15 Prominent Parsis


From JRD Tata to Sam Manekshaw, these 15 Parsis played a key role in shaping modern India

The Parsi community has been at the forefront of many social and economic reforms in India. Their history in India can be traced back to the 8th century when they migrated from Persia (Iran) to the Indian shores to avoid persecution from Arab conquests in their homeland. They are known for their adherence to Zoroastrian faith and are a very close-knit community. However, their numbers have dwindled over time and as per the latest estimate, there are nearly 69,000 Parsis in India. Despite being small in number, Parsis are the most economically sturdy and educated community in India. From being entrepreneurs and legal luminaries to serving in the army, Parsis are known to lead by example.

Here we have compiled a list of 15 of the most famous Parsis in India.

1) Fali S Nariman:

Indian Express

An eminent lawyer and constitutional scholar, Nariman had been a counsel in several high-profile cases. A recipient of the Padma Vibhushan (2007) and Padma Bhushan (1991), Nariman’s contribution to jurisprudence and public affairs is unmatched. Born in a Parsi Family, Nariman completed his BA in Economics and History from St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, and thereafter got his law degree from Government Law College in 1929. He also served as Additional Solicitor General of India from May 1972 to June 25, 1975, however, he quit the post upon declaration of Emergency.

2) Ratan Tata:

Indian Express

Perhaps, the most famous name from Parsi community, Tata was the Chairman of Tata Group, a global business giant, from 1991 to 2012. During his stint, the conglomerate’s revenues grew over 40 times, and profit over 50 times. His tenure also saw the acquisition of tea brand Tetley with Tata Tea, Jaguar Land Rover with Tata Motors and most notably steel giant Corus’s merger with Tata Steel. The 79-year-old was embroiled in a power tussle with Cyrus Mistry who was removed as the chairman of the group last year. Recipient of Padma Vibhushan (2008) and Padma Bhushan (2000), the business magnate continues to head Tata Group’s charitable trusts – Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Sir Ratan Tata Trust – and their allied trusts.

3) JRD Tata:

Indian Express

Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata has the rare distinction of being the first licensed pilot of India. A pioneering entrepreneur in his own right, it was under his leadership that several firms emerged from the Tata Group, including Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Motors, Titan Industries, Tata Tea and Voltas. He is also the founder of India’s first Airlines Tata Airlines in 1932, which became Air India in 1946. His tenure as Tata Group chairman also saw the group’s assets growing from US$100 million to over US$5 billion. He was also associated with several social welfare initiatives. Under his guidance, Asia’s first Cancer Hospital – Tata Memorial Centre for Cancer, Research and Treatment – was established in 1941. He was awarded India’s highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna, for his humanitarian endeavours.

4) Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw:

Indian Express

Manekshaw was the Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army during the Indo-Pak war of 1971. In his miltary career that spanned over four decades, he served the army in five wars beginning with World War II under the British Army. Born in Punjab to a Parsi family, his father was also an army man, having served in the British army in the first world war. He was selected as part of the first batch of cadets to attend Indian Military Academy in 1931. He was also the first military officer to attain the rank of Field Marshal. During his stint as COAS, he played a key role in preventing the implementation of reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the army.

5) Homi Bhabha

Homi Jehangir Bhabha hailed from an illustrious Parsi family of Mumbai. His father, Jehangir Hormusji Bhabha, was a well-known lawyer. Being a brilliant student, he attended Mumbai’s Elphinstone College at the age of 15. He then attended the Royal Institute of Science and moved to Cambridge University to pursue mechanical engineering and did extensive research on his favourite subject, Physics. He was instrumental in starting India’s nuclear programme. With help of JRD Tata, he played a major role in establishing the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai.

6) Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore:

One of the bravest soldiers to serve in the Indian army, Tarapore was awarded the highest gallantry award Param Vir Chakra for his valour and sacrifice in the 1965 Indo-Pak war. During the war, he was in command of the Poona Horse regiment which launched an attack on Phillora in the Sialkot sector, which was met with fierce armour charge by Pak army. His tank was hit several times, which left him wounded but the brave-heart refused to be evacuated. Inspired by his bravery, the regiment attacked the Pakistani armour and destroyed nearly sixty Pakistani Army tanks, suffering only nine tank casualties. Even when he achieved martyrdom, his regiment continued to defy the enemy.

7) Fali Homi Major:

Born on May 29, 1947, in a Parsi family, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major served as the 21st Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force. In his distinguished career spanning nearly four decades, he worked in a variety of Command, Staff and Instructional appointments. With a flying experience of 7,765 hours, Major oversaw several dangerous missions. His helicopter unit took part in operations in Siachen (world’s highest battlefield) and commanded a Mi-17 squadron during the IPKF operations in Sri Lanka, rescue mission of 11 tourists stranded in cable car among others.

 

8) Jamshetji Tata:

Born on March 3, 1839, Jamshetji is known as the grandfather of modern Indian Industry thanks to his business acumen and entrepreneur skills. He established India’s trade relations with England, America, Europe, China, and Japan. A visionary in his own right, he had four goals in life – starting an iron and steel company, a world-class learning institution, a grand hotel and setting up a hydro-electric plant. Of them, he only succeeded in building the Taj Mahal Hotel at Colaba (1903) during his lifetime. At that time, Taj was the only hotel in India to have electricity.

9) Rustom KS Gandhi:

Wiki

Vice Admiral Rustom Khushro Shapoorjee Gandhi was not only a great soldier but also an able administrator. Born in 1924 in Jabalpur, Gandhi joined the Royal Navy with a permanent commission as an officer cadet on January 1, 1943. He has the distinction of being the only officer to have commanded ships in all naval wars fought by India. He played a decisive role in “Operation Vijay” of 1961 that saw the end of Portuguese rule in Goa. He was awarded Vir Chakra for his role in the 1971 Indo-Pak War. After his retirement, he served as the governor of Himachal Pradesh.

