Discoverer of “proto-Zoroastrian” Civilization in Turkmenistan Passes Away

Prominent Greco-Russian-Uzbek archeologist, Victor Sarianidi (or Sarigiannidis), who discovered a “proto-Zoroastrian” civilization in Turkmenistan (ancient Margiana) died on December 23, 2013 at the age of 84. According to Russian archeologist Dr. Pavel Lurje of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg “Sarianidi was a monumental figure in Middle [Central] Asian archeology” whose main discoveries were “rich Kushan burials of Tillya-tepe in Afghanistan and the Bactria-Margiana archeological culture, with its reflections of what he called proto-Zoroastrianism.”

In his book “Necropolis of Gonur” (Kapon Pub. 2007) Sariniadi, a member of the Russian Science Academy, portrayed the Zoroastrian roots of the necropolis: “Funeral rites are believed to be the most conservative and traditional ones. It is common knowledge that the first world religion, Zoroastrianism, could appear only on the foundation of ‘Iranian paganism.’ The funeral rites of the Gonur necropolis demonstrate the origin of funeral traditions that later in a reformed way were included in Zoroastrianism. Linguists long ago have come to the conclusion that Zoroastrianism was based on a complex system of funeral rites, the centralidea of which was to save sacred Nature (first of all the earth) from profanation by decomposed corpses. The funeral customs revealed at the Gonur necropolis fully correspond to the known Zoroastrian rites. There, the ‘unclean’ dead body was moved away from the living ones, then it was ‘cleaned’ to avoid ‘profanation’ and to restore the state of ‘ritual cleanness.’ (pg. 160).

Gonur, located in southeastern Turkmenistan at the delta of the ancient Murgab River, consists of a Temple of Fire, a Temple of Water and a necropolis, representing a “unique monumental complex of palaces and temples marking the administrative and religious centre of the ancient kingdom of Margus (Margiana).”     The site dates from 2300-2250 B.C.  Sarianidi believed that “Gonur is the capital of a people who came from the west with a religion that evolved into Zoroastrianism.”  Andrew Lawler, “Central Asia’s Lost Civilization,” Discover Magazine, Nov. 30, 2006.
For further information on the life and discoveries of Victor Sarianidi, see:

Parsis and the Art of Automobile Maintenance

Mumbai’s tiny Parsi community has been defying Akerlof’s theory for decades. The used car market in India likely has more lemons than peaches, buyers remain equally blind while making a choice, but one type of used vehicle fetches a premium over all others—one owned and maintained by a Parsi.

Here in the city, newspaper classifieds for used cars often state ‘Parsi-owned’ upfront, a mention almost always made ahead of the brand name and model of the vehicle. And popular internet portals like Quickr and OLX have reams of web pages with used cars on sale that highlight how they are ‘Parsi-owned’, how they are in ‘immaculate condition’ and how they are looking for ‘an owner to take care of their car’. A glance at these portals even reveals used cars that were once owned by a Parsi, have changed several other hands since and yet flaunt their ‘Parsi-owned’ label.

It all points to the extraordinary demand for cars owned by Parsis. While most vehicles collect dust for weeks before a buyer is found, these get sold within days of going on sale. Just what makes Parsi car ownership so special?

Freddie Turel, a Parsi well known for his passion of collecting cars, lifts his large right arm in the air, points his index finger to his head and proceeds to unscrew an imaginary screw in his head. “Because,” he says by way of explanation, “we [Parsis] are mad about our cars.”

Click Here for the full story in OPEN Magazine by Lhendup Bhutia


2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 160,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 7 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Thank you soooo much for your continued support !

Yazdi Tantra

My thoughts on the First World Zoroastrian Congress I attended

by Nauzad Tantra
The Zoroastrian community (as you may know) comprises of an unfair share of intellectuals, which, when put together generate a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm. And just like uncontrolled energy creates chaos, the Congress fell prey to its fair share of controversies before it was deftly salvaged by Mr. Cyrus Poonawalla and Mr. Nadir Godrej. In a short time, and with tremendous efforts of their supporting staff, they pulled of a splendid event, one to be remembered in the days to come.


