“I was a little worried and baffled when my mother made an unusual request (rather demand) one day. When I asked her what it was, she said marry a Parsi only. Now I get where that comes from, given the fact that we have dwindling numbers within our community,” says 21-year-old Pashan Dadyburjor, who came up with called the ‘Parsi Project’ – a futuristic concept to keep the Parsi culture alive and relevant.
The final year design student feels that the community, which in no time will become a tribe, is already a minority at present. He says that for every one Parsi birth, there are four deaths, which is why the concern amongst them is understandable.
Not only are the statistics abysmally low, but also the current crop of ‘bawas’ and ‘bawis’ growing up know hardly anything about the religion, it’s culture and their origin. The Parsis practice Zoroastrianism. They had escaped the Muslim conquest in Persia (now known as Iran) to avoid persecution and landed on the coast of Valsad in Gujarat between the 8th and 10th century CE, where they were given refuge.
The resident of Dadar Parsi Colony is attempting to keep the significance and the history alive by spreading knowledge and facts about the religion through some ‘cool’ and informative merchandise. On the merchandise, a lamassu strikingly features throughout, on all products.
Lamassu’s (depicted as having a human head and a the body of a bull or a lion, and bird’s wings) can be seen outside Parsi places of worship – ‘agiaries’ (fire temples) which are believed to house a protective force.
The products include scarves, shirts, upholstery (cushions, pillows), sugar sachets (milk and sugar story), etc., and all have the lamassu on them. The ‘in your face’ approach will create a level of intrigue amongst people, prompting them to learn more about Parsi values and way of life, feels Dadyburjor.
“Before just a handful of us are left, steps and measures must be taken to preserve our rich heritage. For that, people have to be aware and possess some knowledge of the religion they are practicing. There are no visuals or any graphic material to highlight our origin and the growth of our religion, nor any kind of Parsi history, so people don’t know much either. Through my illustration book, I have shown everything and it is engaging. The art and content make for a good informative read. We as humans will become extinct some day, but not a book. That always stays,” says the enthusiastic ‘bawa’, who hopes that he can spread learning and awareness through his futuristic concept.