Parsi Religion

The Parsi Religion or Parsee is a denomination of two Zoroastrian communities of the Indian subcontinent.

The Parsi originally emigrated from Persia but today the Indian sect do not share language or history with them. The term Parsi was used in the 13th century in European text, however Indian text does not use the term until the 17th century, before that time Zoroastrian or Behdin was used.

It is stated that there are approximately 100,000 active Parsi today. Other countries such as Britain, USA, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Hong Kong and Kenya have small Parsi populations mostly as a result of immigration. It is reported that the Parsi Religion is in decline today.

The Parsi community maintain a rather peculiar standing: they are Indians in terms of national affiliation, language and history, but not typically Indian in culture, behaviour and religious practices.

According to tradition, the present-day Parsis descend from a group of Iranian Zoroastrians who emigrated to Western India over 1,000 years ago. The long presence in the region distinguishes the Parsis from the Iranis, who are more recent arrivals, and who represent the smaller of the two Indian-Zoroastrian communities.

The definition of who is a Parsi is a matter of great contention within the Zoroastrian community in India. Generally accepted to be a Parsi is a person who is a directly descended from the original Persian refugees; and has been formally admitted into the Zoroastrian religion.

Some members of the community additionally contend that a child must have a Parsi father to be eligible for introduction into the faith, but this assertion is considered by most to be a violation of the Zoroastrian tenets of gender equality, and may be a remnant of an old legal definition of Parsi.

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