Kekoo Nicholson, President Of The Cricket Club Of India (CCI), Passed Away Last Morning At Parel’s Global Hospital Of A Liver Ailment
Kekoo Nicholson. File Pic
Kekoo Nicholson, president of the Cricket Club of India (CCI), passed away last morning at Parel’s Global Hospital of a liver ailment. He was 63. He had been ailing for sometime, and in his absence, the club was being run by vice president Premal Udhani. He said, “The CCI is officially in mourning… the club has cancelled all functions till Thursday as a mark of respect for Kekoo Nicholson.”
Udhani said, “On Thursday evening, we will hold a meet in the club, ‘Remembering Kekoo’, where members will speak about their association with him and the memories they shared with him. We do not want to call it a condolence meet. This is because Kekoo was full of laughter, full of life.”
Udhani said this was the first time in the history of the club that a president had passed away while in office. Nicholson had been CCI president for three and a half years and his term would have ended in September 2018. “The club will function the way it has for the past few days. Post the ‘Remembering Kekoo’ meet, we will decide on a day to hold a meeting, when the 15-person club committee will officially elect a president to complete Kekoo’s term till September,” added Udhani. Nicholson was the first cousin of ex-chairmen of the RWITC Dr Cyrus Poonawalla and Zavaray Poonawalla. He was also the owner of Selvel.
Geared to go: Hakim, Bhumgara (standing) and Bapasola with their paraphernalia before the tour.
Long before the sun had peeped above the horizon on 7 August 1924, the last traces of old Damascus had faded from our view. Our objective now was Jerusalem, which lay 190 miles from Damascus. The road connecting these two centres on the whole is well metalled, save some miles of very rough track. By mid-day we had traversed 41 miles and arrived at El Kuneitra in time for lunch. El Kuneitra is a pleasant town populated mainly by Circassians. We were taken to a police station and our passports were examined and endorsed as we were now leaving the province of Syria. While we were at Damascus an account of our enterprise had appeared in a local newspaper. The commissioner of police at El Kuneitra had read the same and on our arrival invited us to stay with him for a day. Of all things, time was the last thing we could spare. We declined his invitation with many thanks and after lunch and tea with him took to road at three in the afternoon. With the sun beating down upon our unsheltered heads mercilessly, it was with difficulty that we negotiated the ascents which we encountered on leaving El Kuneitra. We were not in luck however. When the descent commenced, we found the track very rough, strewn with stones of no mean sizes and it was a hard task to prevent our machines from bumping against one stone in trying to avoid unpleasant contact with another. The track grew worse and worse. Finally, we dismounted and walked; even then one or the other would put his foot on an apparently firmly-embeded stone, only to find himself lying on the ground, with the machine and baggage performing similar stunt. We crossed a river bridge; this is the boundary line separating Syria from Palestine. We were accosted here by policemen who noted down all our details and only then permitted us to proceed. This place is called Jisr Benat Yakub, meaning ‘Bridge of the Daughters of Jacob’. It derives its curious name either from the traditional belief that Jacob once crossed the river Jordon at this spot, or perhaps from the fact that a number of Jacobian nuns were put to sword during the Crusades. A little distance from this place lies a Jewish Colony where we passed the night.
Geared to go: Hakim, Bhumgara (standing) and Bapasola with their paraphernalia before the tour.
From Jisr Benat Yakub, Tiberias, on the sea of Gallillee, is 24 miles. The mid-day sun had not yet attained its zenith in the sky when we found ourselves listening to the music of the waves of the sea munching our rude fare. A time there was when the shores of this lake were hemmed in by busy bustling and thriving towns. Today Tiberias and one or two squalid villages only stand sentinel over the waters of this lake. The Sea of Gallillee is really a lake, measuring 14 miles from north to south and has an average width of 6 miles. It lies 680 ft below the level of the Mediterranean Sea. At its north end, the River Jordan enters through a delta of its own deposit; the river resumes its southerly course and pours its contents into the Dead Sea. It was in the vicinity of the Sea of Gallillee that the Blessed Redeemer opened his career and gave to the world his immortal parables of the lost Sheep and of the net. Of the Sower the Wheat and the Tares, of the Grain of Mustard seed and to the Lilies, which toil not, nor spin. These flowers more glorious than the Soloman glory still abound in the vicinity of this hallowed lake.
