The Zoroastrian Family


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Job Opportunities in South Mumbai


We are looking for experienced women professional for administrative function for the residence of very influential family. The jobs will include managing F&F, housekeeping, Event Management, Maintenance, Security, Garden, Vendor Negotiation, Purchase, Staff register maintenance, training etc. There are around 10-12 people who will report to the incumbent.

Interested person can send in their CV to jobs.vcommunity@gmail.com or contact (022) 66461322. More details will be shared over phone/email.

Regards,

Nandhini V <jobs.vcommunity@gmail.com>

Jiyo Parsi: An Inside Perspective


Dr. Zinobia Madan, one of the founding members of the Jiyo Parsi Programme, on what the project really means to the community “Marriage may Photo on 21-11-14 at 7.25 pm #2with propriety be called the chief concern of human life. When we reflect that from it arises the nearest and most endearing relationships which go to form the comfort and happiness of existence in this world — husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and many others – the importance of the institution, in all its bearings on the welfare of society, will at once be recognized” – William Tegg, The Knot Tied.

The Zoroastrian religion takes a similar view of marriage. Marriage is considered as an institution that finds favour with the Almighty. Ahura Mazda says: “O Spitama Zarathushtra, indeed I thus recommend here unto thee, a man with a wife above an unmarried man), a man with a family above one without any family, a man with children above one who is without children.” (Vendidad, 4.47)

“That place is happy over which a holy man builds a house, with fire, cattle, wife, children and good followers.” (Vend. 3.2) Marriage as an institution is strongly revered by our religion. Likewise, having children is blessed by the Almighty and is considered to bring happiness to the family.

Click Here for the full article which appeared first in Jame Jamshed

Picnic at Juhu Beach


Capture

This photograph of our family was taken by my youngest kaka (uncle) Shapoor at Juhu Beach. We had all gone out to Juhu beach for a picnic, outside the Palm Grove hotel (now Ramada Plaza Palm Grove). It was a regular haunt for picnics and we used to look forward to our day out for weeks. The beach was totally un-spoilt and had only a few small shacks around. Now I wouldn’t go even if someone paid me for it.

I remember, we would take the train from Grant Road to Santa Cruz and then take a bus to Juhu beach. At that time the Bombay trains were not called Western or Central railways. The Western line was called BB & CI – Bombay Baroda and Central India Railways and the Central line was called GIP – Great Indian Peninsula Railway. I don’t remember what we would do though, I think mainly chatter, run around, eat and some of us swam. Picnic lunches were fun, sometimes they were large tiffins full of Pork Vindaloo. It was very tasty.

In the middle wearing a white dress is Freny, now my beautiful wife, and on her left is me. Freny and I are also first cousins, our fathers were real brothers. Like some other communities in India, in Parsis too,marriage between cousins is allowed. Though we weren’t an arranged match, we just fell in love with each other. She was beautiful. I think even at this picnic I was eyeing her. Our parents must have noticed and declared that we must be made into a match. There was no ‘dating’ at the time, so the way I would get to meet her was – when she would be attending the girl guides meeting, I would go and fetch her back. We would walk through Azad Maidan and at Churchgate take the train to Grant road. At the time she used to live at Sleater Road. A lot of boys were after her, she was a beautiful girl you know, but I got her.

At that time there was not much entertainment for us in Bombay. In school, we were big on Hollywood movies. It was our only past time. On Thursdays and Sundays, we’d be standing in the queue at the Metro Cinema (now Metro Big Cinema) and buy tickets for Four Annas (one Anna was 1/16 of a Rupee).

Click Here to read more

How the Government-Funded Parsi Fertility Scheme Works


Research identifies low fertility, late and childless marriages, inter-marriage and divorce as some of the reasons that Parsis — Zoroastrians who emigrated from Persia to India more than a thousand years ago — are one of the only communities outside Europe with dwindling numbers. The Parsis have shrunk from 114,000 in the 1950s to 69,000 in 2001, or 0.007% of India’s population, according to the latest-available census data.

The Jiyo Parsi program’s witty but controversial ad campaign, launched last month, takes on these challenges by playing off common stereotypes about this tiny but influential community.

The Parsi community’s exclusiveness is also contributing to its decline, she said. Conversion is forbidden, non-Parsis are not allowed inside places of worship, and intermarriage with members of other faiths and communities is frowned upon.

The program is aimed at low-income and middle-class Parsis who wouldn’t be able to afford expensive medical treatment like IVF, which could cost up to 500,000 rupees, around $8,000, said Ms. Cama.

“There’s a misconception that all Parsis are wealthy,” she said, adding that many Parsi families in villages in the western state of Gujarat who don’t have access to computers have asked for information about the program via regular post.

The program hopes to facilitate at least 200 births in the 5 years it has funding from India’s federal government. Ten children were born through the program in 2014, including one pair of twins, said Ms. Cama.

