Parsi Dairy Farm: Mumbai’s Gold Standard in Milk & Milk-Based Products


Highlights
  • This farm legacy is integral to many mumbai memories.
  • Mr. Ardeshir hit upon the idea of entering the dairy business.
  • Cows should live in peace even after they dont give milk.

I was at a modern food superstore in Bandra, Mumbai’s swish suburb, the other day. I walked past rows of imported gourmet cheeses, pastas and meats when I suddenly spotted a group of blue coloured packs which looked as if they were cheerfully waving at me. A closer inspection showed that they were packs of the homegrown Parsi Dairy ghee. I am a Bengali married to a Parsi as you probably know. I remembered that Freddy (Firoz) Kerawala, my maternal uncle-in-law, is a big advocate of the Parsi Dairy Farm butter and ghee. I decided to buy a pack of ghee for home to add to my stock of Jharna ghee from Kolkata as a tribute to the spirit of what Parsi author Meher Pestonji referred to as “mixed marriage”.

Mumbai’s heritage brand, the Parsi Dairy Farm’s products have made a welcome entry into the world of modern retail these days. Its packaged butters, cheeses, kulfis and lassis are to be found proudly jostling for space with dairy products from multinational companies and imported brands in these stores. Its kulfisare served by the SodaBottleOpenerWala restaurant chain in their outlets across the country. Thanks to such initiatives, one can expect this 100 year-old institution to get a fresh lease of life. There was an outburst of heartfelt anguish in response to the news of the Parsi Dairy Farm allegedly shutting down sometime back.The Parsi Dairy Farm and its legacy is integral to many Mumbai memories and stories after all. My late father-in-law, Mr. Marzban Bilimoria, for example, loved the kulfis of Parsi Dairy Farm. His eyes would light up when these were served at Parsi weddings. He loved these so much that my wife and my mother-in-law would happily give their shares to him. His smile post the kulfi was typical of that of a happy Parsi Dairy Farm customer.


Thankfully, the Parsi Dairy Farm lived to fight another day and it didn’t close down. However, an enterprise cannot run on nostalgia alone. It needs consumer support and this support comes only when an enterprise stays relevant and reinvents itself. The Parsi Dairy Farm was built on the spirit of enterprise shown by its founder, the late Nariman Ardeshir, and it is only apt that the business reinvents itself today. Now it is up to us to keep the legacy alive.

Kalyan Karmakar

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Looking for Sam Nariman Ginwala


Greetings from Houston, Texas.

I have been trying to locate a colleague of mine, Sam Nariman Ginwala. He was a Brigade Major in the 11th Artillery Brigade in 1968. I settled in the US in 1969.

So far I have not been lucky to track him down.

Given such a small and cohesive community, I am sure some one will know about him. He must have attained a rank of Brigadier or a General before retirement.

Thanking you in anticipation.

Regards,

Yours Sincerely,

Ravi Arya <ravikarya@yahoo.com>

ARMAGEDDON


For the want Of a nail the Kingdom was lost” (Walter De la Mare)

The Persian Empire too

Hundred of years ago

Was totally decimated

And still lie in ruins

Why do some want

To follow in

These  same footsteps

And prevent the

The Message of

The Pristine Religion

To flow?.

Does one follow

The News or read

About in the papers?

That the sacred

Assyrian Bulls

As well other relics

Of our Persian heritage

To have been turned

To complete dust.

What are we waiting

For another religion

To Take over or to be

Fenced in & put in cages

As well  be subservient

To their Laws?

Zoroastrianism we  all

Know has no DOs

Or any Don’ts

No regiment to follow

But because of the

Egoistic Attitude

Of some in community

Forward we cannot go!

The clock of life

Is wound but once

And no man has the power

To tell just when the hands
Will stop

At a late ot an early hour

Now is the only time you own

To Live Love Toil with a will

Place no faith in time

For the clock may soon be still

(Jame Jamshed staff reporter)

Choicest Happiness

Farida

March 10the 2017

Does Muslim Prayer Come From Zoroastrianism?


