Barsam (Barsum) – 2

What is a “Barsam” exactly?

To see the image of a historic Barsam, let us go to “Tag e Bostan”, a historic site near the city of KermanShah, Iran. Here, a spring of water comes out of the mountain and fills a huge pool that provides drinking water for the whole city. I believe this complex to be a Mithraeum, a Persian Mithraeum, one that does not resemble the ones we have in the Roman Empire, but a Mithraeum all the same. Here, the cave of Mithra is not a naturally occurring cave but one carved in the mountain side artificially.

This complex is laid out like a Persian Garden and the sounds of water and the singing of birds have to compete with the smells of the best Kabab in Iran coming from the food stalls that serve it to visitors. They call it the Dande Kabab, and it is made with lamb chops marinated in fragrant herbs in recipes that make this dish a Kurdish specialty unsurpassed in delicacy and taste. In the background of the complex and on the mountain side, there are very important carvings dating back at least to the 4th century AD/CE and before. A statue depicting Izad Banoo Anahitha located inside the artificial man-made cave is of special importance because in this carving you can see Nahid clad in garments and wearing a crown and jewelry exactly as She is described wearing them in the sacred Zoroastrian text Aban Yasht. (I am not good at taking images and adding them to my text; but you can see all that I am describing by searching Google for “Carvings at Tagh e Bostan” and then asking for “Images”.)

Within the same complex and carved on the side of the mountain, there is another image that interests us with regards to seeing a real Barsam of the time; the image is of a man that some scholars believe may be a portrait of the prophet Zarathustra while many other scholars describe it as belonging to Lord Mithra, the Sun Yazeta. As there are no texts telling us who this person is, the only evidence the second group of scholars give for it being the lord Mithra is that he is holding a Barsam. This cannot be a proof positive as the Barsam is a sacred object in the Zoroastrian religion also and indeed a carving of those times could have just as well shown a portrait of Prophet Zarathustra holding a Barsam.

Art historians tell us that this portrait depicts for the first time rays of light shining around the head of a person signifying something very special about him. This man or Izad also stands on a lotus flower which again is very symbolic as it is the lotus that represents the four basic elements in nature most sacred to Zoroastrians and Mithraists, Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. The lotus has its roots in the Earth, grows in the Water, opens up in the Air, and the flower itself turns to face the Sun all day(Is a “Heliotrope”) and closes at night, thus revering the Sun or the fourth element of Fire.

The Barsam that Prophet Zarathustra or Lord Mithra holds in this image must be around one meter (40 inches) tall and 30 centimeters (12 inches) in diameter. Present day Barsams that the Dastoors (Zoroastrian Priests) use are much smaller and no more than about 30 centimeters (12 inches) in length and 10 centimeter (4 inches) in diameter. A Barsam is placed during ritual prayers on two “Barsam-gir” or “Mah-rooy”; “Mah-rooy” means “Moon-faced,” and the top of a Mah-rooy is indeed shaped like a new crescent moon, a shape well suited to receive one end of a Barsam. All present-day Mah-rooys that I have seen the Dastoors use are of a small size made to hold a small bundle of twigs; however, in my collection of Zoroastrian Artifacts I am fortunate enough to have a Sassanian Mahrooy which stands 30 centimeters tall, large enough to receive a large Barsam of the impressive size depicted in the Tagh Bostan carving. I talked about all this to show that we have a large Barsam and then also smaller ones and that King Yazdgerd most likely wanted the smaller kind placed next to his meal. To know about the large size Barsam is also very important because that is the kind that traveled to Rome with the spread of Mithraism and became known as the Fascia.

In the next installment of my writing about the Barsam, we’ll go back to king Yazdgerd and the reason he doesn’t eat his humble food without there being a Barsam placed at its side. I apologize for my long detour talking about the history of what Barsams look like, but truly, I wish I had the time and patience to write a whole lot more about this topic as it ties into some very interesting issues of our modern civilization. For example, wouldn’t you like to know why there is a connection between calling gay persons “Fag” or “Fagot” and its connection to the words “Religion” and “Fascism”? Hint: all these words have some connection to the “Barsam”.

