Gender bias debate revived

An incident last week at an agiary (Parsi fire temple) in Andheri has restarted a debate in the community about bias against women who marry non-Zoroastrians.

While there is a deep divide among orthodox and liberal Parsis over whether a distinction should be made between men and women whose spouses are not from their community, Mumbai’s agiaries have generally not discriminated against the women. In Mumbai, most fire temples do not bar entry to women whose husbands are not from the community, unless they have converted to their spouse’s religion. The city’s nearly four dozen fire temples have allowed women to worship, though there are restrictions on taking their kids inside.

But many liberal Parsis saw the Andheri incident as an attempt to change the status quo. The Andheri fire temple barred a television actor from entering the premises to take part in the memorial prayer services for her recently deceased father. The actor has recently separated from her husband, also an actor. She was not allowed to take part in the ceremonies while her brother, who is also a television personality, and the rest of the family were allowed in.

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