Attending the conference happened quite by chance. Not knowing a lot of brethren I was reluctant to attend the event. In addition, I believed it would generate much debate and lead to nothing. But it so happened that I was in Mumbai while the event was being held, and took the chance to spend time with my father while he was attending the Congress. So I arrived at the steps of the NSCI, that was brimming with delegates at the start of the Congress.


To give a briefing of the contents of the Congress would be a great disservice to Mr. Sam Balsara’s summary at the end of the event, and which, in either case, would over-shadow any feeble attempts to match his observations. But here are some observations as a first time attendee.


The Zoroastrian community is still alive and kicking with no dearth of amazing role models. There are stalwarts in any field of endeavor one could dream up. And although there is a tendency for Zoroastrians to keep celebrating the past, it is surprising that we forget to live in the present and celebrate more recent successes. Why don’t we celebrate our Russian scrabble playing bard, who has passed out of MIT, Harvard and Stanford (Mr. Godrej), or appreciate the efforts of the person who made sure that 2/3rd’s of all the world’s babies are vaccinated by at least one of his vaccines (Mr. Poonawalla) or lead companies from GlaxoSmithKline to Satyam (Mr. Khushrokhan) or the innumerable other individuals that the community currently has in this generation.


The delegates attending the Congress would have generated a fantastic case-study in Sociology, if a sociologist was indeed present. Many from western continents complained about the poor organization, wishing things were laid out like Eucledian geometry, both in time and space. Those from the “motherland” on the other hand seemed comfortable in the Picasso-like plan, finding order (if not beauty) in chaos. As if by design, the caterers too ensured that the bawajis did not overindulge themselves in their bhonoo and stayed fit and alert for the upcoming sessions.


Like aunties craning their necks out of baaris in baugs to offer their opinions on everything (from kanta bai’s prowess to nuclear physics) the attending bawas had an opinion on everything too. And although controversial subjects like inter-faith marriages were banned in the discussions, in the corridors scholars were abound, all of which seemed to know all the religious texts which in turn supported their view. With the given opinions (of which mine would remain classified, due to fear of reprisals) if Alexander-the-accursed had arrived in Persepolis and asked to be converted, one would sympathize if he burnt down the library tired of the opinions that ensued.


Following the footsteps of their Indian compatriots, the Indian Parsis (and even their American counterparts!) seemed to have passed a bill for women’s reservation! For there were two organizations exclusive to women (The ZWIN network and the WE branch of the WZCC). I wonder what urgent need would have caused their purpose to be exclusive to women only.


While some organizations have dived head-first into leading endless arguments on controversial topics, others have shied away from them, choosing to develop a more mature approach to help the community. Actions after all, speak louder than words. Among the more recent and dynamic amongst them is the World Zoroastrian Chamber of Commerce (WZCC). Although exiled away into the noisy corridors to present their contribution to the community, their prominence rose with the rising sun on the following day.. Im sure they impressed a few in the crowd.


To sum up the days at the WZC, I return to the analogy of physics that I started with. The Zoroastrian community is brimming with energy and enthusiasm. And over time, like a worn engine more and more energy is being wasted in friction. It remains to be seen, if we can overhaul the engine to convert the energy to bring on more momentum.

World Zoroastrian Congress – Day 3 – Video

Demography and Way Forward: Issues of Fertility and Solutions Session Chair Person Ms. Roshan Rivetna Panellists Mr. Dinshaw Mehta, Ms. Armaity Desai, Dr. Nozer Sheriar, Dr. Anahita Pandole, Dr. Pervin Dadachanji, Dr. Zinobia Madan
Women’s health from birth to menopause Dr. Rusi Soonawala
Medicine: Past, Present & Future Dr. Farokh Udwadia
Challenges for Parsi Philantropy Management experienced by BPP and other trusts Mr. Berjis Desai
Enterprise Dubai 19th-21st December 2014 Presentation by Ms. Meher Bhesania

