The Parsis of India form an eccentric community. Descendants of the Zoroastrian lineage of Greater Iran, the community has maintained its unique identity over the years and has added a unique fervour to the existing social fabric of our country.
As the community celebrates Navroze today, we bring to you a list of things we want to thank the Parsis for:
Homi Bhabha: Referred to as the 'Father of Indian nuclear programme' Homi J. Bhabha was an Indian nuclear physicist who is was the visionary behind India's Three Stage Nuclear Power Programme. Born in an illustrious Parsi family, Bhabha was also fond of classical music and Botany.
John Abraham: Not many know, but actor John Abraham is half Parsi and half Malyalee. John's father is a Christian from Kerala while his mother descends from the Parsi community. The actor is also called Farhan due to his Parsi connections. John has professed his love for Parsi food cooked by his mother every now and then.
Dhansak: This extremely delicious signature Parsi dish is a combination of Persian and Gujarati cuisine. Dhansak is prepared by cooking mutton with a mixture of lentils and vegetables and is served with caramelised brown rice.
Pallonji: The name is of dual significance for the Parsis. Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry is the chairman of Shapoorji Pallonji Group and is the single largest shareholder in the Tata Group. A construction tycoon, Pallonji Mistry is the father of Cyrus Mistry, the chairman of Tata group.
Pallonji is also a raspberry flavoured drink which is a less harder version of the usual soda- laden colas. The flavour of berries in the drink make its texture soft and kind on the taste buds. The signature drink has for years been a part of Parsi celebrations. Britannia & Co. restaurant, Mumbai is one of the few places which still serve the drink.
Sam Manekshaw: Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, who was the first Indian Army officer to be promoted to the five-star rank of field marshal belonged to the Parsi community. Known for his valour and courage, Manekshaw went on to become the 8th Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army.
The Tata family: We can't thank the Parsi community enough for giving us the Tata family. The family is a string of Indian industrialists and philanthropists like Jamsetji Tata, Ratanji Tata and JRD Tata who were responsible for augmenting India's Industrial growth by the establishment of various steel, cotton and power plants.
Britannia & Co. restaurant: Britannia & Co. restaurant is one of the few remaining places that have retained their old Parsi charm over the years. The Berry pulao served at Britannia alongside the signature Pallonji drink is a favourite among its visitors.
Boman Irani: The Parsi community is responsible for bestowing upon us the bundle of talent that Boman Irani is. Boman, who is mainly known for his brilliant comic-timing, funnily enough shot to fame for his portrayal of
Dr. J. C. Asthana in 'Munnabhai M.B.B.S'
Shaimak Davar: Known as the guru of contemporary dance in India Shiamak Davar, is one of the most famous choreographer s of the country who brought contemporary jazz to India. Davar is credited for choreographing the Commonwealth Games, Melbourne and certain sequences in 'Mission Impossible 4.'
Freddie Mercury: Known as one of the greatest singers in the history of popular music, Freddie Mercury is an inspiration to many. He was born in the Sultanate of Zanzibar and grew up there and in India until his mid-teens. His songs were a cult and he was a very flamboyant performer. On 24 November 1991, Freddie Mercury died of AIDS.
Maureen Wadia: If we have John Abraham and Dino Morea in the industry, the sole credit goes to Maureen Wadia. The wife of Indian entrepreneur Nusli Wadia, she is the owner of Gladrags magazine and also one of the forces behind the Mrs. India beauty pageant.
Cyrus Broacha: The dynamic Cyrus Broacha is a television anchor, comedian, political satirist, columnist and author who was the face of MTV for years. Broacha shot to fame with his show 'Bakra', where he pranked people.
Parsi gara hand embroidered saris: Another big reason to thank the Parsi community is for their exquisite embroidery work. The Parsi gara saris are vintage yet so elegant and classy that one can’t take the eyes off it. Popular Indian designers including Manish Malhotra, Rohit Bal and Suneet Varma take a lot of inspiration from the Parisian artwork and incorporate their embroidery work in their outfits.
Bhikaji Cama: Bhikaiji Rusto Cama played a vital role in the Indian Independence movement. She was known for her philanthropic activities and struggle to establish gender equaliy. Born in a wealthy Parsi family, Bhikaji Cama took up the task of helping those affected by the bubonic plague which hit Mumbai in 1896.