A decade of bonding, praying together at Bhikha Behram Well
The initiative of holding Parsi community prayers every month on Ava Roz (day of water) is completing 10 years on Friday
Once a month, 80-year-old Parsi businessman Nariman Mody ensures he stops by at Bhikha Behram Well at a corner of Cross Maidan in south Mumbai. For Mr. Mody, the humbandagi or praying together is a good opportunity to catch up with fellow Parsis. This initiative of community prayers every month on Ava Roz (day of water) is completing 10 years this week.
“Barring three to four times when I was unwell or someone in my family was unwell, I have not missed the humbandagi for the past 10 years,” said Mr. Mody, a Grant Road resident.
The idea of organising the prayers was thought of by community members Hoshaang Gotla and Perzon Zend in 2009, and they approached the trustees of the well. “They were very supportive of the idea,” said Mr. Gotla. They started with leaner crowds of 20 to 30 people and now see up to 200 to 300 Parsis, especially on the weekends.
“A lot of bonding takes place when people pray together. We wanted to create that atmosphere,” he said.
The Ava Roz, when Parsis pray to the divinity of water, falls on different days every month. Bhikha Behram Well, which is a rich source of water, is a perfect religious place for such a gathering. Viraf Kapadia, one of the five trustees of the well, said it is a significant religious place for the community. “Dating back to 1725, the well was built by Parsi gentleman Bhikaji Behram, who came to Bombay on foot all the way from Bharuch,” said Mr. Kapadia.
The monthly prayer is followed by a talk delivered by several people from the community. From senior priests to religious scholars, many Parsis have delivered the talks over the past 10 years. On October 25, for the 10th year celebration of humbandagi, Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) trustee Noshir Dadrawala has been invited to deliver a talk on the topic, ‘Pray together, stay together’.
“I have delivered talks at Bhikha Behram Well earlier too,” said Mr. Dadrawala. The gathering is a great way of getting the young and old together, he said. “The crowd fluctuates every time. But when Ava Roz falls on a weekend, the place is packed,” he said.
However, the news of Mr. Dadrawala delivering the talk to mark the 10th year has not gone down well with some Parsis, who consider him a reformist. Mr. Kapadia said, “Mr. Dadrawala has delivered talks at the event many times. The platform is open for all community members, including trustees of BPP.”