Author Archives: yazdi

Bharuch Agiary



An approximately 1100+ years old Sir Shapoorji Bharucha Agiary lays nestled in the bylanes of bharuch it was built by the Zorastrian priests n was initially for the priestly class. It’s anniversary falls on 1st Oct. Sarosh Roj & Ardibehest Mah A scenic setting n pious atmosphere abound there. There will be a Jashan at 5.00 pm followed by manchi and Dinner their after, Do not miss this opportunity to visit this Agiary of ours which was brick by brick built by our dasturjis. Let’s get together n worship the holy fire n seek it’s blessings n be thankful to the noble souls of the dasturjis who undertook the work of building this Agiary without any help from even the behdins of the community. Such was the faith n integrity of our dasturjis towards our religion. Let us strive to keep the faith alive. Sethna Parivaar


Courtesy : Darayesh Katrak

175 years after Parsis flocked to Karachi, glimpses of the community’s fading history

On April 22, 1847, Parsis from across India assembled in Karachi as the foundation for the city’s first Tower of Silence was laid.


On the spring morning of April 22, 1847, when the Siberian migratory birds were singing a fond adieu to Karachi, the city on the edge of the Arabian Sea was welcoming groups of Parsis from across India. It was still six years before India would get its first train, so they all made the journey by cart and boat. They were gathered for the tana ceremony to lay the foundation of the city’s first dakhma or Tower of Silence.

Advertisements about this socio-religious event were published in many newspapers of Bombay including the Jame Jamshed. After the tana ceremony, a jashan thanksgiving ceremony was led by Fareedunji Behramji Jamasp-Asana, who was declared as first dastur or High Priest of the Parsis of Karachi.



But even though few Parsis remain, signs of their presence are still visible in the city. There are schools built by Parsis, hospitals, dispensaries, parks, administrative offices, the Karachi Parsi Institute and other places for social gatherings. There is also the Jehangir Kothari Parade, an elevated sandstone promenade.


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A Peek Into The Institution That Birthed Tata Leaders – Tata Administrative Service

Here is an excerpt from the book:

JRD had been deeply influenced by John Peterson who had worked for the ICS (Indian Civil Service) before joining the Tatas. His own experience as an Executive Assistant to the Britisher planted the idea in JRD’s mind that the Tatas needed something that would be akin to an ‘ICS for the Tatas’.

A cadre-based system like the ICS, or the IAS as the service was renamed after Independence, appealed to JRD. He had spent his early years in France and had also served in the French Army. In French society, cadres had come to represent a kind of social reference point. Some cadres also had military antecedents, but their collective identity had jumped the divide from being purely professional to commanding social position and status.

In French society, cadres had become aspirational social groups and part of the French elite. Moreover, the social esteem enjoyed by cadres was not shallow, merely based on titles. Instead, it was linked to a rigorous education system; premier educational institutions (the ‘Grandes Écoles’ were able to attract the best students) and the most reputed companies, chose to come to these institutions to look for bright managers. Over time, a virtuous circle developed—the institutions would select the best students, and the best French companies would recruit them, leading to these Grandes Écoles becoming the destinations of choice for more young bright students.

The concept of a cadre-based administrative system has also been part of Indian society for thousands of years. Kautilya’s famous text, Arthashastra, talks about a large and complex bureaucracy as a remarkable feature of the governance structure within the Mauryan empire. This was a well-organized, hierarchical, and cadre-based administrative system, which allowed the government to regulate the economic life of the kingdom. It was hugely aspirational for the common people to be part of this elite cadre. Kautilya laid down guidelines and qualifications for people who could be part of this cadre. The cadre envisioned by JRD had features of both the French and the Indian systems. JRD and the Superior Staff Recruitment Committee proposed the recruitment of young people from the best universities around the world, including Oxbridge. The importance of choosing officers for the cadre from ‘good families’, with an appropriate work ethic and values, was emphasized.

