North American Navjote
Our community is small, shrinking and delightfully eccentric. Staying alive–basic survival–is our greatest challenge. That is why the /navjot/ ceremony is vital for children within the community, as only those who have performed the ceremony are considered ‘in’; the discourse of ‘insider’ vs ‘outsider’ is animated in our community as in other South Asian communities.
This narrative briefly describes and analyzes Parsi ethnic identity as a background to the main thread of the chapter—organizing a /navjot/ (Zarthusti initiation ceremony) in Vancouver Canada. To be a Parsi is essentially to be a Zarthusti in India. The word Parsi means from Pars—Persia–so we are Persians/Iranians in India who have been there for less than 1000 years depending on the time of migration. As a Kenyan born Parsi raised in Canada I was brought up to be a feminist and activist, having a supportive father and strong female role models—quite common in our community.