Parsi and Me

Hi all, I’m a Parsi woman living in the UK and I made a short film about the Parsees, I would be grateful if you all could share adn watch and would love to know what you think so feel free to leave a comment. Thank you!


A journey through time to discover who the Parsees are and why, they may soon, be extinct. Ava Patel investigates.



  • Ahur ae Mazadao…….

    • Very interesting and cute. Even in India, south of Pune very few people know what a Parsi is. The only way you can make anyone understand what a Parsi is, then you have to name TATA! Plus our surnames confuse people and they need explanations every time! My surname is Contractor and it is like a googly for most. Even in the west, I have to say ‘Schumaker is a racing driver, not making shoes’. Then the reaction comes ‘oh’. Our surnames come from West Gujarat where we landed and spread from. I am married outside my community and dislike the idea that my children are not allowed in the ‘community”. These are all the Brhaminical influences we took when we settled here. This HAS to go.. other wise i am happy and proud being a Parsi. I can say, confidently, that for the size of our community, we are the most talented community in the world.

      • I was raised Christian from within a mixed family. Neither of my parents are Zoroastrian. Since my parents were mixed I was encouraged to decide upon my religion through self study. I have found Zoroastrianism independently and consider it the supreme and best religion and choose it for myself. I do not see any ban against choosing Zoroastrianism. None the less I know of no other Zoroastrians in the Washington DC area nor any place I have lived in the USA. I am 56 years of age and never married. As for community I see Christianity as acceptable. In fact I suspect Christ was if not Zoroastrian than heavily informed by the faith. I hold that the Magi were Zoroastrian and that the 3 gifts given at birth were in fact symbols of the good thoughts, good words, good deeds creed.

    • Deborah Brangwyn

      Thank you for this film, I enjoyed it very much as it brought back many memories. I was lucky enough to go to a boarding school in Kodaikanal, South India and knew several Parsi girls while there. They were lovely and took the time to explain to me what and why they wore certain things. Years later I returned to India and lived on Malaga Hill in Bombay not that far from the Towers of Silence and a Parsi friend told me how and why it was used. While I am not particularly religious the more I learn about other religions confirms my belief that there is really only one religion with many paths to God. Your path is one of the best ones.

  • A correct upbringing in the Mazdayasni faith, as we received from our parents and gave our children, must be given to the current generation as soon as they can speak and understand. Interact with them in English by all means but the young parents should ensure that the kids imbibe the Zoroastrian spirit and as adults, live Zoroastrianism. Then our Humdins will soar in faith, prayer and numbers. No fear of extinction

  • I like your film very much.Most important thing to me is,a parsi lady marrying a non parsi can not bring her children in parsi religion.

  • Temti Bodhanwala

    Hi It is a good film made but I feel you should have shown more of Azarbaizan where being Muslim country still worship fire and our root from the said place where
    Zarstutra was born .
    Our Fire temple still remain the tourist place
    Called Atashgha .

  • Great look at Parsis within Britain and the challenge of keeping the flame burning. Thank you!

  • Hi great film. I am also a British born Parsi, my father was an ervard (priest) and I was brought up in an orthodox Zoroastrian home in east london. I can relate to a lot of what you have said and how I too was mistaken for being middle eastern or Turkish when growing up. I have 2 sons both being brought up Parsi and we are proud of our faith and heritage. I thank you for raising some awareness of our amazing faith.

    • Kwtayun Balsara

      ☺a good film. A proparsi myself I loved this film. It spreads awareness about our beautiful community.

  • Shahrukh S Irani

    I being irani and what makes me angry they dont help pasi or iranis in funds just like how Aga khani khoja gets help to open business or anything from trust that also interest free loans. For this i am left alone and angry.

    • shahrukh…………..u r right. look at POONAWALLA OF PUNE rs 100 crore to clean city. tata sons 125 million for USA UNIV. NOW WHO WILL CONTROL tata sons not our own people. PARSIS WAKE UP. WHAT IS SWADES……..? GARDA CHEMICALS …………?

    • as a middle class zorastrian, my experience is that we cannot afford or obtain a house even in the ‘charitable’ parsee colonies, so our kids cannot marry. how can i afford to pay two to three crores for a small one bedroom in a parsee colony on leave and license? this is supposed to be cheaper for zorastrians. and so our kids dont marry and jiyo parsee is what and for whom? just a sham and the parsee panchayat control all the monies.

