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The Iranis are an ethno-religious community in South Asia; descendants of Persian Zoroastrians who emigrated from Iran to South Asia within the last few centuries. They are culturally, linguistically and socially distinct from the Parsis, who - although also Zoroastrians - arrived on the subcontinent over 1,200 years ago. The Parsis and Iranis may also be considered legally distinct. This is based in part on a 1909 obiter dictum that, among many other issues relating to the Indian Zoroastrians, also observed that Iranis (of the now defunct Bombay Presidency) were not obliged to uphold the decisions of the then-regulatory Parsi Panchayat.
Although the term 'Irani' is first attested during the Mughal era, most Iranis are descendants of immigrants who arrived on the subcontinent during the 19th and early 20th centuries, that is, when Iran was ruled by the Qajars and when religious persecution of non-Muslims was rampant. The descendants of the immigrants of those times remain culturally and linguistically closer to the Zoroastrians of Iran, in particular to the Zoroastrians of Yazd and Kerman. Consequently, the Dari dialect of the Zoroastrians of those provinces may also be heard amongst the Iranis.
In India, most Iranis live in and around the cities of Mumbai and Hyderabad. Many Indian Iranis have strong historical ties with the city of Hyderabad, while in Pakistan they live in the cities of Karachi and Lahore.
Notable members of the Irani community include:
- Anosh Irani, Indian-Canadian novelist
- Aruna Irani, Bollywood actress
- Ardeshir Irani, director of the first Indian sound film, Alam Ara
- Bakhtiyaar Irani, TV Actor
- Boman Irani, TV Actor
- Daisy Irani, Bollywood child actress of the 50's and 60's
- Delnaaz Irani, Bollywood actress
- Dinshah Irani, Zoroastrian leader who provided aid to the Zoroastrian community of Iran.
- Faredoon Irani, Indian cinematographer
- Honey Irani, Screenwriter (Krrish)
- Jenni Irani (Jamshed Khudadad Irani), cricketer
- Meher Baba (Merwan Sheriar Irani), mystic
- Nariman Irani (d. 1977), cinematographer
- Ronnie Irani, cricketer
- Sanaya Irani, TV Actress
- Tanaaz Irani, Actress
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