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The result of a twenty-four year labor of love, Sooni Taraporevala’s Parsis is the first visual documentation of India’s Parsi community, followers of the world’s first prophet, Zarathustra. A photographer and award-winning screenwriter, Taraporevala offers a rare insider’s view of how the Parsis, a people whose ancestors sailed from Iran to India in 936ad to escape persecution, survive today as a religious and ethnic minority of India—and exist in small communities in the United States,Canada, Britain,Australia, and New Zealand.

UNESCO recently celebrated 3,000 years of Zoroastrianism, once the religion of Cyrus the Great’s mighty Persian Empire.The world’s oldest monotheistic religion greatly influenced other major religions and civilizations, and its followers once numbered in the millions. Today Parsi Zoroastrians are said to be on the verge of extinction: of an Indian population of more than one billion, Parsis number a mere 76,000. Yet the community has produced many well-known leaders and artists, including the world-renowned

conductor, Zubin Mehta; the late rock legend Freddy Mercury; and the international award-winning author, Rohinton Mistry.

Part of the Indian fabric for over 1,000 years,Parsis have gained a reputation as a highly educated and urban people who are quite private about their religious practices,which include leaving their dead in specially designed open air towers for vultures to devour, a last act of charity on earth.

Taraporevala’s photographs offer a vivid window into Parsi life in all its vibrancy and diversity. Historical documents and personal essays, as well as interviews, round out this volume.Her lens takes us from public celebrations to private rituals, from fire-temples to living rooms, from the streets of Bombay to the villages of Gujarat.

An intimate insider’s view of how the Parsis live today, Parsis is a stunning chronicle of their faces, voices, and culture—bringing to life a community of intense contradictions and endurance.

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