Clarification issued jointly by Jamsheed Kanga & Homi Khusrokhan

Clarification issued jointly by Jamsheed Kanga & Homi Khusrokhan

There appear to be several misunderstandings concerning the Settlement entered into on 17.02.’15 in the matter of the Notice issued by the BPP in 2009 threatening a ban against other Priests and imposing a ban on two priests Er. Framroz Mirza & Er. Khushroo Madon, prohibiting them from praying at Doongerwadi and the two Agiaries under the BPP’S charge. Now that the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 27th April, 2015 has accepted the Settlement, we clarify as under:

  1. We approached the Bombay High Court since the larger mobed community was under the threat of a ban by the BPP.  The Notice threatened “similar action” against any other priest “found to follow in the footsteps of Ervads Madon and / or Mirza”.  It was for the first time the BPP had issued such a Ban Notice.  We approached the Bombay High Court seeking an interpretation of the Trust Deed of 1884 on whether the Trustees had the power to issue such a ban. Striking down of the ban was in the interest of the community and was imperative for the entire mobed community. Our court action was not undertaken just for the benefit of these two priests alone. In fact Er. Mirza claimed on 2nd March 2010, by filing his own affidavit in the Bombay High Court, that he had no intention of defying the ban and had no desire to pray at Doongerwadi.


  1. The Judgment of the Division Bench on March 2011 makes it abundantly clear that “Under the Deed of Trust of 1884, the trustees are not entitled to prevent any ordained Parsi Zoroastrian Priest from performing Zoroastrian religious rites and ceremonies in the premises of the Towers of Silence (Doongerwadi) and the two Agiaries”.  This ruling is of paramount importance and henceforth will hold good for all time to come – It has now become the ‘law of the land’. Thus, we have achieved our primary objective of ensuring that no other Priest is subjected to any ban by the BPP.


  1. Clause 4 of the settlement reads “It is agreed that the Petitioners as Trustees shall permit and suffer the use of the Doongerwadi Complex by every Parsi Zoroastrian, who opts for the Dokhmenishini system, as a place of exposure of a deceased Parsi Zoroastrian and the performance of Zoroastrian religious rites and ceremonies, carried out as per Parsi-Irani customs, by using a duly ordained Parsi priest of his/her own choice”. By using the exact words, viz. permit and suffer, found in the Trust Deed of 1884, we have re-emphasized in the strongest possible terms that whilst trustees may have certain rights & powers, they also have certain obligations & duties cast on them. There is no question whatsoever hereafter of their interfering in the choice of a priest by the family of the deceased.


  1. In Clause 9 of the settlement the only right given to the Trustees to exclude a priest from praying at Doongerwadi is if the priest “within the Trust property does any act contrary to religion or misconducts himself.” It goes on to say “The Petitioners as Trustees have powers and duties to ensure that a priest charge-sheeted or convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude should not be allowed to conduct prayers at the Doongerwadi complex and the aforesaid two Agiaries, unless such charge sheet is dismissed or conviction set aside.” It should be noted the power to exclude is therefore now confined to these 2 situations alone and that any act contrary to religion has to be within the Trust property and not elsewhere.


Items 2, 3 and 4 above affected the entire community, were of utmost importance and were ‘deal-breakers’ for us.


  1. The Settlement expressly clarifies that issues of conversion, how a duly ordained Parsi-Zoroastrian Priest ceases to be a Priest, and the powers, duties or rights of the High Priests did not arise in the proceedings.  Thus, the Settlement does not deal with these issues.  The Trustees have stated that they are not claiming the power to decide that a duly ordained Parsi-Zoroastrian Priest ceases to be a Priest.


  1. We have heard concern expressed about the statement in Clause 3 of the Settlement that the “The Petitioners state that they are Trustees of a Religious and Charitable Trust”.  The Settlement does not confer any religious powers on the Trustees in their administration of the secular activities of the Doongerwadi and 2 Agiaries.  The Settlement provides that the Trustees are not seeking to expand the scope of their powers and duties beyond the Deed of Trust of 1884. It needs to be explained that under Clause 26 of the Judgment of the Division Bench in our matter, it has been stated that “The position in law is well settled. The administration of a religious institution or an endowment made for religious purposes is a secular activity”.