The Committee’s desire to recruit from well-known universities was also linked to the fact that there were no management institutes in India in the 1950s. Most people started to work straight after their graduation and worked their way up the corporate ladder. But JRD was clear in his direction to the Committee. He was looking for future leaders— people who would not only grow in the Group to take on leadership positions but also individuals who would perpetuate the Tata values across the Group companies. JRD envisaged that the members of the Tata cadre would be encouraged to move between different Tata companies and functional areas before settling down in one company. JRD was also mindful of the fact that the IAS was the most aspirational civil services cadre in India. It drew the best and the brightest from across the country. IAS officers, immediately after their induction, were given positions of considerable responsibility and power, and regularly moved between various departments/ministries of the Government of India. Those selected were looked upon as men and women of caliber and integrity by others. The administrative framework was described by India’s first Home Minister, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, as the ‘Steel Frame’ for governance in India.

By 1956, JRD had the recommendations of the Superior Staff Recruitment Committee before him, as well as the myriad inputs he had gleaned from a variety of sources in India, Britain, and France. He recognized the value of the equivalent of the ‘Steel Frame’—the Indian Administrative Service—represented for the Tata Group. The Tatas were not as complex or disparate as India, but JRD was convinced that the time had come for such a cadre to be put into place.

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The Parsi Connection With The Bandra Fair

The Bandra Fair is a week-long annual festivity that is being held this year in 2022 after two years (due to covid restrictions), from 11th to 18th September. Also known as ‘Mount Mary Fair’, it’s been observed at Bandra now for over three centuries, attracting thousands, rich or poor, Christian and non-Christian, to partake in the festivities.

It is believed that the idol of Mother Mary was brought to India by Jesuit priests in 1570 and worshipped in a small, simple structure on the hillock, where the current grand edifice stands. Later, Arab pirates attacked this old chapel and broke the right hand of the idol, believing it was made of gold. For two decades, (1741 to 1761) public worship at Mount Mary came to a halt. However, when the original idol was reportedly found in the sea by an unknown and unnamed Koli fisherman, it was ceremonially enshrined back on the mount at Bandra.

In those days, Mumbai was a cluster of seven islands. To reach Bandra, pilgrims had to sail from Mahim to Bandra in tiny, open boats, often perilous, especially during heavy September rains. In Bandra, people moved around on foot, bullock carts or horse-driven carriages. Pilgrims at the annual feast of Mother Mary also attracted vendors of food and other goods and that is the origin of the famed Bandra Fair.

The Mount Mary Basilica is dedicated to Mother Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. People who pray at this shrine claim that their wishes get fulfilled. This Basilica has hosted two popes (Pope Paul VI in 1964 and Pope John Paul II in 1986) and millions of pilgrims from all strata of society and all religious denominations.

The Parsi Connect – Jejeebhoy Family’s Contribution…

Sir Jamshedji Jejeebhoy’s wife, Lady Avabai had many sons but she craved a daughter. The daughter of Sir Rogerio Faria recommended that she write her wish for a daughter on a piece of paper and deposit it at the feet of the idol of Mother Mary at the shrine in Bandra. Soon thereafter, a girl was born to Lady Avabai and she was named Piroja. When Piroja turned eight, there was a storm and twenty boats capsized while crossing the Mahim creek to Bandra. Lady Avabai decided that the family would fund a causeway to connect the two islands by road. Mahim causeway is the gift of Lady Avabai Jejeebhoy to the city, dedicated to ‘Our Lady of the Mount’ or ‘Mount Mary’.

Bomonjee Steps: Three years after the Mahim causeway, the Jejeebhoy family also funded half the cost of the steps leading to the shrine. These are known as ‘Bomonjee Jejeebhoy Steps’. Today, when one approaches the steps that lead down to Hill Road, one may almost miss noticing a half-buried stone plaque or marker on one side of the steps, which reveals an old marker, where Bandra is referred to as Bandora (Bandorawala is also an old Parsi surname). This marker reveals that these steps were originally known as ‘Degrados de Bomonjee’ or ‘Bomonjee’s Steps’, acknowledging that these were built by Bomonjee, a scion of the Jejeebbhoy family.

Parsi Architect Of The Basilica: Shapoorjee Chandabhoy, another Parsi gentleman, served as the architect for the construction of the new edifice which we see today. Shapoorji initiated and oversaw construction of the Basilica despite the Bubonic Plague epidemic of 1895.

