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Helping find Missing Parsis and Zoroastrians –

XYZ is back.

XYZ is back.

This time with an on-going programme.

Xtremely Young Zoroastrians is an initiative to encourage and foster religious, social and cultural awareness amongst the kids.

XYZ groups will be set up area-wise, in Colaba, Tardeo, Byculla, Parel, Dadar, Bandra and Andheri. That is, each area (for eg. Byculla, will include Rustom Baug, Jer Baug, Mazgaon and buildings in the surrounding neighborhood) will form an XYZ group.

Zoroastrian kids between 5 -15 years (these are our XYZ) can enroll and be part of any group that is close to their house.

Every child will register online and pay an annual membership fee of Rs. 1,000/- to the designated volunteer of their group.

Those who had registered for the XYZ summer camp and XYZania must once again register online.

Others, too, are most welcome and can register online

Done? Next?
These XYZ groups will meet twice a month (Sunday mornings) to partake of various activities ranging from games to social service to religious knowledge to performing and literary arts, field trips and camps and the list is endless!

As in all organisations, this one too will have its own office bearers, who will be among the XYZs aiming to inculcate leadership qualities and along with it, commitment and responsibility.

XYZ is officially launching on :

DATE: Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014

VENUE: Birla Matushri Sabhagar, Next to Bombay Hospital

TIME: 10:30am to 12:30pm

For any more information or clarifications, please feel free to contact:

Hoshaang – 9820683398

Visit to remove all doubts and register!

Tirgaan and Gahambar Maidyo-Shahem

Dear Friends,

Friday, November 28, Roj Tir and Mah Tir is the celebration of Tirgaan and also the second Gahambar, “Maidyo-Shahem“, dedicated to the Creation of Water!

This article on Tirgaan and Tir Yazad is by no means a detailed explanation. Also, the attachment regarding “Gahambar” in general, is fairly brief. Both subjects are vast and need a lot of time, understanding and concentration. It is sincerely recommended that one reads these two topics, Tir Yasht and Gahambars from Doctor Saheb Faramroze S. Chiniwala’s two books, Tir Yasht and Nikiz -e Vehdin, Vol. 2. Both are in Gujarati.

With best wishes,

Pervin Mistry



In the starry Heavens, Ahura Mazda has positioned 4 Guardians, i.e. the 4 Fixed Stars in the 4 Sacred Directions to protect the Good Creations from the armies of Angre-Mainyu. The sky is the sacred garment of Ahura Mazda and also of Ardibehesht Ameshaspand.

The 4 Guardians of the 4 Directions are:

1)     Teshtar Tir (Sirius) in the Eastern Sky, affiliated to Planet Mercury,

2)     Satvas (Vega) in the West, affiliated to Planet Venus,

3)     Vanant (Antares) in the South, affiliated to Planet Jupiter,

4)     Haptrang (Pleiades) in the North, affiliated to Planet Mars.

Click here to read the entire article Tirgaan and also the second Gahambar Maidyo-Shahem

Ramesh Narayan on Jiyo Parsi

The Parsis are a unique community. Everyone knows how they reached the shores of Gujarat fleeing religious persecution, charmed the Jadhav Rana by promising to be like sugar that completely dissolves in milk, not altering its color, or consistency in any way, just blending in and sweetening it forever. Much has been written about their immense contribution to the economic status of India, the social fabric of Mumbai, their charming little eccentricities, their orientation towards philantrophy and their general goodness. I have personally witnessed many of the attributes of Parsis in the shape of a very dear friend whom I have known closely for over four decades. And yet, as a community, their numbers have been dwindling alarmingly. This is obviously because of an amalgam of many reasons but the thought that this community is hurtling toward possible extinction in the pure form we know, is alarming. And any effort to improve their numbers is very welcome. One such effort is by the Ministry of Minority Affairs and Parzon (UNESCO) in the shape of a print advertising campaign aimed at this little community that is scattered across the country, with a concentration in Mumbai. Created by Madison BNB the campaign uses a combination of the self-deprecatory humor that Parsis are so sportingly known for to urge them to get married and have more children. In fact the ad mentions that if a married Parsi couple is childless they could be entitled to financial assistance to explore the possibility of an IVF procedure. The headline of one of the ads reads “Panni ja isn’t a spell from Harry Potter. It means get married”. The tone of the advertising is casual and to-the-point. Apart from the advertising being something that could be effective we are pleasantly surprised to see this noteworthy effort from the Ministry of Minority Affairs. And happily though the creatives are the work of Raj Nair, the owner of Madison BNB is a good Parsi, Sam Balsara. May their tribe grow. I hope Parsis all over the world read this interesting advertising, or are told of it by their friends. And I hope they are inspired to act upon it. As for me, I am happy to report that my own dear Parsi friend has done his bit for the community as evidenced by his two lovely daughters.

