Nowruz is the name of Persian New year. The word literally means New Day. The day denotes the beginning of the spring in Northern Hemisphere. As soon as the Sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes day and night, the Parsi families from all over the world gathered together to enjoy the new year day and perform ther religious rituals.
In India, the Parsi new year is celebrated as Jamshed Navroz by the Parsi community. The festival is celebrated on the first day of the first month of Fasli Calendar which is followed by the Parsis.
In India, Navroz is celebrated with immense fun and excitement by the Parsi community. They perform special rituals and rites with full devotion on this particular day.
Food is one of the prime things of this day.
The most common dish which Parsis enjoy on this special day is chicken farcha. It is a typical Parsi dish of fried chicken. Among desert, they enjoy falooda desert and Lagan-nu-custard desert. The first one is a sweet milk dish made from vermicelli and rose essence and the second one is caramel custard.
Parsi women love to wear sarees with beautiful embroidery work. They generally prefer lightweight fabrics like georgette or chiffon.
The Parsi style of saree draping is slightly different from the traditional Indian saree draping style. It is simple yet elegant. Want to know how to drape a saree in Parsi style? Here you go:
- Take the inner end of saree and wrap it around your waist anticlockwise.
- Tuck the end into the petticoat at right waist.
- Bring the outer end of the saree around waist anticlockwise and hold it with your right hand.
- Throw outer inner-piece over right shoulder from back leaving right end forming a ‘v’ below the knee. Make pleats of remaining loose portion of saree.
- Tuck into centre front waist leaving some portions free at left waist.
- Hold outer end-piece in place with the brooch on the right shoulder.
Can’t understand properly? Here is the video tutorial to make it, even more, simpler.
What is the biggest Spring festival of India? Undoubtedly it is Holi. But do you know there are several other festivals celebrated during the Spring time in India? Yes, there are lots of festival celebrated during this time of the year. Other than Holi and Easter there are some not-so-popular festivals celebrated in India during the month of March. One such festival is the Parsi New Year celebration which is officially known as Nowruz.
Everlasting Flame: Ambitious exhibition on bright Parsi heritage
Showcasing the rich heritage of the Parsi-Zoroastrian community, the Everlasting Flame exhibition is perhaps the most ambitious in recent times. Gargi Gupta talks to director Shernaz Cama
It’s just two days to the inauguration of Everlasting Flame, the two-month-long exhibition on Parsi culture and history organised by Parzor Foundation, of which Shernaz Cama is director, and preparations are at fever pitch.
But Cama is remarkably focussed as we sit at the dining table, discussing everything from Zoroaster, the founder of the Parsi faith, and his influence on the Romantic poets, to Din-i-Illahi, the new religion formulated by Mughal emperor Akbar as a result of his interactions with Parsi spiritual leader Dastur Meherjirana. Also up for discussion are photographer Sooni Taraporewala, symbolism of flowers in Parsi embroidery and the trade and cultural interactions between Persia, India and China over the ages which left traces on every aspect of Parsi lifestyle. Cama speaks animatedly and is enthusiastic about sharing information.
In many ways, Everlasting Flame is the culmination of Cama’s life work – her efforts to excavate and preserve the cultural heritage of the Parsi-Zoroastrian community in India, which is dying out almost as fast as its numbers are shrinking. Over the years, Parzor, founded by Cama amongst others in 1999, now supported by UNESCO, has notched notable successes. It has succeeded in reviving interest in the craft of the Parsi Gara embroidery to a range of new practitioners among the tribal women of Gujarat. It has finished a major restoration of the Meherjirana library in Navsari which has, among other artefacts associated with Parsi history, a 16th century sanad or charter with Akbar’s seal on it given to the Dastur Meherjirana. “That will be part of the exhibition,” says Cama excitedly.
Since past two years, Parzor has been running a programme called Return to Roots, in which youngsters are taken to Yazd in Iran, one of the main centres of the Zoroastrian religion, so that they can learn about their heritage. Another Parzor program called Jiyo Parsi, which ran a campaign two years ago asking Parsis to have more children, however, ran into controversy with people accusing community elders of being regressive. Cama is unrepentant. ‘This is a community which has just one child aged 10 years or less between eight families,” she says, adding that she was very happy to have received a card from a woman who had despaired of ever having a child, informing her of the first birthday of her daughter.
