharashtra|
Zoroastrianism in India has significant history within the country. After the Islamic conquest of Greater Persia, Zoroastrianism declined in Persia but continued to flourish in India as a result of Indian refuge, protection and patronisation following their escape and subsequent migration.
Due to persecution of Zoroastrians in other countries and the liberal atmosphere and patronisation of India, today the largest population of Zoroastrians resides in India, where Zoroastrians have been allowed to play a notable role in the Indian economy, entertainment, the armed forces, and the Indian freedom movement during British Raj. The Zoroastrian groups are regarded as either Parsi or Irani depending on the time of migration to India.
When Islam became the predominant religion of areas including such present-day countries as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Oman, the Muslim invasion of Persia, launched by the Rashidun Caliphate in 633 AD, became a huge event in the history of the region. During these conquests, buildings and books were destroyed. Due to this persecution, Zoroastrians became refugees in India. One of the conditions of their refugee status was that they would not partake in missionary activities or marry outside their community. During this period, Zoroastrian traders faced execution outside India, including in China where many were killed during the Guangzhou massacre.
The immigration of Zoroastrians to India continued, and by 1477 they had lost all contact with Persia. Not until three hundred years had passed would they come into contact. Zoroastrians also played a notable role during the freedom movements of India.
Based on data from 2016, the Indian census counted 57,264 Zoroastrians in India. The previous figure of Zoroastrians in the diaspora, and on the results of the Indian census of 1981, which counted over 71,630 Zoroastrians. Independent estimates are that there are at least 100,000 Zoroastrians in India.
There are two major Zoroastrian communities in India.
The word Parsi in the Persian language literally means "Persian". Persian is the official language of modern Iran, which is also known as Persia. The language (Parsi) is commonly referred to as Farsi, because, after the Arab invasion of Persia, because of the absence of the "P / G / Zh / Ch" sounds in the Arabic language, Parsi became Farsi. Similarly, Babak Khorramdin's first name, originally Papak (Papa + Kuchak = Papak), "Young Father", became Babak.
The long presence of the Parsis in the Gujarat and Sindh areas of India distinguishes them from the smaller Zoroastrian Indian community of Iranis, who are more recent arrivals.
Although the term 'Irani' is first attested during the Mughal era, most Iranis are immigrants who arrived on the subcontinent during the 19th and early 20th centuries, that is, when Iran was ruled by the Qajars and when religious persecution of non-Muslims was rampant. The descendants of the immigrants of those times remain culturally and linguistically closer to the Zoroastrians of Iran, in particular to the Zoroastrians of Yazd and Kerman. Consequently, the Dari dialect of the Zoroastrians of those provinces may be heard among the Iranis.
- Zoroastrianism in India
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