MAKE IN INDIA – Godrej Engine In Every ISRO Space Launch Vehicle



How Zoroastrians were purged in China

In 12th-century China, there were several temples of Zoroastrianism, which the Chinese called Ao Jiao, left standing in several cities. By then, few people remembered the tenets and origins of the ancient Persian religion, which was first brought into China some 600 years previously by Central Asian traders. To attract foreign merchants, successive Chinese dynasties and govern­ments allowed Zoroastrians to build their temples in cities. Some members of royalty even practised the religion.

The Faravahar, a symbol of the Zoroastrian religion. Picture: SCMP

After Tang dynasty’s Emperor Wuzong’s anti-Buddhism purge (840-846), which extended to other foreign religions as well, the flames of Zoroastrianism dimi­nished in China until mention of it totally disappeared from Chinese texts after the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279).

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The Zoroastrian Saga | Mumbai Live

Just like other communities, Mumbai’s Zoroastrian or the Parsi community, as we lovingly know, has always been an integral part of the city. Frohar foundation has been organising the 2-day event “The Zoroastrian Saga” for quite many years now to share the knowledge of the Zoroastrian community, as not many of us know a lot about their origins and the importance of their religion.

Workshop for Priestly Development: Jiyo Parsi

Dear Friends,

For many years we have been discussing the importance of giving respect to our Priests and enabling them to become Pastors to the Parsi community, as are the Catholic Priests as well as the Sikh Granthis. Jiyo Parsi has realized that without a strong ethical background in Zoroastrianism, our community is suffering. This is seen in some cases, in community rates of depression, in neglect of our Priests, our Elders, even our children, as we head towards an increasingly self centered society.

Jiyo Parsi therefore has worked with experts from Masina Hospital and other Counseling centres and our senior Priests, to create a special programme for our Priesthood which will be conducted in Mumbai as per the advertisement issued in the Jame Jamshed yesterday. This  is attached herewith for your quick perusal. We need you as the Leaders of the community and important voices to encourage priests from your Anjumans and Baugs to come, with their wives, on a fully reimbursed Workshop and travel  to and at Mumbai on Saturday 13th May  2017. We need a good response and the importance of this needs to be understood by our clergy and community.

If this is successful, the Priests will be trained in a Series of Workshops, as per their willingness to:


Become eloquent speakers

Communicate values and ideas

Deal with Youth and their problems

Be Effective leaders who can stand up for Zoroastrian values.

Showcase their great talents gained during their priestly training

Become advocates for their own improved conditions

Personality development skills

Emotional development and their own marriage issues

To provide solace at times of grief

To Become Pastors to their community in each Agiary and Atash Behram.


These are only some of the planned events. A Certificate of Participation will be given and if the programme is successful we can even workout more interlinking with High Priests and greater exposure through universities and Academic institutions.


We request you to send as many Mobeds for this initial workshop with the idea that it is a method of self improvement and development. The Priests have been asking for correct interventions and interface with the Parsi and larger community. This is a carefully worked out chance for them. It would be sad if they missed it.Looking forward to your support and your spreading the word quickly.

With warm regards,

Dr. Shernaz Cama


Book on Parsi heritage gets second shot at life

Mr Rustom Kanga with Mrs Subina Aurora Khaneja, who completed the book The Parsis Of Singapore, History, Culture, Cuisine.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

Mrs Suna Kanga, a Parsi, set out to write a book about her heritage, but died before completing it, so freelance writer Subina Aurora Khaneja finished it on her behalf

When the late Mrs Suna Kanga told people that she was Parsi, a follower of the Zoroastrian faith, she was often met with blank stares.

Although the Parsi community has grown, it still remains small in relation to The Republic’s population of 5.6 million. When Mrs Suna moved from Mumbai to Singapore in 1974 with her husband, Singapore Airlines pilot Rustom Kanga, there were 40 Parsi people. Now there are about 350.

