Freemasonry and the Indian Parsi Community
A Late Meeting On the Level
Keywords:Empire, Freemasonry, India, Race, Parsi
Following closely in the wake of British imperialism, the first Indian lodge was constituted in 1730, by officials of the East India Company based in Fort William, Calcutta. From there, masonic lodges started to spawn in the other urban centres and army cantonments of the fast-expanding Indian Empire. As the native elites started expressing a growing interest in joining, India became a testing ground on which freemasonry, initially an all-white organization, could experiment its universal creed. The first Indian to become a mason was Umdat-ul-Umrah Bahadur, son of the powerful Nawab of the Carnatic. Following his lead, a handful of muslim noblemen were able to gain access to the fraternity. Local masons appeared to be more willing to fraternize with the Muslim. But in the 1840s, this pattern was somehow overturned, as the Parsi community grew to become the most represented group within Indian lodges. This paper seeks to examine the foundations of this newly acquired eligibility.
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