Almost every town in Palestine has a history. Tiberias is mentioned in the New Testament. Herod Antipas, built the city probably upon the site of the cemetery of Rakkath, some twenty years after the death of Christ. For centuries past this town is noted for its hot water springs. A dip in the Hammam-e-nabi-Slleman, as these springs are called, cost us each about two Egyptian Piasters. The waters of the spring, which maintain a temperature from 130° to 142° Fahr are locally considered an unfailing cure for rheumatism. With Tiberias is also connected a Jewish legend, viz., that when the Messiah arrives, he will emerge from the Lake, collect His people at Tiberias and march triumphantly to Safed ‘where His throne will be established for ever’.
Back home: (from left) Hakim, Bapasola and Bhumgara.
Leaving Tiberias, that afternoon we had to encounter steep gradients. The uneven nature of this district entails considerable hardships on the travellers. The redeeming feature of the tour through these regions is abundance of fruits. Passing Kefr Kenna en route we arrived at Nazareth. If Kefr Kenna be what many believe it, namely, the true Cana of Gallilee then it was at this place that Lord Jesus performed his first miracle at the marriage feast. Nazareth is too well known throughout Christendom to need any mention in detail. It was at Nazareth that Jesus spent his early days. We find no mention of this place in the Old Testament. When Lord Jesus moved and taught Nazarene was an epithet of derision. We did not tarry long at Nazareth. However, we paid a visit to the renowned Church of the Annunciation situated within the precincts of the Latin Monastery. The building is 69 ft long, 48 ft wide with marble steps on either side leading to the high altar. Below it is the Crypt. From here we reached the Chapel of Angel and the Chapel of Annunciation. Another place of interest in the vicinity of the orthodox Church of Annunciation is a spring the waters of which are conveyed to Ain-Miriam, or Mary’s well. The well undoubtedly is the one frequented by the Virgin. Even today the pretty Nazarene women strut about this place with their pitchers, which they fill from the fountain. We did not stay for more than a couple of hours at Nazareth.
A journey of 19 miles brought us to Jenin, a beautiful little town lying between the mountains of Samaria and the Plane of Jazreel, with luxuriant gardens bearing testimony to the fertility of the soil, which is a volcanic decomposition. From here a spiral ascent once again pestered us. We left Nablus, the capital of the Samaria province. Populated mainly by Mohammedans, Nablus is a town with considerable trade looking to its population of 16,000. Two railway lines branch from Nablus. One connects this town with the Lydda Haifa line at Tulkeram and the other with Haifa-Damascus line at Afule. From Nablus onward our uphill journey continued till we arrived at Jerusalem. Throughout the route, grapes, figs, olives, and pomegranates were seen in abundance. Half-a-piaster could buy us figs in incredible quantities. As we proceeded further we could obtain fruits cheaper and cheaper, until all that we had to do was to get them for the mere asking and at several places even without that much trouble. Occasionally an extraordinarily luxuriant bough of grapes tempted us to break our journey and collect a hatful of them. At times, our poaching excursions were challenged by the owner of the vineyard who saw us trespassing upon his property with such impunity. Often we were mistaken for soldiers, a confusion of identity in our favour, for the farmer of the district as a rule is loath to incur the displeasure of the members of the military. More often than not our own invasion of the vineyard was looked upon with indifference as the owner knew he had more of the commodity than he could ever dream of disposing off, and that a handful or two would not diminish the stock at his disposal.
On our arrival at Jerusalem we knocked at the gates of Casa Nova, a Franciscan hospice at which travellers and pilgrims find boarding and lodging gratis. At first a friar declined to accommodate us, though in the end we successfully persuaded him to do so. We stayed at Jerusalem for four days. Modern Jerusalem has a population of 63,000 people of which more than half are Jews and the rest almost in equal number Christians and Muslims. The city is divided into four quarters by two intersecting streets, inhabited by four nationalities, viz., the Jewish, the Mohammedan, the Armenian and the Grœco-Frankish. Running right round the city is a wall with an average height of 38 ft, and a length of 2½ miles. The wall is pierced by eight gates, each of which bears a distinct name. In 1917, from under the Crescent, Jerusalem came under the Cross, when General Allenby entered the city.
The Holy Sepulchre is undoubtedly the chief centre of attraction in the city. Thousands of pilgrims journey to this place from distant lands to pay their homage at the shrine of the Lord Jesus. To the Christian, the Jew and the Mohammedan the city is an object of profound veneration. In a corner of the city, in the northwest, lie the buildings comprising the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, hidden from gaze by many buildings that cluster round it. The interior is divided into two parts the Rotunda and the Orthodox Cathedral.