Sports in the Parsi context or the lack thereof Session Chair Person Mr. Adille Sumariwala Panellists Mr. Mickey Mehta, Mr. Cavas Billimoria Mr. Nari Contractor, Mr. Vispi Kapadia

Youth Session with Parzor – Roots Programme Session Chair Person Ms. Shernaz Cama & Ms. Aban Marker- Kabraji and team
Shah Nameh with Slides Dr. Vesta Curtis

Entertainment – Laughter on the House – Adi Marzban

World Zoroastrian Congress – Day 2 – Video

Practices of the Zoroastrian Faith in India and Other Parts of the World – Future of Parsi Irani Communities in India and the Diaspora – Session Chair Person Mr. Dorab Mistry – Panellists Mr. Bomi Patel, Ms.Pervin Mistry, Mr. Malcolm Deboo, Ms. Ketayun Kapadia, Mr. Sarosh Maneckshaw, Mr. Parviz Varjavand, Mr. Firoz Pestonji

Zoroastrianism: The way forward Mr. Darius Khambatta

Parsi Philanthropy and Poverty Alleviation Session Chair Person Mr. Dinshaw Tamboly Panellists Mr. Neville Shroff, Ms. Ketayun Kapadia, Mr. Dorab Mistry, Mr. Firdosh Mehta

A Zoroastrian Legacy through the Ages Mr. Khojeste Mistree

Are the present day Parsis versatile and illustrious like their forefathers? If not why? Session Chair Person Mr. Burjor Antia Panellists Mr. Zerrick Dastur,Mr. Mehernosh Humranwalla,Mr. Dinshaw Tamboly
The Zoroastrian Link to Nature and Conservation Session Chair PersonMs. Aban Marker Kabraji Panellists Mr. Homi Khusrokhan, Mr. Rooyinton Peer, Dr. Erach Bharucha, Dr. Percy Avari
The Zoroastrian World – a Demographic Picture Ms. Roshan Rivetna

World Zoroastrian Congress – Day 1 – Video

Reading messages from Iran President and President of the Majlis, speech by Dr. Esfandiar Ekhtiyari, community representative in the Iranian Majlis and Dr. Rostam Khosraviani

Zoroastrian Achievements: An Unbroken Thread from Cyrus the Great to Today – Lord Karan Billimoria

Bombay/Mumbai and the Zoroastrians Mr. Nadir Godrej – Click Here for the text of Nadir Godrej’s poem

Panel Discussion: Affirming the Global Parsi Iranian Zoroastrian Identity Session Chair Person Mr. Dorab Mistry Panellists Mr. Rohinton Rivetna; Ms. Ketayun Kapadia; Mr. Malcolm Deboo; Mr. Dinshaw Mehta; Ms. Meher Bhesania; Dr. Esfandiar Ekhtiyari; Mr. Sarosh Bharucha

A presentation on B.D. Petit Parsi General Hospital Mr. Homa Petit

  1. Release of Mr. Ashdeen Z. Lilaowala’s book on ‘Threads of Continuity’
  2. Presentation on the forthcoming coffee table book on Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw by Brigadier (Retd) Behram and
    Zenobia Panthaki
  3. Release of Mr. Keki Daruwala’s book on ‘Fire Altar’

Entertainment: And then they came to India (Story of Parsi arrival in India) Mallika Sarabhai and Darpana Performing Group

World Zoroastrian Congress – Day 4 – Video

Eminent Parsi Businessmen: Reconstructing the Community’s Business Skills – Session Chairman Mr. Homi Khushrokhan Panellists Mr. Nadir Godrej, Mr. Neville Shroff, Mr. Keki Mistry, Mr. Zubin Karkaria, Mr. Yazdi Tantra

Nationalism, Nation-Building & National Security: Our contribution then & now Air Chief Marshal Fali Major

Book Release: Images of Udvada High Priests: Early History of Udvada Dasturji Dr. Peshotan Hormaziar Mirza; Udvada Today Dasturji Khurshed Dastur

FEZANA Ms. Ketayun Kapadia, Mr. Bomi Patel, Firdosh Mehta, Rohinton Rivetna, Homi Gandhi, Rustom Kevala, Dolly Dastoor

