The Untold Story of Quetta’s Parsi Community


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In the heart of the city, surrounded by beautiful mountains, Quetta’s Parsi Colony is picture-perfect. The lush green trees sway in the breeze. There is a rare feeling of trust: instead of the common elevated walls demarcating boundaries of houses, there are flimsy grills with open, inviting doors.

To the unsuspecting eye, this scene may not look like one from a metropolis in Pakistan, let alone one from the troubled province of Balochistan.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah meets Quetta's Parsi community in June 1948
Muhammad Ali Jinnah meets Quetta’s Parsi community in June 1948

Despite the oft-reported turmoil in the region, however, Parsis have peacefully lived here since before partition. It was during the British Raj that the community was allotted this colony.

Today, of the many Parsis who once resided here, only about two to four families remain. Others have either died because of natural causes or migrated out of Quetta.

The presence of Parsis in the provincial capital has not been documented by the mainstream media like that of their counterparts in Karachi. This is understandable, Parsis, after all, migrated from Iran to Sindh as far back as the eighth century. Furthermore, the community is relatively bigger in Karachi as compared to the one Quetta.

Yet, there are Parsis who prefer their home city to the concrete jungle that is Karachi.

Click Here for this interesting piece from Dawn

Society of Scholars of Zoroastrianism (SSZ) Conference 2016


The Zoroastrian Association of Metropolitan Chicago (ZAC) has held a SSZ Conference annually for now more than a decade. It has been an enriching experience for presenters and participants alike. There is a mix of presenters both seasoned academicians, educationists or lay scholars and students of Zoroastrianism who study the subject matter and deliver their studies to the participants.

This year the conference will be held on Saturday September 3, 2016 at the Dar-e-Meher in Chicago, 8615 Meadowbrook Drive, Burr Ridge.

The theme will be “Our History” beginning with the pre-Achemenian era to the present times. Several notable scholars — Professor Jamsheed Choksy, Professor Richard Payne and Dr. Daryoush Jahanian will be making presentations alongside our students of Zoroastrianism Khursheed Ichaporia , Sarosh Irani of Detroit and others not yet identified. All are encouraged to attend. Home-stays will be arranged for out of Town participants. Please save the date. A detailed program will be forthcoming shortly.

Contact:  Rayomand Ravji   rayomand.ravji (@) gmail.com

 

‘The First Navjote’ : new Zoroastrian children’s book


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‘The First Navote ‘ is a new book written by Ava Mehta for both children and their families  in the same style as her first very successful book, now in 4 th edition ‘The story of the religion, Zoroastrianism.’
The first Navjote portrays the  journey Zarathushtra makes to King Vishtaspa’ s kingdom to spread the Good message and his encounter with the different characters he comes across with at the court of the King and Queen. 
Within the tale are also two fictitious princesses to make the story more accessible and interesting for younger children to understand Zarathushtra’s teachings as also the Power of prayer and the essence of why we as Zoroastrians say our Navjote prayers explained in a simplistic manner that children can relate to. 
Ava Mehta is a very experienced teacher in London and her style of imparting information though the creativity of her writing and illustrations makes the reader of any age want to devour her books and want to know more! 
Her book can be purchased now through the e mail    thefirstnavjote@hotmail.com or from the 20th of July 2016 onwards from Amazon.
About the Author :
What can I say except that as far back as I can remember I was forever busy. I loved to lose avamyself in being inventive and to illustrate and create with whatever resources I could lay my hands on. I was always in trouble for opening out pillows for stuffing, and using lampshades for costumes, tights for making pet friends etc. And if anything was missing around the home, I had it with me as a resource to use for my next creation. I also really loved teaching; my first pupils were the very toys I made, then my long suffering pets, and later my friends in the various cities we kept moving to with my father’s constant transfers all over the world. Whom so ever would be patient enough to endure me as ‘teacher’ were my pupils. Many of my friends are now architects and engineers and they say it is all down to my ‘tuition’ from long ago days. Children just loved my lessons but parents were not so keen as my teaching of spellings was atrocious! However the talent for teaching remained and I did my teacher training in Loreto House Calcutta, India and passed with distinction. In the UK I trained to be a Rudolf Steiner Teacher and then went on to work at many prestigious schools in Central London and later obtained an honours degree in Early Years Education and subsequently gained Early Years Professional Status. In between teaching I also ran many successful craft clubs for children and their families in London. My job as an educator today allows me the freedom to teach children creatively through play and the outdoors and to impart information in the most creative way. Writing and illustration, making craft projects, drama and composing songs for children are yet other ways I gain enjoyment and truly relax. Now that my very own ‘real princesses’ are in university, I once again have that little extra time to put pen to paper and scribe and draw once more. My previous book ‘The Story of Our Religion Zoroastrianism’ is now in its 4th edition and I have frequently been asked to write book No. 2 so here it finally is. ENJOY!

