A Zoroastrian in Zanzibar – Farah Bala

During my conversations with the locals when I heard, first of a likelihood, and then a definitive assurance, that there was indeed a Parsi family still living in Zanzibar, there was no way I was leaving the Island without meeting them. Finding out where they lived wasn’t as difficult as I would have thought. Just then, Amanda told me she had read an article not too long ago of the existence of an Agiary (Parsi Temple) in Zanzibar, relatively close to Stone Town. I was now on a mission! However, not too many people knew about this temple. Although there was a thriving Zoroastrian community in Zanzibar for hundreds of years, a majority of them had left during the revolution. Those who stayed on had slowly passed away. We tried to find the woman who had written the article on the internet, but to no avail.

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  • Something very interesting. I am a Parsi living in Mombasa and thoroughly enjoyed the article.

  • Re Farah Bala’s report on Parsis in Zanzibar I am giving history of agiary at Zanzibar


    Seth Dorabji Dinshawji Adenwalla built a dar-e-meher at Zanzibar at his own expense which was consecrated on Roz 13 Tir Mah 9 Adar, 1264 Yezdezerdi, 26th May 1895 . After the Jashan Seth Bamanji Dhanjibhai Talati presented a shawl to Seth Muncherji Dorabji Adenwalla on behalf of the local Anjuman and another shawl was sent for his father. After partaking sacrament (chasni) all Parsi Zarathushtis spent the whole day rejoicing. (This dar-e-meher was, after suitable alterations, rebuilt in 1906.) (Parsee Prakash Vol. III, p. 533 Parsi Dharmasthalo p.439-440)


    Wednesday, 29th May 1895.

    Opening ceremony of Atash Kadeh at the Parsee Shamba

    Sunday last, the Parsee Shamba witnessed the opening Ceremony of Atash Kadeh (a place where fire is kept) when the Parsee Community of Zanzibar assembled together.

    From 8 a.m. the ladies and gentlemen began to arrive and at 9.30 a.m. the Parsee Priest commenced preaching a most interesting discourse about Atash Kadeh which lasted about an hour.

    The Atash Kadeh was built at the expense of Mr. Dorabjee Dinshaw (of Messrs Cawasjee Dinshaw and Brothers) for the use of Parsee Community of Zanzibar.

    When the Priest had finished lecturing on the subject, Mr. Bomanjee Dhunjeebhoy Talati on behalf of the Parsee community gave a rich shawl for Mr. Dorabjee Dinshaw to his son Mr. Muncherjee who represents the firm of Messrs. Cowasjee Dinshaw and Brothers in Zanzibar .

    A second shawl was presented to Mr. Muncherjee on behalf of the Community for the keen interest that he himself takes in Parsee religious matters and for which they all thanked him. The Parsee ladies and gentlemen gave many beautiful presents to Mr. and Mrs. Muncherjee.

    Light refreshments were then handed round and at noon a feast was done full justice to.

    During the afternoon the young gentlemen showed their proficiency in music and played on violins which was attentively listened to by their elders.

    In the evening at 8 p.m. a good supper was partaken of and many toasts proposed and honored, lasting till 10 p.m. Before parting, an hour was devoted to more music when the ladies and gentlemen returned to their houses.(Parsi Dharmasthalo p.439-440)

    Account of consecration of the rebuilt Seth Dorabji Dinshawji Adenwalla Dar-e-meher at Zanzibar. (Rast Goftar of Sunday 28th January 1906).

    Day by day as the Parsi population in Zanzibar , East Africa increased the old dar-e-meher building was not found suitable. A new building has been built with suitable alterations. Earlier in the old building, there were three sides from which one could pray before the afarganyu. Now the afarganyu can be faced from all the four sides. A dome is placed atop the dar-e-meher building, which attracts attention of Europeans and others. Seth Dorabji Dinshaw has presented a larger and beautiful German silver afarganyu. A jashan ceremony was held. Seth Dorabji’s son, Dinshawji presented a shawl to the Anjuman’s panthaki, Mr. Rustamji Pestonji Dastur and cash gift. Seth Dorabji deserves to be congratulated for this noble deed. All wish that may he and his sons continue to do such noble deeds

    Contributed by Marzban Giara

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