The 2001 official census reports state that the Parsi community forms 0.006% of India’s total population, with relatively high concentration in Mumbai. A few facts about the Parsis that you probably know already – they are followers of Zoroastrianism. The Parsis in India are believed to be the descendents of Iranian Zoroastrians, who migrated to India during the 10th century A.D. The Constitution of India allows the Parsis, as all others, to practice their religion freely. Article 25 of the Constitution of India guarantees the right to freedom of religion, under which all of us, as Indian citizens, enjoy the same freedom too.
Constitution of India: Traditional Beliefs of Zoroastrianism
Now that we have understood how the Constitution of India safeguards our right to follow a religion of our preference, let us understand a little more about the religion called Zoroastrianism.
Established by Prophet Zarathushtra in 1700 B.C., Zoroastrianism is believed to have influenced other religions. In an article on Zoroastrianism by Maneck Bhujwala, it is stated that a Zoroastrian priest, Dastur Dinyar was a close friend and aide of Prophet Mohammad. Dastur Dinyar is referred as Salman-e-Farsi (Salman the Persian) by Muslims. According to Maneck Bhujwala, some practices of Zoroastrianism were adapted to other religions including Islam. This includes washing the arms and limbs before offering prayers to God and praying five times a day to God.
Another traditional belief pertaining to Zoroastrian tradition is the Sepandarmazgan, which is celebrated as a day of love, affection and earth. The aspect of Earth as mother is symbolized on this day. So, the earth is adulated and women are venerated. On this day, women are given gifts to express that they are held in high regard by the men of their community. Every year, it is celebrated on the 29th of Bahman in accordance with the Persian calendar.