“For the past two years being a Parsi has become kind of cool. My friend was thrilled when I invited her for the Navroz celebrations,” gushed Farzeen Kapadia, a first-year student of Lady Shriram College. Dressed in a short purple dress, Kapadia is a far cry from the image of the traditional Parsi.
But that is not to say she doesn’t know her culture. On Sunday, she sang the traditional songs to celebrate Navroz, the Parsi new year. “The community in Delhi is more inclusive than the one in Mumbai. In Mumbai, if the father of the child is non-Parsi, the child is not initiated into the religion or culture but in Delhi if either of the parents are Parsi the child can be initiated into the religion.”
The 700 member community in the city dressed in garo (the traditional saree) and dagli (the traditional white shirt and pant) welcomed the new year with song, dance and parsi delicacies like sali chicken and falooda.
Dadi E. Mistry, the president of the Delhi Parsi Anjuman, gave an insight into the community. “There is a common misconception about Parsis not allowing inter-community marriages but we in Delhi allow it. I don’t believe that marrying into another religion will lead to the dwindling of Parsis. Today, the community’s girls are much more educated and there is a lot of gap between marriage and having children.”
Mistry, also the vice president of the World Zorastrian Organisation, said, “There are various organisations that collect donations for preservation of Parsi communities in parts of Gujarat and Mumbai.”
An exhibition was also on at the Parsi Anjuman, where traditional dresses with embroidery were on display. Rare works like trelis pattern which is a combination of four cultural influences, Achemenian, Chinese, Indian and European and the Khakoalso known as the forbidden stitch where one would go blind while stiching were showcased as part of the celebrations. “These are forms are on the decline but we are trying to revive some of them,” said Shernaz H Cama, director of UNESCO Parzor.