Are Rights of a Parsi Woman in India lesser than the ones of Kurdish Muslim women converts?


Some Muslim Women in Kurdish Iraq have risked their lives to convert and adopt the Zoroastrianism faith in the recent past.

More recently, a 27 year old Duya was one of those girls who embraced Zoroastrianism.

Dressed in jeans, sitting cross legged in her hometown, a few kms away from Baghdad, Duya said, “I was raised Muslim, but I converted to Zoroastrianism last year. I could see how ISIS were acting in the name of ‘Islam’. For three years, they’ve been violently imposing extremist, conservative laws. They’re marrying girls as young as 10, forcing women to cover their hands and faces and killing or raping everyone who gets in their way. Three million people are homeless because of them. I didn’t want anything to do with their version of Islam any more.”

Kurdish girl Duya

Just like Duya, as many as 100 Kurdish Muslim women, after reading about the inherently feminist, liberal religion on Facebook, have rejected their religion of birth and embraced the 3500 year old monotheistic belief Zoroaster faith that originated in Persia in the last 18 months.

Duya, as any other girl in the modern ope- minded world, expressed her concern over marriage without knowing or spending time with someone beforehand. She went on to allege that while Islam did not permit this strictly, she said that ‘nothing is forbidden’ in Zoroastrianism.

Perspective from Zoroastrian Head Priest in Mumbai

The official answer to conversion, given by the Parsi priestly hierarchy in Mumbai and supported by a large number of traditional Zoroastrians, is NO. In order to be a Zoroastrian, you must have been born of two Zoroastrian parents only. One is not enough! No children of mixed marriages are officially Zoroastrian.

Philosophical, religious, political, social, and emotional reasons are the basis of arguments against conversion, which are commonly used by Zoroastrian traditionalists to justify their belief in the ethnic exclusivity of their faith.

Irony lies in contrasting liberal faith Vs biased rules set upon men and Women:

While Zoroastrianism is liberating women in the oppressive parts of the world, Parsi women in India are constantly fighting to achieve equality as far as their rights over the faith is concerned.

The children from a Parsi father and Non-Parsi mother are accepted as Parsi community members, and they are allowed the privileges, including living in the Parsi colonies and visiting the fire temple.

Union minister Smriti Irani has been a living example who adopted the Zoroastrian faith post her marriage to businessman, Zubin Irani. Her desk is often captured with a Zarthustra miniature. Their children are accepted into the faith.

Incidentally, both the children and the Parsi woman who chooses her partner outside the religion are banned from practising the faith immediately upon marriage. There are several women who are fighting against this unjust practice, who get stripped off their identity because of matters of love and life.

The woman in question is also denied last rites of her parents, where she is even dissuaded in seeing their faces before the final journey.

In 2003, Actor Tanaz Irani (then Currim) was at the receiving end when she wasn’t allowed to enter the fire temple since she had married outside the community.

It’s not that Parsis women have not raised their voice what they allege is inherent biases against them within the society.

The story of two Parsi women, Goolrookh Gupta and Prochy N Mehta, gained prominent media coverage when they sought the judiciary’s intervention after being ostracised by their own community following on the grounds of inter-religion marriages.

This debate over biases against Parsis women has been raging over many years now, where some feel it is the main cause for the dwindling community numbers, whereas another section is aggressively promoting a 3rd child policy with monetary benefits per family.

About Zoroastrianism

When groups of Iranian pilgrims fled an oppressive Muslim regime in Iran in the 10th century AD, they came to Gujarat, a kingdom on the west coast of India. The Kisseh-i-Sanjan, an epic poem written by a 16th-century Parsi priest, documents the history of his people in India.

The roots of Zoroastrianism are thought to have emerged from a common pre-historic Indo-Iranian religious system dating back to the early 2nd millennium BCE.

The Parsis have merged seamlessly with the Indian culture and have been great contributors to different fields such as law, army, business, science, sports and much more.

(Arnaz Hathiram is a proud Parsi woman. Views expressed here are the author’s own and Janta Ka Reporter doesn’t necessarily endorse them)