Click Here for more

Around the world in 53 months


FROM THE ARCHIVES…..

Around the world in 53 months

Ervad Marzban Hathiram, TNN | Nov 15, 2002, 11.14PM IST
MUMBAI: The three men knelt before Pope Pius XI, thanking God for their luck so far and seeking the pontiff ‘s blessings for their onward journey. 
The date was October 15, 1924. Dressed in khakis, Gustad Hathiram, Keki Pochkhanawala and Adi Hakim were in the midst of an adventure that had commenced exactly a year ago when six young men set out from the dusty streets of Gowalia Tank in Mumbai on an unbelievable expedition—one which involved circumnavigating the globe on bicycle. 
After weaving an intricate web of lies to avoid their parents’ ire, holding secret conclaves and making brave attempts to gather money, these three, along with their friends Jal Bapasola, Rustam Bhumgara and Nariman Kapadia had set off with a few clothes, a second-hand compass and crude copies of the map of the world. They chose a route that ensured that they would pass through terribly inhospitable terrains, for their objective was to show the world that, although the British ruled them, Indians were capable of much.
From Mumbai the cyclists headed to Delhi, passing through central India. After meeting the Viceroy, Lord Reading, they cycled through the Punjab and on to Baluchistan, crossing the Duki pass at 11,000 ft. They ploughed through three feet of snow and battled temperatures of minus 13 degrees C before finally reaching Varechhah—the last outpost of colonial India on January 20, 1924. From there, the youngsters sent their first postcards to their parents, revealing the details of their journey (which they had somehow managed to keep secret).
Crossing into their ancient motherland, Iran, the young Parsis reached Tehran, where they met Reza Shah Pahlavi. There, Nariman chose to return back to India and his fiance, while the rest proceeded to Baghdad. Despite dire warnings, they set a new record—crossing the Mesopotamian desert from Baghdad to Aleppo in 23 days. During these 956 kilometers they struggled through shifting sands, temperatures that crossed 55 degrees C and sand-fly-fever- induced delirium, and it was only thanks to a group of Bedouins that they escaped certain death. In Damascus, the group had differences and split into two.While Gustad, Keki and Adi proceeded to Europe, Jal and Rustam went on to Jerusalem. The trio reached Brindsi in Italy by steamer and then went on to Naples and Rome, where they sought the the Pope’s blessings before plunging into the next audacious chapter of their journey—crossing the Alps by bicycle. The three reached Zimplo and crossed the Gothard pass. But they were caught in a relentless storm and, suffering from severe frostbite, they collapsed and were buried in the snow. Once again, they would certainly have perished had Franciscan monks and their St. Bernard dogs not rescued them. It must have been with a sense of relief that they reached the boulevards of Paris and proceeded to London, where they received much media coverage and adulation.
After 23 days of travel through England, they caught the steamer to New York.Here Gustad announced to the others that he didn’t plan to return to India—he had decided to live in New York. The other two cyclists who had separated at Damascus also arrived in New York, and all four tried to convince Gustad to change his mind. But Gustad refused to meet them and, instead, slipped a letter under their hotel door. ‘Think that I drowned in the Atlantic, my friends, for the Gustad you knew is now no more.’
Heartbroken, Gustad’s soulmate on the trip, Keki, returned to India by steamer. But the other three continued their adventure, cycling across the US. On October 15, the third anniversary of their travels, they set a new record, covering 307 km in 16 exhausting hours.
From America, the determined group crossed over Japan and became the first cyclists to enter Korea. They then pedalled their way into Manchuria, braving the local hatred for foreigners and often starving for days. They became the first cyclists to cross the Gobi desert and reached Canton in October 1926. From there they proceeded to Hong Kong, and whizzed through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma and the North Eastern states to Calcutta. They then proceeded to Colombo and covered the whole of South India—eventually reaching Mumbai on March 18, 1928, with a fan following of 1,000 cyclists and widespread media coverage. They had covered nearly 71,000 kilometers in four years, five months and three days.
Amidst these festivities, however, one family nursed its grief. My grandfather Dinshawji Hathiram, the elder brother of Gustad,was inconsolable. In 1930 he received last letter asking for some sudreh (the sacred shirt worn by Parsis), a prayer book and delivering a firm warning that he should not try to contact Gustad again.My grandfather complied—and that was the last we heard of Gustad Hathiram. A month ago, while surfing the Internet, I reached the genealogy site Ancestry.com and spotted the tantalisingly offer: ‘Search for your missing ancestors.’ Half-heartedly I typed in ‘Gustad Hathiram’ and a few seconds later found myself staring at a screen that read: ‘One death record found.’ This revealed that Gustad Hathiram had died in the sunny town of St Petersburg, Florida, in 1973. My joy at finding my grand-uncle was tempered with sadness at the circumstances. His death certificate told us he had worked as an auto mechanic, and that he had never married. Why didn’t he contact us all these years? What were his final thoughts? These and a myriad other questions will always haunt me.
Nevertheless, this chance find led me to rediscover that long-forgotten journey so filled with colour and courage. And as I read about their bold travels, I feel compelled one day retrace that fascinating journey and pay homage to the unsung hero in my family.
(This writer would be grateful if the families of the other cyclists on the voyage could contact him at marzban@cdrindia.com*)
 
