New Bombay Agiary–An Appeal

Dear Fellow Zarthostis,

The structure of the New Bombay Agiary along with quarters for two Mobeds and 2 community Halls are ready and part occupancy has been obtained from the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation.
The two community Halls are planned similar to the Sethna ni Agiary Halls ( where the Main function takes place on the First Floor and the Ground floor Hall is used as a Dining Hall ), keeping in view that the A.C. Hall on the 2nd floor will serve for the purpose of having Navjotes, Lagans and other Community functions. The 1st floor Hall would be the Dining Hall. On the 1st floor there are also 2 A.C. rooms with self contained bathrooms for purpose of Nahaan and as Dressing rooms for the Bride and Groom. This floor also has common toilets for Ladies and Gentlemen separately. Below the First floor Hall there is an Open Stilt where the Caterer can use the space for cooking purpose.
The Second Floor Hall has been sponsored by Mr. Dara Hansotia of Cusrow Baug, in memory of his dear departed beloved wife Dr. Mehroo Hansotia at a cost of Rs. 85 lakhs. This Hall is called “MEHROO HANSOTIA MEMORIAL HALL”
We are now looking for a Sponsor for our First Floor Hall at a similar cost. We have used part of our Corpus Fund towards building this 1st floor Dining Hall. The question that will come to the minds of all of you is “Why did you build two Halls when you had a Sponsor for one Hall only”. We had to do so as Mr. Hansotia was only keen to Sponsor The Second Floor Hall and had insisted that he will release funds in parts only when we complete the Stilt Area and cast the slab for the First Floor Hall and as per the progress of construction of the First Floor Hall and the columns for the Second Floor Hall, he would release future payments. In view of that we had no option but to construct both the Halls, which are now complete in all respects.
The worst part of this whole situation is that we cannot start our Completely Ready Agiary for want of funds, as starting an Agiary without a proper and sufficient Corpus Fund would be suicidal.
We urge all of you to visit our Agiary Site in New Bombay and see for yourself the work that we have done.
If one single individual is not available as a sponsor, we request each one of you to make some contribution towards our most deserving cause. Hundreds of Parsee Zarthostis are waiting for the Agiary to start at New Bombay.
Contributions are to be made by cheque in favour of “NEW BOMBAY ZOROASTRIAN ASSOCIATION CHARITABLE TRUST”, WHICH WILL BE EXEMPT UNDER SECTION 80G OF THE INCOME TAX ACT and sent to C/o. Sharukh M. Doctor, Plot-179, Lane-F, Sector-8, Vashi, Navi Mumbai 400703.
Thanks and regards
Yours truly,
Sharukh Mahiar Doctor, President/Managing Trustee
P. S. : For site visit you may contact any one of the following:
Noshir D. Parlewalla 98205 06732; Nozer J. Mirza 98201 26411, Pervin M. Umrigar 98338 28347

170 years old and standing tall: This Fire Temple was built by two banker brothers

Come August 17 and the Parsi community in the city will gather at the 170-year-old Fire Temple in Secunderabad to celebrate New Year. The majestic structure standing tall on MG Road was built in 1847 and is spread over 11,000 square yards.

Recognised as a heritage structure by the erstwhile Hyderabad Urban Development Authority (Huda), the Fire Temple has a unique architecture resembling the Indo-European style with huge columns in the facade.

A mega winged symbol, Faravahar, welcomes the devout at the entrance of the temple. This symbol of Zoroastrianism is more than 4,000 years old and is also found in Egypt and what was ancient Mesopotamia. The symbol is commonly associated with the sun and the deities connected with it.

There is a sacred well on the premises of the temple, where a priest offers prayers. The 70-feet well brims with water all round the year. The devout also place burning candles at the mouth of the well.

“Fire occupies a prominent place in Zoroastrian eschatology. Zoroastrian priests take precautions to keep the fire alive throughout the year. Earlier, our community used sandalwood to keep the fire burning. But now we are using dry logs of babool as sandalwood has become expensive. Moreover, there is also restriction on the movement of sandalwood,” Capt KF Pestonji, president of Old Parsi Fire Temple Trust, told TOI.

They also take great pains to keep the consecrated holy fire immune from contamination. When tending to the fire, a cloth known as Padan is worn over the mouth and nose so that breath and saliva do not pollute the fire.

The community also takes good care of the temple structure, which was built was the brothers Pestonji Meherji and ViccajiMeherji. They were bankers and cotton traders who had been invited to Hyderabad by the Nizam and the temple is named after them.
The brothers, who made huge profits in their business, also built their residence beside the British Residency on Bank Street and their office at King Koti in the vicinity of the Nizam’s palace. Their residence today serves as the Government ENT Hospital.

Incidentally, Hyderabad has the second largest Parsi population in India after Mumbai and has two more fire temples apart from the one in Secunderabad. But on August 17, as many as 1,100 members of the community will gather at the Secunderabad temple at 7am to offer prayers. They will end the day with festivities at the Zoroastrian Club on SP Road.

Go Home – Sohrab Fracis

The story of Viraf, a Parsi foreign student in Delaware, who in the turbulent wake of the Iran hostage crisis can’t distinguish his redneck oppressors from his Deadhead neighbors. And the story of a violent world that is nevertheless slowly coming together.


“At the heart of Sohrab Homi Fracis’s poignant new novel, Go Home, is the question of one’s place in the world, the answer never more ambiguous or fragile than for the immigrant or exile, when a person’s condition of homelessness is in transition, neither here nor there. Given the cultural moment, I’m grateful to Fracis for his highly topical reexamination of the American Dream, a still reliable but never easy remedy for all those yearning to reinvent themselves beyond the constrictions of tribe and nation. And in Go Home, assimilation, sometimes a wretched exercise, can also be a hilarious and uplifting affair.”