  • Jasmine daruwalla well made film.

  • to be pessimist.
    Wish there could be more unity among the Higher Echelons of the community but alas there is none.
    We have adopted a “Laissez-Faire”attitude. So I think we are on a slippery slope of being
    A Vanishing Breed.


  • really liked your film and can relate to what you said Ava. I am a Parsi woman, married ‘out’ of my religion, but have never ‘left’ my religion as such. I chose a man who, for me, was (and still is almost 25 years later) the embodiment of our religion. He has fully supported our 3 children being brought up in the faith (thanks to forward-thinking priests), and I hope that they in turn will use the wisdom our religion gives them to choose partners who are also the embodiment of a Zoroastrian philosophy and pass this on to their own children. Modern British life and a deep internal connection to our faith don’t have to be at odds. It was a rocky road at the beginning for me, but I found a way of filtering out the disapproval of a handful and was determined to play my part in the continuation of the religion which espouses my own view of the world. I felt it was a privilege and a gift to be a Zoroastrian…and thanks to my husband, my parents, our priests and our wonderful Zoroastrian friends, I have not had to compromise my faith in any way. Ava it would be great for you to come and discuss these issues at the Zoroastrian Centre one day!

  • The film was nice but the root cause of our dwindling community is different. Jio PARSEE can’t solve this. The condition of our community in remote villages in India and the urban zorastrians has a difference of 95 percent it requires a lot of discussion and implimantation without any adement arrogant and incorperative behaviour or this world shall loose this marvellous religion.

  • Humanity comes before religion the Zoroastrians who were forced to convert at the point of a sword are now after 1500 years reconverting back to the faith since the last 15-25 years.
    This over the next 50 to 100 years will gain momentum cumulating in a bloodless revolution in places like Iran Azarbaijan .
    Finally there may be only 65k Parsi’s left in the world but there are at least 2M Zoroastrians in different parts of the world .
    When I marched in the first Persian parade in New York there were 9 countries representing Zoroastrians we need to understand that Parsi’s are only one part of Zoroastrian faith and there are several others who have a greater retention of the Zoroastrian culture and traditions .
    To preserve the faith the Parsi’s need to re connect with the several other Zoroastrian pockets world wide and have marriage connections with them
    Parsi’s may die out Zoroastrians will live forever

    • Wow..I never realized that… ab d 2 m Zoroastrians existing all around d world! U r right n all need to connect…

      • Google Persian Parade in New York and you will see what I mean there are several videos of the parade different floats of Zoroastrians playing music dancing more in tune of our culture.
        We Parsi’s are an unfortunate section of the Zoroastrians as we have lost our language food culture and traditions .
        None of the Zoroastrians other than Parsi’s know what Dhansakh means lol

      • No more we in India should be known as parsees. Some initiative should be taken to unite all people engaged with zorastrian faith round the globe and form zorastrian community world wide.
        I know many will oppose but it might be their fear of loosing their special status that they enjoy but we won’t loose our culture ever if done.

  • Beautiful compilation.

    Saw it as a friend ofone posted.. appriciated and loved it even though I am not a Paris.

  • Maneckshaw T Pestonji

    An excellent article on the Parsees and what our religion is about. I only wish that the community accepts children born from a non Parsee father as it is the MOTHER who inculcates religion to her children whatever religion you follow.

  • Cyrus Dara Keeka

    Very interesting & informative video. Just the right length to keep the interest of the viewer.
    Regarding the reducing population matter, unfortunately we also have a number of deniers. During a discussion, when I said something will have to be done, one relation got very wound up. His theory was that God had looked after us for thousands of years, HE will look after us again. So no need to take any action.
    On a personal note, there were a number of Parsi firsts in East Africa, which I call the Forgotten Parsis”.
    The first, and to date, the only lady Parsi member of any Parliament in the world was my mother, Mrs Sheroo Dara Keeka (1921-2006) who was a member of the Tanzanian Legislative Council in 1956.
    Much later there was Ms Frenny Jinwalla who was appointed Speaker of the South African Parliament in Nelson Mandela’ government.
    There were others like Keki Master who was a QC, also a number of mayors & councillors in various East African cities, All who also helped in the independence movements. All firsts for Parsis but forgotten and left off the lists of Parsi achievements.
    Carry on the good work

