Parsi population slides in Twin Cities

Only 17 births against 65 deaths registered in the last five years

Hyderabad: Forget the tiger, first save the Parsi, says Shapoor Toorkey a regular to the Zoroastrian Club in Secunderabad. Even the Jiyo Parsi scheme launched by the government to revive the dwindling Parsi community by way of medical assistance to young couples who go have children has not enthused the insular community. Only one family in Hyderabad opted for the scheme since its inception two years ago.

Lt Col Sohrab Vakil (Retd) and Dhun Vakil (both 87-years), the oldest living Parsis in Hyderabad
Lt Col Sohrab Vakil (Retd) and Dhun Vakil (both 87-years), the oldest living Parsis in Hyderabad
With a majority of the population above the age of 50 and the youngsters not keen on marrying within the community, the elders feel a revival should do the trick for the community that landed in India around 10th century AD to escape Arab persecution in Persia.

Emigration, infertility, late marriage, not finding compatible partners within the community are issues that the the Parsis face presently. Aspi S Debara, secretary, Parsi Zoroastrian Anjuman of Secunderabad and Hyderabad says, “The younger lot has moved on from doing business into IT and ITES sector.

They interact with a cross-section of people from diverse backgrounds and hop from one country to another. So marrying within the community is becoming difficult.” One out of every five Parsi men and one out of 10 Parsi women remain unmarried even at age of 50; the rate at which the population is declining is making people sit up.

In Hyderabad, the number of youngsters too is pretty low. Till July, 2015 nine people died and one birth was recorded in Hyderabad. Until 2012, the population in twin cities stood at 1,200 plus. Today, Parsi population in Hyderabad is 1,136 with 311 families residing in Secunderabad and 128 in Hyderabad. A majority of them about 408 people live in baugs or charitable blocks.

Beyniaz Eduljee, a travel writer and a mother of two says, “I would love to see my children get married to Parsis but these days they have a mind of their own and talk of individual freedom.” Another issue with the community is that once a girl marries out of the community her children are not included in the Parsi fold. 70-year-old Perviz Nalladaru says, “There is a change in the mindset and children from women who married non-Parsi men are now slowly going to the temple in Mumbai.”

When she is asked if the community would survive? She sounds optimistic, “We were always a small community. Quality is what counts not quantity.” In 2015, two marriages took place within the community and in the last five years, 24 couples tied the knot. Zervan Lakdawalla, 26, who is a musician with the band Reverb and is getting married to a Parsi girl says, “I don’t get this idea of not allowing the children of a Parsi woman into the community.

The child is half Parsi anyway. Does not gender equality come into play here?” Amid the dismal tidings, there is hope as a few youngsters are getting married within the community. But will that number be enough? Only time will tell.

Published on Hans India