Parsi Identity


Just who is a Parsi?

The question of Parsi identity is a contentious one. There are those who say that the term Parsi (or Parsee) may only refer to the descendants of the original immigrants from Iran 1000 years ago. Others refer to just about anyone hailing from Iran as a Parsi regardless of when they came. Others still see anyone accepted as a Zoroastrian as being a Parsi by default

Few Parsis maintain any times with their Persian origins and it's rare to meet a Parsi who can speak Farsi, for instance. As Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Asian to occupy a seat in the British parliament would note:

"Whether I am a Hindu, a Mohammedan, a Parsi, a Christian, or of any other creed, I am above all an Indian. Our country is India; our nationality is Indian".

Genealogical tests of Parsis in Pakistan confirmed that their DNA was significantly more similar to Iranians than any other immediate geographic neighbours but other tests of the Parsis in India suggest that they have more in common with the Gujuratis, suggesting a greater degree of ethnic assimilation than might be comfortable for many proud Parsis.

Parsis have always tried to be strict on not inter-marrying with other faiths and races in order to preserve their lineage but it's unlikely that such a strategy will prevent them from dying out in the near future.

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