Parsiana, a semi-monthly magazine in English published from Bombay, carries information on, and features of interest to the International Zoroastrian community. As of 2015, it is in its 51st year of publication.
Early years
Parsiana was founded in November 1964 by Dr Pestonji Warden in Bombay. It was labelled “A new medium for old wisdom”, and comprised largely of articles pertaining to Zoroastrian religion, history, customs and traditions.
In time it became embroiled with community politics especially when Warden got into a tussle with the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) over the printing of the monthly at the Godrej Printing Press run by the apex Bombay trust. For some time it was cyclostyled.
In 1973 the aging Warden sold the publication for Re 1 to Jehangir Patel, a journalist. The ownership was subsequently transferred in 1983 to Parsiana Publications Private Limited.
Taking the lead
Parsiana was the first publication in India to use the prefix Ms when referring to women instead of Miss and Mrs despite opposition from some readers. It has since dropped both Mr and Ms.
Beginning in 1987 Parsiana began to collect and publish data on community births, marriages, and deaths in the Zoroastrian community in Bombay; as well as sporadic data received from outstation sources. In 1988 it published data on interfaith marriages in Bombay which proved highly controversial. There was a public outcry as a taboo had been broken. At that time the interfaith marriage count was 14%. In 2013 it was 39% and in 2014, 37%.
Since 1999 Parsiana has been publishing a calendar issue every year, juxtaposing the Shahenshahi, Kadmi, and Fasli days and months within the Gregorian calendar. The Parsiana pocket diary with these same features is being posted free of cost to all subscribers since 2004.
Allied efforts
The Parsiana Book Of Iranian Names which contains authentic Iranian names is in its fourth edition, having first been published in 1978. The names were compiled by the late Avesta and Pahlavi scholar Ervad Jamshed Katrak and were vetted by Dasturs (Dr) Hormazdyar Mirza and (Dr) Kaikhusroo JamaspAsa, Ervad (Dr) Peshotan Peer, and Mahyar Patel.
In 2005 Parsiana published Judgments, a 272-page book containing the judgements delivered in crucial community legal cases such as Petit vs Jejeebhoy (Parsi Punchayet case) and Saklat vs Bella along with other judgments and articles analyzing the pronouncements.
In 2002 Parsiana started the Parsiana Book Club which offers books on Zoroastrianism and Parsis written by community members and others. Parsiana has a bookshop at K. K. (Navsari) Chambers at Fort, Bombay, where besides books, it also sells other Zoroastrian artefacts, embroidery, pickles, chutney, etc.
In 2006 Parsiana prepared a set of four archival CDs bearing the contents of all the issues from 1964 to 2005. A second set of archives from 2006 to 2014 is in the offing.
Under the new management, the magazine’s focus shifted to journalistic coverage of current events, personalities and developments in the community in India and overseas. The first issue under the new management in August 1973 carried a cover story on Parsi divorces which were said to be the highest amongst any community in Indian (around 10%). Since then Parsiana has continued to cover controversial and unusual stories on all aspects of the community.
As the international coverage increased, Parsiana started a Zoroastrians Abroad column which is now published in every issue. The publication’s journalists have covered major events in many parts of the world including Iran, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, London, New York and Los Angeles.
The magazine’s Readers’ Forum column contains letters from readers with three pages or more space being reserved for their views in every issue. The Events and Personalities column focuses on Parsis and Iranis in India who have made news, good or bad and is one of the most popular columns.
The Politics and Policy column covers the various happenings in the anjumans and punchayets (associations) such as the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, the Delhi Parsi Anjuman and the Federation of the Parsi Zoroastrian Anjumans of India amongst others. Other columns include Books, In Memoriam, History, Art, Business, Sports, Food, Law. Parsiana has devoted extensive coverage to controversial court cases pertaining to crucial community issues and has championed several social causes.
To cater to the global Zoroastrian readership Parsiana started a website in 2002 which carried extracts from the magazine. Since December 2012 the entire contents of the Parsiana issues are posted on the website and are accessible to subscribers. Print subscribers view the website free of cost. Important news developments are also featured on the site.
Parsiana’s income is derived from subscriptions, advertisements, sponsorships, donations, sale of books and Zoroastrian artefacts.
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