Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Parsi Welcome and Farewell

Right after stepping off our long train ride and freshening up at the hotel we were ready to experience Mumbai! Just minutes from our hotel , the famous landmark "Gate of India" which is located right on the boardwalk. Not to be confused with "India Gate" a landmark in Delhi which we visited earlier.

Cat, me, Julie, and Yamilee in front of some of the most expensive complexes in Mumbai. Julie's huge extended family treated our group out to dinner every night in Mumbai! Their generosity and caring have been so appreciated by us! As mentioned before, Julie and her family are Parsi, meaningn they follow the Zoroastrian faith. I've been learning so much about this religion since meeting her so I thought I'd share some highlights. Zoroastrianism is a faith some believe the first monotheistic religion and which started around 5 B.C. Though the religion was thought to have been practiced by much of Iran in ancient history it is now mostly practiced by those in India and Pakistan. The religious community is small (less than 200,000) since the only way one can be Zoroastrian is to be a child of parents that are both Parsees. No one can convert to the religion and mixed-religion couples are frowned upon. We were told that apparently the board of Parsees have offered to pay the expenses of any children a Parsee couple has beyond 2 children, an interesting concept to increase the size of their religious community!

On Saturday, we got a chance to visit Ghandi's Mumbai house and museum. It was a part of a day long tour in which I got sick two hours in. I ended up having to hail a cab and rest back at the hotel for the remainder of the day. Being a traveler and having a volatile stomache isn't much fun sometimes...

However! I recovered from nauseu and stomach pains to enjoy a huge dinner with Julie's family on our last night in Mumbai. Her relatives were incredibly friendly, loud, and loved introducing us to dish after dish of delicious indian specialties. We truly felt a part of her family and without them Mumbai wouldn't have been the same!Julie's younger cousins pointed us in the direction of a local club and bar and we enjoyed a quiet Sunday night in the place which was on the empty side. But the music was great and we recognized almost every bollywood song the dj put on! We had a blast and felt right at home even with lots of Indian guys around us singing Hindi lyrics.

On our last day we visited a Parsi colony and saw the "fire temple" that Parsees worship within. (only parsees allowed in) Woman and men have to wear a special tank top underneath their clothes before entering and apparently they do not pray to any figure our face but rather to a bowl of fire.

Fittingly, we encountered a small downpour before leaving. Pictured here is a Mumbai taxi, very different from our Delhi rickshaws!

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