The Parsis are descendants of Persian Zoroastrians who fled from present-day Iran after the Persian Empire was conquered by Arab Muslims in the eighth century. Many of them settled in western India.

Being very much part of the close-knit community in Singapore was why, in 2014, Mrs Kanga, a journalist, started tinkering with the idea of writing a book about what it meant to be a Parsi in Singapore.

Mr Kanga, 79, says: “Suna wanted it to be about everything from the religion to the culture and heritage. It was her way of celebrating the community that she so prized.”

The book features photographs showing furniture and a picture of the sacred fire (above) and a sace on a Chinese vase. PHOTOS: COURTESY OF SUBINA KHANEJA

Mrs Kanga, then aged 74, began by reaching out to the community for photos and recipes, interviewing families and collecting materials on their history.

She also applied for a grant from the National Heritage Board, which she received.

But few at the time knew that Mrs Kanga was also seriously ill with only a few months to live. Her family declined to reveal the nature of her illness.

The spirited woman soldiered on nonetheless. Mr Kanga says it was the desire to see her book published that kept her going in the last few months.

But she died on Feb 15 last year, having completed only three-quarters of the book. She was 76.

Picking up the pieces after the death of his wife of 52 years, Mr Kanga – with the support of his daughter, Nazneen, 53, and son, Cyrus, 51 – felt he had to get the book published in her memory.

Serendipitously, a mutual friend introduced him to Mrs Subina Aurora Khaneja, a freelance writer and owner of local writing and art studio The Right Side.

Despite not being a Parsi, the Punjabi Singaporean, 54, says she was taken by the premise of the book and Mr Kanga’s desire to see it published.

She says it helped in many ways to be an outsider looking in.

“I’m not a Parsi but in some ways, that gave me a unique vantage point to tell the story of this community,” she says.

The book features photographs showing furniture and a picture of the sacred fire and a sace on a Chinese vase(above). PHOTOS: COURTESY OF SUBINA KHANEJA

“My goal was to fulfil the vision of this book as set by Suna and to create a record of the Parsi community for themselves and for other communities to get to know the Parsis through their history, culture and cuisine.”

For eleven months, she pulled 12- to 15-hour days, digging through the National Archives, cross-checking information through international publications and land records and holding monthly meetings with senior Parsi leaders to understand more about the community.

She also reached out to families to get recipes and pictures of textiles such as Gara saris and traditional furniture featured in the book.

Her efforts and meticulous research resulted in additional chapters, such as one on Wayang Parsi that details the influence of Parsi theatre on the Malaysian and Indonesian theatre scene.

Her resarch also unearthed Parsis who had been in Singapore since the 1800s and were part ofthe country’s colonial history.

She spent months hunting down photographs of these early pioneers, such as pictures of the Cursetjee family, which were part of a private collection.

Mr Kanga guided her on nuances in spellings of Parsi words, connected her to his community and, during the editing stages of the book, read through the content and helped with sorting, assigning and purchasing of photographs.

The finished book, titled The Parsis Of Singapore, History, Culture, Cuisine, is published by Epigram Books and was launched last Wednesday at the Ministry of Communications and Information.

Says Mr Kanga: “This was a true labour of love and I’m so thankful for the voice this has given to the Parsis of Singapore. Suna would have loved this book.”

• The Parsis Of Singapore, History, Culture, Cuisine is priced at $55.90 and is available at all major bookstores, through Epigram Books’ website, and

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 23, 2017, with the headline ‘Book gets second shot at life’.

Book on Parsis traces their demographic decline

Decade in the making: (Left to right) Lata Narayan, Shalini Bharat, Dr. Pheroza Godrej, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Dr. Martin Walde and Prof. S. Parasuraman releasing the book at the Max Mueller Bhavan on Saturday.

Four-volume compendium highlights issues plaguing community

A four-volume compendium that traces the demographic decline of the Parsi community in India was released recently at the Max Mueller Bhavan. The Parsis Of India: Continuing at the Crossroads by Lata Narayan, and Siva Raju took over a decade to complete and has been hailed as a “a major socio-psycho-anthropological work”.