  1. That leads us to the last concern being expressed regarding the alleged discrimination against Er. Khushroo Madon. Unfortunately just as there were certain deal-breakers for us, this became a deal-breaker for the other side. Even at the last meeting considerable time was spent by us in trying to remove this requirement of an affidavit that restricts Er. Madon’s presence at Doongerwadi to praying for members of his immediate family, but unfortunately our efforts were in vain and finally were compelled to take the difficult call that the benefit to every priest who gains from this settlement for all time to come, far outweighs the benefit to a single individual. In every settlement there has to be some give & take and this unfortunately is one we had to ‘give’. Looking at it positively, no mobed, including Er. Madon’s sons, will ever have to undergo any bans from the Punchayet henceforth.


  1. One continuing concern for us was the SLP filed by five of the six High Priests in the Supreme Court (though they had not appeared in the Bombay High Court).  This SLP has also now been withdrawn by the High Priests.  Thus, the erudite judgment dated 11th March 2011 of the Division Bench of the Bombay High Court, stands with the few modifications as agreed upon in the Settlement.  We believe this is a victory for the entire community.




Nothing in this world is Free

For everything there is a Price

For the sake of Love of Freedom

Innocent lives get sacrificed.

“Imagine if there is no Heaven

Or Hell below us

To do good would be driven

As Wars murders Rape

Suicide bombers

Rain upon us

“Born Free as free as

The wind blows”

It’s entrenched in

The Constitution

As I recall

Life Liberty Equality

And Justice for all

There should not be

Any Watch Towers

Or road blocks along the way

No guard dogs to

Guard the gates

‘Cause reward comes to

Those who only stand & wait


Farida Bam

When the Cake Boss came calling

A Karachi-born chef, Kim Canteenwalla, joins forces with a culinary star in Las Vegas.

Immigrants often compose a large portion of a country’s struggling population. But for Karachi-born and Montreal-raised chef Kim Canteenwalla, success literally came knocking on his door when Buddy Valastro, star of the hit culinary reality TV show The Cake Boss, touched down at the world-famous Las Vegas strip and stopped by his restaurant Honey Salt. The trip sparked a partnership between the two men, which saw Canteenwalla take the helm as executive chef of Italian restaurant Buddy V’s Ristorante at The Venetian.

So, how did Canteenwalla reach the pinnacle of success in an industry as competitive as food and in a market as challenging as Vegas? “It all begins in Montreal, where I landed as an immigrant with my parents, older brother and twin-sisters in the late 1960s,” explains Canteenwalla. “Growing up, I saw my mother cook for six people every day after work. It was food cooked with a purpose — it was healthy and meant to fill our stomachs. But my love for cooking was inspired by my father who was a weekend cook.” Canteenwalla recalls visiting Montreal’s storied Atwater indoor market as a child to find fresh ingredients needed to create the Saturday suppers and Sunday brunches his father would whip up. “My father knew the precise cut of meat he wanted and would challenge our local butcher to do just that. These early morning expeditions to the butcher, the baker and the greengrocer sowed the seeds of not just enjoying the meal but having fun creating it as well.”

Attention to detail is Kim Canteenwalla’s hallmark. Here he tops the meal with orange rind before it is served to guests at the Honey Salt restaurant. PHOTO COURTESY: KIM CANTEENWALLA’S FACEBOOK PAGE

Canteenwalla’s family is of mixed heritage — his mother is British and his father is Zoroastrian-Pakistani. Thus, biryani, chicken and coconut curry chawal were weekend fare in the Canteenwalla home. The chef has paid homage to this culinary tradition by including a version of Nana’s Chicken Curry, a favourite of his son Cole, on the menu at his Las Vegas restaurant Honey Salt. He owns and operates the restaurant with his wife Elizabeth Blau, who is often referred to as Las Vegas’ restaurant maven.