10) Feroze Gandhi:

Born into a Parsi family on September 12, 1912, in Bombay, Feroze was so inspired by the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, that he changed the spelling of his surname from “Ghandy” to “Gandhi” after joining the Independence movement. Besides playing a key role in the freedom struggle, he is also said to be India’s first anti-corruption activist as he exposed the nexus between Congress government and business powerhouses. Feroze earned the title of ‘Giant Killer’ after he exposed how the then Finance Minister TT Krishnamachari helped business tycoon Haridas Mundhra to benefit from and manipulate stock markets.

11) Nanabhoy Palkhiwala:

Another stalwart of the Parsi community who was a prominent jurist and economist, he joined the bar in 1946 and quickly became famous as an eloquent and articulate barrister. Along with legendary Sir Jamshedji Behramji Kanga, he wrote The Law and Practice of Income Tax, which is still considered an authoritative work in commercial and tax law. He was one of the most ardent defenders of the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of the press. When the Indira Gandhi government imposed import controls on newsprint in 1972 to stifle dissent, he argued in the Supreme Court that newsprint served more than just a general commodity.

12) SH Kapadia:

Another top legal luminary from Parsi community, Sarosh Homi Kapadia served as the thirty-eighth Chief Justice of India. He joined Bombay High court as an advocate in 1974. In 1991, he was appointed as an additional judge at Bombay High Court and in March 1993, he was appointed as a permanent judge. He became the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court in 2003 and soon was elevated as a judge of Supreme Court. He will perhaps be remembered for his most notable judgement that came in Vodfaone versus the Union of India, where he ruled that Indian revenue department did not have territorial jurisdiction to tax offshore transactions.

13) Soli Sorabjee:

Indian Express

The former Attorney-General of India and an eminent jurist, Soli Sorabjee is a strong proponent of civil liberties and protection of human rights. He was admitted to the bar in 1953 after completing his studies at St Xavier’s College, Mumbai and Government Law College. He was designated as a senior Supreme Court lawyer in 1971. He also served as Solicitor-General of India from 1977 to 1980. At present, he is the Chairman of Transparency International and Convenor of the Minority Rights Group.

14) Ardeshir Godrej:

Ardeshir Godrej firmly believed that freedom would remain a distant dream until India becomes self-reliant. Despite hailing from an affluent family, Ardeshir did not approach his father for a loan and arranged it from elsewhere. He began his business by starting manufacturing locks on May 7, 1897, in Lalbaug. Gradually, he expanded his business interest from security engineering to soaps to typewriters to white goods. Godrej became a household name in India, notching up a majority of the market share.

15) Polly Umrigar:

YouTube

Born on March 28, 1926, in Maharashtra’s Sholapur, Pahlan Ratanji Umrigar was a legendary cricketer who played from the late forties to the early sixties. He had then held the record of the Indian player with most Tests, most runs and most hundreds. In fact, his records stood from 1962 to 1978, only to be broken by little master Sunil Gavaskar. Cricketers from the Parsi community dominated the Indian cricket scene in the 50s and 60s. Cricketers like Phiroze Edulji Palia, Rustomji Jamshedji, Rusitomji Sheriyar Modi, Keki Khurshedji Tarapore, Nariman Jamshedji Contractor are some of the notable names.

http://www.inuth.com/india/from-jrd-tata-to-sam-manekshaw-these-15-parsis-played-a-key-role-in-shaping-modern-india/

Advertisements

Brothers-in-Arms : The Flying Engineer Brothers


In the undivided India of 1930, Karachi was the ‘aerial gateway of India’, boasting the first flying club in the country. One early morning in March two young men started up a small plane and, shrouded in secrecy, started on the journey of their lives. Seventeen-year-old Aspy Engineer and his friend R.N. Chawla, older by a few years, were attempting to fly to London in Aspy’s little single-engine aircraft. From there Aspy would return solo to compete in the race for the Agha Khan Cup. This pioneering event ushered in the era of civil aviation in India.

Click to Enlarge A young Aspy Engineer, in May 1930 with his DeHavilland Gypsy Moth. Aspy had embarked on the UK-India flight to win the Agha Khan Cup.

It was a heady period for young fliers. Lindbergh had flown solo trans-Atlantic and the likes of Amelia Earhart, Jim Morrison and Amy Johnson were making exciting headlines. To encourage aviation in India, the Agha Khan announced a trophy and a prize for the first Indian to fly solo between England and India within a period of 30 days. Aspy’s father had encouraged his children to ‘dare to dream’ and now he somehow put together enough resources to buy his son a DeHavilland Gypsy Moth.

Aspy won the race, and in so doing inspired his younger brothers to take flight on amazing Life journeys of their own. On hearing the news of Aspy’s winning the Agha Khan cup, half the population of Karachi turned out to greet him on his return. Asked by a reporter what he saw in his future, the youngster said “I would love the chance to serve my country in the Air Force”. A wish that came true for not one, but four of the brothers, with three of them receiving the coveted Distinguished Flying Cross. Aspy reached the highest position, Jangoo served in the Air force during the critical war years and then went on to make his mark in civil aviation, Minoo became the highest decorated officer in the armed forces, and the youngest, brilliant, enigmatic Ronnie charted a distinguished path of his own.

Minoo, Aspy and Ronnie Engineer, all awarded the D F C. Jangoo Engineer, who is not in this photograph made his mark in civil aviation as well Click to Enlarge

Four years apart in age, the boys were four out of eight siblings who grew up in Karachi where their father was the Divisional Engineer for the Northwestern Railway. Their mother was gentle, talented, very spiritual and a great moral force in their lives. Both parents groomed the children to be good Zoroastrians, with a great emphasis on honesty, high thinking and hard-work. One day around the year 1919, Alcock and Brown landed a small aircraft on the racecourse just below their spacious Railway bungalow, which was on a rise. Seven-year-old Aspy watched in fascination and an obsession was born. Ten years later, Aspy joined the newly formed Karachi Aero club and got his flying license within a year.