Within the precincts of the Holy Sepulchre are also the Chapel of St Helena, and Chapel of Invention. Tradition goes that from the spot where the latter Chapel is built, Empress Helena, who received divine direction stood and watched, as three Crosses under her instructions were being excavated. Popular belief is that with the three crosses, nails, a crown of thorns and an inscription bearing the words ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’ were discovered. Bishop Macarius, who was observing the excavations devised an ingenious method of finding out the Cross on which Lord Jesus was crucified. Each cross was taken to an ailing woman. At the touch of the true Cross, its related health and vigour were restored to the sickly woman.
We also visited the chapel on Golgotha or Calvary. Here we saw a marble slab with a hole in it, wherein the base of the Cross was inserted. On the right and on the left were similar sockets in which the crosses of the two thieves were planted. Nearby these sockets was the ‘Cleft in the Rock’, 10 inches deep, which tradition goes, was ‘hewn when the veil of the temple was rent twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake and the rocks rent’.
On 16 August we left Jerusalem, ‘the city set on a hill’. A journey of 5.5 miles brought us to Bethelhem with its Church of Nativity. The solid building comprising this church lie at the eastern end of the town, and the church is regarded as one of the oldest churches in the world. Beneath the Choir is the cave and the Manger, where Christ was born amidst the rudest surroundings.
During our journey from Jerusalem to Beersheba via Hebron, we had done with mountain climbing and were now journeying on a sandy plain. From Beersheba two roads branch off, one going to Gaza, and the other to Khan Unis. We followed the latter road as on enquiries we learned that the track to Khan Unis was hard. Now that we had negotiated and done with mountains for the time being, we found ourselves crossing sandy tracks once again. There is little to choose between a journey across the desert and a journey over a mountain. Halting at a police station at Khan Unis for some time we resumed our journey. Barely a mile was covered when the track was totally obliterated by fine white sand. Our feet sank deep into the sands and our machines left deep trails behind them as we dragged them with great difficulty. To all indications we were now on the verge of another great desert—the Senai. We were cautioned by many well wishers to abandon the project of a journey on cycle through this desert, as before us none had ever succeeded in performing similar feat. We were advised to requisition the aid of the ‘ships of the desert’—camels, for our purpose. We were assured that of the 125 miles of vast sandy stretch not an inch of ground would be hard enough to permit cycling and sure enough it was so. All through the journey we had to pass ankle-deep through a sea of sand. The Senai Military Railway runs between Gaza and Kantara for 155 miles and we moved along the railway track. Necessity is the mother of invention. By now we were tired of dragging our machines and so we devised a plan of rolling them on the rails, with us walking on the sleepers. But this was not very ingenious, as it necessitated a concentration of attention on the cycle wheels and the rails. Directly the eyes were removed from the rails even for a moment our machines would be derailed. It also made impossible for us the appreciation of the landscape. Anyway this was not a real grievance. What could any one have to see in the barren desert except sand and a merciless sun. Miles after miles we walked looking at the wheel and rails, and the rails and the wheels, till our necks ached. We arrived at Rafa in the evening. Rafa produces a rich crop of watermelons, which are consigned from here to Port Said and Suez. About two miles from Rafa lies the boundary station between Palestine and Egypt. When therefore we entered Rafa we left behind the Continent of Asia and set on foot over the Dark Continent. Rafa means in Hebrew a giant and according to Second Book of Samuel this place was colonized by giants. Be that as it may, we left Rafa the next day at dawn. As we were following the railroad, we resumed our usual practice of securing from the various stationmasters’ declaration that we did not travel by train any portion of our journey.
With Cyclists Around the World: By Adi B. Hakim, Jal P. Bapasola and Rustom B. Bhumgara, Roli Books, 376 pages, Rs350.