Documentary awards for Pallavi Shroff


palluawardsPallavi Kayomarz Shroff was awarded An Achiever’s Award as an Outstanding Documentary Film Maker for the year 2015-2016 for her Documentary on “Zoroastrianism” and was also awarded an Excellence Award in the category of Academics for being the subject topper in Documentary Production. The awards were given by Centre for Management Studies- Jain University during her Graduation Ceremony held earlier this year.
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Attached below is the documentary “Zoroastrianism” made by Pallavi K. Shroff.

LIFE


We do not know

What the future holds

Will it bring “sunshine

Rain hail or snow”

Life is like

Shake & bake

Or icing on the cake

Depending on

Ones power of reasoning

One can make it

Or sever it

 

Life is like a

Never ending road

With hair pins & slipper slopes

Along the way

We do trip & fall

Get up dust off

When the “road

Nears its end”

Wouldn’t one  like to obtain

The “Pot of Gold”?

 

Farida Bam

Zoroastrian Earth Day


Zoroastrian Earth Day

 

Roj Spendarmad Mah Spendarmad, 1380 Yz. (17-July-2016)

 

Today is Roj Spendarmad, Mah Spendarmad, a spiritually vital and important day of the Zoroastrian calendar. Long before the shrill cries of the eco-brigade began to be heard, the practices and precepts of our ancient faith were already attuned to green living, carbonless footprint and eco-sensitiveness.

 

Spendarmad (Avesta Spenta Armaiti) is the Amesha Spenta specifically designated to look after Mother Earth. Through her associates and co-workers, Geush Urva and Geush Tashan, Spenta Armaiti patiently bears the weight of the immeasurable levels of spiritual and physical pollution which is generated by man over the ages.

 

Spenta Armaiti is also responsible for the fertility of the earth, working along with Khordad, who looks after the waters, and Amardad, who looks after vegetation and crops. These great forces of Ahura Mazda’s Divine Cabinet work silently in the background, to provide for those things which we take for granted today.

 

Roj Spendarmad, Mah Spendarmad is also the Day of the Farmer. A few decades ago, when many Parsis were engaged in agriculture, this day was celebrated with great solemnity and reverence. The Parsi farmers would call their family priests to their wadis to consecrate a special Baj, in honour of Spenta Armaiti, or perform a thanksgiving Jashan.

 

A more important spiritual practice followd by our ancestors was the writing of the special Nirang, or potent spiritual formula, called ‘Nirang-i-Khrafastar Zadan’. Spiritually evolved priests would collect some yellow paper, make special red ink using saffron and well water, take a nib pen and then sit down with all these implements in the Urvis Gah (the sacred place in the Fire Temple where the Pav Mahel ceremonies are performed). They would then take four Daran and consecrate the Baj of Teshtar Tir Yazata. After finishing the Baj, they would partake the Chasni, breaking off small bits from each Darun in a specific manner and eating them in a pure way. Then they would take the pen, dip it in the saffron ink and start writing the special Nirang in the Pazend script. Having finished the Nirang, they would hold it over the fire and fumigate the paper. These Nirangs were then given to the devotees who would affix the Nirang on top of the door of their houses.

