The K R Cama Oriental Institute, soon to turn 100

Parsi culture and art are dying out — so goes the general perception. But here is an institute that is helping to record and uphold both.

Established in 1916 — and therefore approaching its centenary — the K R Cama Oriental Institute (COI) is managed by five trustees, headed by Muncherji N M Cama, who is chairman of Bombay Samachar and on the board of several charities. It is supported by public funds and donations. Among its activities is the annual Avabai Wadia Memorial Lecture, in which a distinguished scholar speaks on his or her work. COI also has an exchange programme with the Department of Persian Studies of the University of California, Irvin.

COI doesn’t just stock books, it also publishes. It has brought out books on cricket and Parsis, documenting the sport in the community, on Zoroastrian law and ethics, on the Baj-dharna (a Zoroastrian consecration ritual) and so on. The latest is Parsi Portraits from the Studio of Raja Ravi Varma. Written by Priya Maholay-Jaradi, it documents the 19th-century artist’s studio portraits of Parsi subjects.

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Courtesy : Jehangir Bisney

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