Pandit Firoz Dastur

Today is 97th Birth Anniversary of Hindustani Classical Vocalist and Guru Pandit Firoz Dastur ~(30 September 1919 )
Pandit Firoz Dastur , a doyen of the Kirana Gharana, was born in Mumbai in a Parsi family to parents who had a deep love for music and poetry.
Initially he opted to act and sing in films and was a well known name in the film industry in1930s. Later he began learning Hindustani music from Pt. Krishnarao Jaokar, a disciple of the legendary Khansaheb Ustad Abdul Karim Khan. He took advanced training from Pt. Sawai Gandharva, one of the greatest exponents of the Kirana Gharana.
In a singing career that had spanned almost six decades, Panditji had enthralled audiences both in India and abroad. In addition to performances at prestigious conferences like the All India Music Conference, Sadarang, Sarva Bharatiya Surdas Sangeet Sammelan, Sur Singar Sansad and Tansen Music Festival, Panditji had participated in every Sawai Gandharva Mahotsav since 1952.
A Faculty Member of Hindustani Classical Music at Bombay(Mumbai) University since the inception of its Department of Music in 1969, the many honours and awards he received included the prestigious Sangeet Natak Academy Award (1986), Tansen Award, Maharastra State Gaurav Puraskar, Honorary Doctorate of the South Gujarat University and others.
A great teacher, he had trained musicians like Shri Srikant Deshpande (grandson of Pt. Sawai Gandharva), Shri Milind Chittal, Smt. Sudha Divekar, Shri Achut Abhyankar and others.
#swarmanttra #indianclassicalmusic #hindustaniclassicalvocalist


Call For Participants at the United Nations

The FEZANA UN-NGO Committee is looking for participants to attend the 61st Commission on the Status of Women Conference at the UN Headquarters in New York from March 13-24, 2017.

This year’s priority theme is, “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work” and the Review theme is, “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.”

For more information on the NGO CSW61 check the NGO CSW website:

Individuals interested in attending the conference, are requested to send thier resume and letter of intent by October 15th, 2016. Please send the e-mail to both the following individuals:

Behram Pastakia (bpastakia (@)
Afreed Mistry (afreed.mistry (@)

While FEZANA, as an NGO in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council [ECOSOC] and the Department of Public Information (DPI), will facilitate registration to the CSW Conference, the selected participants are expected to make their own financial arrrangements regarding visas, tickets, accommodation, food, and transportation in the city. Details about the vision, mission and activities of the United Nations can be accessed at

Dated: 27 September 2016


Afreed Mistry
Behram Pastakia
Co-Chairs, FEZANA UN-NGO Committee

A Parsi Odyssey

  1. The first printing press was started in India in the year 1778 by Mr.
    Rustomji Cursetji. In 1780, he printed the first book in English under the
    title “Bombay Calendar.”

  2. The first printing press to have got international acclaim was the Union
    Press started by Mr. Nanabhai Rustomji Ranina. Mr. Nanabhai Rustomji Ranina
    was also the first to print an English to Gujarati and Gujarati to English

  3. The oldest existing newspaper in India, The Bombay Samachar was started
    by a Parsi on July 1st., 1822. It changed hands a number of times but has
    throughout been Parsi owned, and is currently been managed by the Camas.

  4. Madam Bhikaiji Cama (l86l – 1936) was the first Indian to have conceived
    the idea of a National Flag for India, which she designed and unfurled at
    the Socialist Congress in Germany in 1907.

  5. Dr. Manek Bejanji Pithawalla was the first Indian to obtain a Doctorate
    in Geography in India.

  6. Behramji Sorabji Lalkaka (1880 – 1957) was the first to start a heavy
    chemical industry in India. He started the Pioneer Magnesia Works Ltd. In
    1915 for the manufacture of Magnesium Chloride, the import of which from
    Germany was stopped due to World War I. Magnesium Chloride is used for
    sizing in the Textile Industry.

  7. Miss. Amy B. H. J. Rustomji, M.A. (Cantab) was the first and only Asiatic
    lady to hold the office of Vice President of the International Federation
    for University for Women for the term 1956 – 1959.

  8. The first two Indian Members elected to the Bombay Branch of the Royal
    Asiatic Society were both Parsees – Mr. Manekji in 1840 and Mr.
    Cursetji Dadabhoy Wadia in 1844.

  9. Mr. Ardeshir Edulji Cama A.C.A. (1879 – 1948) was the first Indian Member
    of the Institute of Chartered Accounts in England and Wales in
    1908 – the first Indian Chartered Accountant.

