An Ethnography of the Parsees of India : 1886–1936 book cover
1st Edition

An Ethnography of the Parsees of India

Edited By

A. M. Shah


Lancy Lobo

ISBN 9781032012070
Published July 30, 2021 by Routledge India
256 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This volume explores a wide spectrum of Parsee culture and society derived through essays from the Journal of Anthropological Society of Bombay (1886–1936). This journal documents intensive scholarship on the Parsee community by eminent anthropologists, Indologists, orientalogists, historians, linguists, and administrators in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Comprising 0.05% of India’s total population today, the Parsees (now spelled “Parsis”) have made significant contributions to modern India.

Through contributions of Jivanji Jamshedji Modi, Bomanjee Byramjee Patell, and Rustamji Munshi, eminent Parsee scholars, the essays in this book discuss the social and cultural frameworks which constitute various key phases in the Parsee life nearly 100 years ago. They also focus on themes such as birth, childhood and initiation, marriage, and death. The volume also features works on Parsee folklore and oral literature.

An important contribution to Parsi culture and living, this book will be of great interest to scholars and researchers of sociology, social anthropology, ethnography, cultural studies, history, and South Asia studies.

Table of Contents


A. M. Shah and Lancy Lobo                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            



Birth and Initiation

1. Birth customs and ceremonies of the Parsees                                                           

Jivanji Jamshedji Modi


2. Parsee life in Parsee songs: cradle songs                                                                   

Jivanji Jamshedji Modi


3. The baby language among the Parsees                                                                      

Jivanji Jamshedji Modi


4. The initiation ceremonies and customs of the Parsees                                              

Jivanji Jamshedji Modi



5. Marriage customs among the Parsees and their comparison with similar customs of other nations                                                                                

Jivanji Jimshedji Modi


6. Some Parsee marriage customs. How far they are borrowed from the Hindus?                                                       

Jivanji Jamshedji Modi 


7. A few marriage songs of the Parsees at Nargol, Part I                                              

Jivanji Jamshedji Modi


8. A  few marriage songs of the Parsees at Nargol, Part II                                           

Jivanji Jamshedji Modi



9. On the funeral ceremonies of the Parsees, their  origin and explanation      

Jivanji Jamshedji Modi


10.  Notes on the Towers of Silence in India                                                               

Bomanjee Byramjee Patell


11. The first year funeral expenses of a Parsee of the  last century (1763)                     

Bomanji Byramji Patell


12. A vahi or register of the dead of some of the Parsees of Broach and a Parsee martyr mentioned in it                                                              

Jivanji Jamshedji Modi


13.  Another Parsee martyr of Broach                                                                              

K. A. Munshi




14.  Statistics of births, deaths and marriages among the Parsees of Bombay during the last ten years (1881-1890)                                                       

Bomanjee Byramjee Patell


15.  Statistics of births, deaths and marriages among the  Parsees of Bombay during the last ten years (1891-1900)                                                          

Bombanjee Byramjee Patell


16.  A Parsee deed of partition more than 150 years old:  a form of slavery referred to therein                                                                                            

Jivanji Jamshedji Modi




17. A few Parsee riddles – I                                                                              

Rustamji Nasarvanji Munshi


18.  A few Parsee riddles – II                                                                                           

Rustamji Nasarvanji Munshi


19. Omens among the Parsees                                                                             

Jivanji Jamsedji Modi


20. Charms or amulets for some diseases of the eye                                                       

Jivanji Jamshedji Modi


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A. M. Shah was a former professor of sociology at the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, and a national fellow of the Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi, India.

Lancy Lobo has been a professor and the director of the Centre for Social Studies, based in Surat, India. He holds a master’s degree in anthropology and a doctoral degree in sociology from the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, India. He is the founder-director of the Centre for Culture and Development, at Vadodara.