Upon completing high school, Canteenwalla knew he wanted to make a living by cooking. While enrolled in the culinary programme at the Saint Denis Institute in Montreal, his internships took him to the edge of the eastern Arctic where he learnt to appreciate and create menus from ingredients as rare as caribou meat and whale.

Canteenwalla spent two summers in the Canadian Arctic only to realise that his future did not lie in preparing whale sushi and caribou stew. He then took off to travel to the cuisine capitals of the world, from Toronto to Phnom Penh, Bali, Singapore, Dubai and Bangkok in search for the perfect culinary combination that would blend with the melting pot of cultures and cuisines that is North America.

Canteenwalla manages to create 4,000 covers (individual meals) every night, more so on weekends. “It’s always busy in Vegas and when you are part owner and full-time manager of an outlet which carries the Cake Boss’s name, you have large shoes to fill,” he explains. Cooking up a menu inspired by the Valastro family, Canteenwalla is charged with preparing authentic Italian comfort foods such as a 14-layered lasagne made from scratch. The dishes have a simple premise: what would Buddy V’s large Italian family eat at a regular Sunday brunch?


While cooking is a passion, culinary art might just be in his DNA. A Google search revealed that towards the mid-1800s, British rulers of pre-partition India ordered all Indian subjects to take on two names — a given name and a surname. Many opted to add the name of their town or their trade to their given name. A Parsi gentleman, who owned and operated a cafeteria at Cotton Green, the old Bombay cotton exchange from where the British would load their ships with raw cotton bound for the spinning and weaving mills of Manchester, was given the name ‘Canteenwalla’ and the name has stuck ever since. This lineage comes as no surprise to Kim, as he recalls his late father being a fantastic cook, as well as his cousins and nephew, who is a chef in Toronto.

Kim Canteenwalla does not only give directions but also plays a big role in creating his culinary delights. PHOTO COURTESY: KIM CANTEENWALLA’S FACEBOOK PAGE

By virtue of Canteenwalla’s Parsi roots, our chat inevitably veered towards the ultimate Parsi comfort food: Dhansak. The brown rice-based dish features a lentil curry comprising vegetables, and chicken or mutton. Surprisingly, Canteenwalla could not recall having had this meal as a child and upon knowing how deeply entrenched it is in Parsi culture and cuisine, he was eager to try it. Of course, being the foodie that he is, he will whip up the traditional dish his way and says he will test out a recipe to see how well it could do on his restaurant’s menu. Don’t be surprised if you spot this iconic Parsi dish offered at a Las Vegas restaurant in the near future.

By Creative: Hira Fareed / Teenaz Javat

Published: April 19, 2015

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, April 19th, 2015 –

Book – Bombay in the Age of Disco

Tinaz Pavri has newly-launched a book, Bombay in the Age of Disco: City, Community, Life.

Tinaz believes it will be of interests to Parsis and Zoroastrians everywhere. A description of the book is copied below. It is currently available on the University of Georgia website, and will be available on and other websites very soon.
Bombay in the Age of Disco City, Community, Life by Tinaz Pavri A riveting memoir capturing the metamorphosis of Bombay and its citizens during one of India’s most pivotal moments.
By the early nineties, India’s economy had taken its first faltering steps towards liberalization, and globalization’s reach had found and touched significant swathes of its society. The decades-long post-independence era of Nehru and Gandhi was finally and firmly over, and Bombay had become Mumbai. Bombay in the Age of Disco is a personal and historically powerful memoir that weaves together the experiences and aspirations of a young girl and a city on the cusp of this transformation.
Tinaz Pavri captures Bombay’s pre-global guise as the city moves inexorably towards the dizzying sea-change that comes after she leaves its shores. This book is a moving, lovingly etched remembrance of a city and its people that molded the author into the person she became, nurtured her dreams, taught her its wisdom and held in its arms her friends, family and community.
It gives us an insight into the life of Bombay’s Parsis, Persian-descended refugees who became wound through centuries into the fabric of the city’s life. Pavri’s memoir is a keenly observed, affecting, and often humorous account of India’s changing social structure, economy, and politics over the last several decades, giving voice to the last of its pre-global generation. Readers will be as enthralled by Pavri’s family, friends, and community as they will be by the city’s momentous challenges and regenerating charm.