  10. Mr. Jamshedji Sorabji Sethna was the first and only Indian Vice Consul
    for France in 1905.

  11. Dr. Shiavux Sorabji Banker was the first Indian to be the head of the
    Medical Department on a company managed Railway, the B.B.& C.I Railway in

  12. Dr. Muncherji Jamasjee Mistry L.M.& S. was the first Indian to become a
    Civil Surgeon in 1887 at Godra in the present Gujarat State.

  13. Mr. Khujesteh Kaikobad Batliwalla was the first Indian to be appointed
    Chief Inspector of Boilers and Factories in U.P. in 1939.

  14. Col. Dhunjishah Naoroji Parakh was the first Indian to be appointed
    Professor of Midwifery in the Grant Medical College, Bombay in 1888. He was
    also the second Indian to pass the I.M.S. Examination, the first being his
    uncle, Surgeon Major Rustomji Behramji who took his commission in 1875
    direct from the hands of Queen Victoria.

  15. Mr. Charag Jehangir Mistry, F.R.H.S. was the first Indian to be Grand
    Secretary of the Grand Lodge of all Scottish Freemasonary in India.

  16. Capt. Miss. Pheroza S. Davar, M.B.B.S., I.M.S., was the first Indian
    Army Lady Doctor commissioned in 1942.

  17. Miss. Shirin Jal Virjee was the first Indian lady to receive the Diploma
    in Sculpture in 1941 from the Royal College of Arts, London.

  18. Mr. Sorabji Cawasji Kharas (1821 – 1875) was the first Indian to go as a
    businessman to Aden in 1839.

  19. Mr. Burjor Sorabji Kharas (1831 – 1875) was the first Indian Consul for
    the U. S. A. in Aden during 1869 – 1875.

  20. Mr. Pherozshah Nasarvanji Daroowalla was the first Indian to have passed
    the examination of Doctors of Law from the London University in 1913.

  21. Khan Saheb Kekobad Navroji Mody was the first Indian to become Supdt. Of
    Railway Police on the B.B.& C.I. Railways in 1870.

  22. Mr. Cawasji Dhunjibhoy Mahaluxmiwalla (1863 – 1950) was the first Indian
    to be made Superintendent of a public garden, Maharajbagh, at Nagpur in
    1885, and the Victoria Gardens in Bombay in 1892.

  23. The first Indian Cricket Team to visit England in 1886 was composed
    entirely of Parsees, and was captained by Dr. Dhunjishaw Hirjibhai Patel,
    who can very well be called the First Indian Cricket Captain.

  24. Mr. Naoroji Dadabhai Katrak was the first Indian to be appointed Chief
    Engineer of the Bombay Improvement Trust in 1925.

  25. Mr. Cursetjee Maneckshah Cursetjee (1847 – 1935) was the first Indian to
    be admitted as an under-graduate at Oxford in 1864.

  26. The first three men to circumvent the earth on bycycles were all Parsees

– Adi Hakim, Rustom Bhumgara and Jal Bapasola – 1928.

  1. The first two Indians to be awarded the D.S.O. were Parsee in World War
    I – Capt. (later Maj. Gen.) Cursetjee and Capt. (later Col.) Bharucha, both
    of the I.M.S.

  2. The only instance of all three brothers winning the D.F.C. – the
    Engineer brothers – in World War II was Parsees. Aspy, (retired as Free
    India’s second Air Chief), Minoo, with a P.V.S.M., and M.V.C. and a Padma
    Bhushan, retired as an Air Marshall – probably the highest decorated officer
    then in the Indian Armed Forces, and Pesi who left the I.A.F. to freelance.
    And yet a fourth brother had joined the Army and served through World War

  3. The first three Indians to have sat in the British House of Commons were
    Dr. Dadabhoy Naoroji, Sir Muncherji Bhawnargree and Sir Shapurji

  4. The first Iron and Steel Works in India, the Tata Iron and Steel Company
    was started by Mr. Jamshedji N. Tata in Jamshedpur in 1907.

  5. The first Cotton Mill in India, The Bombay Spinning and Weaving Co., was
    started in Bombay by Mr. Kavasji Nanabhoy Davar in 1854.

  6. The first Indian to be made a Baronet was Sir Dinshaw Petit. The title
    was conferred on him by Queen Victoria in 1890.

  7. The Parsees are the only community to have produced Chiefs of all three
    armed forces – Air Marshall Aspi Engineer, Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw and
    Admiral Jal Cursetjee.

  8. Khushru F. Rustomji, the doyen of Indian Policeman, raised and commanded
    the BSF during the 1971 operations.

  9. India’s first ever, and singularly successful, time urgent response,
    international intervention operation involving all the three services was
    led by Brig. Bulsara in the Republic of Maldives, November 1988.

  10. The first Indian to be made a Field Marshall was Gen. Sam H. F. J.
    Manekshaw in 1972.

  11. The first Chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission was Dr.
    Homi Bhabha, an eminent Nuclear Scientist.

