Grading: Grade 2 (Pavilion, Service Hall & Gardener’s House)
The origins of Parsees in the city can be traced back to the early days of Hong Kong. Most of them descended from Iranians and came to Hong Kong from India. For generations, they have practiced Zoroastrianism, a religion founded in Persia. In Zoroastrianism, prayers are offered to the fire, which is regarded as a sacred symbol by its followers. Zoroastrianism is therefore also known as a fire-worshipping religion.
The Parsee Cemetery was established in 1852. There were few Parsees in Hong Kong at the time, but they were the third ethnoreligious group to be allocated a site for cemetery by the colonial government. For Parsees, sky burial is the traditional way to dispose of the dead. Since there are no suitable venues in Hong Kong for this kind of ritual, earth burial is practiced instead. Before burial, the body is cleaned and placed inside an elevated coffin. Some of the most prominent Parsee businessmen in Hong Kong, such as Sir Hormusjee Mody, who donated for the founding of the University of Hong Kong, and the Ruttonjee family, are laid to rest in this cemetery. Indeed, the footprints of Zoroastrianism can be found at various places in the city. For instance, the well-visited pavilion at the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens was built with donations from the local Parsee community as a performance venue for the military band.
The project is supported by Lord Wilson Heritage Trust.
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