Challenges of being Parsi in a mixed marriage


First, her daughter Tanvi, 13, can never visit Zoroastrianism’s fire temples in India, much less be initiated into the religion. That is because Mr Zaveri is not Parsi. However, if he were a Parsi and she a Jain, Zoroastrianism’s emphasis on the father’s bloodline would allow Tanvi to be initiated as a Parsi.

  • WATCH THE VIDEO ONLINE – Mrs Dilnawaz Zaveri shows readers her impressive collection of hand- embroidered brocade with Chinese motifs and explains why Parsis have long loved such hand embroidery, often replete with little Chinese figurines which they call “cheena cheenee no garo”, garo being Gujarati for embroidery, cheena for male Chinese and cheenee for female Chinese. Z2r4

Mrs Zaveri says: “Most of our family friends are Parsi, so my daughter has been to all her friends’ navjote (initiation) ceremonies. She keeps asking, ‘Why not me?'”

Second, Mrs Zaveri adds, if she should want prayers done for herself at a Parsi burial ground in India after she dies, it would not be allowed because her husband is non-Parsi. “I’m quite religious,” she muses. “So not allowing that, I feel, is absolutely not correct.”

Parsi priest Zubin Dastoor, who is 48 and the director of operations of an engineering company, clarifies that there has never been anything in the fire-worshipping faith against the initiation into Zoroastrianism of the offspring of Parsis married to non-Parsis.

“It is more of a family decision,” he says. “While the Parsis in India tend to be very orthodox, our religion itself is quite liberal and does not distinguish between Parsis and non-Parsis.”

Fellow priest Rustom Ghadiali, who is 80 and the current president of the Parsi Zoroastrian Association of Singapore, adds: “That may have something to do with the Parsis’ original promise to Indian King Jadav Rana not to mix with anyone else who was not Parsi, not to marry outside their community and not to convert any Indian to their faith.”

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