To be continued,

Mehr Afzoon,
Parviz Varjavand,

Wanted: Information Technology Programmer

Required Information Technology Programmer in Well Known Katgara group company, for their tourism company Trail Blazer tours India Pvt Ltd


Job Location : Andheri

Salary as per Market standard and Skill set

Skill Set Knowledge of

1.       Java and Advance Java.

2.       Sql preferably in Oracle.

3.       Knowledge of PL/SQL will be added advantage

4.       Graduate in Any Field

5.       Experience 1 to 2 years

6.       Even Freshers can apply


Email address :

Kurush Charna

Chief Information Officer

Trail Blazer Tours (India) Pvt. Ltd.
Jeena House, B Wing 1st Floor

Plot No: 170, OM Nagar,

Off Sahar Pipeline Road,
Andheri (East)
Mumbai (Bombay)- 400 099
Tel: 0091 22 61370370

Direct: 0091 22 61370304

Fax: 0091 22 61370371


Member: IATA, TAAI, IATO, TAFI, Approved by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India

52 years, 5,000 songs: Kersi Lord


With musician Kersi Lord’s death, we have lost a vital part of film history

Sometime in the midst of the swinging sixties, the great Naushad Ali realised the urgent need to re-invent himself. The astute music director, famed for his classical scores, knew what he needed to do: hire a new arranger, someone who could give a more contemporary feel to his melodies. Luckily for him, he didn’t have to look too far.

The young man Naushad turned to was a Parsi named Kersi Lord. Naushad had first noticed Kersi when, as a child, the latter would accompany his father Cawas Lord – an ex-jazz drummer who became one of the most respected percussionists in the film line – to the recording studios. After recordings, Naushad would often send the boy in his car to the nearest railway station so that he could reach school on time. Even 50 years later, Kersi would recall this gesture with fondness – as also the name of the driver, the car’s make and number!

A young Kersi Lord.

A young Kersi Lord.

Kersi literally grew up in the studios. Among his mentors was the legendary arranger Anthony Gonsalves, a tough taskmaster. “I have often cried on his sets. He would write difficult parts and if you could not play, he would sarcastically say, ‘Can’t play, huh? Don’t practice, go and watch movies!’ That forced me to practice, na.”

All those hours of practice stood him in good stead. Kersi started off as a percussionist, playing a whole range of smaller Latin percussion instruments (many of them introduced by his father). Gradually, he started playing bongos and congas in recordings, and later a series of mallet instruments – the vibraphone, the xylophone and the glockenspiel. (The glock is used to great effect in the famous lighter tune that occurs as an aural leitmotif in Hum Dono). And if it wasn’t enough that he played a series of percussion instruments with a certain level of dexterity, he was an ace accordionist to boot.

But it was one thing to be a first-rate instrumentalist. Could he also be a capable arranger to the formidable Naushad Ali? In an attempt to first assess the competence of the untested young man, he surprised Kersi by casually asking him to do the background score for a scene in Ram Aur Shyam (1967). The result seems to have pleased Naushad because Kersi was promptly hired to do his next film. Saathi (1968) stands out musically as a radical departure from Naushad’s earlier (substantial) oeuvre. In the film’s most famous song (see playlist below), Kersi channels his fondness for Carnatic percussion, especially the work of the great mridangam player Palghat Mani Iyer, to elevate what is essentially a very simple central melody.

Kersi’s career as an arranger, however, was short-lived. He had always asked for a separate credit line, something not always forthcoming. (Arrangers were conventionally credited as Music Assistants and their names clubbed with assistants from other departments). And when he did not get credited for arranging the background score for Kamal Amrohi’s epic Pakeezah (1972), he decided to work only as an instrumentalist. But not before giving us at least two more great tracks. The bluesy Tum Jo Mil Gaye Ho is a classic and no case needs to be made for it. Not as well known is the scorching instrumental theme from Feroz Khan’sDharmatma (1974). The track, which has been sampled a few times, is credited to composers Kalyanji-Anandji, but it was in fact composed, arranged and conducted by Kersi Lord.

Click Here for more of the detailed story

Indian all-time ethnic XIs part V: Parsees

(From left) Farokh Engiineer, Polly Umrigar and Phiroze Palia © Getty Images

It is well-documented that the Parsees were the pioneers among Indians when it came to cricket. Not only did they take to cricket before other ethnic groups, they also undertook two voyages to England, in 1886 and 1888. In 1892-93 they first played Europeans in the first ever First-Class match on Indian soil, then beat them to clinch the first ever Presidency Cup. In 1895, ME Pavri became the first Indian to play for an English County when he took field for Middlesex against Sussex.