There is little of interest to be seen in the Senai Desert. We came across the carcass of camels, lying half embedded in the white sand, relics of some dumb creatures, perhaps slain to solve the problem of water in the desert. They bore adequate testimony to risk both man and animal alike ran in their journey. From Rafa we came to El Arish and then proceeded to Maaden. Before we reached Maaden, we were caught in a sand storm. By the time we emerged from the storm, which fortunately for us was of short duration, we were powdered from top to toe with sand. We retraced our last route with difficulty and proceeded. When weather is very rough, even camels find it difficult to make any headway. These poor beasts of burden turn round every now and then as a blast of wind sweeps into their unprotected eyes and nostrils, the piercing sand of the desert. Then once again they turn round and proceed on their irksome journey. Even the native Bedouine— born and brought up in the desert—is seen walking along the railroad and shunning the interior, when the risk of being lost in the sand dunes is very great. En route we passed railway stations, which had been closed for want of traffic or trade. We passed Mazar, walking and leading our bikes of course with our eyes stuck fast to the rails. We passed El Abd with our eyes still glued to the rails. Romani was passed and yet our eyes could not be removed from the rails. Only a few miles from the Kantara East we got good metalled road. That afternoon in Kantara we halted at a shopkeeper’s place.
Kantara is Arabic for ‘bridge’. For countless centuries Kantara marked a great crossing place for all who crossed from Egypt to Palestine. In the time of one of the Pharaohs, Kantara formed the farthest outpost of Egypt. Few routes have echoed so often to the tramp of great armies from the days of Pharaoh to those of Napoleon and hence to the recent war. Along these railway lines are huge water mains, which conveyed water from the Nile to Gaza, when General Lord Allenbey conducted his campaign here. It was ‘a strange fulfilment of an old tradition that when the waters of the Nile flow into Palestine the Turks would loose their country to the English.’
Kantara occupies a strategic position midway on the Suez Canal. In the last World War many a glorious encounter was fought for the possession of this point of vantage. Even today the travellers find relic of the last war scattered over the shell-torn area.
Bhumgara took a dip into the Suez Canal, swimming the distance between Kantara East and Kantara West. The cycles were transported by a ferry to the opposite shore. At the Egyptian Customs House of Kantara West, a duty of half-a-pound was levied on our machines on which a seal of the Customs Authority was affixed. We were told we would be entitled to a refund of the duty if within six months of our entry we left the country with our bikes. The seals affixed were for identification of the machines. This seal is to be valued at half-a-pound; you smash the seal in a fall and your half-pound disappears instantly into the government treasury.
…Leaving Kantara, on 24 August in the early hour of the morning, we succeeded in covering 115 miles, the distance from Kantara to Cairo in the course of one day. It was not, however, without considerable difficulty. The road from Kantara to Ismalia is devoid of vegetation and at times degenerates into sandy patches over which cycling is impossible. From Ismalia to Cairo the whole region displays green and luxuriant crops. By the time we rested at Bilbeio for the afternoon we had covered 73 miles. A ride of 39 miles from our last halting place brought us to Cairo even while the sun lingered on the horizon as if waiting to congratulate us on our record run.
As we entered Cairo, we were greeted with a din and clatter characteristic of a huge metropolis. Cairo, the Egyptian metropolis was humming with throng and activities. The honk of the cars, the hum of the tramcars, the creaking of the cart wheels, the none too polite language of the hack-victoria driver when he finds his progress impeded, the brawls at toddy shops—all vest Cairo with a marked resemblance to Bombay. In fact the localities of Bombay seemed transplanted here. With its population of 800,000, Cairo is a city that outrivals Bombay in many respects, though commerce and industry of this place sink into insignificance before those of Bombay. Cairo is clean and free from one ugly feature that mars all appearance of cleanliness in Bombay. Two systems of tramcars ply in the streets of Cairo. Tramcars bearing resemblance to those in Bombay but with three classes run in the streets of the city proper. The system of tramcars, designated as metro-tram, locally, serves the needs of suburban population. Outside the city, these cars attain considerable velocity and ply over a distance of 15 miles. Fares are charged according to distances. During our stay at Cairo for a week we paid a visit to the Egyptian museum, the Zoological gardens, and the world-renowned pyramids, which rank not without justification, as one of the Wonders of the World.
The visit to the Egyptian museum is more than worth the trouble. Here you find ‘mummies’ or embalmed bodies of ancient kings and celebrities. The mummies are an object of gruesome interest and they fascinate imagination. One shudders to recall that many of these relics of human organisms which once in dim distant ages moved about with all the pomp and glory, not content with continent-wide kingdoms, now rest content with six feet of stone casing. Despite the undoubtedly great antiquity of these mummies one sees the nails on the finger, the hair on the head and teeth in good condition. Age has shrivelled up the frame but the shrunk human structure conveys faithful representation of what it must have been when alive. It is not only in Egypt that you find mummies. They have been discovered in Persia, Peru and Mexico too.
