'Spirit of India'

Parsi Community of India

Society & Culture

Sufis - Poetic Wisdom

South Asian Women Leaders


Music in Pakistan
A story of five decades


Fast Foods - the 'E' Cuisine


Royal Bengal's last roar?


'Parsis-Zoroastrians of India

'Silk Road on Wheels'

Editor's Note


The Shop

Old  Prints




the-south-asian.com                               April  2001

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Parsis - Eminent Citizens

 Homi Jehangir Bhabha – Scientist

1909 – 1966

Homi Bhabha served as the President of the UN conference on peaceful uses of atomic energy in 1955 and later as President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics from 1960 to 63. Bhabha joined the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, in 1940 as a reader in physics. He then established, with funds from JRD Tata, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Bombay in 1945. Son of a barrister, Homi Bhabha studied engineering at Cambridge. He died in a plane crash on Mont Blanc on January 24, 1966.


Zubin Mehta

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Born 29 April 1936, Bombay

One of the world's greatest conductors, Zubin Mehta has been the conductor of the Israel Philharmonic since 1981; he led the New York Philharmonic (1978-91) , the Los Angeles Philharmonic (1962-78) and the Montreal Symphony (1961-67) - the first conductor to head two major North American orchestras at the same time.

Zubin's teacher, the late Hans Swarowsky at the Music Academy in Vienna, Austria, had predicted in 1963 that his former pupil would be "a great figure in the history of music."

His father, violinist and conductor Mehli Mehta, formed Bombay’s first orchestra ‘The Bombay Symphony’, and also served as associate concertmaster of the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, England, from 1955 to 1959. He is currently Music Director of the American Youth Symphony in Los Angeles.

Zubin was the youngest man to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic, the youngest to become music director of a major American orchestra, the first and, so far, the only music director of the Israel Philharmonic. 

Zubin has conducted over 1,600 performances on five continents. During his thirteen years in New York, he conducted over 1,000 concerts, thus holding the position longer than any Music Director in the Orchestra's modern history.

In 1994, he brought the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to India and conducted in Bombay and New Delhi. In 1998 Zubin Mehta began a five year appointment as Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich.

In 1967 the Indian government awarded him its highest cultural honor, Padma Bhushan, and in 1976 the Italian government awarded him the honorary title of Commendatore.


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Writer Rohinton Mistry
(Photo:c 2000 Sooni Taraporevala)

Firdaus Kanga ,Rohinton Mistry


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Cyrus Oshidar, MTV
(Photo:c 2000 Sooni Taraporevala)

Russy and Burjor Karanjia, N.J. Nanporia, Dina Vakil, Frene Talyarkhan, the Kangas of Calcutta, husband and wife who started Navroze, Shehnaz Treasurywala, Cyrus Oshidar Vice president MTV

in films

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Kaizad Gustad - maker of 'Bombay Boys'
(Photo:c 2000 Sooni Taraporevala)

Sohrab Mody and H.B. Wadia, Kaizad Gustad


Miss Indias

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Persis Khambatta as a beauty queen and later as an actress in Hollywood. She passed away in 1999.

Meher Mistry and Persis Khambatta.

Nuclear science

Homi Bhabha and Homi Sethna,


Khushru Rustamji,


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Jehangir Sabavala, Painter
(Photo: c 2000 Sooni Taraporevala)

Jehangir Sabavala, the professional art impresarios, Keiku Gandhy and Kali Pundole, the builders with Shapoorji Pallonji.


the Taj chain of hotels, J.J. and Tata Cancer Hospitals, Sir J.J. School Of Arts, the Institute Of Social Sciences and the Institute Of Fundamental Research.

Famous Cricketers

The early history of Indian cricket is the history of Bombay Parsi cricket.

Parsis formed the Oriental Cricket Club in 1848, and later the Zoroastrian and the Mars Clubs.

The Young Zoroastrian Club, was founded in 1850 by Hiraji Gosta, also known as Kuka Daru, with financial help from the houses of Tata and Wadia. Credit is also due to the late Mr.J. Framji Patel.

The Parsi Gymkhana was founded in 1885.The captain of the team was Dr. D.H. Patel, a cousin of Framji's.

Pestonji Kanga, "a free bat, a fast underhand bowler with a puzzling delivery and a good field". The leading player was Dr. M.E. Pavri. He captured 170 wickets at a little over 11 each and scored 630 runs in England. He often visited England and in 1895 he played for Middlesex against Sussex and caught "Ranji" in one of the innings. Kanga gave India its first club cricket tournament

Russy Mody, Polly Umrigar, Nari Contractor, Farokh Engineer, Russy Surti played for the National team.

A.F.S. Talyarkhan was a legendary broadcaster



Famous In Britain

Britain's first Asian MPs, all belonged to the small and highly influential Indian community of Parsis.

Dadabhai Naoroji - MP for Finsbury 1892-95 - a Liberal, a Tory

Mancherjee Bhownagree - MP for Bethnal Green 1895-1905 - a Tory

 Shapurji Saklatvala - MP for Battersea 1922-29 - a Socialist.

c 2000 Sooni Taraporevala)

Among Parsis well-known in Britain today are Freddie Mercury of Queen, Farrukh Dhondy (the Channel 4 editor and scriptwriter).


next page



Parsis - The Zoroastrians of India

The story of the Ancestors

Arrival in India and the beginnings of a new life

The Early Entrepreneurs of Bombay

Pioneers of Modern India

Eminent Parsis of India

What is Zoroastrianism?

Who was Zarathustra?

Rituals, Customs & Manners




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