Half the total population of the community, approximately twenty thousand Zoroastrians, lived and flourished there. The glory of Surat, however, waned in from the time the island of Bombay passed into the hands of the British. The rise of Bombay was the decline of Surat; and gradually, Surat lost its grandeur.
Nature itself seemed to frown on her and contributed to her downfall. Zoroastrian literature of later days has apportioned the elements to the good and evil spirits.
It has divided the winds of Govad Yazad into two parts — peace and prosperity-laden winds — 'the good winds' — have been assigned to Spenta Mainyu, whereas strong, storm-bearing winds — 'the bad winds' have been termed as the creation of Angra Mainyu.
These stormy winds oppress Iran year after year. Usually, before spring sets in, storms approach the southern city of Kerman with terrific rapidity, strength, and suddenness.
Huge masses of clouds rush down upon the earth like a horde of wild elephants and whirlwinds of dust and sand are a curse to wayfarers and caravans. The city of Surat has been spared such boundless and unbridled breezes. Instead, constant floods and fires have repeatedly wrought untold disaster and destruction to this one-time Eden of the Orient. The great famine of of the Samvat era brought in its wake several minor famines and starving families wended their way towards the promising city of Bombay.
Parsis had gained a foothold there since the days of Portuguese supremacy and it grew increasingly firm under British rule. By that time quite a major portion of the Parsi population of Surat had already settled in Bombay. Wherever the Union Jack fluttered, enterprising Parsis followed. Besides, with the growing strength of the British in the Far East, Parsis established trade relationships with the ports of Hong Kong, Canton, Shanghai, Macao, and other places. Leaving behind their motherland, Iran, in the 8th century, and settling amongst the dignified Gujaratis of Gujarat, these 'fair-skinned, serene and courageous' Parsis, from the close of the 17th century, spread to the four corners of India and even beyond its boundaries.
The great floods of Gujarat of wrought havoc in Surat and in receding, a devastating fire devoured the city, as a result of which Rustompara, inhabited by the Parsis, was completely gutted. According to Zoroastrian precepts, life is a constant struggle — a struggle within and without man's soul. The four elements of nature — fire, water, wind, and earth — at times attack and destroy mankind.
But undaunted, man forges onwards. The world-famous volcano, Mount Vesuvius, time and again erupts and emits flaming molten matter all around, destroying lands and lives.
Yet, as soon as the Vesuvius subsides, man returns to his abode and starts afresh. Ruined Rustompara too revived and the sacred manthras of Ashem and Yatha resounded once again in Parsi localities. Approximately five hundred families, including priests and laymen, lived there.
Professionally they were weavers, brokers, shop-keepers, and employees. My forefathers were Athornans of Navsari of the Bhagarsath sect. They lived in the area known as Motta Farampara in Rustompara.
Their self owned dwelling-place had bamboo walls plastered with cow-dung and mud. My father and his brother  lived there with their parents. They earned their livelihood by performing casual ceremonies and walked all the way to Nanpara and the city just to get a gratuity of one or two paisas. At times they had to walk three or four miles to the home of some wealthy layman where they had to perform the pre-dawn Uthamna ceremony. Should they be fortunate enough to receive a tip of four paisas, there was great rejoicing in the family.
As the priestly profession did not bring in sufficient sustenance, both men and women wove cloth in order to supplement the family income. In those days when my uncle and father went to some religious festival, they were given a pie each to enjoy at the fair. From that they would buy a little gift for themselves, eat something, and return home happy and delighted. The Almighty had not bestowed the gift of an offspring on my aunt and uncle and in my parents' home I was the only brother of my three older sisters.
I was born on the Amerdadsal day in Y. My mother's parental home was in Dumas and it was well-endowed with a good income from cattle farming and dairy produce. My mother left this earthly abode when I was three, so the sweet and loving impress of a mother was not imprinted on my memory.
My uncle, Hormusji, was energetic and industrious. His day to day living was selfless, straight-forward, and honest. The people of the neighborhood honored and respected him as a Daver or a Desai. Not content with the mode of life in Surat, he was always anxious to seek fresh fields abroad in order to improve the condition of the family. His aged parents did not approve of his idea and dissuaded him from taking such a step.