Old story, new life
This reprint was a quest fulfilled for Adi Hakim’s son
Gen next: The son and daughter-in-law of Adi B. Hakim, Vadodara-based Dara Hakim, 73, and his wife, Roda, 63.
Dara Hakim’s father was not one to boast about or even dwell on the epic journey he, along with his companions, had undertaken as a young man. Only after much goading by Dara and his six younger brothers would Adi Hakim occasionally regale them with an anecdote or two. Usually, they were exhorted to go and “have adventures of their own”. Dara attributes his father’s reserve and modesty to his humble background. Like his fellow adventurers, whom he first met at the Bombay Weightlifting Club, Adi Hakim came from a solid middle-class background.
Nevertheless, Dara had always nursed the desire to see ‘With Cyclists Around the World’ in print again. Fortunately for him, his wife Roda shared his enthusiasm. His first attempt was to contact Khushwant Singh, then the redoubtable editor of the ‘The Illustrated Weekly of India’, in the late 1970s. He got no encouragement whatsoever.
The book, Dara was told, would be of little interest to anyone. Some years later, Roda and he were surprised to see photos and an excerpt from ‘With Cyclists…’ in a book commemorating Asiad 82, the Asian Games which were held in New Delhi in 1982.
Some more years passed. Then, one day, Roda happened to show the fragile old copy of ‘With Cyclists…’ to her friend, the novelist Esther David. David read the book and couldn’t imagine this bit of valuable history being consigned to oblivion.
She gave Roda a list of publishers to contact. They all said it was a wonderful book but, for one reason or another, didn’t say much beyond that. Roda’s persistence paid off when the Delhi-based Roli Books decided to bring it out again.
Dara doesn’t want only nostalgia and history buffs to read the book; echoing his father’s sentiments, he hopes it will inspire today’s youngsters to undertake adventures of their own. (Himanshu Bhagat)
Livemint – First Published: Sat, Apr 12 2008. 12 07 AM IST
Health Advocacy – at SNDT Churchgate on Monday March 19 at 2pm on the 5th floor
Dr Shroff will discuss the social determinants of health–income, social status, education, housing and so forth and talk about taking action on these determinants of health, with aim of keeping communities healthy.
Reproductive Health--tentative topic – at SNDT Santacruz / Juhu around March 8, 2017
Dr Shroff will discuss childbirth practices, the legalization and regulation of midwifery and challenges in Canada. She will reflect on Canadian midwifery vis a vis midwifery issues in India and other nations.
Dr Peshotan Katrak – Rehab Physician and head priest receives Australia Day honours
Dr Katrak was honoured for his significant service to rehabilitation medicine, to medical education and to the Zoroastrian community in Sydney as their high priest.
Born in Mumbai in 1944, he received his MD from Mumbai University, MRCP in London and then completed training in the specialty of Rehabilitation Medicine (FAAPMR) from California, USA. He migrated to Australia in 1975 with post-graduate qualifications from three continents.
It was the fourth continent – Australia – which brought him greatest satisfaction in personal and professional circles. Married to Shernaz he is the father of two sons, Sohrab and Arash. Peshotan was among the pioneers of Rehabilitation Medicine in Australia. “At that time there were only a handful of fully qualified specialists as there was no program for young doctors in this field in Australia”, he said.
For the interest of our readers we add a tribute by our ex-Karachiite Hohang Sohrabji Bhandara who now lives in Australia: “I had an industrial accident in 1997 and was hospitalised for over three months, and was very depressed. One morning I saw this gentleman sitting next to my bed and he introduced himself and made me feel very easy. He assisted me throughout the time I was in hospital, and sent me to one best rehab. His presence and words were enough. Dr Peshotan, you did not know me and wonder how you came to know about me, but you came as an Angel in disguise. I will never forget you as long as I live. God bless you and your family.”
Akuri & A Pinch Of Hope: A Feel Good Short Film That’ll Leave You With A Lingering Smile
Two men stumble upon each other at an Irani Cafe and what happens next will leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling.
How many times have you seen movies or videos about a man who is this close to giving up, but then an ‘angel’ appears and saves him from the darkness? AKURI & A Pinch Of Hope, a short film by KARA Studios is yet another (not so) rehashed version of the same old tale: You’ve got a lot to live for, don’t throw your life away.