Promoters of the ‘nature vs. nurture’ theory would have a field day with the growing Engineer brothers as subjects. Being the eldest, Aspy developed strong leadership qualities. At times he had to be quite harsh on the boisterous younger ones. A free-spirited, euphoric spirit of adventure was never curbed by the adoring parents, but rather given free reign. However, perfection was made a goal, and the boys did not disappoint. A streak of extreme academic brilliance also ran in the family and the two brothers who didn’t take to flying excelled in other spheres, one topping the Civil Service exam and the other finishing school at the age of fourteen. Believing in ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’, a Japanese gym instructor named Yamaki was put in charge of the brood’s fitness regimen. In later years, Aspy was to record with humour: “ My problem was that Yamaki wanted me also to become a ‘champion swimmer’ like my brother Jangoo, although swimming was anything but my strong point or budding love. As it happened, I could barely keep myself afloat and avoided entering deep waters in the same way as some so-called hunting dogs do, who prefer other pastimes to entering the cold waters of a duck ‘jheel’ early on a February morning!”

Aspy in the IAF

Aspy.jpg (3487 bytes)

Aspy trained at RAF Cranwell, U.K. where he was adjudged the best all round cadet. On commissioning from Cranwell, he joined ‘A’ Flight of the IAF, flying Wapitis in the North Western Frontier Province. He helped nurse the newly formed Indian Air force into a self-sufficient, high-morale fighting force and led several missions which resulted in the training of pilots and technicians for other developing countries.

A constructive period followed as M.D. of Hindustan Aircraft Ltd. (HAL), when the Marut flew its first sortie during his tenure. In 1960, on the sudden demise of the first Indian Chief of Air Force, his close friend Subrato Mukherjee, Aspy was appointed his successor. The Goa Operations and action in the Congo kept his forces busy.

Throughout his tenure there were ominous signs that Pakistan was preparing for war and that China was encroaching from Tibet. He ably guided his force through the 1962 aggression by the Chinese. After retirement from the Indian Air Force in 1964, he served as India’s ambassador to Iran. He passed away in 2002.

 

Jangoo Engineer

Jangoo.jpg (6170 bytes)

Jangoo, the third Engineer brother, was the next to take up flying. In core areas like love of flying, patriotism, honesty and courage he was a lot like Aspy. However, while leadership came naturally to him too, he was kind and generous to a fault, with heart ruling head. He exulted in competition, and with fair-play as his standard, won in everything he set his sights on. Bridge and chess found him competing on a national level just as did swimming and squash. A brilliant science graduate, he had started his Medical studies while at the same time getting his flying license, when financial straits in the family led him to join Tata Air Lines as a pilot. He had flown for two years when the call went out for volunteers for an Emergency Commission in the R.I.A.F. in 1939. His response was unhesitating. On being recruited he immediately set about topping the armament exercises and building a formidable reputation. His first posting was with No. 1 Squadron at Miranshah.

In 1941 he was with the Madras Coast Defence Flight. He shadowed a Japanese fleet off the Madras coast and was in turn shadowed by a couple of Japanese planes 30 miles inland. Ironically, though his life was spared then, Jangoo was to meet his end tragically at the hands of two other fighter pilots in Pakistani Sabre jets during a cowardly attack on his unarmed civilian ‘plane in the 1965 War. Strangely, against all odds, he had also survived a fall from the sky when, during an aerobatics display in 1941 in Bangalore, his plane hit a vulture and plummeted to earth. Though his body was thoroughly shattered, his spirit was indomitable.

After a near-miraculous recovery, nothing could prevent him from taking to the skies once more. At the end of 1942 he was in Calcutta as personal pilot to the Air Officer commanding, 221 group. He also spent 11 months as Group Training Officer at the G.H.Q. board for Permanent Selection. At the end of the war he made the difficult decision to return to Civil Aviation, where the uncharted skies called for his kind of dedication and expertise. He rose to be Director of Operations, Planning and Training of Indian Airlines (a combined post created especially for him, and split in three after he left the Airline).

In 1964, after a distinguished career with the Airline, he resigned on principle over differences with the Pilots’ Union, and made the fateful move to fly for the Maharashtra Government. When his life came to an abrupt end at the age of 49, time stood still for his brothers, so loved was he. “Too beautiful for this world”, grieved Aspy.

Minoo Engineer

Minoo.jpg (4832 bytes)

Minoo Engineer remains to date the most decorated officer in the IAF. The sixth of the siblings and the third brother to join the Air Force, Minoo seemed to be born with the proverbial twinkle in his eye. Low down in the sibling ‘food-chain’ so to speak, he had a tough time keeping up with his brothers who grew rapidly stronger and taller than he. Even younger brother, Ronnie, was to become the college boxing champion, when both were in Elphinstone College, Bombay.

However, Minoo was to prove the ‘eternal warrior’ of the group. Below a jovial, genial exterior, he hid a steely resolve. He joined the Air force in 1940 and retired after 33 years of distinguished service. A grateful nation was to bestow on him the highest awards ever given to anyone in the history of the armed forces.

He was awarded the DFC when, in frontline combat duty in World War II, he commanded the first Spitfire Squadron in Burma and later the only Indian Squadron in Japan in 1946. In 1947 he formed the first operational air base in Jammu and Kashmir. Controlling all air operations there, he was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra for conspicuous gallantry. In 1962 he was specially selected as S.A.S.O. of new Operational Command in Eastern Sector, where the Chinese threat was developing. Coping remarkably with all the air support requirements projected by the Army within the meager resources of men and material then available, he was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal. In 1965 he was appointed the Deputy Chief of Air Staff at Air Head Quarters, and in 1969 was selected as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command. His retalliatory air strikes on 3rd and 4th December 1971 took the air war deep into enemy territory and his leadership contributed greatly to an Indian victory, winning him the Padma Bhushan.