Tinaz Pavri was born in Mumbai, India and came to the U.S. to pursue her graduate studies. She is a professor of political science at Spelman College, where she also directs the Asian studies program. Her areas of expertise include global security, conflict resolution and international political economy. She lives in Atlanta with her family.

Ervad Nadarsha Navroji Aibara

In the second half of the nineteenth century there was an Ervad by the name of Nadarsha Navroji Aibara, he was panthaki of the Karani Agiyari at Cusrow Baug. This pious Ervad had been contacted by and was under the guidance of the aura of none other than Dasturji Kukadaru. He used to give nirangs to those in need and impart religious knowledge as expounded to him by Dasturji Kukadaru.

A book has been written on his life, where some of his teachings as expounded to him by Dasturji Kukadaru have been recorded

Click here to read the Book…LateErvadNadarshaNavrojiAibaraEnglish


Courtesy : Faarzan Sopariwalla

Ruttie & Bella

Ratanbai Petit

I was recently struck by the strangely inverted but parallel lives of two young women, both tragic figures in early 20th-century Parsi history.

Ratanbai Petit and Bella Captain were born in 1900. Ratanbai or “Ruttie” lived in Bombay. She was the only daughter of the Parsi heir to a textile mill fortune, Sir Dinshaw Petit. Bella was an orphan girl who was adopted by a Parsi couple in Rangoon, Mr. and Mrs. Shapurji Cowasji Captain.

One of these women suffered for leaving the Parsi tradition: Ruttie married her father’s friend and future founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah. To do so, she converted to Islam, causing an outcry within the Parsi community and the severing of her relationship with her father.

The other young woman suffered for trying to get in: Bella and her Parsi family went to court for her right to enter Rangoon’s fire temple as a member of the Parsi community. Bella lost her case, which dragged on for 11 years and went on appeal to the highest court in the British Empire, the Privy Council in London.

Ratanbai died at the young age of 29, ill and separated from Jinnah. They had one daughter, Dina. Ironically, Dina later married into the Parsi Wadia familyagainst Jinnah’s wishes.

Bella withdrew from Parsi society after losing her case, which had been highly publicized and led to a series of acrimonious libel suits over racial purity. She too died young–some time in her 30s.

These two women probably never met, living as they did on opposite sides of British India. But they must have read about each other in the newspaper. We can only wonder if they too spotted the curious similarities in their lives, which were deeply affected by conflict within the Parsi community.

Banaji Limji Agiary, Mumbai’s oldest fire temple, turns 306


Banaji Limji Agiary, the oldest Fire Temple in Mumbai, will celebrate its 306th anniversary. (Arijit Sen/HT photo)


Parsis-Zoroastrians will celebrate The Feast of Fire, held on the ninth day of the ninth month (roz adar, mah adar) of the Shenshai or Shahenshahi calendar. It is an important day for the community as it celebrates the “birth of the creation of fire”. The community believes fire is a physical representation of the son of God.

Considered the most auspicious event for consecration of fire in an agiary, the day will mark the 306th year of the fire at Mumbai’s oldest Zoroastrian fire temple — the Banaji Limji Agiary, in Banaji Street, Fort, which houses Atash Adaran, the second grade of fire. The fire at the second oldest agiary, Manekji Sett agiary, located just a kilometre away in Perin Nariman Street near CST, will enter its 282nd year.

Since Wednesday evening, the community members in the city have not lit gas or stove in their kitchens. On Thursday morning, they will visit agiaries and offer prayers to fire, the son of God.

“Only once a year, the day and the month of our religious calendar coincide. From around 3.45pm on Wednesday, Parsis have lit an oil lamp in the kitchen, along with fruits and sweets, to celebrate the birth of fire on Thursday,” said Zoroastrian scholar Khojeste Mistree.

Click Here for more


With vultures fighting for their survival, the Zoroastrian community finds itself at a crossroad.

