Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Parsees {i.e. "Persians"), direct descendants of the old Persian Zoroastrians, who rejected Islam when the Arabs overran Persia in the seventh century. Some remained in the country, where they are called Ghebres (Ghebar), and where they numbered 8,200 in 1879, centred chiefly in Yezd and Kirman. The rest were expelled about 800 A.D., and after a short stay, first in Ormuz Island, at the entrance of the Persian Gulf, and then in Deb (Diu) Islar d, on the Kattiwar coast, finally settled on the Indian mainland, where their chief seats are Surat and Bombav, and where in 1881 they numbered 85,000, of whom 75,000 are in the Bombay Presidency, and 10,000 in the rest of India; they form a wealthy community, characterised by great solidarity and munificence, and are engaged chiefly in trade. Although now speaking Gujarati and English exclusively, their Persian origin is shown by their religion, unbroken traditions, and type; they are, not "fire-worshippers," as is popularly supposed, but venerate fire and the sun as the purest emblems of the deity. Of the old Zoroastrian religion little is preserved except the symbols and formulas, the dualistic principle tending to merge in a vague deism, with truth and universal benevolence as the cardinal virtues. They live up to a high moral standard, are strict monogamists, and treat their women with great respect. The dead are exposed in the Lakhma (" Towers of Silence"), where they are left to be consumed by the elements or by carrion birds.