A viewer asks, “Some people (among theme are some “Quranist” muslims) say that our 5 daily prayers are borrowed from zoroastrianism, because according to the claimants zoroastrians pray 5 daily “namaz” at the same time frames and according to them this is “too much coincidence”. How can we refute this strange theory?” Dr. Shabir Ally shares his answer.

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THE ZOROASTRIANS OF RAWALPINDI


Ammad Ali traces the history of an influential community from antiquity up to the colonial Raj and the contemporary era

Note: The words ‘Parsi’ and ‘Zoroastrian’ are often mixed up. ‘Parsi’ is associated more with a geographical identity or anyone who has ancestral roots in Persia, especially those who later migrated to India, while the word ‘Zoroastrian’ refers more to a religious identity.

It was a lustrous Sunday spring morning on the 26th of April 1607. The Palas flowers were in full bloom, flaming orange colourred petals dancing in the gusts of wind to welcome Shahanshah-i-Hindustan to Pothohar. Mughal emperor Nur-ud-din Jahangir, on his return to Kashmir, made his way through the Gakkhars’ country (Pothohar). Regarding his stay somewhere near Rawalpindi, he narrates in his memoirs, the Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri:

“On Sunday, the 9th of Muharram, I halted beyond Rawalpindi. This place was founded by a Hindu named ‘Rawal’ and ‘Pindi’ in the Gakkhar tongue [Pothohari Language] means a village.”

Rawal or Rawal Jogis were the earliest settlers and their village, named Rawalan, was exactly at the same place where today the Rawal Dam is located. Not many historical references are available to tell us more about the Rawal Jogis. Where did they come from? How is it that they vanished without a trace? All they have left behind is a conundrum – the existence of this city.

After the annexation of Punjab and its incorporation into British rule, the present cantonment was first occupied by troops of the 53rd Shropshire Regiment of Foot in 1849. Later, Lord Dalhousie declared   Rawalpindi a permanent station of the troops during his visit to Punjab in 1851. Rawalpindi, by virtue of its geography, was ideally positioned to provide commanding access to the North West. Soon after the establishment of the cantonment, a town had grown into a city: a new thriving centre for traders who came from different parts of India and employees and craftsmen, providing relatively equal and bright opportunities for all. People from very different cultural and linguistic backgrounds made Rawalpindi their home. The life of the city turned over a new leaf: locals for the first time heard English and Gujarati being spoken. They were introduced to Framji ,Dhanji and Behramji: ‘Parsi’ surnames that they never dealt with earlier. Christians, Jains, Bohras ,Buddhists, Jews and Parsis settled in Rawalpindi. The canvas of the city became colorful and a more pluralistic society emerged.

The Zoroastrians might have been new to Rawalpindi, but they have a long history in the Pothohar region, dating back to antiquity

The Zoroastrians (often called Parsis) might have been new to Rawalpindi, but they have a long history associated with the Pothohar region, dating back to antiquity, when Gandhara was a province of the great Persian empire. The legacy of those times still exists near Rawalpindi: for instance in the Jandial Zoroastrian Fire Temple, a 1st century BC structure built in the Scytho-Parthian period. This is believed to be the temple described by Philostratus in his travelogue The Life of Apollonius of Tyana. The temple is a specimen of classical Hellenic architecture. This temple remained active well into the 6th century AD, until the invasion by the White Huns (Hepthalites).

Rawalpindi and Pothohar thus had close connections with ancient Persian civilisation, being politically a part of the Achaemenid Empire. Greek historian Herodotus mentions Gandhara as the twentieth satrapy (province), counted amongst the most populous and developed in the Achaemenid empire. In the years 486-465 BC, the capital of Gandhara was the famous city of Takshashila, or Taxila.

