175 years after Parsis flocked to Karachi, glimpses of the community’s fading history
On April 22, 1847, Parsis from across India assembled in Karachi as the foundation for the city’s first Tower of Silence was laid.
On the spring morning of April 22, 1847, when the Siberian migratory birds were singing a fond adieu to Karachi, the city on the edge of the Arabian Sea was welcoming groups of Parsis from across India. It was still six years before India would get its first train, so they all made the journey by cart and boat. They were gathered for the tana ceremony to lay the foundation of the city’s first dakhma or Tower of Silence.
Advertisements about this socio-religious event were published in many newspapers of Bombay including the Jame Jamshed. After the tana ceremony, a jashan thanksgiving ceremony was led by Fareedunji Behramji Jamasp-Asana, who was declared as first dastur or High Priest of the Parsis of Karachi.
But even though few Parsis remain, signs of their presence are still visible in the city. There are schools built by Parsis, hospitals, dispensaries, parks, administrative offices, the Karachi Parsi Institute and other places for social gatherings. There is also the Jehangir Kothari Parade, an elevated sandstone promenade.