  12. The First Indian Directer of The Royal Institue of Science war Dr.
    Faridoon R. Bharucha.
  • being forwarded as received-  not verified

Yezdyar S. Kaoosji

XYZ Stepping Forward – An Appeal

An Appeal…

Dear members of the community,

Our organisation – XYZ is organising a MAD Initiative (Making A Difference) called XYZ STEPPING FORWARD which is a Shoe Collection Drive on Sunday, 2nd October 2016.

Our Xtremely Young Zoroastrians along with friends, family and well-wishers will be going to 21 different colonies and baugs in the city only between 9:30 am and 12:30 pm to collect all types of footwear, i.e. shoes, slippers, sandals etc. which are in wearable condition. If you do not have anything to donate, we are also accepting donations of Rs. 200 for a new pair of shoes for the needy.

These shoes will then be sorted and sent to NGOs like Hamara Footath, Greensole, Angel Xpress Foundation, Oscar Foundation and others to be distributed to people in need and improve their lives.

We at XYZ are overjoyed that so many baugs, colonies, gymkhanas and associations are helping this cause and also appreciates the support of the Scout Groups and other organisations. We especially thank the PARSI TIMES for spreading the message to all their readers over the last month. We hope that the children of our small community bind us together and work as one to make a huge difference to the people in need.

While reading this message, we want you to know that you can also help in any of the 3 following ways:

    Please give as many pairs of shoes as you can. Please tie the shoes with a rubber band or string and hand it over to the kids or drop it off at the collection centers.

A donation in cash or cheque can also be made for new shoes.

    Make the conscious decision to come down to your colony and help with the collection process for only 1 or 2 hours.

    If you are unable to do the above, we still hope that you can forward this message to others in the community and Make A Difference.

This may be an XYZ Initiative but we hope that every Zoroastrian comes together and makes a change as you too are an Xtremely Young Zoroastrian within. This is not about your social or civic responsibility. This is about Being Better Parsis.

Warm Regards,

Hoshaang Gotla
Founder, XYZ



The first official Zoroastrian temple opened its doors in Sulaimani on Wednesday. Photo: Sartip Osman/Rudaw

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—Zoroastrians in the Kurdistan Region hope that their first official temple in the region, opened on Wednesday, will provide the right environment to “reintroduce” Kurds to their ancestral religion.

Awat Hussamaddin Tayib, the chief of the followers of the Zoroastrians in the Kurdistan Region—she calls it Bashur, Southern Kurdistan, in Kurdish—told Rudaw English that dozens of Kurdish people are returning to Zoroastrianism, but that some keep it secret out of fear.

Zoroastrianism was a dominant religion in the region that was largely lost following two major historical military campaigns, Tayib explained, one during the time of Alexander the Great and the other during the Islamic campaign which brought much of present-day Middle East under Islamic rule in the seventh century.

Today, some followers of Zoroastrianism are afraid to publicly practice their religion.

The war against the Islamic State, Tayib said, is on the Kurdistan border. She fears that some Islamists might not be happy about the rise of her religion.

The Zoroastrians opened their first temple in the Kurdish city of Suleimani on Wednesday. They lit a fire and played the frame drum or daf to celebrate the occasion, two elements of their rituals.

Tayib takes pride in her religion because she can, like her male counterpart, run the affairs of her fellow Zoroastrians “without any gender discrimination.” In our religion, she explained, we only talk about human beings, and humans by nature do not recognize gender roles.

Tayib, who was living in Europe until four years ago, is the representative of the Zoroastrians at the Kurdistan Region’s ministry of religious affairs. She assumed the position after Zoroastrians received official recognition in 2015.

Zoroastrianism is an ancient religion which grew to popularity in present-day Iran and some parts of Iraq and then spread to the rest of the world.

Zoroastrians are best known by their religious motto “Good Thoughts, Good Acts, and Good Deeds”. They believe in one God, that the world is divided between the good, represented by fire or light in their rituals, and the devil, and a day of judgement.

Many of its adherents in Kurdistan believe the founder of the religion, Zoroaster or Zardasht as it is called in Kurdish, was a Kurd and he spoke a variation of Kurdish language called Avesta.

Kurdish Zoroastrians believe that the Kurdish dialect of Hawrami, still widely spoken in Kurdish areas in Iran and Iraq, has many similarities to the ancient language.

Hawramis believe that the language has remained largely intact due to the limited contact they had with the outside world. Their mountainous areas kept them safe from foreign rule for much of their history.

Tayib said Avesta language is faced with extinction. She does not speak the language but, in an effort to preserve the language, she and members of her congregation are studying it.

Tayib could not give an exact number of Zoroastrians in the Kurdistan Region as some followers do so only secret for “their own safety or social considerations,” but she estimated it could be in the hundreds of thousands.