Economic And Spiritual Hub: Mumbai is not just an economic hub but also a great religious hub. Faithful old-timers believe that Mumbai city owes its vibrancy, economic prosperity and general safety from all calamities to the various places of worship, from the Mumbadevi, Mahalakshmi, Babulnath and other Hindu temples to the Haji Ali and Makhdoom Shah Dargah of the Muslims, the four Zoroastrian Atash Bahram and churches like Mount Mary, to name just a few. May these Sacred Spaces emanating positive energy fueled by the faith and prayers so many, keep all of us safe, healthy, happy and prosperous!

Noshir Dadrawala






The Parsi Connection With The Bandra Fair


Portraits, memorabilia: When ‘Aapri Rani’ Elizabeth lived in Parsi homes & memory

This fascination with the British monarchy is not just limited to Bomanbehram, 75. Every Zoroastrian Parsi and Irani home, it is said lightheartedly, has a portrait of the queen, be it Victoria or Elizabeth. The community often referred to Elizabeth as “Aapri Rani” (our queen).

The late Boman Rashid Kohinoor, who ran Britannia and Co. cafe, was well known for his fondness for the royal family. Bombaywalla Historical Works


Among Hutokshi Bomanbehram’s family heirlooms is a miniature carriage, all of eight inches, with eight horses and four riders. A closer look reveals it’s a model of the Gold State Coach, the gilded carriage that British monarchs, including Queen Elizabeth II, have ridden in for coronations since 1821. That’s not all — Bomanbehram also owns a 50-year-old Wedgwood plate depicting the Tower of London and coins minted with Elizabeth’s visage.

This fascination with the British monarchy is not just limited to Bomanbehram, 75. Every Zoroastrian Parsi and Irani home, it is said lightheartedly, has a portrait of the queen, be it Victoria or Elizabeth. The community often referred to Elizabeth as “Aapri Rani” (our queen). And when she died on September 8, this refrain rang out across social media posts — some sincere, some tongue-in-cheek.

Bomanbehram, 75, who worked as a secretary at a company, said: “My interest in the British Royal Family is more than I would have for any other royal family. I probably got it from my cousin.”

From the weddings of Charles and Diana and William and Kate to the death of Philip and the Platinum Jubilee—Bomanbehram has caught up with most of the Royal Family’s milestones. The thing she loved the most about the late queen of England — her dignity. “I always got the feeling she was alone. But there was a dignity about her. That’s what I felt drawn towards.”

 Press release photograph of Queen Elizabeth II during her royal visit to India in 1961. Passing by Oriental Mansion Building (Opp. NGMA)
Courtesy – Phillips Antiques, Mumbai
Noshir Dadrawala, 61, a former trustee of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, recalls framed portraits of the erstwhile queens at home as a child. The frames are now long gone and the portraits have been tucked away. Dadrawala said: “My parents were from the pre-Independence era, and many continued to cherish a fondness for the British though they accepted the transition [to Independent India]. This didn’t mean they were any less patriotic. Those like Dadabhai Naoroji and Bhikaji Cama were a part of the freedom movement.”

Dadrawala recalled it was common to hear of resemblances between family members and the royals. A generation ago, it was routine to find odd knickknacks and valuable souvenirs connected to the coronation and the jubilees across Parsi and Irani homes. Coins, biscuit tins, tea sets and miniature models were treasured objects.

Sarvar Irani, 61, who works as AGM of administration at a Mumbai mall, has a unique collection, however. Some thirty years ago, Sarvar started seeking out books, souvenirs, carte de visites, postcards and other paper ephemera connected to the British monarchy, especially Elizabeth and Diana. Her favourite is on the coronation of Elizabeth published in 1953 by the Illustrated London News. She has also preserved Time magazine’s commemorative issue on Diana from 1997, the year she died. The souvenir for Elizabeth’s funeral, scheduled for September 19, is next on her list. Sarvar keeps an eye on social media posts and listings in community newspapers for worthwhile acquisitions.

 Hutokshi Bomanbehram carriage
CREDIT: Mayur Tekchandaney
“I loved the queen for her poise,” she said, observing that even as Elizabeth’s visage aged across portraits and memorabilia, she still had “the same smile and the same twinkle in her eye”.

Sarvar’s daughter Sharon, 37, a writer and researcher, recalls pictures of Charles, Diana and baby William at her aunt’s home back in her childhood. She said: “They were framed photographs so, as a child, I thought they were my relatives. Charles has a Bawa nose, so why not, right?”