An epitaph at the Parsi Cemetery

Cyrus the Great, though Zoroastrian in origin, was secular in affairs of state. He himself ruled according to his beliefs, and made no attempt to impose Zoroastrianism on the people of his subject territories. He consolidated the Iranian peoples into a single state that stretched from the north of present-day Turkey to the western banks of the Indus River, which is today located in parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. Both Gandhara and Kamboja soon came to be included in this state, which was governed by the Achaemenid Dynasty during the reign of Cyrus the Great. They were integrated into the seventh satrapy of the upper Indus in the Achaemenid Empire. These were the easternmost satrapies. Zoroastrianism from Persia made its impact on the Mahayana sect of Buddhism in this region.

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How Zoroastrian merchants helped create the old Silk Route


China’s designs to build a massive network of land and sea links connecting four continents have revived popular interest in the old Silk Route, whose success was in small part owed to Zoroastrian merchants carrying goods from China across Central Asia and, often, all the way to Europe.

The Zoroastrian-Chinese connection is at least 1,200 years older than we think. Probably even more.

China’s designs to build a massive network of land and sea links connecting four continents have revived popular interest in the old Silk Route, whose success was in small part owed to Zoroastrian merchants carrying goods from China across Central Asia and, often, all the way to Europe.

A recent article in the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post talked about how Zoroastrian merchants had been trading with China in the 12th century – and possibly even earlier. Records of fire temples in Chinese cities along the Silk Route have apparently been found in official records dating back to the 12th century and, from these, historians have pieced together the fact that Chinese emperors had encouraged Zoroastrian merchants to come and trade in the country and, in order to attract them, they allowed them to build their own fire temples to worship in. The ancient Chinese even had their own special name for the Zoroastrian religion: Ao Jiao.

This is fascinating, because the history of enterprising Parsi merchants in the China Seas from the 18th century onwards is well known, but the idea that the Zoroastrian-Chinese connection goes back at least six centuries earlier is less recognised. Unfortunately, the South China Morning Post story doesn’t give much more detail on the subject, so we have to turn to other sources.

Chinese historical texts tell us that the first official contact between China and Po-ssu – the ancient Chinese name for Persia – was as far back as the 2nd century BCE, when the Qin ruler sent an envoy to seek an alliance. But it was during the 5th century CE that regular diplomatic relations were formed between the Sassanid emperors, who led the Zoroastrian revival in Persia, and the Six Dynasties of China. Embassies were exchanged, and this led to a flourishing of trade, overland along the Silk Route.

The most important Chinese commodity was, of course, silk, and Zoroastrian merchants were the middlemen who carried it along the Silk Route across Central Asia. In addition, this westward flow of trade included paper, rice wine, camphor, perfumes and drugs. The eastward flow, meanwhile, comprised Persian carpets, textiles, furniture, leather, pearls and gourmet delicacies, as well as Persian music and dance forms. The exchange of trade thus, as always, led ultimately, to an exchange of ideas.

The ruins of a Chinese watchtower along the Silk Route. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons [Licensed under Creative Commons by 2.0]
The ruins of a Chinese watchtower along the Silk Route. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons [Licensed under Creative Commons by 2.0]

Branded Sassanid products

It was a sophisticated system: Both the Sassanid and Chinese empires realised that they benefited from the trade and cooperated in policing the trade routes to protect caravans from bandits. Private entrepreneurs were organised into merchant companies, and archeological evidence shows that the Sassanid merchants pioneered an ingenious system of branding their products to indicate their quality.

Large quantities of Sassanid Persian coins have been discovered in China – not only along the Silk Route, but in central Chinese cities, thus indicating the extent of Zoroastrian contact. These coins date from the rule of Shapur II (4th century CE) to the last Sassanid emperor, Yazdegird III (7th century CE). In time, the overland Silk Route was supplemented by a sea route via Ceylon, and Persian ships carried cargoes to China and back. There are reports of Persian merchants having settled in ports like Caton and Hanoi, which are supported by discoveries of more Sassanid coins along the southern coast.

