“We want the sense of Parsi identity to be forceful enough to make you want to marry a Parsi, but kids grow up and they’re independent...You can’t really blame the person for what they choose.
To facilitate meetings and ultimately marriages, youth organizations host speed-dating events and arrange blind dates. Parsi trust funds even subsidize housing for young couples. We are encouraging them to get married earlier,” said Muncherji Cama, a trustee of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, a large Parsi trust fund.
“We have a recorded list of young people who are eligible to get married. If a couple seems to get along, we set up a few private dates.
According to a 2011 study in the journal , if neither marriage customs nor fertility rates change, there will be just 19,136 Parsis in Mumbai in 2051.
These statistics bring with them a community-wide sense of crisis.
Khushroo Anita, a 35-year-old Parsi, often dates women outside his faith when he travels for work. Khursheed Narang, left, and Meyer Amersey founded the Association of Inter-Married Zoroastrians 20 years ago. A sign outside a Mumbai fire temple limits entry to “Parsees only.” Under current rules, this excludes children who have Parsi mothers but fathers of other faiths. They’ve both finished school, established careers and grown eager to start families.
His parents hope he will marry a Parsi woman, so he keeps these relationships secret at home. Now, they connect interfaith couples with Zoroastrian priests willing to perform weddings and initiation rituals for their children. But even in a city of 18 million, they’re struggling to find spouses.
Anita, the 35-year-old businessman searching for a spouse, has dated women of other faiths, but called the relationships “clandestine.” His family badly wants him to marry a Parsi.
He hopes to as well, but not out of religious or cultural devotion—it’s just easier.
She too wants Zoroastrianism to live on in her children, especially if they choose to practice it.