Events & Seminars

HUMA PhD Thesis Presentation
Becoming Zoroastrian: The Making of the Global Network of the Parsee Community


Zoroastrianism is widely regarded as the oldest surviving monotheistic religion in the world and was the state religion of the Persian empires. However, Zoroastrianism and its devotees were suppressed since the invasion of the Islamic Arabs in the 7th century. Some of the Zoroastrians fled Persia and arrived at Gujarat, India. They are known as “Parsees”, who become an ethno-religious minority gladly accepted by the local society.


During the British colonial period, Bombay was the center of the Parsee-Zoroastrian community who was known for their self-governance and operation of the charity trusts. Since the 19th century, Parsees have been leaving Bombay and establishing various diasporic communities, in Hong Kong, UK, North America, and Singapore. Facing new social, economic, and political environments, the Zoroastrians have to develop respective strategies to survive. In a new foreign environment, especially without ritual specialists, it is not easy for the Zoroastrians to maintain their religious practices, while Bombay has become the “homeland” for religious authority.  In the eyes of the homeland Zoroastrians, the diasporic communities sometimes deviate from the orthodox. In several generations, the Zoroastrians have developed their diasporic communities and ways of interacting with the native communities.  For the new generations, in addition to their “Parsee” root, they need to have a “new” identity which links to the status of Zoroastrian in their host communities. Through their global connections, the Zoroastrians diasporic communities support each other on religious and financial issues which have gradually built a transnational ethno-religious network.  This thesis discusses the strategies of three Zoroastrian communities on how they deal with their challenges and on how they attempt to maintain a balance among various diasporic communities and also with their Indian homeland community.

Mr. Shu Wai LAU
January 11, 2021 (Monday)
10:30 am - 1:00 pm
The presentation will be conducted via ZOOM