Sadiq Sheikh and Cyrus Irani are two people who are poles apart in their characteristics. They randomly stumble upon each other at a cafe and what transpires between them changes Sadiq’s life forever. You guessed it, Cyrus Irani unknowingly teaches Sadiq a lesson. The main component used to teach him this lesson is Akuri – a spicy scrambled egg dish eaten in Parsi cuisine of India.
The film begins with some beautiful shots of the real Mumbai. The kind of frames that remind you of sunny days when you’d sit in your college canteen, and sip lemonade. The conversation between the protagonists is set in a quaint little Parsi cafe, and the sprinkle of Farsi is particularly heartwarming. Cyrus sits next to Sadiq and goes on to compare the journey of life to the complex flavors of his favorite dish- Akuri. He makes some heart-warming points as he beautifully compares life to the varied yet coherent ingredients used in the preparation of Akuri, and this changes Sadiq’s decision of ending it all. His words make Sadiq realize how hope is always an arm’s length away.
Watch the short film right here:
These 20 minutes might not change your life or alter the way you think drastically, but it’ll leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside and serve as a reminder to love yourself, even when times are tough.
Now, who’s in the mood for some delicious scrambled eggs?
Launched on September 1 last year, Parsika is an effort by four Zoroastrians to help our community do what it does best – eat to its heart’s content. As their Facebook page so honestly puts it – Parsika aims to connect those who love good food with those who make it.
Marking their debut with probably the most lip-smacking Badam Paak this author has ever tasted, the company also markets a very authentic Vasanu, some truly melt-in-your-mouth Orange and Coffee Ganache and a range of evergreen Assorted Chocolates. All products are handcrafted using the finest ingredients possible. If you have still not experienced Parsika’s delicious delicacies, call + 91 98207 67726 for free home delivery.
In the short span since its launch, Parsika has won over the taste-buds of more than just the the Parsi community. Besides being available at over 30 restaurants and various retail outlets from Colaba to Jogeshwari, Parsika’s signature Badam Paak, Ganache and Chocolates have gained enormous popularity. From social and corporate gifts to office parties, social gatherings and other momentous occasions, Parsika is slowly but surely carving a special niche in the hearts (and tummies) of food lovers across the city. This publication wishes them the very best and looks forward to being delighted with the next delicacy that Parsika promises to tickle Parsi palettes with. Until then, Badam Paak khaava chaalo ji.
The annual Global Real Estate Awards recognize and reward excellence across the real estate in the region across multiple organizational as well as individual award categories. This particular award recognizes leaders who have most effectively shaped their business success, delivered outstanding growth and contributed to the well-being of the society. The Business Leader of the Year award is a fitting endorsement of all that the platform has achieved through the work of each and every member of the Piramal Finance & Piramal Housing Finance team.
Mr. Khushru Jijina expressing gratitude receiving the award said :
“I am truly honoured to receive the ‘Business Leader of the Year 2017’ award from Global Real Estate Congress and would like to thank the jury for recognising our journey. In a market that is otherwise plagued with strong cycles and transactional relationships, we have successfully built a model of long term partnership with the ability to cater to developers across the entire capital stack right from project equity and debt to housing finance for the end user. As recently as 2014, we started with assets under management (AUM) of Rs. 1,500 crores and today we have crossed Rs. 65,000 crores. I would sincerely like to thank Mr Piramal for giving me this opportunity to lead a young and dynamic team and I dedicate this award to each and every member of Piramal Finance and Piramal Housing Finance.”
This wonderful book has been shared by Er. Farhad Sidhwa, in memory of his father, Er. Godrej Dinshawji Sidhwa. Go through the contents and read up the erudite writings of a great Scholar on the ceremonies and rituals of Zoroastrianism.
Many people regard ‘Ritual’ and ‘Reason’ as being anti-thetical. In reality, both are complementary factors in the process of spiritual growth. Prayers and rituals are born of man’s adoration for that unseen power underlying the mystery of life. Each religion prescribes its own set of practices as a means of adoration or worship or to encourage humility and surrender, resulting in spiritual purification so necessary for inner growth. History affirms that prayers and rituals never completely die out, so long as they can offer the devout a spiritual link with Divinity or at another level, a sense of security.
