For the lost Parsis of Pindi – a final resting place

One such landmark is located on Murree road, tucked between the shops of the New Jewellery Market. No one would guess that between the ostentatious glittering shops, a marriage hall and the din of traffic there is an old Zoroastrian cemetery. As one enters the compound, the serenity of the lush green grass and shady trees takes one by surprise. Rawalpindi’s Parsi graveyard houses a number of graves and a colonial style red brick building with columns and arches.

Before the partition of India, Rawalpindi was a religiously diverse city, home to a sizeable Zoroastrian minority who came here in the 1870s.

According to historian Shiraz Haider, Parsis who were mainly merchants, began settling in Rawalpindi as the city was a major business centre, considered to be the gateway to the North.

The Parsi graveyard was built in the 1890s. The marble plaque at the gate of the cemetery reads “This cemetery, together with the buildings and compound wall, was erected to perpetuate the memory of the late Seth Jahangiriji Framji Jussawala and Seth Jamasji Hormasji Bogha – both Rawalpindi Parsi merchants – by their respective grandsons, Seth Dorabji Cowasji Jussawala and Seth Nasarwanji Jehangiriji BoghaShahshai in the month of Tir 1367, January 1898.”

Some of the marble tombstones reflect the Gujarat origins of Rawalpindi’s Parsi community and have inscriptions in Gujrati script.

Today, there are still some Parsi families living in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad and visit the cemetery to pay their respects to their ancestors.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2015

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