  • I’m a 60 year old Parsee from Bombay( not Mumbai😀) and the film was well made, touching on most of the good features of our community. What I wish the community would do is SCRAP the silly patriarchal aspect of only a Parsee dad passing the faith on. It is far more important to follow simple but super Zoroastrian tenets of faith than to impose the clergy’s absurd ruling that a Parsee woman marrying a non Parsee deems her unworthy of passing the faith to her children. What makes a good thought good deed or good word… surely NOT restricting your married partner to one born. Parsee. We should progress to an open community where non Zoroastrians can marry our dwindling numbers and enter our empty Agiaries. As a Parsee co-incidentally married to a Parsee -Irani wife I feel all of us should petition strongly to stop this silly stricture in our COMMUNITY , it is never referred to in our wonderful scriptures.

  • A very revealing short film. My own views on the declining numbers of our community are summarized below in my tribute to the memory of Prof. Kaikhosrov Irani, who recently passed away in New York. Read it for it’s worth:

    My personal heartfelt condolences to you on the passing away of Prof. Kaikhosrov Irani, who, though I did not know him personally, was a great inspiration to me in the study of Zoroastrianism in our modern times.

    I attended quite a few lectures by him under the aegis of ZAGNY, most notably when he was the opening speaker at the Gatha Colloquium some years back.

    His focus was primarily in bringing Zoroastrianism into the mainstream, away from its turgid, ossified roots which the modern practice of our religion has degenerated into, thanks to the unyielding and dogmatic tenacity of our priests, who thought (and still think!) that propagation of our beautiful philosophical religion is best served by their esoteric pronouncements.

    So much so, that in his opening speech at the Gatha Colloquium, Prof. Kaikhosrov Irani humorously (or maybe not so humorously) intoned that the philosophy of Zoroastrianism might be best served if we get rid of our priests, or at least tone them down. After his opening presentation, ALL the rest of the speakers were foreigners, who presented their views on Zoroastrianism from the point of view of arcane academia which perhaps even scholars present at the meeting did not understand! In fact, one speaker even apologized before his presentation that he was not aware that this meeting was not about the “technical” aspects of Zoroastrianism.

    I spoke at that meeting about the need to make our divine philosophy more accessible, especially to the younger generation, by making it more exoteric. Specifically, I argued that our common prayers be published in simple English translations (not transliterations) and even conduct our prayers in those translations, so that everyone can understand what is being communicated spiritually. This is not uncommon among all major religions, whose ancient texts have been translated into prayers in local languages and the prayers are actually conducted in those languages. Think Bible. Latin is used only in the Vatican. Go to any other church and hear the same sermons in the common language of its local adherents. No wonder Christianity has so many followers through the ages.

    The lady scholar (I forget her name) who fielded my questions summarily turned me down, saying it was against the wishes and established practices of the clergy. I thought to myself, who is this foreign woman (and men) who are not even Zoroastrians, but merely grant fed academics, arguing so vehemently in support of the Zoroastrian clergy?

    I left the Gatha Colloquium considerably dismayed and disillusioned. It was a two day session and I did not attend on the second day due the passing of my dear mother-in-law, but maybe I would not have attended it anyway.

    I wondered (aloud, even though there was no one nearby to hear me) that were it not for the asnekherdi (common sense) incisive opening remarks by our esteemed Prof. K. D. Irani, a genuine Zoroastrian, the entire presentation on the most venerable Zoroastrian literature, namely the Gathas, the only literature actually composed by our beloved prophet Zoroaster, would have been by the foreign, non-Zoroastrian, “technical”, eristic, recondite, equivocal academic panjandrums! Are they even aware of the alarming low population numbers that the Parsi community has reached in India, soon to relegated to the status of a tribe?

    May Prof. Irani’s legacy live on and may he guide and comfort us from his heavenly spiritual abode so that Zoroastrianism can yet be rescued. Will there be anyone else on the horizon to take his place? Hope so.

    Jimmy Wadia
    ZAGNY Member

  • Awesome film, Zoroastrian faith will survive!

  • Arzan Pithawalla

    Is there a job for parsi like me in uk?