Prayer and Ritual is what distinguishes religion from mere philosophy. In a manner of speaking, prayers and rituals help provide the spiritual experience of the celebration of religion. The purpose of prayers and rituals is to generate a conscious awareness which, in turn, provides the devout an insight into and an understanding of the nature of Divinity. Prayers and rituals also provide a medium through which one is able to relate and bridge himself to the unseen spiritual world.
Faith, of course, is very essential. A Master once observed, ‘In spiritual life, faith comes first, then knowledge and then experience.’ Faith begins where reason falters: faith falters where there is attention without intention. Faith is necessary for gaining wisdom. Faith should not be confused with blind belief. It is rather the aspiration of the soul to gain wisdom. If faith is constant, it takes the devotee to the realization of wisdom. Indeed, the way to wisdom is through faith. Prayers and rituals, when performed with understanding, feeling and concentration, become a powerful tool in the process of religious awareness. Take, for example, the most basic and simple ritual of performing the Kusti. Each time a devotee performs this ritual, he/she makes an unswerving commitment to reject and fight evil and promote the Will of Dadaar Ahura Mazda.
Avesta is not a ‘Dead Language’ as some Parsis choose to call it. It is a ‘Divine Language’. If Hindus consider Sanskrit as the language of the Devatas (Divinity), devout Zoroastrians consider Avesta as the language of the Yazatas. Our sacred manthravani is loaded with Divine Energy which can deeply influence the devotee and his or her surroundings when chanted with faith and devotion. In fact our Avestanmanthravani is Ahura Mazda’s Energy which devotees can vocalize in order to attune the spirit within with the Divine Essence of Universal Spirituality.
Just as food is essential for physical sustenance, prayer is vital for spiritual sustenance. Pray the Atash Niyaesh before a consecrated Fire and see how it energizes you – both physically and spiritually. Pray the Ardibehesht Yasht regularly and see how it heals some of your chronic ailments. Recite the Hormazd Yasht as often as possible and get a sense of Ahura Mazda’s all-round protection. Invoke Sarosh Yazata everyday and observe the enhancement in your spiritual consciousness. Invoke Behram Yazata whenever in trouble or Ava Yazata for knowledge and wisdom. The list is long……..!
And, every day, recite the two most powerful prayers of just 21 and 12 words respectively, the Yatha and Ashem. Pray one Ashem the moment you wake up in the morning and pray one just before you fall asleep. Pray one Ashem just before and after a meal or whenever a bad thought passes your mind. Make it a habit to pray one Yatha whenever you leave your home and before starting any new work. On a personal note, everyday, as a matter of habit, I pray one Yatha before starting my computer or before writing an important letter or article. It gives me not just a sense of being blessed but it also gives me a sense of higher purpose and the inclusion of a spiritual essence in whatever I plan to do.
Regular worship is also believed to ‘keep the doctor away’. In a study conducted by the Purdue University, of 1,500 people, researchers found that 36% of those who said they regularly worship, claimed excellent health, versus only 29% of those who said that they do not regularly worship; and a higher percentage of non-worshippers claimed poor health. Researchers believe that religious people are probably able to adjust their lives better to changing circumstances and stressful situations. Doubtlessly, it is regular prayer and ritual observances which sustain the Faith. Even, the Gatha of Asho Zarathushtra have been kept alive, not through mere philosophical interpretations, but through constant ritual usage.
With due apologies to Martin Luther King Jr., I would like to conclude with an adaptation of his belief – ‘To be a Zoroastrian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.’ But, yes, no point praying and then not living up to what one prays. Living an ethical, value-based life must go hand in hand with prayers. It is only when we integrate the positive affirmations of our prayers with righteous actions that we truly live the religion or make the Zoroastrian religion a way of life.
Tata expressed his gratitude and thanked the state for the award.
Tata Group patriarch Ratan Tata was today felicitated by Maharashtra government with a special award for his contribution to the development of the state.
Tata, who served as the chairman of the salt-to- software conglomerate for over three decades across two stints, was presented the Mahaudyog Sanman, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on his twitter handle late this evening.
Fadnavis presented the award to Tata during a special awards ceremony to recognise his contributions to industrial development at the second day of the ongoing Magnetic Maharashtra investor summit.
He was accompanied by industries minister Subhash Desai, tourism minister Jaykumar Rawal and junior home minister Pravin Pote Patil.
Other categories from where entrepreneurs were felicitated included information technology, women, exporters and small businesses.