“Thanks to Parzor, we’ve succeeded in building a connection with Iran,” says Cama, disclosing that the Islamic country with which India has not had very easy diplomatic relations of late will be sending 27 items – many deemed as national treasures. “Among them is the world’s largest free-standing Achemenid statue. It’s from the year 536 BC and has the names of all 23 countries written along the fold of his gown in cuneiform.” There are other artefacts, less old, less precious, that Cama is equally proud of, among them cupboards, music boxes, paintings, photographs, pan daans, and a model of HMS Trincomalee, a legendary frigate built by the Wadia shipbuilders in Mumbai. Many of the artefacts come from Cama’s own collection, including her wedding sari.
Taking up three of the largest cultural institutions in the capital – the National Museum, the National Gallery of Modern Art and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, with talks and events spilling over into other places such as the India International Centre – and supported by three central ministries and several private organisations, Everlasting Flame is probably the largest and most ambitious exhibition in recent times. “We have enough to put up five more exhibitions,” Cama sighs. And she’s hoping, after the exhibition’s done, to begin thinking of a museum to Parsi culture somewhere in Gujarat.
It is spring in Delhi. Brown leaves — that seem to have been shaded by Rembrandt — fall off the peepal trees at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA). Inside the sandstone building, colourful portraits have begun to chatter — about an old story, yellowed by time. The exhibition, “Painted Encounters: Parsi Traders and the Community”, goes back 250 years — an elaborate, extraordinary time travel through images — to reveal men, women and children, their plush drawing rooms and cavernous opium factories, and the ships on which they set sail to Canton in China. There the men sold balls of opium and bales of cotton. They also got their portraits painted — by Chinese, English and unnamed artists.
The works here, startlingly, are not so much about the artists as they are about the sitters. The portraits are not quite about colours and brushwork as they are about the small community of Parsis —what they did, where they traded and how they lived in the 18th and 19th centuries. These paintings demand more from the viewer than a gentle appreciating nod. They require you to step away and prod deeper. Then you see a grand panorama unfurling, you see how these portraits are part of the big picture — of early colonial history; commerce with China, especially opium; the building of the city of Bombay; and the newly acquired love, even fetish, for art among the nouveau riche Parsi businessmen. You have to read these paintings along with nautical maps showing trade routes and ledgers detailing marked-up prices.
The Arbab Rustam Guiv Dar-E-Mehr in New York is inaugurated.
The Inauguration Ceremony shall be telecast live on youtube.
The broadcast will start on Saturday March 26th, 2016 at
10:30 AM New York Time
8:00 PM Mumbai Time
7:00 PM Tehran Time
Courtesy : Hushang Vakil
A Tribute to the Parsi Community of Pakistan, both my grand fathers built far North west frontier province
My own grandfather Hormusji Sorabji Shroff built Oil storage tanks and my Pious Maternal grand father Jamsetji nusserwanji Mehta Built Ice factories in Karachi
“Losing a community like the Parsis is definitely a huge blow to a tolerant Pakistan, its cultural diversity and economic well-being as Parsis have contributed immensely to the progress of this country,”
Courtesy : Mehernosh Shroff
Attached is the new schedule of events for The Ever Lasting Flame International and Threads of Continuity Zoroastrian Life and Culture Programme
You are specially invited on the 26th of April.
Soak in the ethos and evolution of India’s dwindling Parsi community at a three-month long festival.
We know them as dressed in mostly white, with prayer caps, cooking great food and very industrious. We romanticise them, their descent, make movies about them and make them interesting characters in our novels. But the Parsi community is slowly vanishing with dwindling numbers and sooner or later will be limited to the romanticism we attribute to them. So will vanish the multi cultural ethos that they brought with them.
To celebrate the multicultural ethos that makes the unique ethnic and cultural identity of the Parsi-Zoroastrian community, Ministry of Minority Affairs under their scheme Hamari Dharohar in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and the Parzor Foundation is hosting a cultural spectacle The Everlasting Flame International Programme at premiere cultural institutes across the city. Three exhibitions, titled The Everlasting Flame: Zoroastrianism in History and Imagination at the National Museum, Threads of Continuity: Zoroastrian Life and Culture at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) and Painted Encounters: Parsi Traders and the Community at National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) along with many cultural and educational events will be held over a period of three months. “After the success of the MOMA Jiyo Parsi programme, we needed to explain why such tiny communities were worth saving and their contribution both to world history and culture and specifically India . So Pheroza Godrej’ and FPM s exhibition at NGMA and Parzor’s TOC address these issue,” says Shernaz Cama, one of the curators.
The highlight of the festival are the specially created artistic performances by Astad Deboo and Dadi Pudumjee. The unusual mix of a non Zoroastrian designer , India’s great Wendell Rodricks explaining the symbols of our faith – the simple white sacred shirt with its 1 inch square Pocket of Good Deeds and Ashdeen, a Parsi showcasing the glories of the intercultural amalgam of Parsi embroidery are things never done before.