ZTFE (Zoroastrian Centre for Europe) Mr. Dorab Mistry

Scope of redevelopment of Parsi Baugs & properties Session Chair Person Mr. Jimmy Mistry Panellists Mr. Zareer Bhatena, Mr. Boman Irani

Summing up by Sam Balsara

Vote of Thanks by Manek Davar

Passing the Baton to Russi Ghadiali for the World Zoroastrian Congress 2017

Appeal – Liver Donor required


This is a humble request to all Indians, my son aged 40 is critically ill and his liver is not functioning and he is at the end stage of the disease. For his condition the doctors have asked us for liver transplant asap. Pls someone who is willing to donate a part of his liver and has A + (POSITIVE) or A negative , or else O positive blood group. The donor must be 18 to 60 years of age without suffering from any disease. Pls pls we are running out of time.

Pls anyone willing to donate, call or share this information with you friends. Pls call us at 09911901424. Or else mail at :

We Thank you in anticipation.
D B Pandey


WZC – Day 3 Report

Day 03 of the 10th World Zoroastrian started bright and early at the NSCI Complex in Worli, Mumbai. The attendance at the first session at 9:30 AM was about 30% when the session started but had grown to over 60% within the hour.

Day 03′s first session was a continuation of the last session on Demographics from Day 02. Today’s session chaired by Roshan Rivetna and explored attempts to reverse the trend of population decline. There was near unanimous agreement amongst the panelists that the issue was not one of medical infertility, but rather socio-economic and other issues that were the primary underlying reason for the low birth rate.

Dr. Rustom Soonawala, the eminent gynecologist addressed the audience and suggested ways and means to improve women’s health. He also shared anecdotes from his professional work on how his Zoroastrian values and ideals have helped him in his work.

Bergis Desai addressed the Congress after the Tea Break. He spoke about the issues facing the various Zoroastrian philanthropic trusts in India today. There is no doubt that there is a lot that is not working at the BPP. But then there is also a lot of good that the BPP does. For someone of the stature of Mr. Desai to come and be so critical of the BPP (and the host of the Congress) without then offering concrete steps and his expertise to resolve this, left a sour taste in the mouth.

The next panel discussion chaired by Adille Sumariwalla addressed Parsis in Sports and the lack thereof today. Cawas Billimoria, Nari Contractor and Mickey Mehta shared their thoughts on what it meant to be at the top of their “game” in their respective sports. Mickey urged people that in life and in sport don’t worry about what you win. What is important is how you played.

The Zoroastrian Return to Roots Program as conceptualized to bring young Zoroastrians from all over the world to visit their “motherland”. Aban Marker-Kabraji and Shernaz Cama as co-chairs mentored a core group of Zoroastrian youth….Dinsha Mistree, Rosheen Kabraji, Shireen Havewala and Kaiyan Mistree who conceptualized the program and brought it to fruition. Over 40 applicants applied and after a rigorous selection process, 16 of them arrived from USA, Canada, UK and Pakistan into Mumbai on December 23rd to become the first ever Return to Roots Fellows.

The last session of the day was about the Shah Nameh the Persian epic by Ferdowsi. Vesta Curtis explained parts of the literary work through slides and illustrations.

With that it was time for the bawajis to hit the races !! The Zoroastrian Millions Trophy was held at the Royal Western India Turf Club a.k.a Race Course. All decked up, suited and booted; the delegates of the Congress were seen at the Race course, placing bets; following the races or just taking in the atmosphere and the hospitality arranged by Cyrus Poonawalla, who is intrinsically involved with the RWITC at many levels.

After the races, the delegates made their way back to the NSCI for the evening entertainment.

Laughter in the House was a variety entertainment program put together to remember Adi Marzban the legendary theater personality who epitomized Parsi Theater in the 20th century. For over an hour, many of his old actors and newer ones put out a series of skits, songs and performances all written by Adi many many years ago. The crowd old and young had a blast and yearned for more when it finally came to an end.

Click Here for the full detailed report