– Bob Shacochis, author of The Woman Who Lost Her Soul (Dayton Literary Peace Prize) and Easy in the Islands (National Book Award)

“I read Go Home with great pleasure and lots of empathy for the displaced and somewhat mystified but always lovable Viraf and his misadventures in America. The author’s (and Viraf’s) powers of observation as well as the period he covers — Deadheads and Pintos, great fun — are distinctive qualities of his engrossing account of the immigrant experience.”

– Diane Johnson, author of Le Divorce and Persian Nights, and co-scriptwriter of The Shining

Go Home is the story of one man’s journey to build a cultural bridge across continents, crossing waters that are unsettling and unsafe. While Fracis sets the novel during one of the most turbulent decades in both India’s and the United States’ history, his writing also offers insight in today’s tense climate. Beautiful prose, wise and witty.”

– Susan Muaddi Darraj, author of A Curious Land (American Book Award, AWP Grace Paley Prize, Arab American Book Award) and The Inheritance of Exile

“This is a beautiful novel about leaving home and moving to America, old world to new, and the courageous spirit of beginning a new life. With his accurate eye and marmalade-like descriptions, Sohrab Fracis’s characters come alive. Go Home fulfills the promise of his Iowa Short Fiction Award.”

– Deepak Singh, NPR, PRI, BBC Commentator, author of How May I Help You? An Immigrant’s Journey from MBA to Minimum Wage


“Sohrab Homi Fracis’ debut novel is a powerful, prescient tale of moving away and longing to belong…a quest tale of the highest order…dealing in all-inclusive ideas, of who we are, where we are going, and even where–or when–we are welcome…. Fracis is both a deft realist and master mesmerist with his prose…. By book’s end, the reader is saddened to leave.”

– Daniel A. Brown, “A Place To Be,” Cover Story for FOLIO

“When we first meet him in the early ’80s, Viraf is a student slightly at odds with his heritage…. Clearly, the complex maze of his cultural allegiances makes ‘home’ a hard place to find…. [A]ssailants appear unexpectedly (encountered on an empty road) and disappear just as quickly. Unpredictability adds to their menace—no precaution will keep them away. For Viraf, this makes racist violence seem as inescapable and uncontrollable as the snow: embeds it in the landscape.”

– Tadzio Koelb, “Exile on Main Street,” The Brooklyn Rail

“Viraf’s adjustments to American culture are mitigated in intriguing ways in the novel…. Shock and unresolved grief color Viraf’s interaction with the world…with a growing hostility and wariness taking over his personality in ways that are newly poignant and even heartbreaking, considering his warmth and gregariousness towards his friends in the earlier chapters.”

– Cyril Wong, “New Contact Lenses,” Singapore Poetry

“Funny, dark, true, and poignant, Fracis found a way to talk about multiculturalism, immigrants, racism and globalization of the societies without being boring. Even if the story is in the 80s readers will eventually see that almost nothing has changed, except the cars!… But still books such as Go Home give hope that humanity is on the right way, the way of inclusivity and mutual respect.”

– Olivier Rey, Red Dirt Report

“Fracis serves his readers an experience that recreates the traveling lifestyle of an outsider…. This provides a painfully intimate snapshot of how one’s sense of identity can break when he or she fails to find belonging within a community…. Whether violence targets those perceived to be fraternizing over lines of color and caste or those from foreign lands, humans attack other humans. [Go Home] pose[s] the thought: are our enemies so real, or did we create them because of the acts of a few? If created through the acts of a few, we should judge our actions just as carefully.”

– Emery Duffey, Southern Fried Karma

Sohrab’s timely novel, GO HOME

Visit Sohrab’s website at

Peston Shahi Coins

Founders only family to be allowed to mint coins

Parsi bankers Pestonji Meherji and Viccaji Meherji, founders of the Fire Temple in Secunderabad, are also remembered as possibly the only Parsi traders who won the right to mint their own coins. The Peston Shahi Sikka is one of the most beautiful coins struck ever, both in terms of design and purity of metals.
“Minting of coins was regarded as a sign of power and prestige and was associated with royalty,” said Captian KF Pestonji, president of Old Parsi Fire Temple Trust. The Parsi community is perhaps the only socio-religious group to have minted coins.

The right to strike their own coins had, for a long time, been a highly valued privilege of the Nizams. But Pestonji broke this tradition by obtaining licence from Diwan Chandulal to strike coins in Aurangabad during the period of the Nizam IV, Nasir-ud-Daula.
The coins carried the Nizam’s initial in Persian alphabet “noon” (N) for Nasir-ud-Daula. Later, the coins had the initials of the Meherji brothers. No other family was ever permitted by the state to have its own initials or marks engraved on national coins.Pestonji Meherji, who hailed from Bombay, also introduced the popular mark, ‘resplendent sun’, on the coins he minted. The location of this mark on the coin as well as the number of rays of the sun varied from coin to coin and there was no formula behind it.


Coin minting was a crude manual method where a coin blank was hammered against a die to put an impression on the coin. Machine minting started only in the reign of Mir Mahbub Ali Khan, the sixth Nizam.
Over 1 crore Peston Shahi coins in various denominations and made from silver and copper were struck at the mint in Aurangabad between 1832 and 1842. They were legal tender until the beginning of the 20th century. Only a few original coins remain now and are highly valued. Four of them are on display in the British Museum in London.
Sunil Mungara