“For Threads of Continuity, the loans from the National Museum, Tehran and Tehran Zarthushti Anjuman Museum , the display of the most precious documents of Parsi history from the Meherjirana Library, Navsari and the two gifts from Akbar to the first Dastoor Meherjirana at Fatehpur Sikri- the Firman and the Genealogy never shown before are objects of great historic importance will be exhibited,” says Cama.
Photographer Sooni Taraporevala will showcase her photographs of her Parsi family and others that she has been documenting since 1980. She says the community has evolved a lot over the years. “Youngsters are much more hip than they were in the eighties. There are many more marriages outside the community & many more kids of mixed parentage who are having their navjotes thanks to some liberal priests who have the courage to perform them,” says Taraporevala who thinks the best and unique quality of Parsis is “our ability to laugh at ourselves.”
Katayun Saklat, the septuagenarian Parsee artist from Calcutta will hold a Stained Glass Workshop. There will be an introduction to the art and craft of stained glass. “Parsis have a long association with stained glass. Agiaries like the one in Bandra have beautiful stained glass probably manufactured in France.
Magnificent portraits done in medieval technique adorn the reading room of the JN Petit Institute in Bombay.
These are merely two examples, there are several. Since Parsis have always been interested in European art, it is natural that they would be drawn to stained glass,” she says. All in all, the exhibition seems a fascinating one to catch. -The Everlasting Flame International Programme is on till May 27 at various venues.
Bestowed with the title ‘Queen of Ghazal’, Penaz Masani has enthralled audiences around the world for quite a while now with her extensive concerts, which left audience mesmerised. The stalwart singer was in the city to spellbind the audience once again with her charming voice at 29th National Exhibition of Contemporary Art at State Art Gallery of Fine Arts, Madhapur.
Penaz says that she has a very strong connection with Hyderabad and she has lost count how many times she has come here. “The audience of Hyderabad has always showered their love on me. I have been coming here for a long time. I guess the last time I visited was six to seven years back. The city has changed drastically; with all the flyovers, the metro rail and malls. I am confused where I am now,” she quips.
Discovered by legendary composer Jaidev at a very young age, Penaz says that the veteran musician handed her to famous Ghazal exponent Madhurani ji, who became an integral part of her career. “I vividly remember that I was participating in Susingar music competition in Bombay in 1977. I was 13-years-old then and there was no age bar for competition.
The panel of judges comprised of stalwarts like Jaidev, Naushad and Raj Kapoor. I won the first prize. Jaidev sir was mighty impressed with my performance and took me to my guru Madhurani ji,” recalls Penaz. “Initially, she said no, but Jaidev sir insisted her to take me under her wings and there I started learning Ghazals, under her tutelage,” she smiles.
Penaz cut her first album ‘Aap ki Buzm Mein Penaz Masani’ in 1981. She gives all the credit to her father Doli Masani for he asked her to learn classical music. “When my papa was pursuing engineering in Baroda, he used to accompany the court musician Ustad Fayaz Khan Sahab at Lakshmi Vilas Palace in the court of Siyaji Rao Gaikwad. Papa was from Agra Gharana hence, I learned classical music from Agra Gharana. Till I met Madhurani ji I had no idea about Ghazal,” she shares.
Penaz has the distinction of holding one Platinum and three Gold Discs to her name. She has worked with renowned musicians like OP Nayyar and RD Burman amongst many others and has rendered her voice for more than 50 Bollywood films apart from singing in over dozen languages. She is the only women to have achieved an eminent status in what is a traditionally a male-dominated world of Ghazals. When Penaz puts on the studio headphones, you know some real inspirational work is about to be witnessed.
The only Parsi ghazal singer, Penaz speaks about the dwindling population of the community, “It is sad that the (Parsi) community is decreasing at an alarming rate and it is a matter of concern. I am also a part of this problem as I also did not marry.” “Recently, I performed at a conference in the Parliament where this problem was discussed.
The Ministry of Minorities launched a scheme ‘Jiyo Parsi’, which is a Government of India supported scheme to arrest the decline in the population of the Parsi Zoroastrian Community in India. There are only 61,000 Parsis in India now. And at max 1.5 lakh around the world,” she informs. The rules of Parsis do not allow people to marry outside the community.
Penaz says, “In case if a boy marries a girl from outside his children are considered Parsis. However, if a girl marries outside then her children are not recognised. Problems like these and late marriages took a toll on the populace of this community, which has a major hand in building the nation.”