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When Parsi Zoroastrians, having fled Persian persecution, arrived on Indian soil sometime between the 8th and 10th centuries, the story goes, an Indian ruler sent a cup full of milk. The intention, clearly, was to convey that India was filled to the brim. The Zoroastrian king inserted either sugar—or in some tellings, a ring—and sent the cup back to suggest that not only was there room for his people, but they would also enrich Indian society if permitted to settle.
Certain restrictions curbed the private and communal lives of the Zoroastrian asylum seekers, but they were largely allowed to thrive in India. Sugar has a tendency to dissolve in milk.
This worry is often directed toward young Zoroastrians, whose minds—and perhaps more importantly, hearts—may determine the future of the religion. Decisions about dating and marriage can also be decisions about whether to stay within their community: Zoroastrianism is a patriarchal tradition, so the children of Zoroastrian women who marry outside the faith are not accepted, and even shunned, in many communities.
Meanwhile, children of Zoroastrian men who intermarry are likelier to be accepted. Parsis, the descendants of the Zoroastrians who fled Iran for India, represent the largest portion of the Zoroastrian population globally; the other portion lives in Iran.
The lot, according to two surveys, for just 0. Although the North American Zoroastrian community actually grew during that period by He and his wife, who have been married for two years, are in a long distance U. But when they do, Patel feels strongly committed to passing down his religion.
Dinyar and Parinaz, who grew up in India, met at a Zoroastrian community event in Dubai. One approach is to visit a matchmaker: Roshan Rivetna, a Zoroastrian who lives in Illinois, keeps files on some eligible Zoroastrians. Otherwise, it can be tough to find a Zoroastrian to be with. Patel said he has heard about a mobile dating app under development in India intended for Zoroastrians; he has seen no equivalent in the United States.
Some young Zoroastrians may want to date within the religion and find the prospect daunting.
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Cyrus Guzdar, 35, grew up Zoroastrian in Columbia, Maryland, and is currently dating a year-old woman, Claire Markham, who grew up Catholic. Growing up, Guzdar never felt any pressure from his parents to marry within his religion. He and his mother attend an annual memorial service at the Zoroastrian Association of Metropolitan Washington in honor of his father, who passed away several years ago, and he said he sometimes tags along to events with his mom, who has felt the desire to be more engaged in the community of late.
At the temple, he has found that most of the couples are interfaith. Bamboat, a former therapist and early childhood educator, is now a freelance writer and blogger and a full-time mother. In conservative circles in Bombay, including part of her family, interreligious marriages, such as her own, were not looked upon favorably, she said. They had heard things were different in the U. They went to an event, and knew nobody but her aunt and uncle who lived in the area. ZANC has a of intermarried couples, and no one treats them any differently, she said.
Our priest is open minded and a great resource for us," she sad. You definitely wouldn't see that happening in Bombay where the hostility and discomfort are apparent. Little wonder then, that our s are growing in North America as the community thrives, while they are in decline all over India.
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Not all North American communities are the same, though. Lylah Alphonse, an editor at U. From a demographic perspective, she said in an interview, the expectation that Zoroastrians will only marry others of their religion has been destructive. Inshe insisted that Alphonse should be allowed to have her navjote in Hyderabad, and that both of her brothers should have theirs in a t ceremony in New Delhi. Her own writing on Zoroastrianism has prompted critical letters, including one from a priest in Mumbai who said the world would have been better had she not been born.
Alphonse is married to a non-Zoroastrian and is not raising her children Zoroastrian, she said. This disdain for women who intermarry—and, perhaps, those who vocally push back against the cultural standards of the community—is part of a larger pattern of how women have, at times, been treated in the religion, said Patel, the professor at the University of South Carolina.
The pressures around dating and marriage in Zoroastrianism have certain parallels to those in Judaism, another small religion with a rich history: a taboo against intermarriage, a system of inherited religious identity, a relatively small dating pool. This is perhaps the central question for Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and other small religions: What does it mean for a religious tradition, with a longstanding and proud past, to teeter on the brink of oblivion and quarantine to history books?
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Crises are part of lifecycle of small religions—as are, sometimes, endings. Popular Latest.
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