Statue of ‘Lion of Bombay’ turns 100
It is perhaps Mumbai’s most famous statue in honour of a man described as the ‘Lion of Bombay’. Every day, thousands of tourists admire the imposing statue of Sir Pherozeshah Mehta outside the municipal headquarters building at CSMT in south Mumbai.
On April 3, 1923, the bronze statue was unveiled by Governor of Bombay George Lloyd to commemorate the services rendered to the city by Mehta, who was the father of municipal government in Bombay.
A month after he died in November 1915, a public meeting was held in the Marine Lines Maidan where a memorial committee was appointed to raise funds. According to The Times of India, a sum of Rs 80,000 was collected and in October 1917, it was resolved that a statue be erected in his memory. A distinguished sculptor, Derwent Wood of London, was requested to make a bronze statue, which cost £4,000 or about Rs 60,000. The life-size statue showed Sir Pherozeshah in a pose during a “great oratorical effort either on the public platform or in the municipal council hall, and of his peculiar gesticulations when trying to emphasise his points’’.
“The spot on which the statue has been erected is on the south-east corner of the municipal office, which was tacitly acknowledged to be meant for Sir Pherozeshah’s statue for many years before his death and it has at served its destined purpose,’’ reported The Times of India on March 30, 1923.
“The statue is all the more attractive on account of the elevated pedestal on which it stands and from which it towers over similar memorials in the neighbourhood. The pedestal has been designed by the well-known architect Mr George Wittet, and with its adjuncts has cost Rs 20,000,’’ the paper reported.
The ceremony to unveil the bronze statue was held on Tuesday, April 3, 1923, in front of a large gathering including Lady Mehta and George Lloyd, Governor of Bombay.
Mehta, the uncrowned king of Bombay and a prominent figure in local city politics, was involved with drafting the 1872 municipal reform Act. As one of its founding members, he also presided over the Indian National Congress in 1890.
Addressing the session, he said: “All movements of the kind in which we are concerned pass through several phases as they run their course. The first is one of ridicule. That is followed, as the movement progresses, by one of abuse, which is usually succeeded by partial concession and misapprehension of aim, accompanied by warnings against taking ‘big jumps into the unknown’. The final stage of all is a substantial adoption of the object of the movement, with some expression of surprise that it was not adopted before. Well, gentlemen, we have pretty well passed the first two stages. We have survived the ridicule, the abuse, and the misrepresentation…’’
Once when someone proposed erecting a statue of King George V in front of the Bombay municipal head office, Sir Pherozeshah roared: “What business has he to be placed in front of the corporation building? He has done nothing for the city.’’ The resolution was defeated by the corporation, but not before someone taunted him: “Do you want your own statue to be erected there?’’ Pherozeshah shot back, “Why not? I have served this city for 30 years.’’ Ultimately it did happen. Sir Pherozeshah’s statue was placed by unanimous vote on the spot where King George’s was to be—in all its imperious splendour.
EXCELLENT – WHAT A BREED AND A TRUE ZOROASTRIAN
WHERE & WHAT ARE THESE DAYS OF ZOROASTRIANS – WE NEED TO EMPHASIS ON OUR TODAYS ZOROASTRIAN YOUTHS PLEASE –
INSTEAD FIGHTING WITHIN THE ZOROSTRIANS ASSOCIATIONS AND INSTITUTES – PLEASE WAKE UP GUYS
OUR YOUTHS NEEDS US IMMEDIATELY
This is a great Zoroastrian Legacy .These Zoroastrian legends battled against all odds ,colonialism ,overt racism and displayed extraordinary high order of Zoroastrian basic tenets .They also made a very significant contribution towards Indian Independence.. Amongst these giants was also Dadabhoy Naoroji who was the ” Grand Old Man of India” who was the first ASIAN (let alone India) to raise his voice against anti-colonialism. .He was the mentor , teacher , guide, and support of Mahatma Gandhi. De facto he was regarded as the “Father of Gandhi”-does he then not become the Grandfather of the nation-just a thought! He was the man who first seeded the idea of swaraj into Gandhi .Gandhi always looked up to Dadabhoy for guidance and strategy. ” It is impossible to think what anti-colonialism would look without him, ” according to the School of Oriental and African Studies(SOAS, LONDON). I think Shapurji Pallonji has gifted a chair in that Institute. History books vastly understate the huge significance Dadabhoy Naoroji made in the 20th Century . Note : 65 countries gained their independence post 1947 (check it on google) .Why are the Indian History Books ( let alone Western studies) so minimal in highlighting this immense contribution of Dadabhoy Naoroji? As for current Zoroastrian Youths, I think Jame is trying to showcase our youth in Academics, sports and Performing arts. But here, we are talking about a much larger ZOROASTRIAN impact (a Legacy) on Macro-scale to humankind, civilization and History.