The Fascinating Story of Maneckji Limji Hataria
The Fascinating Story of Maneckji Limji Hataria; Scholar, Civil Rights Activist and Personne Particulièrement Extraordinaire!
In 1779, the sudden death of the Shah Karim Khan Zand threw Iran into turmoil.
Fearing for their safety, two wealthy Zoroastrian families left Kerman and made their way to Yazd and eventually reached the distant port city of Bombay in 1796. One of them was a beautiful girl named Golestan-Banu, daughter of a benevolent merchant Kai Khusrau-i Yazdyar.
After arriving in Bombay the Yazdyar family was helped and looked after by the local Zoroastrians and Golestan eventually married a Framji Bhikaji and settled into comfortable life, however, her heart ached for her land Iran and her city Kerman.
She urged her father, husband and later her children to help her people in Kerman. Inspired by her, Golenstan’s husband Framji spent considerable time and fortune in assisting Iranians trying to find passage to Bombay.
In 1834, her eldest son Burjorji Framji set up a fund to assist Irani arriving in Bombay. 20 yrs later, her grandson Meherwanji founded an ambitious organisation ‘Society for Amelioration of the Condition of Zoroastrians in Iran’ and this would have far reaching consequences.
As the 1st emissary of this Society, the Surat (India) born “Manekji” arrived in Iran in April 1854 and with his charity, honesty, tact & patience in negotiations, and moral and physical courage, literally changed the fate of Zoroastrians in Iran in the next few decades.
His efforts led to the 1882 repeal of jazia on Zoroastrians by the Shah, secular education for Zoroastrian boys & girls (which was unheard at that time) and achieved universal literacy, became mostly urban and relatively wealthy in just a generation.
Manekji is fondly remembered by the Zoroastrian of Iran and a bronze bust of his placed in the famous atash bahram of Yazd. The social and economic success of Zoroastrians in Iran owes it to the generous support they received from the Indian Zoroastrians, aka “Parsi”.