Sarvar’s mother migrated from Yazd in Iran to Bombay (as it was then known) before independence. Sharon said migration may be one of the reasons why her community is interested in collecting in general. “Some people may think these royal memorabilia convey an imperialist mindset but a lot of it is about loss. We are keenly aware of time shifting,” she said.

The Zoroastrians arrived in India mainly fleeing persecution in Iran (formerly Persia) since the 7th century AD. They integrated with local communities here, and when the East India Company set up its trading offices in India, they were able to secure jobs as agents. During the Raj, the British accepted Zoroastrians in their offices more easily than other communities, partly owing to their fair skin and their keenness on an English education.

 Sarvar Irani
Courtesy: Sharon Irani
“The recent generation has understood this postcolonial hangover. Sometimes we make fun of our grandparents when they share memories of the British,” said actor and singer Zervaan Bunshah. Bunshah, 28, is popular for his comic sketches on social media and Elizabeth’s death elicited a humorous take on his community. In a sketch titled “Aapri Rani” he performs as fictional Zoroastrian characters, each lamenting the death.

Bunshah said: “The joke is about our obsession with the queen. It’s meant as a joke. But, in the current scenario, audiences take it too seriously and think it’s anti-national. I have received abuses for my post along these lines.”

Thankfully, many Zoroastrians are in on the joke. A post that circulated on WhatsApp on the weekend of September 11, which the Government of India declared as a day of mourning for Elizabeth’s death, said every Parsi home must observe a condolence lunch “to commemorate the passing away of our beloved cousin, albeit 378 times removed.” The menu included mutton dhansak, a traditional funeral dish.

The Zoroastrian figure most notable for his fondness of the Royal Family is the late Boman Rashid Kohinoor. Kohinoor ran Ballard Estate’s popular Irani cafe, Britannia and Co., which his father had set up in 1923. Historian Simin Patel, who is researching Mumbai’s Irani cafes for her upcoming book, had met Kohinoor over the years until his death in 2019 at the age of 97. She observed that while Kohinoor was known to dote on the Royal Family, it was one of his many efforts to build rapport with the international patrons at his restaurant. She said, “This image [of his love of the British royals] was really cultivated in the 2000s. He was very bright, had views on several subjects and was up to date. The fascination with the British was quirky, and the laminated photos helped that, but he had 15 countries that he spoke about at ease.”
At Britannia and Co., Kohinoor hung a portrait of Elizabeth right next to one of Gandhi. His son Afshin, 61, who now runs the cafe, said the portrait was sent to his father, along with a letter from Elizabeth, around 2012, the year of the Diamond Jubilee. The portrait will stay in its place till he runs the cafe, but is not sure of its fate after that, especially since younger generations aren’t keen on it. He said: “My father is gone. The queen is gone. This is all history now.”
Written by Benita Fernando

Parsi Bagan Lane, a neighbourhood that played important role in freedom struggle

Streetwise Kolkata: Parsi Bagan Lane, a neighbourhood that played important role in freedom struggle

What is less well known is the lane’s association with the development of psychoanalysis in the subcontinent.

Parsi Bagan Lane in Kolkata. (Express Photo by Shashi Ghosh)

Not very far from the Sealdah railway station in Kolkata and just a short walk from the 108-year-old Raja Bazar Science College is a narrow lane at the city’s centre. The entire length of Parsi Bagan Lane can be covered in five minutes on foot, but it is one that is steeped in history.

While it is not clear where the “Bagan” came from, the lane’s connection to the city’s Parsi community is evident. But what is less well known is its association with the research and development of psychoanalysis as a subject in the Indian subcontinent.

 At 14, Parsi Bagan Lane stands the 100-year-old Indian Psychoanalytical Society, inside a building constructed in the tropical colonial style. (Express Photo)At 14, Parsi Bagan Lane stands the 100-year-old Indian Psychoanalytical Society, inside a building constructed in the tropical colonial style. The institute was founded by Dr Girindrasekhar Bose in January 1922, a year after Dr Bose was awarded the D Sc degree of Calcutta University for his thesis “The Concept of Repression”, a copy of which Bose had sent to Sigmund Freud.

In his book Freud’s India, author Alf Hiltebeitel examines the work and relationship of Bose and Freud, touching up on Bose’s research and his establishment of the society in Parsi Bagan Lane. Bose, writes Hiltebeitel, was the first physician in the subcontinent to start using psychoanalysis to mental-health patients.

