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 Parsis and Jews of India

- India's smallest communities

Paris and Jews of India are amongst the smallest communities in the country. There are about 69,000 Parsis and . 5000 Jews nationwide, most living in Mumbai, and their numbers are fast declining.

Members of both communities have played a major role in making Mumbai the city it is today.

Ancestors of both arrived in India more than a thousand years ago, to escape persecution in the lands they came from.

The early immigrants of both communities were given land by the local Hindu rulers to help them settle down, where they established their places of worship, their homes, and their businesses. They were free to follow their faith and had equal opportunities in every field. The Parsis and Jews intermingled and assimilated very well with the welcoming host communities. In Cochin, the King gave land, adjacent to his palace, to the newly arrived Jews to build their synagogue.

Both communities placed a lot of emphasis on education, picked up local customs and manners, while retaining and following their faith.

Through hard work, foresight, diligence, good business practices and education - both communities rose in stature, and made immense contributions to the society. Mr. Jamsetji Tata, a Parsi gentleman, was a visionary who brought India its first steel plant, its first state-of the-art cotton mills, its first world-class luxury hotel. This happened in India of late 19th century. JRD Tata started the aviation industry in India.

What Tata family is to the Parsis, Sassoon family is to the Jews. Both families were based in Bombay, now Mumbai. David Sassoon, in the latter half of the 19th century, set up businesses which gained in strength, set up schools, and libraries. His grandson Jacob Eliyahu Sassoon, in early 20th century, carried the business house forward. Both gave huge sums to both Jewish and public institutions.

More importantly, Parsis and Jews have never sought minority status from the government.

And the nation is proud of them.

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The South Asian Life & Times

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