 

This Nirang has great potency to stop the entry of any kind of noxious or evil influence into the house (which is why it was affixed outside the door and not inside). The words used in the Nirang describe how its sacred formula binds the mouths (that is, renders powerless) all kinds of wicked sorcerers, evil magicians, liars, cheats, evil-doers, serpent-like persons and any other evil influences. In doing so the Nirang takes the help of Shah Faridun Athavyan, the great Peshdadian monarch, Greatest Healer and Saheb of all Nirangs. Many of the Nirangs we use even today are ascribed to this very highly evolved spiritual monarch.

 

In addition to Shah Faridun, the Nirang calls for the help of four specific entities, which are translated by normal scholars as stars: Tir, Vanant, Satavas and Haptoiring. Ustad Saheb explained that these names may point to the physical stars of the almanac but they actually refer to the great spiritual and divine forces which are behind the working of the stars and planets. Thus, Teshtar Tir Yazata performs a vital function in the cosmos, a physical replica of which is found in the star Sirius in the East of the heavens. Similarly, Satavas works in the west, Haptoiring in the north and Vanant in the south. They are like four sentries at the four corners of the cosmos, keeping a watch on any evil activity and stepping in to ensure that things do not go out of hand.

 

Thus the Nirang affixed on the doors of Parsi houses invoked the help not only of Shah Faridun, but also these four great sentinels and provided the family with protection from any evil and untoward incident throughout the year. Every Roj Spendarmad, Mah Spendarmad, the old Nirang would be taken down and burnt in the house fire, or given to the priest and replaced with the new one.

 

Unfortunately today, this tradition has almost disappeared from our community. How many priests today can read or write in the Pazend script? How many are even aware of the significance of this day and the procedure to be followed? How many Panthakys offer this service to their Behdins?

 

At the Ustad Saheb Behramshah Nowroji Shroff Daremeher, we have continued this important tradition and even today, nearly a hundred Parsis, from Behram Baug and even outside Mumbai came to the Daremeher and collected their Nirangs. This shows that there is a great demand within our community for spiritual guidance and help, which is not being met properly by our priesthood and leaders. This is also one reason why Parsis flock to other religions and their practices.

 

There exists a vast treasure of Nirangs and ceremonies which can help a Parsi in any kind of difficulty. But what is lacking today is two things: the spiritual calibre of our priests; and the totally un-Zoroastrian way of living of our entire community. Our greatest spiritual gifts of the Sudreh and Kusti and mangled into fashion statements. We take them off at the slightest excuse. We do not follow simple practices which nobody can stop us from following in the comfort of our homes. How can our Nirangs and ceremonies help, when the basic infrastructure needed for their success is absent?

 

Take a Divo, light it and it will radiate spiritual warmth and brilliance. Place it in a jar and cover it. What happens? As the oxygen is used up, the Divo starts spluttering and will ultimately go off. Is it the fault of the Divo, or is it the oxygen-less surrounding it was placed in which caused it to extinguish? We blame our prayers and our ceremonies for having no effect, but how can they be effective when we have sucked out the Zoroastrian oxygen from our lives?

 

Fellow Zoroastrians! Unless we inculcate a Zoroastrian way of life in our homes, there can be no spiritual progress. On this spiritually important day, let us resolve to inculcate more and more Zoroastrian values in our lives – truth, fair dealing, compassion, ethics and great love and devotion towards Ahura Mazda and His Prophet Zarathushtra. This is the only way towards salvation.

As the Avesta says:

Aevo pantao yo ashahe, vispe anyaesham apantam

There is only one path – the path of Truth and righteousness; all others are non-paths.

