Families wanting to bury or cremate their loved ones struggled to find other venues where a priest could perform the ritual four days of prayers required to ensure the soul of the deceased reaches heaven.“This issue split the community,” says Mr Mirza of the dispute which spawned a long-running legal battle and set in motion plans for the new and separate prayer hall.” (“Shirin and Farhad Have Got It Made”), revolves around the bumbling courtship of two middle-aged Parsis.The scene where Shirin accidentally eats her engagement ring is pure farce.“There are days when the smell comes right up to our house,” Ms Master said of the corpses lying in the dakhmas, also known as Towers of Silence.India’s tiny but prosperous Parsi community is struggling to find a balance between preserving its traditional rituals and an embrace of modern practices, amid a declining birth rate and growing numbers of mixed marriages.The venture-capital fund is struggling to find young entrepreneurs.Nostalgia pervades Parsi clubs, where elderly ladies play rummy in faded English dresses. The children of women who marry outside do not count as Parsis, despite an otherwise progressive attitude to women. In desperation, this year the Bombay Parsi Association raised its monthly cash handouts to 3,000 rupees () for couples with a second child and to 5,000 rupees for those with a third. Indian officials are usually focused on keeping a lid on the country’s growing population of 1.2 billion.
The debate over their death customs has opened up a divide between liberal Parsis, keen to take their faith forward, and conservatives and elders who have watched with alarm as their community both modernises – and shrinks.
Instead, she was cremated on the other side of the city, at a facility used mainly by Hindus, defying hundreds of years of tradition.
Before her death last week, the 82-year-old realised what many of Mumbai’s Parsis have come to accept – that the city’s vultures have disappeared and bodies placed in the dakhmas are now left rotting in the open for months.
Jehangir Patel, editor of , a magazine for the Parsi community, says Parsis often marry late, like the lovebirds in the film, or not at all. Yet the national planning commission is mulling a 0,000 scheme to increase the Parsis’ dwindling numbers through fertility treatments and advertising campaigns. The Parsi youth association in Mumbai, founded in 2009 to turn around the shrinking population, holds frequent speed-dating sessions and produces a calendar of the community’s hottest pin-ups.
It even held a three-day get-together last year, where guests were put up in a plush Tata hotel and partied in the corridors.