A Parsi community activist has triggered a debate by suggesting an alternative method to dispose off the dead. Homi Dalal, 71, an Andheri resident, has written to the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP), suggesting that they should allow composting of bodies, instead of simply leaving them to decompose at the Tower of Silence.

He said the bodies can be composted using wooden planks, dried leaves and compost powder, and that the method will also yield good manure. Traditionally, the Parsi-Zoroastrian community disposes off its dead by leaving them exposed in the Tower of Silence to be devoured by the vultures.

This traditional method, however, has become a point of contention in the last decade as Mumbai’s vulture population has dropped drastically. Many cases off rotting corpses were also reported. The BPP installed solar panels to fasten the decomposition process but they remain mostly dysfunctional, especially during monsoon.

Dalal said, “The idea struck me after reading an article about the Urban Death Project by a Seattle based architect Katrina Spade, who is currently gathering funds to kick off the project.” He added that the BPP should take a step ahead to support the collapsing system of disposing the dead within the community.

“I suggest that one of the wells can be filled with wood chips, punk and sawdust. The bodies kept under solar panels for a week can be dropped in the well and again covered with a layer of wood, punk and sawdust. Within a few months, everything will turn into mulch, which can be used in Doongerwadi itself,” he wrote in his letter.

Dalal’s contention is based on a similar experiment he carried out on a dead stray cat a year ago. “I have done a part time course in horticulture in the Mumbai University, after which I had tried the method on a dead cat. After reading about the Urban Death Project, I am positive that the experiment will succeed,” said Dalal, who feels the method will benefit the environment as well.

BPP chairman Dinshaw Mehta said he has no qualms in experimenting. “It is a religious issue, however, and only our high priest can take a call on whether it’s right or wrong,” he said.

The community’s high priest Khurshed Dastur said he will not opine on the matter till there is concrete evidence in front of him.

A few community members, however, are convinced that it will be against the religion to even consider such an option. “Firstly, we cannot use wood for disposal of the dead in our religion. One really has to sit and understand the theology before demanding such experiments,” said Zoroastrian scholar and BPP trustee Khojestee Mistry. He added, “Do these people know that vulture population has gone down but the population of crows and kites has risen 10-fold. Even they feed on bodies.” Vultures were on the verge of extinction due to a veterinary drug used widely in the sub-continent.


Katrina Spade, a Seattle-based architect recently started collecting funds for the Urban Death Project-a compost based renewal system. The concept involves placing bodies in midst of a three-storey core with high carbon material such as wood chips, straw and other organics matter. Within 2 months, a process of aerobic decomposition and microbial activity takes place and the bodies decompose fully, leaving behind rich compost.

Playing a Parsi

Playing a Parsi

Real take: Vahbiz Dorabjee

Vahbiz Dorabjee was last seen in Saraswatichandara and now she will be seen in an episode of Code Red. She talks about her cameo, playing a Parsi and Nach Baliye.

What is special about the episode of Code Red?

This episode is very special to me as it was in my destiny. The story is about a Parsi and being a Parsi it will be plus that I am playing such a character. I am working with uncle Bomi Dhotiwala, who did Munna Bhai earlier. And this is a second time I am working with him, as I have done a short film with him earlier.

How does it feel playing a Parsi?

I am enjoying it. The guy who is playing my husband’s character is also a Parsi. My character name is Kainaaz and my look is very classy. The story is based in the 90’s and I am wearing dresses accordingly.

How was the experience of working with Bomi Dhotwala?

The experience was as he is the sweetest person I have ever met. He is very experienced yet down-to-earth. I have worked with him before so it was wonderful to reconnect with him.

Tell us about your short film with him…

I can’t talk much about the short film. But I can say that we both play Parsis in it. He was my neighbor in that while in Code Red he plays my father-in-law.

There has been buzz about you and Vivian Dsena signing Nach Bailye and later backing out. Is it right?

It was a false report. Yes, we were definitely considered for the show but it isn’t true that we signed the show and later backed out. We are professionals and if we commit, we would stick to our commitment.