In 1990 the Maharashtra government honoured him with the prestigious ‘Gaurav Puraskar.’ On retirement, he plunged into a vastly different challenge. As CEO of an advertising agency, he found himself in unfamiliar waters, but despite rapidly failing health did a remarkable job. If one were to run one’s finger down a portrait of the Engineer clan looking for ‘Mr. Dependable’ it would come to rest on Minoo Engineer, to whom any friend, family member or even stranger could always turn for help and genuine advice.

Ronnie Engineer

Ronny.jpg (5078 bytes)

Ronnie Engineer was the youngest child. Bearing a striking physical resemblance to Jangoo, the youngster soon grew to hero-worshiping this gentle giant of an elder brother. Both brothers got used to winning at various sports and while Jangoo excelled at swimming, Ronnie was a boxing supremo. His charismatic personality and winning ways won him a legion of friends and admirers. But it was his superb skill at flying and his fearlessness in battle that put him in a category of his own. The RIAF quickly spotted the handsome flyer and featured him in films and posters for their recruitment campaign, He readily admitted to idolising Jangoo, and on the latter’s death was so grief-stricken that he could never speak of him again. But it was Ronnie who led his Canberra squadron to wipe out the Pakistani radar that had picked up Jangoo’s plane in 1965. And a year later when a son was born to Ronnie he proudly named him Jehangir after his adored sibling, and started him on flying training as soon as he came of age. In a cruel twist of fate, this young Jehangir was killed in a mid-air collision in Canada when just 25 years old.

Being the youngest in a string of illustrious siblings had both advantages and disadvantages. Struggling not to be over-shadowed, Ronnie had superb role models right within the family. With unique charisma and exceptional flying talent, Ronnie always looked skywards. He was deeply loved by all levels of the men he worked with. Always leading from the front, he would often gallantly take the rap to protect his juniors. His zest for life was infectious, and whether as leader of squadron 2 or as Commanding Officer, he suffused his crew with an amazing spirit of ‘bon homie ‘.

In the fledgling Air force of WW II, it seemed that whichever way one turned one came across one of the Engineer brothers. So it was inevitable that they came across each other. Ronnie was to record that seeing his eldest brother, he rushed up to him with an ebullient “Hello Aspy”, only to be dressed down with “ It’s ‘Sir’ and a salute from you, young man. You are in uniform”. A few days later, Ronnie spotted Jangoo and clicked to a smart salute, when Jangoo with an arm around his shoulders says, “Hey, when did I stop being your brother?” Coming across Minoo still later, a wary Ronnie queried “ which way should I go”?

Ronnie’s spectacular career in the Air force came to an abrupt end in 1966, when events drove him to leave and make a new life in Canada, shocking many and leaving a lasting void. In spirit he remained a son of Indian soil, and of its skies, carrying his Air Force within him till his heart failed in his 60th year.

Click to Enlarge Ronnie, centre, standing tall with his trophy. Minoo fourth from right, last row.

So, in 1930, as the young aviator, Aspy winged his way in his little Gypsy Moth across unknown skies to a world record, little could he foresee what was to come. The country and the Air Force were ready for the brothers. They, in turn , exulted in the Times and embraced the challenges; triumph and tragedy equal stowaways on their powerful, unforgettable formation in the sky.

http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Personnel/Tributes/1074-Engineers.html

MEHRGĀN


The Zoroastrian Celebration at Autumnal Equinox in Iran and the region since Antiquity

It was during the mid-60s in Iran, that the Afshid (sunbeam) primary school yard overflowed with hundreds of playful, nutty, and noisy K-6 students. They were quieted when the custodian rang the shiny brass bell that hung on the school’s front porch. The boys and girls of each grade lined up, left-to-right, by height. The boys’ haircuts were short and the girls’ hair was tied back as a pony tail. Nails were clipped and all hygiene requirements met. Each student wore their best outfit, on which a white circular patch of cloth was sewn onto their jacket collar. Everyone carried a segmented, compressible red, white, and green (colors of the Iranian flag) plastic cup for drinking water; a handkerchief and snacks were stuffed inside. It is Mehr 1st, the beginning of autumn, Jashn Mehrgān. The National Anthem and sorud amouzgar (the teacher’s appreciation song) were sung by the students, who were accompanied by the chirping of migratory birds winging south. The song was followed by the principal and the PTA chair’s welcoming statements to everyone on the first day of the academic year—the first day of school is on the autumnal solsticeMehrgān, the festival of friendship, compassion and love in honor of Mitra/Mehr.

School days were Saturday through Thursday and began at 8:30 and ended at 4:00, with a two-hour lunch break. Thursdays were most pleasing as we went home at noon to start our one and a half day weekend! It should be noted that Nowruz, observed at the spring vernal equinox, has and will remain the most revered annual celebration in Iran. Mehrgān is, in essence, the mirror image of Nowruz in that night and day are each 12 hours long. The other major celebrations in Iran are Tirgan and Daygan (the summer and winter solstices, respectively) and Sadeh (fifty nights and days before Nowruz).

Historically speaking, Mehrgān along with the three other seasonal celebrations of Nowruz, Tirgan and Daygan, are celebrated when the name of month coincides with the same name of the day. Summer harvest, after which the farmers till and sow their fields for the following spring calls for Mehrgān. It is the time to prepare for the harsh winter ahead by preserving foods, drying fruits and nuts, preserving pickles, and other essentials. It also signals the last opportunity to pick mid-fall fruits and nuts, such as persimmons, pomegranates, medlars, quince, almonds, and walnuts. It was as if the trees were programmed to the exact second to change their leaves’ colors, drop them, and be carried on the fall wind. After months of dry weather, Mehrgān also signaled the start of fall’s periodical rains, the essential component of germinations and cyclical rebirth that would arrive amid Nowruz. Mehrgānwas originally a feast held to honor the Persian Goddess Mithra, until the 4th century BCE, when it became one of the two and, later, four most revered Zoroastrian feasts. Mehrgān was celebrated in an extravagant style at Persepolis. Not only was it the time for concluding the harvests, it was also when the semi-annual taxes were collected. Visitors from different parts of the Persian Empire brought gifts to the King at Persepolis, Takhte Jamshid (the Throne of Jamshid), when all partook in an extravagant festival.