In 651 CE, however, Yazdegird III was defeated by the Arabs, and his family sought refuge with the T’ang emperor of China. A community of Zoroastrians accompanied them, and flourished for a century or so. But then in the 9th century CE Emperor Wuzong began his purge of Buddhism and, as a result of his bigotry, Zoroastrianism in China, too, went into decline, until all mention of it in Chinese texts finally disappeared.

However, Zoroastrians from Persia continued to trade with China until at least the 12th century CE, as we can tell from the Chinese records of their fire temples. They may have continued even after that, though it is not certain.

Flash forward to the 1750s

From here we must flash forward six hundred years to the 1750s. By then, of course, a community of Zoroastrians – the Parsis – had settled in India. And when the city of Bombay was founded in the 1680s, the Parsis, with their business acumen and their open worldview, played an important part, becoming brokers and supply agents to the British. Shortly after, in the 18th century, India emerged as the hub of a triangular trade with China and Britain – shipping opium to China, and shipping tea back to Britain – and the Parsis, quite naturally, became a key piece of this trading network.

In 1756, Hirji Jivanji Readymoney was the first Parsi merchant to set sail for China, and he was also the first to set up a trading firm in Canton. He was followed by other pioneering Parsi trading families like the Banajis, Wadias, Camas, Vikajis and Parakhs – but the most remarkable story of them all was, perhaps, that of Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy. As a young trader, Jeejeebhoy was once captured by the French, along with a young Scottish ship’s doctor named William Jardine. The two of them became friends and business partners.

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Tata most valuable brand, Airtel at number 2


Image result for tataTata group has held on to top spot, brand value dropped by 4% over 2016: Brand Finance India 2017

The House of Tatas has retained its position as India’s leading brand in valuation firm Brand Finance’s annual study of the country’s top 100 names. But the 150-year-old group’s has fallen four per cent to $13.1 billion in 2017 over 2016, according to findings shared exclusively by the UK-based valuation firm with Business Standard. The firm, however, says the drop is not a result of the boardroom battle the diversified conglomerate witnessed in the last few months, which saw erstwhile chairman Cyrus Mistry ousted in October last year.

“There has been intense speculation as to whether has fallen due to Tata’s boardroom drama,” David Haigh, CEO, Brand Finance said. “In our view this is emphatically not the case. Tata’s brand strength index score in fact improved significantly this year and its rating was upgraded from A+ to AA+,” he said.

Haigh says the drop seen this year, while not being positive for the group, is lower than the decline of nearly 11 per cent seen between 2015 and 2016. In 2015, Tata’s was pegged at $15.3 billion, which fell to $13.7 billion in 2016. But a comparison of Tata’s based on Brand Finance figures released over the years shows that the group’s 2017 valuation number is the lowest in five years, which some experts say, points to the impact of the boardroom battle on the brand.

The battle saw Mistry and the group trading allegations and counter-allegations in public with the matter finally dragged to court. The national company law tribunal, however, dismissed last month a petition filed by minority shareholders of Sons linked to Mistry, which alleged that the group holding company had committed acts of oppression and mismanagement against their and public interest.

 

Haigh says the drop in this year is due to challenges faced by the salt-to-software group in multiple industries. “Operating conditions in these industries are challenging for all participants. In this context the slight decline can be seen as a stabilisation in challenging times,” Haigh said. “We expect to return to growth soon as the new chairman settles in and attempts to streamline operations,” he said.

 

In fact, the four per cent and nearly 11 per cent decline witnessed by the brand in the last five years is not the only one seen by the group in that period. The sharpest fall was in 2014, when the eroded 19 per cent to touch $14.7 billion versus $18.1 billion in 2013. Back then, this drop in was ascribed to the many challenges the group faced in industries such as steel and telecom.
Viveat Susan Pinto  |  Mumbai
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