A 2006 report by the New York Times put the number of Zoroastrians worldwide at 190,000 at the most.

More photos from Sartip Osman of Wednesday’s opening celebration can be seen here.

Free Education at Batha School, Panchgani

Good morning. I think you are aware that I am working with  S M Batha High School Panchgani as Director education and holding additional charge of principal. Once this school had many Zoroastrian students Boyd and Girls.

New Trustees are putting their best to revive it’s original glory.

We have started School Improvement Program in 2014. We brought in many changes. Some of them are, we developed infrastructure, developed in house curriculum, sports and we are recipients of many awards in inter school activities in sports, academic curricular activities at Taluka, District and regional levels.

Our next goal is to admit Zoroastrian students in our school. We will be meeting Parents in Mumbai on first October, 2016 at Sethna Agiary Hall Tardeo, opposite Bhatia Hospital, Mumbai at 10:30 am. Kindly guide Parsee parents desirous of admitting their wards to S M Batha High School Panchgani. The trustees are willing to render financial support to deserving students. We have excellent academic support and well developed Sports.  Looking forward to your support.

Thanking you in anticipation.

With warmest regards.

Mrs. Bhavnagri

Astad Deboo to perform with Manipuri drummers in Paris

As part of Namaste France festival, contemporary dance icon Astad Deboo will collaborate with Manipuri drummers at France’s Opera Bastille
He turns 70 next year, but there’s no stopping Astad Deboo. A pioneer in the field of Indian contemporary dance, he has been invited to perform at the Namaste France festival in Paris. The 75-day festival kicked off on September 15, and Deboo’s 14-member troupe will perform on October 3. Deboo is known for his masterful technique of blending folk, traditional and contemporary styles with theatre.’
A still from a previous performance of Rhythm Divine II: River Runs Deep, which Deboo will present in Paris. Pic courtesy/Amit Kumar
A still from a previous performance of Rhythm Divine II: River Runs Deep, which Deboo will present in Paris. Pic courtesy/Amit Kumar

The excitement evident in his voice, he says, “This is the first time ever that a contemporary dance troupe from India has been invited to represent the country on such a large stage. It is a dream to be performing at the Opéra Bastille, which is one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world.”

Deboo will be collaborating with the acclaimed Pung Cholom drummers of Shree Shree Govindajee Nat Sankirtan, Manipur, to perform a piece titled Rhythm Divine II: River Runs Deep. The dance exponent has a long-standing association with the group, having worked with them for over 10 years.

“We received the invitation only six weeks ago, and didn’t have the time to choreograph a new piece. This is why we’re going with Rhythm Divine II, which is a tried-and-tested routine. However, this is the first time it is being presented outside India,” adds Deboo, who will be returning to France after 20 years. The 85-minute performance gathers tempo slowly, ending in a flying crescendo and, in Deboo’s words, is almost spiritual.
Inline image 2
The drummers of Shree Shree Govindajee Nat Sankirtan. Pic courtesy/Amit Kumar

After the Paris performance, the troupe will perform in Lisbon, Portugal, and then move on to Belgrade, before returning to India. Although he has been awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1996) and the Padma Shri (2007), Deboo feels that the Indian classical dance community has sidelined him.

Inline image 1
Interpreting Tagore, a previous production

“Earlier, big venues such as these would invite only classical dancers, not contemporary folk. But now, the atmosphere is right internationally. After 47 years of dancing professionally, this feels good. My persistence has paid off. I’ve found success,” he ends.

Feathers in his cap
> Astad Deboo has performed at the Great Wall of China, with Pink Floyd in London, and at the 50th anniversary of the American Dance Festival.
> Pierre Cardin commissioned him to choreograph a dance for Maia Plissetskaia, prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet.
> Deboo has performed before the royal families of Japan, Sweden, Bhutan and Thailand.
> He has also been a part of prestigious dance festivals in France.

By Shraddha Uchil | Mid-Day, 22-Sep-2016

Also read: Life and times of Astad Deboo

Udvada – A Photo Journey

Each visit to Udvada is a refreshing experience for the soul. This time, however, I thought I would capture the flavor of Udvada on camera, to share with those who have not been able to make it there for a while. I took a stroll one evening and entered a few houses the next evening. And this is what I got back to share. Savor the pics one by one, click on them to see the bigger picture and feel free to zoom in for greater detail. Each one is a delight. Copy them, share them, print them and enjoy them whichever way you would like to.

Most of the pics are on my basic Sony camera which is now 5 years old and shows no signs of retiring.

Let’s start with the roads. Most of the roads look deserted, with minimal traffic, but the noticeable difference is in the availability of autos at the Chowk. You will recognize them all. So here goes …….