During the 7th century, Mehrgān was celebrated the same as Nowruz. There were even some efforts to elevate Mehrgān over Nowruz as the most revered Persian New Year. It remained customary for people to send presents to the King and to each other at Mehrgān. Rich people usually gave gold and silver coins; heroes and warriors gave horses, swords, and javelins; while commoners gave gifts according to their financial means—apples, persimmons, and pomegranates were acceptable gifts. Those fortunate enough would help the poor with donations and goods as gifts, as they also did at Nowruz and other celestial celebrations.

The Mehrgān spread table (Dusharm, Dream of Persia)

The Mehrgān spread table (Dusharm, Dream of Persia)

Although Mehrgān is not as elaborately celebrated in Iran as Nowruz, people still wear new wintry clothes when visiting each other. Similar to Haft-seen at Nowruz, the sides of the tablecloth at Mehrgān are decorated with dry, wild marjoram. A copy of the Khordeh Avesta(the “abridged” Avesta), a mirror, and a sormeh-dan (a traditional eyeliner or kohl) are placed on the table with rosewater, sweets, flowers, vegetables, dried wheat/barley husks, fall fruits (especially pomegranates and apples), and nuts, such as, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios. A few silver coins and lotus seeds are also placed in a water bowl scented with a marjoram elixir. A small brazier is placed on the table where kondor/loban (frankincense) and espand (Syrian Rue seeds) are burned to ward off evil forces.

At the autumnal equinox or the closest lunch time to when the ceremony begins, everyone in the family gathers in front of the mirror to hymn pray. Sherbet is drunk and then—as an omen—sormeh mascara is applied to lengthen the eyelashes. Handfuls of wild marjoram, lotus, and sugar plum seeds are thrown over one another’s heads while they embrace. In the 1960s, the Iranian Royal Postal Service issued a series of stamps to commemorate Mehrgān Festival.

Commemorative postal stamps for Mehrgān issued during the 1960s.

Commemorative postal stamps for Mehrgān issued during the 1960s.

Returning to school’s first days: as we played in our yard and neighborhood, we witnessed the many birds migrating south—presumably from north of the Caspian Sea and from Russian Siberia—toward the warm waters of the Persian Gulf for the winter. Among them, the good omen storks and cranes were particularly fascinating as they came back to the same nests on high trees, buildings, or the cliff edges. After the harvesting and seeding were completed we, who lived in the suburbs, were excited that our country relatives would visit us soon; especially, our grandparents who often stayed for extended visits. They brought us fresh and dried fruits, mixed nuts (Ajil), and dried, pitted apricots or peaches with crushed walnuts and a bit of sugar inside and threaded as a necklace (Joze-ghand). The preserved lamb meat cooked in its own fat called ghormeh, from which we made abgoosht,the legume lamb stew, was such a delicious winter delicacy! And, as to my grandfather’s grape syrup, shireh angoor, we could not wait for the first snow to make barf shireh ices and eat them under a korsi warmed by a brazier refilled daily with charcoal. Another country gift was the trapezoid-shaped threaded dried rue (espand) and frankincense that we hung over the front door, presumably to ward off evil spirits! I vividly recall my first day at school, it was the afternoon of Mehr 1 and I was six. Under the watchful eye of my grandmother, Maryam, I struggled to crack open an almond with a rock. Missing the almond, I smashed my thumb with the rock. Six months later, on Nowruz, my blackened nail fell off and was replaced with a brand new nail! Was this a fortuitous sign of rebirth and rejuvenation?

Mehrgān also serves as a transitory juncture of retrospections for the preceding and following six months, introspection for the early fall, and prospection—with trepidations and anticipations—for what we can expect during the six months to Nowruz. During that time of reflection we enjoyed crushing colorful autumn leaves as we walked through the long, narrow, a tall mud-walled garden alleys in Evin remains among our most nostalgic memories. I shall revere the intoxicating, mixed aromas of mud, rain, leaves, and smashed fruits for as long as I live; it gives me a soothing sense of somber solitude, which I have never experienced anywhere else.

Mehrgān, Nowruz along with Tigran and Dayan are celebrated worldwide including here in diaspora. The IZA and ZAGNY at Dare e Mehr proudly host such celebrations; annual extravagantly held Mehrgān festival, this year with Sattar as the singer, is held at the Persian Untermeyer Garden in Yonkers NY, where the seats are sold from 15,000 to a modest $500 ! As to those of us fortunate enough to have been born and raised in Iran where the national festivals as Mehrgān and Nowruz have and continue to remain intertwined with our psyche and, as we breathed, inhaled, smelled, ingested, and felt these festivities on our skin, in our flesh and bone and enjoyed them immensely, the same celebration in diaspora can only go so far. Then again, that should not mean we give up these annual rituals, but, instead, we should create little Irans or Gujarats in our communities to ensure our children learn and carry on these spiritual reconnections with Mother Nature.

Cover photo: The Mehrgān table at the Persian school, operated by the Iranian American Society of New York (2011)

https://iranian.com/2017/09/18/mehrgan/

U.C. San Diego Names Science Building ‘Tata Hall for the Sciences’


U.C. San Diego has announced that its new science building has been named the Tata Hall for the Sciences. The naming was in recognition of a $70 million gift provided by Tata Trusts in 2016 to create the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society. Tata Trusts chair Ratan Tata (center) celebrated the building’s dedication Sept. 12 with UCSD chancellor Pradeep Khosla (right) and members of the new institute. (ucsd.edu photo)

U.C. San Diego Sept. 12 announced that the new building for the divisions of biological and physical sciences has been named the Tata Hall for the Sciences.

The naming of the building is in recognition of a $70 million gift provided by Tata Trusts in 2016 to create the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society, according to a university news report.

The institute, which aims to advance global science and technology through socially conscious means to develop solutions to some of the more pressing global issues, will be affixed on the fifth floor of Tata Hall.

