Parsis helped build Modern India but are shrinking as people: NYT

(Hari Kumar is a reporter with NYT. Mujib Mashal is the New York Times correspondent for South Asia. The column first appeared in New York Times on October 3, 2021)

 

  • From the porch of his century-old home, Khurshed Dastoor has a front-row seat to a tragedy that he fears may be too late to reverse: the slow extinction of a people who helped build modern India. On the wall of his drawing room hang portraits of the ancestors who led prayers for generations of Parsis, followers of Zoroastrianism who escaped Muslim persecution in Persia 1,300 years ago and made India home. Outside, across a narrow alley, workers are once again renovating the majestic fire temple, where the marble has been polished clean and the stone of the outer walls treated with chemicals to resist decay. Around him, emptiness encroaches. Only one or two families remain within the tastefully built houses on the surrounding streets. Moss grows on the brick-and-pillar walls. Weeds grow out of arched windows…

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