Unwilling to hurt them in any way, he respected their wishes and lived a life devoid of hope. However, his mind was full of thoughts of far-off lands, hence even while he worked at the  spinning-wheel he would be lost in his dreams and the work would lie in his lap.
Lovingly his mother would recall him to his labor and in immediate response he would weave a couple of inches of cloth. Dastur Aspandiarji Rabadi, the first renowned translator of the Yajashne [Yasna] into Gujerati, in , was aware of our poverty. He also knew that my uncle had become a Navar under the patronage of a wealthy gentleman of the Wadia family of Bombay.
One day, he told my uncle that he was acquainted with Mr. There was need of a mobed who would live in his home at Bombay and cook sanctified food and perform the ceremonies. The salary, too, was quite decent. Should my uncle decide upon going to Bombay, he was willing to recommend him. But his mother persuaded him not to leave her alone in her old age and once again he desisted.
Five years went by and hardships increased. The weaving business dwindled. Day by day the income decreased and, despite the strictest economy, it became increasingly difficult to make two ends meet. In sheer desperation and with a very heavy heart his mother granted him permission to go and my uncle went to Bombay.
Wadia's firm faced an unexpected and extensive loss and collapsed suddenly. He informed my uncle of his inability to employ him. The construction of the G.
Railway had just commenced, and many Parsis had found occupation as contractors or laborers. Among them were laymen as well as priests. My uncle did not possess more than Rs.
This gave no promise either. Seth Jeejibhoy Dadabhoy's new Agyari at Colaba was established in As my uncle had been reared as a weaver he was not in a position to perform the more complex religious rites. He began to earn his daily bread by performing casual ceremonies at people's homes at Colaba.
True to their admirable spirit of adventure and enterprise they sailed the seas to far away lands like Colombo, Penang, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Canton, and other places. Now that same undaunted enthusiasm took them southwards to Hyderabad and to the Malabar Coast and eastwards to Calcutta.
They even sailed westwards to Aden and Hodeida. Wherever they went they were honoured and respected. They made millions through their trade with China and established large charitable trusts and funds. However, the once flourishing business of Bengal, the Deccan and Aden which had yielded untold wealth, waned with the start of the century.
On the other hand, about a hundred and twenty-five years ago, Parsis with their proverbial initiative, turned their steps from the towns of Gujarat and Bombay towards the north-west of India. More than with any other part of the sub-continent, our contacts have been with Sind and the Punjab, dating back to almost years. Ever since that time the relationship between Iran and the sub-continent has been maintained.
Stray Zoroastrian centres, too, have continued to exist. It did not end there. At one time the branches of the Jessawalla Company extended from Karachi through Sindh and Punjab and via Peshawar crossed the borders of the sub-continent into Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.
Somehow, since the turn of the century, the days of these Parsi enterprises seem to have been numbered. The city of Karachi is the only happy exception. On Parsi population basis even today Surat stands second only to Bombay. But decade by decade it seems on the decline, whereas the Parsi population of Karachi is increasing. It knows not the ebb-tide. Today it is nearing which will soon grow to five and even more. Economically, even today the status of the Parsis of Karachi is second only to those of Bombay.
When the Hon'ble Sir Jamshedji Jeejibhoy I extended his generosity to the cities of Gujarat, he wished to help his co-religionists in Karachi also.
It is said that the Zoroastrian elders of those days thanked him respectfully for his kind thought but wrote back that they were broad-shouldered and preferred to stand independently on their own feet.
Already the communal and non-communal charities of the Parsis of Karachi — charities that have been bestowed without the least consideration of caste, creed, or colour — amount to approximately a crore. Their generosity knows no bounds and God willing, never will. At some time someone must have said: This epithet has made that pet city proud and pompous. Until very recently Sindh was a part of the Bombay Presidency. The Governor of Bombay during his five years' tenure of office, hardly ever visited Karachi.
Karachi fought for recognition and forced him to come two or three times during the period. The Bombay Government was most reluctant in granting Karachi  her rights and privileges. In fact the distance between England and Karachi is less than the distance between England and Bombay.