 
The above email address is not in use. The correct one is:
__._,_.___

Courtesy : Mehernosh Kapadia

I am Floored by the City’s Love for Saris


CHENNAI: Taking the dazzling textile tradition of the culturally-rich Parsis to a wider audience, young designer Ashdeen Z Lilaowala dons several hats. An author and curator, Lilaowala, who is a graduate in Textile Design from National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, was in the city recently, to be part of the Crafts Council of India’s 50th year exhibition, alongside famous names like Pheroza Godrej, distinguished author, curator and philanthropist and Jasleen Dhamija, an expert in India’s handicraft and handloom industry.

After a detailed research project on Parsi embroidery that he undertook for the Ministry of Textiles, Lilaowala also held training workshops in Ahmedabad, Navsari, Mumbai and Delhi. Under these workshops, more than 120 craftspersons were taught the Parsi and Gara embroidery. He is also the author of the book Threads of Continuity – The Zoroastrian Craft of Kusti Weaving, which was launched at the World Zoroastrian Congress 2013.

Earning the coveted title of the ‘Hottest design talent of 2013’, Lilaowala also launched the label Ashdeen a couple of years ago. With his exquisite designs of the age-old Parsi Gara embroidery, offering a spin on the ancient technique, he has taken to the craft to creative heights. In the recent exhibition in the city, Lilaowala displayed a range of saris, cocktail dresses and gowns with handcrafted embroidery. City Express caught up with the Delhi-based designer to talk about his efforts to take the art that is pictorial, colourful, to a larger audience, contemporising designs and how Chennai’s undying romance with the sari has floored him.

Gara Tales

Apart from the traditional Parsi saris, there is a range of Western wear that have inspired by the same technique used in saris. The idea is to contemporise the rich designs that have been passed down generations for many years now. However, the traditional saris are also a part of the collection. It is to show how versatile the old technique of embroidery  that comprises designs of birds and flowers can be.

Chennai Chronicles

This is actually my second trip to Chennai in just a few months. The first was again for the CCI’s exhibition in September this year. Both the trips have been extremely enriching and rewarding for me as a designer.  I have been very fortunate to have such a rousing welcome in this city. It is so wonderful to see that the sari is still a prized possession for many Chennaiites and they just can’t seem to get enough of it.

For the Non-Parsis

While the embroidery work is an integral part of the Parsi culture and it is most worn by the women in the community, I propose to take the designs to a wider audience. Chennai, therefore, has been an ideal place for me to showcase the designs. That is why the Parsi community being a small one in the city doesn’t bother me. True to that, most of them who have chosen to adorn the designs are non-Parsi women.  The best part is the women here know their saris well. They don’t look for anything blingy and they have a great sense of colour and proportion. Their informed outlook towards the fabric and the craft makes the whole sojourn all the more exciting.

Precious Pashmina

I am a great admirer of the Pashmina shawl that is woven by Kashmiri craftsmen. The intricate designs and their motifs are fine examples of aesthetic designing.

Waiting to Return

This whole collection was a mix of materials that suit the climate here. So, the taste and preferences of the people here have been at the centre while planning it. Working with the CCI that is based here has been a great pleasure. They have been extremely helpful in promoting the craft and are a dedicated group.  I look forward to returning with my designs.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/%E2%80%98I-am-Floored-by-the-City%E2%80%99s-Love-for-Saris%E2%80%99/2014/12/15/article2571268.ece

The Travelling Parsi


The Travelling Parsi is online. I finally did it!

This is my labour of odd ball laughs, the occasional sneeze and the frequent swearing.  Enjoy this quick, funny read. Figure out who a Parsi is and why he’s so wonderful and weird.

Visit the book site : http://www.thetravellingparsi.com

(Download the book on Amazon or Smashwords. Please feel free to force your friends and family to buy it. A little threat goes a long way! )

The reason I wrote this book was very simple. I got fed up of hearing HUH? when I said I was born a Zoroastrian Parsi. People know the book Thus Spake Zarathustra by Nietzsche but surprisingly few know the main protagonist. This isn’t a book about that, though. This is just a funny read about understanding the nuances of this tiny global community, in the modern context, with all the influences of the Persian empire, England, migration to India and nurturing the twin legacies of Freddie Mercury and Zubin Mehta.

Told from a satirical POV, it will reveal to you, if you don’t know, the meaning of being a Parsi today.

Thanks!
Cover

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