The book release was attended by Union Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Dr Pheroza Godrej, Prof. Leela Visaria and Dr. Shernaz Cama. The Parsi community is now estimated to have dwindled to approximately 70,000 in India, a population decline that goes against the prevailing nationwide trend.

Shalini Bharat, co-editor of the series, read out Dr. Armaity Desai’s speech that focused on some of the myths that plague the community, a topic covered in the first volume. These include the oft-prevailing myth that young Parsis lack the flame and fire of their ambitious entrepreneur forefathers. The other volumes go into the issues of religion, identity and health that Parsis, young and old, grapple with.

 A panel discussion with Dr Cama and Professor Visaria explored the problems that ail Parsis: depression among the elderly, migration to foreign countries and the drastic decline in fertility. After three decades, their population is estimated to fall to 40,000.

Amid the gloom, there were also rays of hope: infant mortality and life expectancy of Parsis were seen as comparable with countries such as Denmark, while the Jiyo Parsi scheme has been successful. Several more ways were suggested to increase the numbers. There were calls for more open-mindedness including allowing adoption, navjote of children from mixed marriages and incentivising fertility. Perhaps the bravest idea came from Dr. Armaity, who sought more recognition for single parents.

Meher Mirza

Adar – The Divinity Of Light And Life

Parsi Times brings you our monthly ‘Religion Special: Parab Series’, by our religious scholar and cultural expert, the erudite Noshir Dadrawala. Every month, we share with you a deeper understanding of this auspicious day of the month – the Parab – when the mah (month) and the roj (day) coincide. Here’s celebrating this month’s Parab – the most auspicious ‘Adar Mahino Adar Roj’.

Adar is the Divinity that presides over fire. In the Zoroastrian calendar, Adar is the ninth day of every month of thirty days and also the ninth month of the year of twelve months. Nine is a sacred number across several religious traditions. In the Zoroastrian tradition, Prophet Zarathustra is often depicted holding a nine-knotted stick called Navgar. Among Hindus, nine is the number of Brahma, the Creator. Among Christians, number nine symbolizes divine completeness and conveys the meaning of finality. Christ died on the cross at the ninth hour of the day (03:00 pm) to pave the path of salvation for everyone. Also, Jesus appears nine times to his disciples and apostles after his resurrection. Mathematically, when multiplied nine always reproduces itself.

Interestingly, Adar (Akkadian Adaru) is also the twelfth month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar. The Hebrew name Adar (pronounced ‘Ay daar’) is related to the word Adir which denotes strength and power.

Atash Nu Parab:

Parsis celebrate Ruz (day) Adar of Mah (month) Adar as ‘Atash nu parab’. When Ruz and Mah coincide, the day is celebrated as parab. The feast actually begins the day before (Ruz Dae-pa-Adar) when the women of the household celebrate the Chulah nu varas, which literally means birthday of the hearth Fire over which food is prepared throughout the year. The kitchen is cleaned and the area around the cooking stove is decorated and the stove itself is garlanded with marigold flowers and the stove is not used from early evening (Uzirin Gah) till the next morning.
According to the Bundahishn, which is a Zoroastrian text, equivalent to the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament, Adar is associated with the marigold (calendula) flower. Marigold is believed to have derived its name from ‘Mary’s Gold’, taken from the fact that early Christians placed flowers instead of coins on Mother Mary’s altar as an offering. This flower is often used in festivities honoring Mary. Hindus use it during marriages and Zoroastrians associate this flower with fire because of its colour.

According to the Old Testament (the Book of Genesis) God created this world in six days and rested on the seventh. In Zoroastrian cosmogony, Ahura Mazda created this world in six stages (the six Gahambars) creating first the sky, water, earth, vegetation, animal and finally man. However, what animated or gave energy or brought to life all these six good creations was Adar or fire. Both, the Bundahishn and Zatspram, explain that Ahura Mazda’s six good creations were able to commence their work thanks to Adar as the life-giving force or energy.