Ramesh Narayan is a communications consultant. Mail your comments to

(This article was published on November 27, 2014)

Vesu Agiary – Appeal to Professionals

Vesu (originally Village Vesu) is a flourishing suburb of Surat with a functioning Agiary and has its own resident panthaki. Although the number of Zarthusti families living in the village has been slowly declining, the number of Zarthustis staying in the surrounding areas and using the Agiary is growing.

The Agiary is close to a hundred years old and inspite of all the efforts of the trustees and well wishers, over the years the structure has gone weak and in need of major repair. A local family has pledged a decent sum for the repair / renovation of the agiary and is requesting the assistance of philanthropically inclined Zarthusti professionals to come forward and be a part of the team to take the project forward.

We need a company or individuals qualified in civil construction work to assess the work required and offer their services (own &/or company) to take this project to the next level.

Please urgently contact Sorab Vesuna <>

Rustompura,Nanpura & Farampura

That’s how Rustompura,Nanpura & Farampura got created…

10420388_862079023842703_3465615573389428607_nCourtesy : Jehangir Bisney


Creatively coupling

“In earlier times some families were cricket teams. Surely you can manage a carom foursome?” This provocative message was among a series of 17 print commercials ingeniously created by Madison World to draw the attention of Parsi couples to the Jiyo Parsi initiative that hopes to reverse the decline in community numbers with a change in mindset and medical intervention. The launch of the media awareness campaign at the Sir J. J. Modi Hall of the K. R. Cama Oriental Institute on November 10, 2014 mirrored the eccentricities and lifestyle of this fun and food loving community that accords a low priority to marriage and procreation.

  Jiyo Parsi campaign initiators: Dr Shernaz Cama (left) and Sam Balsara
Initiated by the Parzor Foundation and the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP), with Rs 10 crores financial assistance from the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India, the Jiyo Parsi program has been supported by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Federation of the Parsi Zoroastrian Anjumans of India. The Jiyo Parsi effort involves a two-pronged approach: the advocacy component to reiterate the need for early marriages and consequent increase in family size; plus fertility treatment for the couple with financial reimbursement up to Rs 5,00,000 depending on the family’s annual income. Following the launch of Jiyo Parsi on September 13, 2013, they were able to report on the birth of twins, a baby girl and nearly half a dozen successful conception stories. Their target in the next five years is to assist “at least 150-200 couples overcome fertility issues.”
As reminded Dr Shernaz Cama, director of the UNESCO Parzor project, “Jiyo Parsi is not just to increase our numbers but to value ourselves. We need to grow by laughing again.” Referring to the Jiyo Parsi logo specially created by Behram Sidhwa of Poona who won their logo competition, Cama commented that his adaptation of a fravashi is “open-hearted and all embracing. That’s what we Parsis were and hopefully will be again.”
For the awareness campaign that was masterminded by Madison, Cama gave credit to its chairman and managing director Sam Balsara for being “brilliantly creative, perfectly rational.” Appreciating that he made time “for every meeting and answered every email without charging a single penny for the campaign,” Cama acknowledged that although “the community cannot afford his services, we cannot afford to be without him.” The credit for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s phenomenal popularity in India and the US having been publicly attributed to Madison’s media magic amongst others, Cama jested, “Half of Delhi believes Balsara’s Madison owns Madison Garden (in the US)” where Modi’s speech this summer received global coverage.