The first Indian Test team consisted of two Parsees, Sorabji Colah and Pheroze Palia. At 41 years 27 days, Rustomji Jamshedji later became the oldest Test debutant for India and the seventh-oldest overall. He was also the first Indian cricketer to be born.

The Parsees kept their presence intact through some outstanding names in Rusi Modi, Polly Umrigar, Nari Contractor, Rusi Surti and Farokh Engineer. Towards the end of the 1950s the Parsees had three representatives in the Indian Test side. And on the West Indies tour of 1961-62, as many as four — Umrigar, Contractor, Surti, and Engineer — played together before Contractor was hit by a career-ending blow from Charlie Griffith.

Parsee cricket fell out after the 1960s. In fact, no Parsee has played for India since Engineer’s retirement in 1975.

Please note that the purpose of this article is not to hurt any religious sentiment. 

Parsee XI

Nari Contractor (c), Farokh Engineer (wk), Rusi Modi, Polly Umrigar, Sorabji Colah, Rusi Surti, Phiroze Palia, Jenni Irani, Khershed Meherhomji, Rustomji Jamshedji, Keki Tarapore, Kekhashru Mistry (sub).


Mistry had played only unofficial Tests.

(A New Delhi-based cricket author and historian, Gulu Ezekiel is the author of a dozen sports books including best-selling biographies of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni. Formerly sports editor at Asian Age, NDTV and


Indulge in rich, authentic Parsi cuisine at Parsi Food Festival in Noida


New Delhi: Celebrating the tradition of love for rich and authentic cuisines, the iconic hospitality destination of Delhi-NCR, Radisson Blu MBD Hotel Noida is hosting the much-awaited Parsi Food Festival at their fine dining Indian specialty restaurant, Made In India from the 14th October till 23rd October.

Introducing the Parsi cuisine to food enthusiasts, an exciting master class by Master Chef Kaizad Patel was held during the special preview at the award-winning restaurant today.

The menu for this ten day long culinary festival has been specially curated by Master Chef Kaizad Patel, with some of the most authentic and traditional signature dishes from the Parsi kitchen, including a great mix of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian delights, like Bhujeli Kaleji, Kid Gosht and Chapat, amongst many others mouth-watering delicacies. Parsi food has its roots in Persian and Gujarati cuisines and much of the food is a meat-lover’s dream come true.

Commenting on the Parsi cuisine and the special menu for the Parsi Food Festival, Master Chef Kaizad Patel said, “Parsi cuisine is a melange of different flavors and has an eclectic mix of hot and sweet, sour and spice. This delectable cuisine is deeply influenced by various parts of the country that the community has travelled to and its soul lies in the ingredients used to make the mouth-watering delicacies. We are delighted to bring back the traditional recipes and recreate the authentic flavors at the Parsi Food Festival at the Made In India restaurant in Radisson Blu MBD Hotel Noida.”

To indulge in an eclectic mix of hot and sweet, nice and spice, which sums up the Parsi cuisine, make sure you head to ‘ Made In India’ restaurant, the home grown name popular for being the pioneers of traditional cuisines and reviving cultural heritage through the medium of culinary art. (ANI)

Help a young Zoroastrian to get into a space program!

Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America

We hope you will disseminate the following to your colleagues, friends and family,and urge them to contribute to this worthy project.
Garshasb (Gary) Soroosh, studies Physiology and Neurobiology as a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park. He has been conducting biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health for 5 years, leading projects that ranged in focus from molecular neuroscience to microbial pathogenesis. In addition to research, Gary dedicates much of his time as a leading member of RAD-AID International, a global health nonprofit committed to improving access to radiology in developing regions of the world. On campus, he is president of the American Society for Microbiology Student Chapter, Quality of Care Representative to the University Health Center, and a member of the Student Health Advisory Committee, in addition to volunteering at free clinics in the College Park area. In his free time Gary enjoys writing, playing golf, and performing classical Persian drums.  Gary has represented FEZANA at the United Nations at the World Summit of the Information Society, (WSIS +10) at the UN Headquarters in New York in December 2015 . Details of this participation are reported in the Fezana Journal –summer 2016 issue (which is themed on “Mehrgan”).