Ruz Adar of Mah Adar is also the day when several Agyari and Atash Behram were consecrated and enthroned, including the Holiest of Holy, Iranshah.

Discovery Of Fire And It’s Reverence Through History:

According to Ferdowsi’s ‘Shahnameh’, fire was accidentally discovered during the pre-historic Peshdadian period by Shah Hooshang. According to the legend, when Hooshang threw a rock at a serpent like creature it missed the target and instead struck another rock and sparks from that friction ignited some dry grass in the surrounding area. Hooshang recognized this fire as the Divine Glory of Ahura Mazda and instructed his subjects to offer homage.

The Astodan or the final resting place of most of the Great Achaemenian Kings, including that of Darius, Xerxes and Artaxerxes depict the great Kings offering homage before a fire alter. Coins of the later Sasanian period, beginning with the founder, Ardashir, carried the symbol of fire.

Why Pray Before Or In The Presence Of Fire?

From a Zoroastrian perspective, fire is both a giver of light and giver of life. Neither darkness nor evil has an existence of its own. Just as darkness is merely the absence of light, so is evil the absence of good. Thus, while fire dispels darkness, evil is dispelled each time we choose to think, speak and perform a good deed.

The concept of having a hearth fire or in modern times, at least a diva at home, is a ritual form of dispelling darkness and evil with the presence of light. The Persian Revayet recommend that we should pray five Yatha while lighting a diva. Yatha is the chant (The Ahunavar and equivalent of the Sanskrit Om) with which Ahura Mazda created this universe. Also, while reciting the Sarosh Baj (Sarosh Yazata is the guardian of the souls of the living as also the dead) we pray five Yatha. Hence, praying five Yatha while lighting a Fire, probably has a link with enlightening or enhancing our five senses, or our consciousness and an act of attuning our spirit with the Creator, the chant with which the universe was created and the energy of fire that animated or energized all creation.

Adar (Avestan ātar) is Hamkar (co-helper) of Ardibehesht (Avestan Asha Vahishta literally meaning Best Truth or Righteousness). Indeed, when a Zoroastrian prays before fire, he/she looks up to Ahura Mazda the Creator through fire as a form of Light and Life. Also, since Ardibehesht, along with Adar is the Divinity protecting fire and Ardibehesht is the embodiment of Truth and Righteousness (Asha Vahishta); praying before fire is an affirmation of upholding Truth and Righteousness in our lives.

Grades Of Consecrated Fire:

Consecration is an act or manner of making the ordinary sacred or worthy of reverence through ritual purification. There are three grades of Fire. The highest is Atash Behram or the fire that gives Victory. There are four Atash Behram in Mumbai, two in Surat, one in Navsari and one in Udwada. The oldest is the one in Udwada which has been continuously burning for more than a thousand years. It is called Iranshah as it is the first Holy fire that we consecrated in India after coming from Iran using the Aalaat (sacred ritual requisites, including the Holy Ash) brought from Khorasan.

Meaning Behind Certain Rituals:

Before entering a Fire Temple, we should first wash our hands and face and then untie and retie the kushti which is worn around the waist. By washing we clean ourselves physically and by performing the Kushti ritual, we clean our aura or our unseen personal atmosphere. Thus, we go before the Holy Fire clean in body, spirit and mind. We cover our heads with a cap or a scarf as a mark of respect and so that hair from our head does not fall and pollute the holy temple.
When we pray before fire we see light instead of darkness. We see Adar, the energy that gives life and provides energy to this world. We also feel the energy of Ardibehesht or Truth and Righteousness. In other words, we see and feel all that is good that is given to us by God and through Fire as a Divine Channel we send our prayers and good wishes up to the Creator.

