The Treasure of the Magi: A Study of Modern Zoroastrianism

By James Hope Moulton | Go to book overview

BOOK II. THE PARSIS

CHAPTER 1
THE COMMUNITY

Lo, it is a people that dwelleth alone,
And shall not be reckoned among the nations.

EVERY visitor to Bombay finds out the Parsi before he has crossed the first street. Slim, spectacled gentlemen, in European dress, except for the white trousers and the black coat buttoned up to the neck, are noticed at once as Parsis from their head-dress, the varnished-paper-covered 'cow's heel' hat, or the round stiff grey felt with its rim of colour standing out. Still more conspicuous are the Parsi ladies, surely the most gracefully dressed women anywhere, with the brilliant colours of their sari daintily crossing their black hair and hanging over dresses of European fashion, but of hues that no northern complexion could stand. The visitor who knows only the principal streets of the beautiful cosmopolitan city that keeps the door of India will soon conclude that half the population belongs to this interesting race which he has so soon come to recognize.

As a matter of fact the Parsis when merely counted supply something like four per cent. of the population of Bombay. Their total numbers only amount to a lakh, or a little over. Nearly half of them have crowded into the city which has long been their metropolis. The remaining fifty thousand odd are scattered over various centres in India. By far the largest number are in Gujarat, which as we shall see was the scene of their earliest settlements. The ancient towns of Naosari

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