In 1940, Bose founded the Lumbini Park Mental Hospital in the city, and a clinic at 14, Parsi Bagan Lane to treat outdoor patients. This clinic later went on to become the Indian Psychoanalytical Society’s address, but continues to operate in one section of the building.

 The neighbourhood of Parsi Bagan played an important role in the freedom movement. (Express Photo)For now, most buildings in the narrow lane appear to have escaped the destruction of the city’s unique architectural heritage. This lane is also one of the handful of locations in Kolkata where one can still see and sit on the red-oxide rowak, an elevated platform seen outside old houses. A classic architectural feature that created the concept of adda, these are visible only in small residential neighbourhoods now.

A few metres from the foot of this lane is a unique address important to the pre-Independence history of Calcutta. Just next door to the Brahmo Balika Shikshalaya (Brahmo Girls School) at 295/A, Acharya Prafulla Chandra Road is the Sadhana Sarkar Uddyan, also known as the Parsi Bagan Square.

 Parsi bagan Post office. (Express Photo)This park was also formerly known as Greer Park, after Richard Greer, who was Calcutta corporation chairman in 1901. However, it is not clear when the park’s name was changed to Parsi Bagan Square.

At this address, the Calcutta flag, the first unofficial flag of the subcontinent, was hoisted on 7 August, 1906, in protest against the partition of Bengal. The Calcutta flag, jointly designed by nationalists Sachindra Prasad Bose and Hemchandra Das Kanungo, who was also a member of the revolutionary group Anushilan Samiti.

 The Calcutta flag. (Photo: flag had three horizontal bands in orange, yellow and green, with eight half-opened lotuses on the orange stripe on top representing British India’s eight provinces. The green strip at the bottom had the symbols of sun and an Islamic-style crescent moon in white. This became the precursor to the Indian national flag.

 While it is not clear where the “Bagan” came from, the lane’s connection to the city’s Parsi community is evident. (Express Photo)The neighbourhood of Parsi Bagan played an important role in the freedom movement. A stone’s throw from this park, where the flag was first hoisted, stands the The Federation Hall Society, which represented undivided Bengal. It was established to provide a space for people from the severed provinces to meet and protest the partition of Bengal.

 The neighbourhood of Parsi Bagan played an important role in the freedom movement. (Express Photo)The location of the Federation Hall Society in this neighbourhood indicates that it was a frequent meeting place for nationalists and revolutionaries, which was why the Calcutta flag was first hoisted in a park here.

Written by Neha Banka


This is the house of Rustumji Cawasji Banaji who could be called the father of modern Kolkata
Four landmarks still remain in his name
Rustumjee Street near Ballygunge Phari
Parsi Bagan, the site of his bungalow on Upper Circular Road
Rustunjee Ghat in Cossipire
Rustumjee Parsi Road on Cossipore
Do read in my book
Pioneering Parsis of Calcutta

  • Prochy Mehta


Parsi Ras Chawal Is All Yummy

Tara Sutaria’s favourite recipe is here.

The Ek Villain Returns star, Tara Sutaria is a foodie to the core. She simply loves the Parsi delicacies that get made. She has something called Comfort Food, which is the amazingly delicious Parsi Ras Chawal.

Well, a report on talked about what this dish is all about. We take reference from that story for our write up here.

It is a soupy Parsi dish made of chicken drumsticks or thighs, onions, potatoes, Parsi Sambhar Masala, and spices.

The ingredients required are – 500 gm chicken drumsticks, 2 potatoes, ginger garlic paste, 2 onions, 4 tomatoes, cumin seeds, coriander powder, cumin powder, 1 cup chicken stock, cinnamon sticks, cloves, bay leaves, garam masala, red chilli powder, mustard oil, black pepper.

Take a bowl and add chicken thighs along with salt and pepper. Also add ginger garlic paste. Pressure cook the contents. In oil put spices, and saute. Add onions, fry it, and then add tomatoes. Saute them well. Add cubed potatoes that are boiled in pressure cooker. Put the marinated chicken and cook for some time. Add chicken stock and stir it along with water. Cook for 2 whistles in the cooker.

It looks like this.

Wow!! This delicacy looks yummy!!

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