Parsis: Background information when reading The Space Between Us

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The Space Between Us

A Novel

by Thrity Umrigar

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar X
The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2006, 336 pages

    Paperback:
    Feb 2007, 352 pages

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About this Book

Parsis

This article relates to The Space Between Us

Print Review

Parsis are Zoroastrians, most likely descended from Persian Zoroastrians who emigrated to Indian from the Middle-East to escape Muslim persecution.  Zoroastrianism is both a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster (c.1200 BCE) who proclaimed Ahura Mazda to be the one divine authority and creator of all.  Zoroastrians pray to Ahura Mazda to help them in the ongoing battle between Spenta Mainyu (the Bounteous Spirit) and Angra Mainyu (the Destructive Spirit).   Traditionally, after death the body of a Zoroastrian is laid out naked in a tower to be devoured by vultures, and the soul is judged and passes either to a heaven or hell-like region. 

Unlike Christianity, Zoroastrianism is a non-proselytizing religion - if you are not born one it is very difficult to become one.  In 1996 the number of Zoroastrians worldwide was estimated at 200,000, including about 5,000 in Pakistan, perhaps 20,000 in both North America and Iran, and up to 70,000 Parsis in Indian,

Did you know?
Other than Thrity Umrigar, the most well-known modern-day Parsi is probably Farrokh Bulsara, better known as Freddie Mercury, former-lead singer of Queen, who was born on the African island of Zanzibar, then a British colony, where his parents, Bomi and Jer Bulsara, both Indian Parsis, worked.  Mercury was sent back to a boarding school in Bombay and completed his high school education in India before returning to Zanzibar, from where he and his family fled for England, during the political unrest in 1964.

Filed under Society and Politics

This article relates to The Space Between Us. It first ran in the March 8, 2007 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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