Established in 1874, the first Dastoor Meherjirana Library in Navsari is named after the first Parsi high priest of India. The most priceless manuscript at the library is a framed original document deed that states 200 ‘vighas’ of land has been granted to Dastoor Meherji Rana by Emperor Akbar.
The history of Gujarat records that it was in Surat that Akbar first met Meherji. Having set up camp at Gopi Talav with an aim to siege the Surat Castle in 1573, the Emperor was intrigued by the Parsi people and their culture. To feed the Mughal’s natural curiosity to know more about the Iranian religion, his desire to learn the tenets and interpret their customs, the prominent high priest Dastoor Meherji Rana from the neighbouring town of Navsari was requested to have an audience with Akbar.
Historians write that the Emperor and the holy man met at Kankra Khadi at first, and then at the present day Rustompura area. The incident has found mention in the records of French writer and Avestic scholar M.Anquetil du Perron, who stayed in Surat during 1755-61 and gathered further information on the historic events of the earlier centuries.
Apparently, Dastoor Meherji’s discussions had left a deep impact on Akbar. Therefore, when the famous congress of religions was organized in Fatehpur Sikri during 1576-79, Meherji was invited at the Ibadat-I-Khana as an esteemed guest of the Emperor to participate in the religious debates and discussions. Mughal court historian Badayuni has stated, “Fire worshipers from Navsari came to the Mughal capital and proclaimed the religion of Zardusht as the true one.”
J J Modi’s ‘The Parsis in the Court of Akbar and Dastur Meherji Rana’ says, “The influence of the Parsis on the enlightened Emperor was such that Akbar incorporated Zoroastrian motifs, including the veneration of the fire and sun’, along with the visible symbols viz- the sacred shirt and thread. Akbar ordered his vizier Abul Fazl to ensure that the sacred fire be kept burning day and night at the palace and is said to have stated, ‘To light a candle is to commemorate the rising of the sun.'”
Legend goes that during Meherji’s stay at Sikri, a tantrik known as Jagatguru challenged all religious heads and claimed that he would make two suns shine in the sky. He levitated a huge silver plate into the sky and the sun’s reflection on it blinded all. Meherji is said to have performed the holy ‘paydab kusti’ and prayed Mathravani Avesta verses which caused the plate to come crashing down, exposing the sorcerer. Singer Tansen, the gem of Akbar’s court is then said to have composed and sung, “Elahi Parsi padhe so qubool, lambi, lambi dadhee Shah Meherji tere mukh pe barsat noor (The prayers of Parsis are accepted by God, O long bearded one Meherji, your face is blessed with radiance)”.
“Morning has broken
It’s a new day”
Prayers when recited
Keep ugliness at bay
Food is for the body
Prayers is for the soul
One withou the other
Can’t keep a person whole
“No fire or coal
So hotly glow
As the secret love
Of which no one knows”
When the Prayers begin to flow
I am remembered to trudge
The Path of straight & narrow
When I pray
My heart begins to sing
As they are like the
“Wind beneath my wings”
“Lean on me”
That’s what Prayers
Seem to say:
We’ll take all
Tears sadness & blues
Out of your way
Whatever I have done & said
I do my best
‘Cause I know the
Power of Prayers
Takes care of the rest.
Your faith in the judiciary may notch up if we tell you that justice Rohintan Fali Nariman, one of Supreme Court’s judges is an ardent man of God once his judicial duties have been meted. And if justice Markandey Katju (referring from his blog post from the year 2014) is to be believed, justice Nariman is an ordained Parsi priest who is adept at performing marriages, Navjote ceremonies and has access to enter the sanctum sanctorum like any other priest of his calibre.
The blog, http://www.justicekatju.blogspot.in, further states that apart from being an eminent lawyer, justice Nariman trained himself to be become a priest at a tender age of 12. Quoting from the website, when Rohinton was 12 years old, he was sent to a Parsi school where he lived in isolation for 28 days in an agiary. He prayed five times a day and memorised 72 chapters of the Zendavesta – a holy book of the Parsis’ and recited it in the presence of his family members for three hours at a stretch before he was given the validation to be called a true-blue priest.
The public relationship office from the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, Godrej Dotivala, confirms this. He reminisces, “I have known Fali Sam Nariman (justice Nariman’s father) since I was three years old. He had fled his country (Rangoon, Burma) due to the Japanese invasion before he came to India to settle in Mumbai.” Dotivala is one of justice Nariman’s family friend and fondly remembers him as being a bright student with an impeccable memory and tremendous faith in Ahura Mazda, the Parsi god.
