In a country of India’s size and diversity there exists people from varied faiths and traditions and one such community is the Parsi community which inhabits India and came to India as immigrants from Iran and settled here in India and have been a very significant community in India. The Parsis have a different set of beliefs and they follow the Zoroastrian religion and their personal laws also vary from the personal laws of Hindus, Muslims, and Christians of India.
The Parsis have their own traditions when it comes to weddings and a Parsi Marriage is a form of contract and it is performed through a ceremony known as ‘Ashirvad’ literally meaning blessings and it is governed by The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936. This Act contains all the necessary formalities required for the marriage to take place, as well as the procedure for divorce. This Act has a total of 53 sections.
For the marriage to take place there should not be a relation between the contracting parties within the degrees of consanguinity which means they should not be the descendants of the same ancestors. There ought to be two Parsi witnesses while the marriage takes place in the presence of the priest. The minimum age to marry is 18 and 21 for girls and boys respectively. These are the necessary conditions for marriage but in case these are not fulfilled then the child who is born of such union will be legitimate just like he would have been in the marriage would have been valid.
The Parsi women lose their rights to ancestral property when they marry a non-Parsi man and the non-Parsi wives of Parsi men get only half a share in the property. These provisions are held to be discriminatory against women
The bigamy is punished under the Indian Penal Code if a Parsi during the lifetime of a husband or wife remarries without divorcing the spouse or dissolving the marriage under the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936.
Under the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 a marriage can be dissolved by three modes which are:
(1) If due to some natural causes, the consummation of the marriage is rendered impossible then a suit for nullity can be filed.
(2) Under the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936, a person may file a suit for divorce in the following circumstances:
(a) within a year of the marriage, the marriage has not been consummated due to willful refusal to consummate by anyone of the spouses.
(b) the defendant is proved to be of unsound mind and has not recovered from such unsoundness during the course of the marriage.
(c) the woman at the time of the wedding was pregnant by a man other than the husband, the divorce on this ground can be granted only if the plaintiff was unaware of the pregnancy at the time of the marriage and suit is filed by the plaintiff within two years of the marriage.
(3) In case husband and wife have been not been in the company of each other for a period of seven years then also a suit for dissolution of marriage can be filed.
Thus, the Parsis set themselves apart as well as assimilate within the social fabric of India and their marriage might seem similar to that of Hindus and Muslims but they have managed to set themselves apart and uphold their traditions and customs.