 

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram.

http://www.frashogard.com/zoroastrian-earth-day/

 

Del Irani – An Indian face on Australia TV


Del Irani is an award-winning journalist and TV presenter, who’s hosted shows on Australian and international television.

She is currently the Finance Presenter on ABC News’ flagship breakfast show, which airs from 6-9am nationally on ABC 1 and ABC News 24. She’s also one of the creators and presenter of award-winning talk show, #TalkAboutIt.

deliraniDel was born in Mumbai and immigrated to Australia with her family when she was eight years old. She grew up on the lower north shore of Sydney and completed the final year of her degree on a scholarship at the University of California, Berkeley.

Del started her career in journalism as field producer, working on programs for Fox News, CBS and Channel News Asia, which involved travelling and living in many different countries including Bermuda, Panama, Belgium and Dubai.

She spent four years in India working for various news organisations including Thomson Reuters, Times Now and BBC World News. She was appointed Mumbai Correspondent for BBC World News in 2009 and also became the Presenter of India Business Report, a weekly show broadcast to 77 million people. During her time at the BBC, she provided live coverage of breaking stories, including the trial of the lone surviving gunman in the 2008 Mumbai Terror attacks.

In 2013, Del was the only journalist from Australia to win a Jefferson Fellowship and visited the East West Centre in Hawaii as well as Tokyo, Beijing and Yangon, along with 14 other journalists from Asia-pacific.

For more information and to follow Del’s journey, please visit: www.facebook.com/DelIraniTV or visit her website at www.delirani.com

This man’s idea to crowdsource food now touches 2,500 lives


Khushroo Poacha wanted to feed kin of the poor in hospitals. The result was an initiative that now spans 7 cities.

Khushroo Poacha, 38, holds a regular job with the Central Railways in its commercial department in Nagpur. Married and blessed with a young girl child, there is one thing that makes him stand out. An idea that he conceived two years back has now come to fruition and feeds around 2,500 people every week.

“My mother was then hospitalised in Nagpur for a surgery. I saw a lot of people sitting outside the hospital, cooking chappatis on a brick kiln to make ends meet,” shares Poacha. His mother suggested that if he was so touched by their plight then he should do something for them.

“My mother passed away two months later, but I wanted to follow up on her suggestion. I called a friend, Amit, who came to the hospital the following Sundayand distributed 25 packets of food,” Poacha says.

That was the start of Seva kitchen. Next week he himself joined in and realised that cooking at home would allow them to feed more people at the same cost. Soon more people joined in and Poacha assumed the role of a coordinator.

What started as an initiative that was done once a week in two hospitals in Nagpur spread across cities. “On Fridays, I coordinate with different groups. There are some hospitals where the relatives are provided meals every day and not just onSundays,” Poacha explains.

Two years since it started, the initiative has spread to seven cities – Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Nagpur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and New Delhi.

There are a few ground rules Poacha sticks to. No one is allowed to contribute money. Everyone brings food cooked at home and distributes it. Also, there will be no discrimination based on caste, gender, creed or colour.

“Once a lady from Hyderabad was distributing food in her area and a friend visiting from Australia wanted to contribute. We refused to accept money so he now orders bananas online, that is distributed every Sunday,” Poacha shares.

Those contacting him include both young and old alike. While Poacha wanted to feed relatives of those in hospitals, there are young volunteers from Mumbai and Navi Mumbai who have taken to feeding the homeless and those living on the streets every week.

Today, the Seva initiative provides 2,500 meals every week, touching as many lives.

“You don’t need a lot of money to do good work, you just need a lot of passion,” signs off Poacha.

# Those wanting to join the initiative can contact Khushroo Poacha at09561011264 or check the Fb page of Seva kitchen.

 

http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-mumbai-this-man-s-idea-to-crowdsource-food-now-touches-2500-lives-2234252

Mumbai: This man’s idea to crowdsource food now touches 2,500 lives – Khushroo Poacha wanted to feed kin of the poor in hospitals. The result was an initiative that now spans 7 cities.