During the punchayet’s felicitation programme in January 2015, it was releaved that justice Nariman was also a lecturer on the subject of Zoroastrianism and held Gatha classes, 17 hymns composed by Zarathusthra.
Ace lawyer Darius Khambata, in his speech read out at the felicitation said, “It was Rohintan who introduced me to Zoroastrianism and certain aspects of historical writings on Christianity as well. He is known to put his heart and soul into his work which is one of the characteristics of a true Zaotar.”
Justice Nariman, an alumni of the popular South Mumbai school, Cathedral and John Connon also has a lighter side. His close friend and senior advocate Jimmy Pochkhanawalla shared that justice Nariman doted his friends. And that aspect of his life is evident when they take off on their annual vacation to Mahableshwar each year during winters.
When we contacted the Bandra agiary for a comment, they were unavailable.
Red Fork in Indiranagar offers a range of contemporary items. Though it provides great breakfast options, burgers and salads, it is mainly known for the delicious Parsi food it serves.
The menu here is carefully curated to capture the seasonal produce from organic, zero pesticide farms. Even the in-house breads, desserts, compotes, dips and ice-creams are completely fresh. Chef Xerxes and his team come up with innovative presentations too.
Run by a Parsi family, the place used to be called Daddy’s Deli before it was given a new identity.
The elaborate breakfast menu consists of a spring onion pancake with smoked salmon and poached egg; breakfast bruschetta with pork; big breakfast with a choice of fried, poached or scrambled eggs; a choice of chicken franks or bacon served with rosemary mushrooms, hash cake and choice of bread, green eggs and ham. There is a wide range of salads available from beetroot, walnut tamarind dressing with house marinated feta to pear parmesan and almond salad.
The filling burgers include chicken Bondi burger with apple tzatziki salad; bacon and cheese and beef patty with cheddar, bacon, jalapeños, spanish onion jam, gherkins, mayo and barbecue sauce.
Some of the delicious dishes offered here are beef tenderloin with Thai style salad and Miso-glazed pan-fried fish on a bed of sesame rice.
The mouth-watering desserts here include orange semolinacake with Cognac ganache and vanilla ice cream; carrot cake with sugared almonds and mascarpone sorbet; baked white chocolate cheesecake with toffee and spiced poached pears. Red Fork is located on 12th Main, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar.
Interiors: Esplanade House (1887)
Waudby Road, Esplanade, Bombay.
Esplanade House, the palatial residence of industrialist Jamsetji Tata (1839-1904) has been restored to its former glory.
The painstaking restoration work, which took over a decade, was carried out by conservation architect Vikas Dilawari and was funded by the current owners of the building, the R. D. Sethna Scholarship Fund.
Our next photos series will focus on the intricate tiling patterns found on the various floors of the mansion.
Photos courtesy Jasmine Driver for Parsiana magazine.
Some of the most popular pages on the Zoroastrian Heritage website and blog are the ones relating to Nutrition – in particular the monograph, “Nutrition – Were Ancient Zoroastrians & Aryans Vegetarian?” In addition to seeking answers, the monograph broadly addresses Zoroastrian principles and values.
Complete and abridged pdf versions of the monograph are available for download at:
A previous monograph, “Farohar/Fravahar Motif. What Does It Represent? Use of Icons & Symbols in Zoroastrianism” can be downloaded at:
Complete: http://www.heritageinstitute.com/zoroastrianism/reference/FaroharMotif-Eduljee.pdf (64,426 downloads to March 26, 2015)
Abridged: http://www.heritageinstitute.com/zoroastrianism/reference/FaroharMotif-Eduljee-Abridged.pdf (24,203 downloads to March 26, 2015)
K. E. Eduljee
Zoroastrian Heritage website (www.zoroastrianheritage.com)
Zoroastrian Heritage blog (http://zoroastrianheritage.blogspot.ca/)
Courtesy : Dolly Dastoor
We have a trust called the Kalyan Parsi Anjuman where we have an Agiary and two charitable buildings meant only for Zoroastrians. If any couple is not getting married because they don’t have a place to stay, please do get in touch with me and I will be happy to help by granting you a tenancy in a flat at Kalyan. Needless to say this would be completely free of cost other than the monthly rentals.
You may get in touch with me at telephone number +91 66378434/5/6/7. Our offices are situated at 24, Calicut Street, Ballard estate, Mumbai 400001. Dosu Bhiwandiwalla
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