“It is my privilege to dedicate this building in recognition of the Tata Trusts’ leadership and collaboration with U.C. San Diego, and the Tata family’s pioneering philanthropy and singular impact to bring about societal change,” said U.C. San Diego chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla at the naming event, according to the university report.

“Tata Hall exemplifies U.C. San Diego’s tradition of non-tradition, inspiring cross-disciplinary collaboration among researchers and the next generation of innovators,” the Indian American chancellor added. “This building will embody the spirit of the many shared values of U.C. San Diego and the Tata Trusts to benefit our global society.”

The building is currently under construction and is expected to be completed by the fall of 2018, the report noted.

“I am very proud of being associated with this great institution,” said Tata Trusts chairman Ratan N. Tata, the report noted. “What we are doing is a big thing for mankind in our part of the world … and I look forward to this involvement as just a first part of what we can do together.”

In addition to naming the building Tata Hall, the university also announced four inaugural chair holders of the Tata Chancellor’s Endowed Professorships.

Among the chairs are Suresh Subramani with the Tata Chancellor’s Endowed Professorship in molecular biology, Ethan Bier with the professorship in cell and developmental biology, Karthik Muralidharam with a professorship in economics, and Anita Raj with a professorship in medicine.

http://www.indiawest.com/news/global_indian/u-c-san-diego-names-science-building-tata-hall-for/article_1cbc7cb0-9cba-11e7-8a3f-0740aac5c58e.html

Medical Appeal cum update – Aspi S. Sepoy


Mr. Aspi Sepoy who met with a railway accident
at Udvada Railway Station on Thursday September 14, 2017

Community members are aware about the unfortunate that Mr. Aspi Sepoy met with on September 14, 2017.

Personal Background:
Aspi Sepoy Is a resident of Ava Baug, Navsari (46 years), a widower having lost his wife around five years ago in tragic circumstances. He is the father of two children who, have been enrolled as boarders at J. N. Petit Institute, Pune, their education is being paid for by The WZO Trust from funds being contributed by Zoroastrian Charity Funds of Hong Kong, Canton & Macao). Aspi is employed by Foundation for Development of Udvada (FDU) as caretaker of the Zoroastrian Information Centre (Parsi Museum) at Udvada; he earns a salary Rs.10,000/= per month plus travelling expenses. (High Priest Khurshed Dastoor of Udvada & the undersigned along with a few others are Trustees of FDU).

The Accident:
Aspi met with an unfortunate accident on ThursdaySeptember 14, 2017 whilst on his way from Udvada to Navsari; he fell from the railway platform under a train, with both his legs being severely damaged. He was rushed to the civil hospital at Valsad, where doctors have performed emergency surgery and amputated both his legs below the knees.

Current Update:

Aspi was shifted to Parsi General Hospital at Mumbai on Saturday, September 16, 2017 for further treatment. Eminent Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. Jamshed Bunshah has performed a further surgery today (Tuesday, September 19, 2017). The dressing will be checked after three to four days when it will known if blood circulation the leg stumps is normal, in which event no further surgeries may be required. However, this will only be determined once the dressings are opened again for examination.

To avoid infection, Aspi will not be placed in the general ward, but in a separate room (of the lowest denomination) after he is discharged from the ICU.

It has been given to understand that artificial feet that are imported (not made locally) will need to be procured.  The cost of each foot is estimated to be in the region of Rs.5,00,000 that is 10,00,000 for both.

Hospitalisation and other expenses on medicines cannot be quantified at present but are expected to be substantial.

Funds:

We (The WZO Trust) have been receiving requests from individuals wishing to send their personal donations for Aspi.

Those who wish to send donations may do so by:

Forwarding cheques in the name of “The WZO Trust”; donors from India should mention their PAN details in their covering letter. Donors contributing through The WZO Trust can avail of tax benefits u/s 80G of the Income Tax Act.
OR
Forwarding cheques in the name of “Aspi S. Sepoy”; donors from India should mention their PAN details in their covering letter. Donors contributing through this mode will not be able to avail of tax benefits u/s 80G of the Income Tax Act, as the cheques will be credited to the personal bank account of Aspi Sepoy.

FOR REMITTANCES FROM WITHIN INDIA:
  Name of Bank: Deutsche Bank.
  Branch: Hazarimal Somani Marg, Fort
  Branch Address: D. B. House, Hazarimal Somani Marg, Fort, Mumbai 400 001
  Account title: The World Zoroastrian Organisation Trust
  Account No: 400004259620019
  Account type: Savings
  IFSC Code: DEUT0784PBC
 
FOR REMITTANCES FROM OUTSIDE INDIA:  Click Here for full details
Donors should inform us either by a letter or an e-mail, details of their PAN and address where the receipt has to be sent.

Cheques sent through either of the above modes may be mailed to the office of The WZO Trust at:

C-1, Hermes House, 3rd floor,
Mama Parmanany Marg,
Opera House,
Mumbai 400 004.

All email correspondence to be sent to admin@wzotrust.com

Dinshaw K Tamboly;
Chairman.

India’s First Teaching Humanoid Robot MONTEA – Monaz Gandhi


SXRC – Bengaluru awards Ms. Monaz V. Gandhi of Mumbai with the SXRC CREATON Award for her privately and sole handedly programmed India’s First Teaching Humanoid Robot MONTEA.

