08 May, 2021

Meet Rustom, From Russia

The community stands divided on whether outsiders can become Zoroastrians, as 'conversions' increase internationally

Meet Rustom, From Russia
In Mumbai, a Navjote evokes images of traditionally dressed Parsis gossiping at tables groaning under the weight of food after a teenager goes through a formal initiation ceremony into the faith. But it's not the same anymore. Recently, five Russians and a Ukranian were initiated. They weren't prepubescent kids either—the group included an editor, a lawyer and an interpreter. And the ceremony wasn't held in Mumbai, the heart of the Parsi community, but in Moscow.

In a community where funerals seem to outnumber Navjotes, as Parsis grapple with aging and dwindling numbers, they are turning up in strange places. From Swedish pop stars to Muslim preachers, Zoroastrianism is enjoying a bit of a revival and the Indian Parsis are unsure how to deal with it. This has become a flashpoint in the small community. Zoroastrians have traditionally not proselytised or believed in conversion to Zoroastrianism. But away from the protected world of Mumbai's Baugs, a new breed of Zoroastrians has appeared, as has a growing number of mixed-marriage children who are not allowed to be...

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