Anyone who's seen the new film Bohemian Rhapsody was exposed to snippets of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury's Parsi background.
The Parsis are Zoroastrians who fled Iran in the seventh century, with many settling in what are now the western Indian states of Gujurat and Maharashtra.
Mercury's parents were typical Bombay Parsis. They attended the fire temple and lived by the Parsi religious dictum of "good words, good thoughts, and good deeds".
That phrase popped up a couple of times when Mercury was talking to his father, Bomi, in Bohemian Rhapsody.
In addition, Bombay Parsis were known for their passion for opera, and the boys often share close bonds with their mothers.
Both of these were reflected in Mercury's music, perhaps most poignantly in his final recording, "Mother Love", and in "Bohemian Rhapsody".
His dad was a civil servant of the British Raj and was transferred to the island of Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania), where Mercury was born in 1946. Zanzibar had a massive Muslim presence, particularly when Mercury was young, and the word Bismillah is Arabic for "in the name of God". There's a funny scene in the film where a record executive, played by Mike Myers, doesn't know what the word means when he hears it in "Bohemian Rhapsody".
Mercury spent his youth in India at a boarding school outside of Bombay, playing in a teenage band called the Hectics. He also attended another school in Bombay (now Mumbai). While living in India, he started calling himself Freddie, which is a common Parsi name.
To learn more about his youth, check out the video below.
Rock stars come and go, but to his fans there will only be one Freddie Mercury.
His enduring popularity is reflected in the movie's appeal—in its second weekend, Bohemian Rhapsody was in second place behind The Grinch.
Over two weeks, the Mercury biopic has about $100 million in domestic box-office receipts.More