Tracing origins of Zoroastrians

Tracing origins of Zoroastrians

Threads of Continuity exhibition focuses on the philosophy and the culture of ancient Zoroastrian faith from its origins in Central Asia, tracing a geographical and chronological continuum till the present. This philosophy became part of the lived heritage of the Zoroastrian community – both in India and Iran.

Due to their persecution in Central Asia  around 633 AD, they entered into India after which they were called Parsis. Today, India has the largest number of ‘Zoroastrians’ in the world and there are around 60,000 Parsis in India.  Co-curator, Kritika Mudgal says, “The exhibition is just for cultural awareness, about parsis, food, culture, religion and symbols. Unlike Mumbai, Pune and Gujarat, Delhi does not have a Parsi hub.”

Other curators, like Dr Shernaz Cama (director of the UNESCO initiated PARZOR (Parsi Zoarastrian) project, Dadi Pudumjee (international puppeteer), Ashdeen Lilaowala (designer) have been working on this project for the past one-and-a-half years.

The whole of Twin Art Gallery in Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), is used up in the exhibition. And still the story of the Parsi community seems unfinished.

“Such projects on cultural representations of the community does not help the community in retaining its population. They are to educate people about their culture and sensitise them about their traditions,” Mudgal tells Metrolife.

In Zoroastrian philosophy, a sacred thread links all creation. It is called the Kushti, that the Zoroastrians wear as a girdle around the waist. It is called the Navjote in India, while Sedreh (or Pushi) is used by the Zoroastrians in Iran. The Kushti is wound thrice around the waist and is made of 72 fine, white and woolen threads, which represent the 72 chapters of the Yasna, the sacred scripture of the community.

“The exhibition is named on the same lines as its tracing the continuity of the community since its origin,” says Mudgal.

The exhibition also portrays the cross-cultural influences on the community in India. To highlight these, Gujarat and Deccan Zoroastrian symbols, artefacts and ceremony photographs are also displayed.

Rare artefacts and manuscripts from reputed academic and cultural institutions worldwide are a part of display. One of them is the replica of the ‘Statue of Darius I’. Perhaps even more significant are personal objects which are borrowed from individuals, thus creating an exhibition of living culture. Installations, and video recordings, representing spiritual as well as environmental practices in material life, highlight the holistic nature of this faith. The exhibition is on until May 29 at IGNCA in the Twin Art Gallery.

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