Explain the Structure of Parsi Panchayat.

society in india

Parsi Panchayat Structure.

Parsi Panchayat (also called Anjuman) play a role in reforming certain practices which reflected the infiltration of non-zoroastrian elements into Parsi institutions. From the time Parsis landed in India, there were some members among them who negotiated with the rulers and traders on behalf of their community. Gradually the Parsi Panchayat or Council of Elders came into being. This was established in Surat and Naysari around the middle of the seventeenth century. It consisted of both priests and laypersons.

In terms of the Parsi Panchayat, in the seventeenth century though priests were members of the Panchayat, the laity members played a greater role in the economic role of the Parsis in India. Towards the last quarter of the seventeenth century the British started developing Bombay into their main trading center.

The Parsi community began to make full use of this trading venture in Bombay. The Parsi Panchayat played an active role in promoting the economic interests of the community. It also provided some inner stability and order to the Parsi community. The Bombay Panchayat was formally recognized to punish members of the community who went against the traditionally accepted Parsi norms (religious and social).

Punishable acts included committing bigamy or insulting members of the priestly class. A person requiring divorce and permission to marry a second wife had to represent his case in writing to the Panchayat. Those who violated the rules were to be turned out of the community and punished, as the Panchayat thought proper. Besides obtaining permission from the Panchayat to marry a second time (when the first wife is alive) a man had to very often pay the Panchayat some amount of money as charity.

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