  • Enjoyed the film. It was short and to the point
    As a Parsi woman living in London, I have also been met with the gaping looks and sorry, what is that, when I have said I am a Parsee
    I am not so sure I like this idea of couples being paid to breed and IVF treatments
    But then I think of this planet and that there are too many of us(humans) and the consideration of a dwindling population of Parsees kind of fades into insignificance

  • Bravo, Eva. A well made film. It left unanswered some questions about the basic beliefs and practises of Parsis, which I for one would like to find out more about.Such as religious activities, Towers of Silence etc.

    I was born in India, lived there for 13 years (5 just recently)and number many Parsis amongst my friends.

    This may sound like blasphemy, but if there is a big worry about declining numbers, why don’t they modify the religious requirement for Parsi children to have both parents as Parsis? There may be something totally forbidding this – perhaps this will never happen. In my religion, Church of England, we now allow ordained priests to be women, and Roman Catholicism now condones birth control…….

    Would like to have you interview, as I am sure you could, some more top Parsis, such as Zubin Mehta and Ratan Tata. Still time to add them to your film.

    Keep up the good work, and onwards and upwards – perhaps to Hollywood.,…..

  • Thank you, Ava. For this act of LOVE!

  • Your last sentence implied that Gandhi was a Pasi. Do you mean Mahatma Gandhi or Mrs Indira Gandhi’s husband?

    • Gandhi is a common Gujarati surname. None of the Nehrus were Parsees. Indira Gandhi’s husband Phiroze Gandhi was a Parsi. There is recent attempt by present government to demonise him by spreading false rumors that one of his parents was a Muslim. Pls don’t believe such stiff which is going on like wild fire in WhattsApp..

  • Thrity Engineer- Mbuthia

    Lovely film. Times have changed. Culture must change and adapt. Discrimination against women who marry out of the faith must stop. Besides when the religion was first ‘born’ it wasn’t installed into people. There must have been people who converted to it. How then have we got to this point. Jiyo Parsi is not enough. It is time for change.

  • Enjoyed this film. I come from South Gujarat, where Parsees settled when they came to India. Went to a parsi school in Panchgini – Billimoria High School. Some of that parsi rubbed off on me. Not mentioed in the film, but the Gujarati theatre in Mumbai has benefitted greatly from the Parsee community.

  • Glad many know about our religion Zorastrianism. I live in Kazakhstan and they all know “Zoraster”. When 3 boat loads went to Gujarat thousands came by land to Kazakhstan and lived here till Mongol invaders pushed them to Germany. …Parsis maybe dwindling in Bombay BUT Zorastrians are more than a million today and increasing as Soviets convert back to their grand parents religion
    There is a Eternal flame…Not Agyari in every City in Kazakhstan. I am proud to be a Zorastrian NOT a Parsi after reading sqables of Panchayat Trustees

  • A good starting point to comment would be Ava herself , she should pronounce her name Ava ( as in Ava Yazad) and not Ava (as in Ava Gardner ).
    Other than that I found her very refreshing and a delight to watch, wishing her every success in her endeavours.

  • Nicely made film!

    Yes, when when we number hardly 100,000 in 7 billion people, there is every possibility that people would not have heard of Parsis or Zoroastrianism. But that does not worryme.

    What does, are the manifold restrictions that we put on ourselves in spreading the concepts of this beautiful and highly evolved religion.

    Some examples, organisations nowadays have vision statements, etc; we have had,one from the start – Good thoughts, Good words, Good deeds.

    Everyone talks about motivation i.e. being self-driven; we have only a few basic ‘mandatory’ requirements, everything else is up to the individual.

    So, lets stay with the objectives rather than what was practiced in the past and move to other practices that are more in tune with the present and future.

  • Well made. Narration is good and interviewed people were well informed. But it would have been better if parsis living in India too be shown n their places of worship and about the disposal of mortal remains. Wish the parsi community grow n flourish

  • its a good effort, there are many aspects of the religion n our culture that Ava could have highlighted better, i come from a priestly family of Udvada and born and brought up in Karachi –
    have u every heard of the Zoroastrians in Pakistan ?? n their contribution to society.. in my opinion Freddy Mercury is not THE MOST FAMOUS PARSI !

  • Horrmuz Minoo Bulsara

    A good film made on Paris but of our community does not understand.the.meaning of it.because they are not taught by their parents this is the cause root.of it

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