The Parsis may be reduced to 600 families in the city and 70% of them are senior citizens. But they are not short of excitement when they get a chance to visit homeland.
Parsis in the city are warming up to the prospect of discovering their roots, as Mumbaibased operators are arranging trips to Iran to explore their land of origin.
“A few people from the East Bengal, Punjabi and Sindhi communities in the city were born in Pakistan or Bangladesh. Almost all had heard about stories of their ancestral villages from their forefathers. Our forefathers settled in India in the 10th century AD and we don’t have an opportunity to know about our roots without a first hand experience in Iran,” said Homyar Kutar, employee of a private company.
Parsis descend from a group of Zoroastrians of Iran invaders in the process of conquering Iran.Calcutta became a centre of Parsi settlement from the 18th century with Dadabhoy Behramji Banaji as the first Parsi recodrded to come to Calcutta from Surat in western India in 1767.
In 2005 Mumbai-based tour operators started taking young and old Parsis to Iran to rediscover their religious roots. The idea seemed to have caught on and hundreds of Indian Parsis are going on pilgrimage to Iran where they visit the Zoroastrian holy sites.
“We are conducting such tours for quite sometime now. It was very popular among the Parsis from Chennai and Mumbai. Recently the fever is catching up among the Parsis from Kolkata, too,” Zaher Sayed, general manager of a prominent Mumbai-based tourist agency that had pioneered religious tour to Iran in 2005 told HT.