Report of the 8th Residential Refresher Programme for Ostas & Ervads
Report of the 8th Residential Refresher Programme for Ostas & Ervads and
1st Residential Workshop for Behdin Pasbaans
Held at The M. F. Cama Athornan Institute, Andheri,
The Ex-Students’ Association of the M. F. Cama Athornan Institute pulled out yet another bird out of their thinking cap! A few years back they took note of the fact that the number of trainees at the prestigious Andheri Madressa has gone down. This has resulted in an influx of a crop of new Mobeds who are unfortunately not fully trained in their craft (Mobedi).
The Ex-Students Association of The M. F. Cama Athornan Institute took up the challenge of honing the skills of not only such adhura Mobeds but also to refresh and educate the full-time practicing Mobeds. Their sole aim was to impart religious and ceremonial education to the participants by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded and by which the participants can stand on their own feet and guide the Community on the right path.
Having successfully conducted 7 such programmes, the Association this time approached the Chairman & Trustees of the Cama Athornan Madressa to allow them to train our Behdin Pasbaans [Helper Priests] to perform ceremonies and rituals in far-flung Atash Kadehs, which, due to unavailability of Mobeds, were being deprived of proper religious care.
The Trustees were initially cautious and referred the matter to the High Priests and Religious Scholars before they assented to this Novel Proposition. But to their credit, once the Chairman & Trustees agreed to allow training the Behdin Pasbaans, along with the Ostas & Ervads, they left no stone unturned to see the success of this New Initiative by the Ex-Students Association.
We hereby dedicate this day to our eternal role model Seth Merwanji Mancherji Cama, who deeply stirred the minds and feelings of his own fellow Zoroastrians in general and MOBEDS in particular and yet left indelible foot-prints in the sands of time for posterity to follow. This far-sighted saint had in fact put down in as many words the present scenario in his Trust Deed itself (some 80-85 years ago) that when Athornan Children would not be available for training, the trust would endeavour to impart knowledge of religion and rituals to the Zoroastrian Laity- the Behdin Pasbaans! Decades and generations after his death, this hero continues to influence and impact Zoroastrian lives the world over.
The number of Athornan trainees at this prestigious Madressa has gone down over the past decade and a half. This has resulted in an influx of a crop of new Mobeds who are unfortunately not fully trained in their craft (Mobedi). The Ex-Students Association of The M.F.Cama Athornan Institute has come forward to take up the challenge of honing the skills of not only such adhura Mobeds but also to refresh and educate the full-time practicing Mobeds and now even Behdin Pasbaans.
Com. Aspi Marker(Retd. ) of Indian navy was the chief guest of the opening ceremony on 3rd May at the Institute premises at Andheri. In the morning the Jashan Ceremony was led by Er. Jamshed Bhesadia – an ex-student of the Institute. Chief guest Com. Aspi Markar appreciated the efforts of t-he Ex –students’ Association and mentioned that there are so many Agiaries in the remote areas which are closed down and the premises are used by non-parsis in many places – some of the Agiyaries even do not have the Atash Padshah. This is the most shameful fact for our community. In such circumstances the Ex-Students’ Association of the M.F.Cama Athornan Institute is doing commendable job by training the Ostas and Ervads as well as Behdin Pasbaans who can give their services to revive our Atash Padshah Sahebs in such remote areas. He also appreciated the Institute and its founder Seth Merwanji Cama for establishing such a gorgeous and magnificent Institute for the Athornans- Mobeds of our community and said that it is the duty of our present generation to maintain the legacy of such a magnificent Institution.
As per the guidelines provided by the High Priests, Behdin Pasbaans were taught and explained all the Hoshmordi ceremonies. Behdin Pasbaans can perform the Aafringan (and Jashan), Farokshi, Stum, 4-day death ceremonies- such as Geh-Sarna (Funeral Prayers), Dhoop Sarna (Uthamna Prayers), Boi ceremonies of unconsecrated Dadgah Sahebs, etc. along with the Athornan participants. The Zoroastrian Scholars who tutored the participants through the fortnight included Dasturji Dr. Peshotan Mirza & Dasturji Khurshedji Kekobad Dastur (High Priests of Iranshah, Udvada), Dr. Homi Dhalla, Er. Dr. Keki Turel, Ervad Khushru Panthaky, Ervad Asphandiar Dadachanji, Ervad Parvez Bajan, Ervad Keki Ravji, Ervad Cyrus Darbari, Ervad Pervez Mithaiwalla, Ervad Pirojshah Sidhva, Mr. Rustom Chothia, Mrs. Aban Sethna, Mrs. Daizy Navdar and Dr. Sam Doctor.
In addition, the participants were taught the lost art of making Darun, Papdi, Malido, Bhakhra, Kopra-pak, etc., which may stand them in good stead when they take up Mobedi or Pasbaani in remote areas in India or abroad.
The Athornans were also taught Paghdi Tying, Baaj Dharna Ceremony, Navjote & Marriage Performance, Nahan and general outlines of the High Liturgical Ceremonies like Yazashne, Visparad, Vendidad, Nirangdin, consecration of various fires for Atash Adaran & Atash Behram.
Frohar Foundation’s Exhibition Panels of Zoroastrian History, Culture and Religious Ceremonies were simultaneously put up at the Madressa. This proved to be a boon for the Athornan and Behdin participants alike. A dental camp, a medical check up and an eye check up of all the participants was conducted free of charge by Dr. Arnavaz Havewalla, Dr. Pervin Drsai and Doctors from Dr. Kulin Kothari’s Bombay City Eye Institute & Research Centre (BCEIRC). Our ex-student Ervad Marzban Mani taught the participants some self-defense tactics and disaster management.
We hereby thank our Sponsors- Seth Jamshedji Gazdar and Mr. Cyrus Guzder, Ervad Jamshed Bhesadia, Justice Sharukh Kathawalla, Mr. Firoz Sethna and Mrs. Silloo Mahva, Mrs. Tanaz Kerawala, Mr. Perviz Surti of Fred Travels, Ervad Soli Dastur (of USA ). Trusts like Maneckji Nowrozjee Seth Charities, Zoroastrian Winter Relief Fund (Kumi Daruwala), Naterwala Foundation, World Zarathosti Cultural Foundation, Katgara Foundation etc. and others for their continued support over the years for conducting these programmes.
On the Closing day of the Program on 15th May,2009, The Jashan Ceremony was led by Dasturji Dr. Peshotan Mirza of Iranshah Udvada- who precided over the function, our Key note speaker Ervad Yazdi Aibara addressed the gathering. Cash prizes, gift items, Religious books etc. were distributed to the participants Rotating Trophies for the Best Ervad Participant, Best Osta Participant as well as Best Behdin Pasbaan were awarded in the memory of Mr. Keki Kerawala. Assembly Hall of the Madressa was packed with rich and famous Parsee Sethias, Internationally Acclaimed Zoroastrian Scholars, Ex-Students of The M.F.Cama Athornan Institute, a large number of fellow Zoroastrians and Spiritual presence of our satisfied Icon Seth Merwanji Mancherji Cama.
Report Filed by Ervad Homie Gowadia.
Courtesy : froharfilms@ yahoo.com / Neville Gandhi