We offer fragrant sandalwood as fuel to the fire and which in turn gives off fragrance. When offering sandalwood to the fire we should visualize our offering as a gift to God and God accepts the gift with fragrance. It also reminds us that throughout life we should continue to offer to this world our good thoughts, words and deeds which in turn will make the world fragrant. We apply the holy ash to our forehead as a way of ritually connecting to the fire and reminding ourselves that ultimately, we will all be reduced to ash.

The Priests perform the Boi ceremony before the Holy fire, five times a day. They strike the bell while reciting the words dushmata, duzukht, dusvarast – rejecting all evil thoughts words and deeds. Thus, during the ceremony, the Priest rings the bell and symbolically drives out evil in thought, word and deed from this world.

Indeed, when a Zarathushti reveres or prays before fire, he/she in essence, offers worship to Ahura Mazda through Fire.

What We Pray?

We begin the Atash Niayesh (litany to the fire) with the following salutation:

Khshnaothra Ahurahe Mazdao Nemase-te

Atarsh Mazdao Ahurahe hudhao mazishta Yazata.

Which means:

“May there be the propitiation or pleasure of Ahura Mazda!

Homage (be) unto thee, O Fire of Hormazd,

bestowing good, the Greatest Yazata.

We also affirm:

Us-moi uzareshva Ahura

Armaiti tevishim Dasva

Spenishta Mainyu Mazda

Vanghuya zavo ada

Asha hazo emavat vohu

Manangha feseratum


Which means:

“O Ahura Mazda, the most beneficent spirit and the bestower of good things in return for prayers! Do Thou purify me (i.e. keep me away from wicked deeds), owing to (my) gentleness (or humility) do Thou grant me strength, on account of righteousness, bestow upon (me) mighty power (and) on account of (my) good thoughts, grant me supremacy.”

We further aspire:

Rafedhrai vouruchashane, doishi

moi ya ve abifra,

ta khshathrahya Ahura ya

Vangheush ashish manangho

fro Spenta Armaite Asha

daenao Fradakhshaya


Which means:

“O Hormazd! for (my) delight (and) for sufficiently acquiring religious lore, do Thou grant me assuredly those gifts which (are) blessed by Shehrevar and Vohuman. O Spenta Armaiti! Instruct (me) the commandments of the Religion through Asha.”


And to the Holy Fire itself we express the following sentiments:

Yasnemcha vahmemcha huberetimcha

ushta-beretimcha, vanta-beretimcha, afrinami,

tava Atarsh puthra Ahurahe Mazdao, yesnyo

ahi vahmyo, yesnyo buyao vahmyo

nmanahu mashyakanam ushta buyat

ahmai naire, yase-thwa badha

frayazaite, aesmo-zasto, baresmo-zasto

gao-zasto, havano-zasto.


Which means:

“O Fire, the purifier (of all things) pertaining to Ahura Mazda! I praise Thy worship, invocation, good health-giving and friendly gift. (O Fire), Thou art worthy of worship and invocation, mayest Thou be worthy of worship and invocation in the abodes of men! May there be greatness (or happiness) unto that man who shall always worship Thee with fuel, Baresman, milk and mortar in hand.”

Sad Demise – Sam Fredoon Pedder

It is sad informing you that

Sam Peddar, pilot with the Royal Indian Air force during the  early 1940’s, who along with the  Engineer brothers saw action in
the then N.W.F. Provinces &  Burma. Later he and Jangoo Engineer opted for  Air India,  he was the Chief Instructor  with Air India,

one who also  flew the  Holy  Fires  from Aden to Bombay in the 1970s. He  passed away in London earlier  today April 22, 2017.

exactly five years to the day that he had a stroke.


He willed his body to the London Anatomy Office for medical research.
According to Sam’s wishes, there will be no funeral. If anyone wishes to donate in Sam’s memory,

please do so either to Oxfam, Greenpeace (UK or India) or to the Bhopal Medical Fund (

The latter is the only charity providing free medical aid to the tens of thousands of victims of the Union Carbide gas leak.


Hope the attached collage of Sam’s journey through life leaves those who knew him with happy memories.



Rusi Sorabji