The Project
Not knowing exactly how and why bacteria behave differently in space poses a serious risk for astronaut safety.  The projectgoal is to understand, on the molecular level, how bacteria change the expression of their genes in space, focusing on why they move more easily in microgravity.  After having been selected finalists in the UMD Student Spaceflight Experiments Program Mission 10, in February of 2017 these young scientists will send an experimental capsule containing dormant bacteria to the International Space Station.  The bacteria will grow in space, where they will adapt to this microgravity environment, and then will be returned to Earth for analysis.  A powerful technique called RNAseq will be used to analyze bacterial gene expression patterns; by running the same experiment in parallel on Earth, scientists will essentially be able to observe any and every difference in bacterial gene expression caused by microgravity.  This work can contribute to astronaut safety on long-term voyages.

A guaranteed spot on a rocket to take the experiment to the International Space Station is availabe, and this campaign is key to obtaining funds for analysis after receiving the bacteria from space.  Your generous contribution will help fund experimental procedures, costs associated with data analysis and publication of findings, and allow the team to be in Launch Control to supervise experimental deployment from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Behram Pastakia, MD, FACR
Co-Chair, FEZANA UN-NGO committee

Click here to donate to this project now

Zubin Karkaria, the first Asian to head a listed Swiss Company

‘Sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission,’ Zubin Karkaria, CEO of the Kuoni Group and the first Asian to head a listed Swiss company, tells Niraj Bhatt.



In the past decade, Zubin Karkaria has built a global business of visa processing for embassies spanning 123 countries and can write a book on ease of doing business across the world.

In 2015, he opened visa centres in Suriname and Uzbekistan, got the governments of Brazil and Latvia as clients and formed a partnership to develop the outbound travel business in China. He says both Russia and China are difficult markets to work in, but have high growth potential.

Last November, Karkaria was elevated to the position of chief executive officer of the Kuoni Group, and became the first Asian to head a listed Swiss company.

Karkaria is visiting his hometown Mumbai and we meet at the Cricket Club of India for lunch. He divides his time between the Kuoni headquarters in Zurich and Dubai, where VFS Global and his family are based.

At the Polly Umrigar’s Sportsman’s Bar, which is empty on this Friday afternoon, we order fresh lime soda and a tandoori paneer.

Kuoni’s travel business hasn’t been doing well financially for a few years, and the group has been on a cost-cutting drive — it sold some businesses and even its head office building in Zurich. Intense competition from online players ate into its tour operating business, which it sold last year.

Kuoni decided to focus on three B2B areas: Group travel and destination management, B2B hotel booking and visa processing.

When Karkaria took over as CEO, he realised the company needed two things — capital and industry experience. “To double our top line to 6 billion Swiss francs, we needed investments in technology, people and growth markets,” he says. That’s why Sweden’s private equity player, EQT, was roped in as the new owner.

“EQT agrees with my strategy and wants me to deliver it,” he adds. The private equity fund, which has ties with Sweden’s largest business house — the Wallenberg family — gave Kuoni shareholders a 30 per cent premium to the market price, and the shares will be delisted.

“Now my task is much easier,” Karkaria says. He only has to coordinate with EQT and the Hugentobler Foundation, which was set up by Kuoni’s founders.

While VFS Global is already functioning as a separate entity, Karkaria will cut costs and make the other two businesses independent too. This way, each business can have its own growth plan, will be funded separately and get advice from domain experts that EQT will bring.

“My role as CEO of the Kuoni Group is for about 18 months. Once these three businesses are independent, I will go back to VFS Global and build it to the next level.”

VFS Global and the hotel booking business could be listed separately in future, while the loss-making group travel business would be restructured but other strategic options would be evaluated.

EQT has a policy of key employees having skin in the game by way of equity, which works for Karkaria and his team. He says he shared his plan with his colleagues and they supported him.

Over grilled chicken, Karkaria tells me he doesn’t eat meat on Tuesdays, wherever he is in the world. “For the last 20 years, I have been a regular visitor to the Siddhi Vinayak temple.”

Karkaria is also a Zoroastrian priest, and used to earn pocket money in his free time by reciting prayers at a local Parsi fire temple while in school and college.

Karkaria started working part-time in a travel agency his classmate owned, when he was studying management. He then joined the travel agency SOTC, which was taken over by Kuoni in 1996, where he worked across its businesses such as trade fair tours, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events), inbound and outbound tours, and rose within the organisation to deputy CEO.

In 2001, he says, the biggest stress was getting visas for outbound tours. On the other side, the embassies were getting negative press, with photographs of people queuing up at night or standing in the rain.

He floated the idea of taking care of the documentation at the US embassy, and it agreed to a pilot. Washington sent State Department staff to verify the security checks and the process and extended the pilot to a year.