 Masood Khaleghi (left) and Perizaad Zorabian
For the Zoroastrian community that traces its origins to Iran, the presence of Masood Khaleghi, consul general of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as the chief guest at the function was a reminder of its glorious past. Commenting on the media campaign that urges early marriage and more children in one’s own interest, and not as a favor to the community that would like to bolster its numbers, Khaleghi recommended “an equilibrium” between individualism and community loyalty. “There might come a time when one might have to sacrifice one’s life for the cause of the community or country,” he stated. Despite 200 births and 800 deaths in a year, as per figures shared by Parzor, “the community is in safe hands although simple calculations would indicate the end of the road for the community,” observed Khaleghi, adding, “They have truly been the sugar in the milk. I am sure they will continue.”
His comment was particularly relevant in light of one of the media campaigns that showed a group of five, merry, elderly Zoroastrians outside the Bhikha Behram Well with the catchline reading: “The milk is in grave danger of running out of sugar.” The reference, of course, was to the popular lore where a band of Zoroastrian refugees from Iran supposedly convinced the ruler on the western coast of India that they would never be a burden to his kingdom but would assimilate with the locals like sugar in milk.
Guest of honor Perizaad Zorabian, Bollywood actress and businesswoman who is one of the two brand ambassadors for Jiyo Parsi, won over the general media when she related “the advantage of being a Parsi girl with liberal parents who placed no pressure on her to get married early.” Admitting that “it is not very easy to find a Parsi boy,” she stated that she met husband Boman Irani, chairman and managing director of Rustomjee Group “by fluke.” Considering that she got married at the age of 33, had her first child at the age of 34 and a second child soon thereafter, she wondered whether she deserved to be the brand ambassador for Jiyo Parsi. To the amusement of the crowd she narrated how when well meaning family and friends now remind them that the community needs more children, Boman promptly turns to her and says “Perizaad kai kar (do something).”
With her daughter having just undergone surgery, Zorabian arrived nearly half an hour late at the venue during which time Cama announced that “she has been an inspiration for all of us in the community on how to balance life, work and family.” In fact her daughter’s hospitalization made her cancel a business engagement in Dubai during the weekend, but to Zorabian the joys of motherhood relegated all sacrifices to the background. Occasionally Perizaad and Boman wish that they had met each other earlier, but barring that “I would not like to change anything in my life,” she claimed.

  (From left, standing): Dr Rustom Soonawala, Anahita Desai, Lara Balsara, Dr Shernaz Cama, Dr Katy Gandevia, Arnavaz Mistry, Sam Balsara, Dinshaw Mehta, Armaity Tirandaz, Dr Anahita Pandole; 
  (sitting) Behram Sidhwa, Perizaad Zorabian, Pearl Tirandaz