  • Dr. Vikram Aditya Singh, Chief Technology Officer, SXRC – Bengaluru,
    Dr. Sharmin Mehta, Senior Research Scientist & Expert Gynecologist, SXRC – Bengaluru and Dr. Prachi Tejpal, Senior Research Scientist & Expert Neurologist, SXRC – Bengaluru addressed an internal PR Meet where they showcased the functionality of India’s First Teaching Humanoid Robot named as MONTEA with a brief introduction of its creator and mentor and how the project came into SXRC’s focus.
    Dr. Vikram Aditya Singh said, “Guys as you all know we are not much into the field of education and its research, but sometimes when we see a great talent hidden behind some creation we come out to support it at the best of our capabilities. Ms. Monaz V. Gandhi happens to be a young friend of one of our great scientist, Dr. Sharmin Mehta and she brought this project to highlight by creating off-content outlines of the project in our board meet.
    We all in the board meet were stunned by the work a non-scientific background based individual Ms. Monaz had done by deeply studying the RZ-AI Platform theories. We saw that this robot can not only act as a teacher but also as a Patient Care mediator when needed and slightly reprogrammed. Henceforth, we called this robot for testing and finally we are happy that we will take this entire robot as our next project by providing Ms. Monaz V. Gandhi a suitable reward for her creation after we are done with the current AI-Prosthetics project. We have called you
    here to witness the creation and leave your eyes open as we had left that day and bless the creator for her great understanding and passion in this work.”

Dr. Sharmin Mehta explained the entire project and its working during the meet which left the 50 PR-Meet candidates open mouthed. Dr. Sharmin Mehta said, “Before introducing MONTEA, I feel the introduction of its programmer and mentor is much more exciting and necessary. MONTEA is programmed by one of my friend, Ms. Monaz V. Gandhi under my guidance over skype and other communication systems. Monaz is a brilliant preschool teacher who is not only focused in teaching the toddlers at a pre-school in Mumbai but also has a passion to create a robotic teaching assistant to assist in teaching of her cute kid students. Based on her passion, she got
NAO – A Humanoid programmable robot from Aldebran Electronics and started to work on her passion since October 2015. A yearlong effort has yield this fruit which is in front of our eyes where the cute NAO has been reprogrammed with many more teaching superiorities and an interesting platform change that has made it more mobile and more friendly. Henceforth, we have named this new programmed robot as MONTEA based on the name of its creator and expert Ms. Monaz V. Gandhi (MON) and its behavior as a Teacher (TEA).”

Dr. Sharmin and Dr. Prachi addressed each feature of MONTEA that kept us completely locked in our seat as it was unbelievable for a non-scientific background 25 years’ pre-school teacher to understand the RZ-AI theories in such a depth and had implemented it beautifully in her program.

• MONTEA is developed with the idea of giving a personalized learning companion to the kids. • •MONTEA helps kids to learn by showing different practical aspects of the topic as well as using its own Human Encoded Sense of Humor, it makes learning for kids’ utmost fun. It has 35 degrees of freedom which means it is meant to do much more like a human friend.
• MONTEA is not intended to be used by replacing a teacher for teaching new facts to students but it is a student’s and teacher’s assistant who helps in the process of explaining the facts in much higher depth using its own practical senses and logic to create experimentation for live demonstration. Hence, it speeds up learning of the kids.
• MONTEA extends the concepts of “Learn from Demonstration” which uses a hierarchical logistic
regression system that allows MONTEA to choose the actions autonomously using the style of the human demonstrator.

MONTEA Demonstrating To Kids His Teaching Skills

MONTEA Learning To Stretch Hand & Fingers (LFD)

• MONTEA uses all the sensors and audio video functions highly advanced with RZ-AI and THD quality pixilation with 500 times better clarity than a HD Screen or Camera. It uses dual THD camera sensors as eyes and a head implanted tactile sensor so it can sense your motion towards it.
• It has speech senses like a human and it interacts with kids and humans very well and effectively making them feel as their true friend.
• It is compact enough with a height of just 1.5 feet to 2 feet as per customizations and so it can be carried along also accompanied along walking like a friend of the kid. It is very safe as it obeys all ASIMO rules and regulations for being a humanoid robot.
• MONTEA has self-learning capabilities due to its RZ-AI Neural Schema as coded by Ms. Monaz V. Gandhi and it can recognize and modify the error functionality of its embedded program. It has senses to talk like a human based on the Neural Schema.
• MONTEA is programmed using Microsoft Robotics Studio and RZ-AI Robotic Development Schema will all its modules created and marked as copyrights of Ms. Monaz V. Gandhi.

• MONTEA under specific conditions can be controlled by Windows Mobile or Windows PC to make it work as per requirement of teaching the kids. The presently coded content is to teach only pre-school students but later on even higher education contents will be added to its Neural Schema. It has an upgraded memory of 100 TB for storage of high quality media and data.
• MONTEA can access cloud data from One Drive and Google Drive along with other cloud storage options which makes it more versatile to access the stored data and media without even bothering about any storage space. It uses a special WI-MI system for communication to the cloud using its 100 MBPS connection speed.
• MONTEA can replicate its program and create a new MONTEA if both are connected using their special program replication joints.

 

Dr. Prachi Tejpal, Senior Research Scientist & Expert Neurologist, SXRC – Bengaluru after the end of the demonstration said, “This project (program) is entirely of private ownership and rights of Ms. Monaz V. Gandhi, Mumbai and we are glad to be witnessing such a huge creation that too with an aim to provide education to the pre-school kids. After witnessing this innovation, we can’t keep silent and hereby provide an announcement to honor the creator of MONTEA – Ms. Monaz V. Gandhi with SXRC CREATON Award at the AI-Prosthetics Launch Event in Bengaluru whose dates are going to be announced soon. Also, we announce to provide special invitation
to Ms. Monaz V. Gandhi to be a part of the AI-Prosthetics Launch event in Bengaluru as a Subordinate Chief Guest of the event and grace our event with her presence. Apart from these non-financial benefits, I would like to announce that SXRC will bear all the educational and higher educational including the PhD expenses of Ms. Monaz V. Gandhi if she is interested in further studies from now onwards. I along with the entire SXRC team congratulate Ms. Monaz V. Gandhi to be the First Indian Teaching Robot Creator and we wish her creation named
as MONTEA shall take education to different heights and improve the level of education in the entire country. We wish her all the best for her entire career and wish to see her soon gracing our event with her creative hands.”

