The history behind the Parsi Lying-In Hospital

In the 19th century, young Parsi women were dying to give birth…literally. Back then, hospitals were unheard of and new mothers would be consigned to squalid ground floor rooms that were badly ventilated and unsanitary. Infant and maternal mortality rates were high. In 1895 though, that was to change. A committee of Parsi luminaries including Sorabji Shapurji Bengali, Sorabji Framji Patel, Nusserwanji Jehangir Wadia, Jamsetjee Nusserwanji Tata and Dr. Tehmulji Nariman came together to construct one of one of Mumbai’s first maternity hospitals—a sure sign of the community’s tentative progressiveness.

The architect commissioned for the project was Muncherji Marzban, star of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. The building was styled in the Gothic Revival manner with its buff stone walls glowering over manicured lawns. Everyone agreed that it was a handsome building, as hip in its time as today’s glass-fronted cement blocks. It was designed to be sanitary and modern and quickly turned into a success. The rooms were soon filled with googly-eyed babies squalling in the arms of their nurses, with weary mothers resting in crisp hospital beds for more than a month.

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