 Yezdi Tantra (above) and Pearl Mistry; a section of the audience

Another youth icon who took the stage was Lara Balsara, executive director of Madison World. She explained that the two main reasons for creating this advertising campaign despite knowing that “the audience is so limited” was to “create a wave” and impress on the reader that “the matter is urgent.” Parsis have a rich culture and idiosyncrasies. Using them to make fun of ourselves without sermonizing, the campaign has accordingly been divided into four sections with the first holding a mirror to the absurd attitudes towards marriage nurtured by single members of the community. With ‘young’ Parsi men refusing to cut the umbilical cord till well past 40, the first message read, “Isn’t it time you broke up with your mom?” The second section urges couples to marry early and procreate quickly, one of the reasons being “Your grandfather’s 1955 Fiat. Your other grandfather’s 1976 Yezdi. Your dad’s 1982 Gold Rolex Oyster. Who is going to inherit all of it?” The third section appealed to parents to have more than one child with messages like “Don’t leave your child to face the world alone.” The last section urges those who have problems conceiving and in need of financial assistance to approach the Jiyo Parsi initiative for “It’s never too late to have a baby. Even by Parsi standards.”
Recapitulating the relevant statistics concerning the community in India, Jiyo Parsi counsellor Pearl Mistry who Cama introduced as “our star with three babies,” reminded the gathering that 30% in the community never marry, the average age of brides is 27 years and of grooms, 30 years. Whilst the death rate in the community is 1.8, for the rest of India it is 0.9. The birth rate for those who have married is 0.88. She was happy to announce that the Facebook page of Jiyo Parsi earned 1,800 “likes” in the last few days.
Most questions from the media representatives broached the subject of interfaith marriages: “What message does the scheme send to young Parsis in love with non-Parsis?” “Did you consider opening up the Jiyo Parsi scheme” to include Parsi women who have married out? Why is a non-Parsi daughter-in-law not regarded as a Parsi? Cama sought to convince them that “We have full respect for every religion but with regard to our own religion… if we had tried to proselytize we would have died out… This being a Government of India sponsorship, we are expected to work within the parameters open to us” and abide with the prevailing laws of Parsi Marriage and Divorce under which only a child of both Parsi parents or a Parsi father is recognized as a Parsi. She cited Zubin Shroff’s study at the Harvard School of Public Health which categorically proves that the decline in community numbers is due to low fertility and not intermarriage. Rather than pursue the discussion on “this red herring,” she urged the media “to talk about Jiyo Parsi.”
Nergish Sunavala of The Times of India complained that she “found it offensive” to see one of the campaigns showing the agiary in Dadar with “Hindu Colony” signage outside the walls and the catchline, “If you don’t get married and have kids, this area will have a new name in your lifetime.” Sunavala felt the advertising campaign should have shown “sensitivity towards the country” which has given us a home. Whilst offering to take a relook at this advertisement before running it, Sam Balsara clarified that the Advertising Standards Council of India ensures that no advertisement offends large masses. “Good advertising has to offend someone to work; otherwise it is not called advertising. We can’t please everyone… For every advertising campaign I have a limited audience.” Advertising works best when you appeal to an individual to ‘do’ certain acts for him/herself.
Other community members like Godrej Dotivala, public relations officer of the BPP announced that the BPP matrimonial bureau has succeeded in bringing together 17 couples with three more marriages due in December. Viraf Mehta of the Zoroastrian Youth for the Next Generation referred to their matchmaking efforts through Speed Dating and their online initiative Being Cupid. Ervad Yezdi Panthaki regretted that the community has lost out on the values of a joint family whilst Havovi Dotivala felt efforts should be directed towards changing the attitude of marriageable women who are unwilling to compromise or adjust with in-laws. Author Marzban Giara cited Sapur Desai’s book A Community at the Cross-road which ascribes the demographic drop to a change in attitude. Pointing out a woman’s involvement in bringing up her children, senior gynecologist Dr Rustom Soonawala regretted that his Gujarati daughter-in-law has to wait outside when taking the children to the fire temple. He advocated “opening up our temples” to permit entry to non-Parsis.
The campaign has different messages targetting those in the marriageable age with “unrealistic expectations and demands” to opt for early marriage and children in their own interests as also those of their parents, partner, child, legacy. Summed up Cama, “We hope the campaign will make you start thinking.”
Parinaz Gandhi
Parsiana, November 21, 2014, Pages 29. 30 & 31.

Through the eye of a needle

As part of Crafts Council of India’s golden jubilee celebrations, efforts are being made to revive the exquisite Parsi Gara embroidery. Apoorva Sripathi meets the people behind the initiative

For a group that hasn’t seen an increase in its population over 80 years (there are roughly 125,000 of them in the world), the influential Parsi community’s hand-embroidered gara saris are a link to their history, culture and, of course, commerce.

When the Parsis started trading opium and cotton with the Chinese some 200 years ago, according to author and curator Pheroza J. Godrej, the men sent home to their wives heavily embroidered saris in Chinese silk. “Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy, as a 17-year-old, discovered embroidered silks from Canton and he introduced the gara sari to Indians,” Pheroza says. While the commonly found motifs are the ‘Chinaman’ and woman, birds, and a lot of flora and fauna — designs that signify fertility and good omen — there have been transformations with motifs such as kaanda-papeta (onions and potatoes) and chakla-chakli (male and female sparrows).

Designer Ashdeen Lilaowala’s collection ‘Ashdeen’ specialises in hand-embroidered saris, cocktail dresses and gowns featuring a unique take on the traditional Parsi Gara embroidery. In the city, along with Pheroza for a conversation on Parsi culture, tradition and craft, Ashdeen, a graduate of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, says that gara embroidery is an amalgamation of culture and art. “Basically, it’s combining Chinese embroidery with Persian, Indian and British traditions; it is embroidery where birds look like birds and not abstract shapes. We often call it ‘painting with a needle’,” says Ashdeen.

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