HELP US KEEP REPORTING. DONATE TO ORLANDO WEEKLY PRESS CLUB.

GOOD DEEDS 


Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India
By Sooni Taraporevala (Overlook, 252 pages)

For a somewhat more intimate and uplifting look at Bombay than the one provided by Maximum City, Sooni Taraporevala's stunning photo essay documents the small but influential community of Zoroastrians in the city. Although Parsis is titularly about Zoroastrians throughout India, most of the photos – with the exception of a chapter on Parsi village life in Gujarat – were taken in and around Bombay. This makes sense, as Bombay is home to more than half of India's Parsis, with the Zoroastrian "Towers of Silence" still a formidable element of the Bombay landscape.

The Parsis escaped to India hoping for a new life far from the persecution and prejudice that was visited upon them when their Persian homeland was overtaken by Arab conquerors. As Taraporevala puts it in her eloquent introduction, "so completely was Zoroastrianism routed out from the country of its birth, that in current popular thinking, the thought of an Iran that was not always Islamic, is inconceivable." However, the thought of a Bombay without the Parsis is equally unimaginable. Accounting for less than one half of 1 percent of the city's population, Parsis have nonetheless massively influenced the city. The community has long been well-represented in the city's upper crust, and their charitable and philanthropic works are renowned. Whether founders of the massive Tata Corp. or the internationally famous Zubin Mehta, Parsis are far more integral to Bombay's vitality than their numbers would have you believe.

Taraporevala captures Parsis in and around Bombay, and she tells us as much about the city as she does about the people. This is a cozy, personal and sentimental book, and the sense of dignity and pride inherent in the subjects – whether gleeful children, pensive artists or busy executives – comes through remarkably. Parsis was originally published in 2000, and its run then was so small it was nearly impossible to find if you weren't in the photographer's Rolodex. With its current wide re-release, it again opens a window into a world that may well be ending. There are only 100,000 Parsis in the world and most of them live in Bombay. If the city loses them – through assimilation or simple attrition – the essence of the city would be forever altered.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues

Calendar

© 2020 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation