Parsi - Orientation

Identification. The Parsis are an immigrant community, possibly coming from Fars, Persia, and now located in Bombay, western India. They are distinguished by their adherence to the Zoroastrian faith.

Location. Parsis are found in the greatest numbers in the old Bombay Presidency, between 14° and 28° N and 67° and 77° E. They have also settled in recent times in all major cities and towns throughout India. Large immigrant communities are now found in the United States, Canada, Britain, and Pakistan. A similarly sized Zoroastrian community remains in Iran, but its members are not considered Parsis.

Demography. In 1901 there were 93,952 Parsis throughout India. There was a very slight population increase up to the midcentury; since then the population has decreased dramatically by almost 10 percent each decade. The birthrate is lower than the death rate, and emigration has long taken place, so that in 1976 the population was estimated at 82,000 in the Indian republic, plus 5,000 in Pakistan. Additional factors that have been cited for this decline are low fertility, late age at first marriage, and marrying outside the Parsi community.

Linguistic Affiliation. Virtually all Parsis today speak a Gujarati patois and English. The liturgical language is Avestan, and some of the religious literature is in Pahlavi.

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