New Delhi and Chennai too were added, and VFS was born.

“My objective was to take VFS to other missions,” he says.

He got on the road and started making presentations to other embassies in India. Two years after the US pilot, small contracts started coming in and by 2005, Kuoni India was processing visas for 11 client governments in India including the UK, Canada and Australia, and Karkaria became CEO and managing director of the company.

In 2007, the UK government outsourced visa processing across 33 countries to Karkaria’s operations, and that’s how the global foray began.

I ask how difficult it was to convince Switzerland about getting into this business. “When I was handling the India part, it was under Kuoni India, and when we got the US contract, they started believing in us,” he says.

As CEO, he didn’t have to tell headquarters that he was bidding for the UK contract. He had a good relationship with the board and Kuoni India was doing well under his watch, he says.

After bagging the contract, he did have to go to the board for approval, and says, “Sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.”

After that the business took off, and he headed the visa business globally. VFS Global also planned an initial public offering in London in 2011, but it had to be pulled off at the last minute.

People saw the profits VFS was making in the IPO documents and Karkaria says that’s when competition started coming in the business.

Karkaria visited about 100 countries and shares his travel experiences over coffee. He went to Libya last year to close the visa centre. In Erbil (approximately 350 kilometres north of Baghdad), he was walking on the road and was surprised to bump into a fellow Zoroastrian.

On July 14, 2016, he had dinner with the owner of Noori’s, an Indian restaurant in Nice, France, who he knows from his tour operator days. The Kuoni chairman, who was with him, and Karkaria saw the Bastille Day celebrations and fireworks and walked back to the Hyatt where they were staying.

Within a few minutes of entering their rooms, a truck driver ran over the crowd on Nice’s beachfront Promenade des Anglais and was shot by the police just outside the Hyatt. “It was the saddest sight of my life,” he says. “I tell my children how fortunate they are to be in the better part of the world.”

The basic Zoroastrian precept of good thoughts, good words and good deeds remain his moral compass.


Mumbai Parsi first to donate for Pakistani Teen

Mumbai donates up to Rs 4.5 lakh for treatment of Pakistani teen

Following sunday mid-day’s report on May 17, Jaslok Hospital receives monetary help from donors across the city who wanted to help the Wilson’s Disease patient

Two weeks after Sunday Mid Day published the report — Large-hearted Mumbai rises for Pak teen on May 17 — about how Nazia Tarikh Ahmed came to Mumbai from Karachi with only R80,000 to treat her 15-year-old daughter, Saba, who is suffering from Wilson’s Disease, Mumbaikars have stepped forward to show their affection.

Nazia and Saba Tarikh Ahmed. (File pic)

The fund’s coffers boast R4.5 lakh, thanks to which Nazia can afford to continue the treatment at Jaslok Hopsital.
Dr Abbha Nagral, Liver Specialist and Senior Gastroenterologist at Jaslok Hospital, who is treating Saba, said, “Soon after the article was published, total strangers approached the hospital with donations. We managed to raise R4.5 lakh, which enabled us sustain the medical expense of her treatment,” said Nagral, who added that Saba is responding well to medication.

“For the first time in 40 days, she was taken to Haji Ali on a wheelchair on Friday. Though she has her frequent ups and downs, there is an overall positive improvement in her health. However, she still has a long way to go and will require lifelong medication,” says Nazia, who is a single parent after her husband remarried and left her and their three children. The doctors in Karachi initially misdiagnosed her daughter’s condition and even started an incorrect treatment. “The donors in Mumbai are angels who extended help in our hour of need. Saba was in total depression when we came here, but has become a happier person, in spite of being bedridden. She was very happy to seek blessings at Haji Ali Dargah,” said Nazia.

According to Shabia Walia, a social worker from the Bluebells Community, a group of social workers, actor Juhi Chawla has donated R25,000. Another donor, Kersi Dubash, was first among the first to deposit R 1 lakh with the hospital. “I have a textile business in Pakistan and visit the country often. I am just returning the love and affection that I get there,” he said.

Also read…

Large-hearted Mumbai embraces Pakistani teen with rare illness
Saba Tarikh Ahmed from Karachi is being treated at Jaslok Hospital for a rare condition called Wilson’s Disease. Doctors and perfect strangers in Mumbai have provided her financial and emotional support. (Click here to read the full story)

By Shailesh Bhatia | Posted 31-May-2015