ABOUT SYSTEMX RESEARCH CENTRE
SystemX Research Centre is the world’s Digital Innovation Centre which researches on transforming medical systems with software defined machines and solutions that include high end and precise quantum computing and artificial intelligence making them connected, responsive and predictive. SystemX shares this innovative knowledge with medical industry giants enabling them to form high quality medical instrumentation which works for the benefit of the patients.

Contact
Ms. Jairath Shah
SystemX Research Centre – PR Department
*Use contact form and quote the Press Release ID

 

17 Sep 2017 Article – Press Release

 

15th ZOCHILDAY


15th ZOCHILDAY MOMENTOUS MILESTONE

Sunday, December 3, 2017 is a day to be blocked by all Zoroastrian children. Due to an overwhelming response, all Registration Forms are to be submitted latest by November 15, 2017 to any one of the following:

  1. S.S.C. Schools : Mrs. Silloo Commissariat Tel. No. 23075591(9.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m.)

  2. Colaba & Cusrow Baug: Mrs. Jeroo R Irani Tel. No. 9920758587

  3. Godrej Baug, Neapean Sea Road, Kemps Comer : Mrs Yasmin U Dhanda Tel,No.: 9820343322

  4. Tardeo, Grant Road: Mrs. Dinaz Raimalwalla: Tel. No. 9769428280

  5. Dadar Mrs. Veera D. Mundroina Tel 9769801389/8779445962

  6. Mahim : Mr Kobad Kerawalla Mob. No. 9930468716

  7. Bandra: Mrs. Kashmíra Kapadia Mob. No.9819231825

  8. Western Suburbs :Mrs. Hutoxi D.AibaraTel, No. 26700583/9821227009

  9. Rustom Baug, Jer Baug, Mazgaon, Vikhroli and Eastern Suburbs2Mrs. Nilufer R. Dalal Tel. No. 9821582496

  10. Navroz Baug, Wadia Baug, Mr Nariman Mehta Tel. No. 022 24714244

  11. Thane :Mr. Bomi Boyce Tel. No. 9820333847

12 Pune: Mrs. Veera Patel Tel .No. 9850645908

For enquiries, please contact:
Mrs.Dinaz Raimalwalla:Tel. No. 9769426280
Mrs. Yasmin U Dhanda: Tel. No. 9820343322

COME, JOIN US IN MAKING THE 15TH ZOCHILDAY A GRAND AND MEMORABLE EVENT

Delhi Parsi Dharamshala


The Delhi Parsi Dharamshala is centrally located and offers comfortable and affordable accommodation in Delhi. Situated at Delhi Gate Metro Station, close to both the main railway stations, Connaught Place, Supreme Court, High Court and Pragati Maidan, it offers airy and spacious rooms that give you home-style comfort, equipped with modern amenities.

We also offer special attractive rates for large groups for weddings and other functions, long stay for students and working professionals.

roomsdpa@gmail.com

Delhi Gate Metro Station, Gate No 1,
Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg
New Delhi – 110002

http://www.delhiparsidharamshala.com/

SAXOPHONIST RYAN SADRI


SAXOPHONIST RYAN SADRI ON ADDING A MELODIOUS ZING TO A WEDDING

“I don’t perform at too many weddings in a season because I don’t enjoy playing Bollywood stuff — can’t relate!”

When you’ve been brought up a Parsi, nothing holds your imagination quite like cars, bikes, dhansak and English music do.

Ryan Sadri, a 33-year-old saxophonist, attributes his love for music to his Bawa upbringing. “My parents have always been a big influence on me. They pushed me to learn piano as a kid. Later, I picked up the guitar in college. That’s when my mum tried her hand at the sax, but found it too hard. So, suddenly, I had a new instrument at home with which I found a real connection!” says the Mumbai-based musician. Probed about what he loves most about the sax, Ryan outlines, “The fact that breathing into the instrument creates the sound is quite amazing. By itself, the sax can’t make any sound. So that connection between you and the sound of the horn is quite special…and spiritual, too.”

Ryan, who crossed over to the wedding sphere about five years ago, highlights the role his indie band, Something Relevant, had to play in the move. “The band was around for about 10 years and, initially, we’d write our own songs. We never played too many covers…so when we started getting wedding gigs, it was our chance to play not just our songs but also all the songs we loved and grew up with such as those by The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, MJ and Prince,” he explains. But even though he’s a much-sought-after musician, the 33-year-old’s upbringing has resulted in him being rather selective about the gigs he takes up. “I don’t perform at too many weddings in a season because I don’t enjoy playing Bollywood stuff — can’t relate! I do about two weddings a month, on average,” he states. But you’ll definitely want him to play Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healingon your big day because it’s his favourite, “especially the Hot 8 Brass Band version that was used in the movie Chef (2014)”.

With big wedding performances lined up November onwards, Ryan sure has his hands full. But that doesn’t stop him from getting out and enjoying himself. “I love the outdoors and am a complete sports freak. Scuba diving, trekking, kayaking, running, tennis…you name it!” he signs off.

Text by Tina Dastur. Photograph by Prerna Nainwal. Hair & Make-Up: Suraj Tiwari

http://www.vervemagazine.in/people/saxophonist-ryan-sadri-on-adding-a-melodious-zing-to-a-wedding

INTREGITY IS EVERYTHING!


We made a

Big Hoopla

When the

Cyrus Cylinder

Was showcased

A tiny little

Earthen cylinder

But on it was inscribed

A very  simple
But a potent

Powerful electrifying message

No matter how educated

Talented rich or cool

One believes one is

How one treats people

Ultimately tells all

As Integrity is everything!

We may be of

Any colour caste or creed

By “flashing one’s credit card”

Doesn’t secure one a “Seat”

He cares not for the

Earthly wealth one holds

But how many “Plus Points”

In one’s Gareban one holds

Last but not the least:
Never Judge someone by

The opinion of others

This brings me to the conclusion

(if I may repeat):

Rumours are spread by Haters

Spread by Fools

Accepted by Idiots

 

— Farida Bam