Author Archives: yazdi

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT – RUSTOMFRAMNA AGIARY

We, the Trustees of the R N Rustomframna Agiary, Dadar would like to inform all our esteemed Patrons that considering the current situation prevailing in our city on account of the Covid-19 pandemic, and in compliance with the rules laid down by the government, only Priests are permitted to enter places of worship. Hence, we have decided that whilst all the usual ceremonies connected with the Muktads will be performed in memory of the Asho Farohars, we regret to inform you that Family Members will NOT be allowed entry into the Agiary for attending any of the ceremonies.

This decision has been taken with the intent of not only complying with government directives, but also reducing the possibility of Family Members, Mobeds and our Staff contracting this dreaded virus.

We Trustees definitely understand the emotional distress that Family Members will experience, but, hope that it will be appreciated that the Agiary has to be administered in compliance with the rules laid down by the government.

Trustees assure Patrons that all ceremonies will be performed, as have been done over the years, in letter and in spirit.

General Information:

1. For the First year Muktads, separate tables will be provided for all prayers. Charges for prayers will be Rs.25,000 (compared to Rs.33,000 last year).

2. For the Second year onwards, prayers will be done by 1 Mobed for 3 different Families. (3 vases of 3 different Families on one table only). Charges for these prayers will be Rs.15,000 per family.

3. If you wish to keep the Vase of your other family members, then it will be kept on the Anjuman table for 10 days and the charges for that will be Rs.1650 per Vase.

4. Considering the present situation no flowers from Family Members will be accepted. The Agiary will place and replace flowers in the Vases.

5. Chasni will not be given for this year.

6. Ashodads for Mobeds and Staff as well as sukhad batti money for the 10 days should be handed over at the time of depositing the Vases on Sunday, August 2nd 2020. Jashan ashodad for Mobeds and Parsi Staff combined @Rs.1750 per Jashan will be collected at the time of receiving the Vases on Sunday, August 2nd 2020.

Muktads will be performed by our regular Mobeds, along with the support of our existing Parsi and Non Parsi Staff. Outside personnel will not be retained this year.

We request each one of you to please understand and cooperate with us during these testing times.

With the blessing of Lord Ahura Mazda on mankind, may this pandemic end soon and we then look forward to seeing you all back in our Agiary.

Thank you.

Stay Safe & Stay Healthy!!!

On behalf of the Trustees of the R N Rustomframna Agiary

Nasha R. Jassawalla
Chairman & Managing Trustee

Secunderabad: Sacred fire temple turns 100

 

Khan Bahadur Edulji Sohrabji Chenai Anjuman Dar-e-Meher in Secunderabad will complete 100 years on July 14

Ervad Aspi Patel, the head priest of the temple, is seated in the verandah. An air of tranquility, and dominance of white and peace pervade the place as we approach to meet him. The Khan Bahadur Edulji Sohrabji Chenai Anjuman Dar-e-Meher on MG Road, a temple of Parsis – followers of the Persian prophet Zoroaster – .has been like that for a hundred years. Time, place and emotion coalesce, and, a fragrance of peace and purity pervades.

Just a few yards away, the world outside changed with open spaces giving way to matchbox like structures but the fire temple hasn’t changed. Gulbanoo Yadgar Chenoy, 90, the president of Parsi Zoroastrian Anjuman of Secunderabad and Hyderabad, is one of the few family members of the Chenoys who donated for the fire temple. She shares her past: “Our family came from Jalna to Secunderabad in 1803. The land was donated by the family and the temple was constructed at a cost of Rs 28,500 Hali sikka.” Hyderabad State had its own currency, the Hali sikka, 15 percent less than the rupee in British India. One hundred British rupees got you 116 Hali rupees.

Seth Jamshedji Edulji Chenoy, son of Khan Bahadur Seth Edulji Sohrabji and bai Pirojbai Edulji Chenoy, along with his brothers, built the Khan Bahadur Edulji Sohrabji Chenai Anjuman Dar-e-Meher in memory of their late father. “Fire is a living entity. Since consecration 100 years ago it has been burning continuously and only ordained priests are allowed inside the inner sanctum sanctorum,” says Jehangir Bisney, 58, a chartered accountant and trustee of the Anjuman. For Parsis, fire is a supreme symbol of purity and represents the light of God (Ahura Mazda) as well as the illuminated mind. No Zoroastrian ritual is complete without the presence of a sacred fire.

There are three priests who work in shifts. Two live in the residential blocks inside the temple complex and the head priest in Hyderabad. The priests tend to the fire five times a day and also ring the bell thrice to remove evil spirits. Sandalwood and kathi is what the Parsis call, a type of wood is used to keep the fire burning. The fire has to keep burning and is tended to without fail even around 2:30 at midnight.

How often do people visit the temple, we ask Ervad Aspi Patel, the head priest. “The ones residing in the 40 residential blocks do visit the temple but people from the community who are spread across the city make it to the temple for Navroz, the Parsi New year, when the place comes alive.” That the population is dwindling is a topic that cannot be avoided but Gulbanoo says, “Even as a kid, I remember the population was not much. We have always been a small community.”

Video on You Tube on July 14

A 40-minute video on the fire temple would be put up on You Tube to mark the centenary celebrations. Arnaz Bisney, who made the video, says, “As it dawned on us that the celebrations would be low-key due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I thought of making a video. It was Navroz and the photo frames were removed for renovation. That was when it struck, to make a video. There are 31 frames which is the cruz of the video.” It would be live after 9 pm on July 14. Here is the link: https://youtu.be/4PbBLwX5JLE

https://www.thehansindia.com/telangana/secunderabad-sacred-fire-temple-turns-100-633078?infinitescroll=1

The IranShah Initiative – Donation With Vision 2020 (Part 1 of 2)

We are featuring this article since FEZANA has been instrumental in procuring donations

For The IranShah Initiative along with other Global Zarathushti Leaders.

The IranShah Initiative – Donation With Vision 2020 (Part 1 of 2)

From: Homi D. Gandhi, Immediate Past President, FEZANA

“There are no gods in the universe, no nations, no money, no human rights, and no justice outside of the common imagination of human beings,” says Yuval Noah Harari in his book Sapiens. Harari argues that humanity functions cooperatively because human beings created religions and belief systems, political societies, financial markets, judicial systems etc. That these common imagined realities “exert force in the world” because everyone believes in them.

When a community has a strong belief system it seeks to institutionalize it as a religion and pass it down to future generations. For millennia, our Zoroastrian forefathers did this by way of an oral tradition, formalized with prayer and rituals performed around the powerful symbol of Ahura Mazda – fire, the giver of light and life in open surroundings.

Then seeing the temples in Greece and Rome, our Zoroastrian kings began to build temple structures where the revered fire was enthroned for worship. Such is the longing of mere mortals to leave behind unforgettable monuments to their beliefs that future generations can never cast aside.

Our Zoroastrian ancestors who fled Iran and arrived in India did much the same: they established the first Atash Behram, meaning Victorious Fire, in Sanjan. So revered and important was this sacred flame, so potent was its ability to will the refugees to not just survive, but to thrive, in their new homeland, secure in their faith, that they moved it from place to place to protect it from the vagaries of fate for almost a millennium, until it was re-enthroned in 1742 in Udvada.  This is our IranShah.

For centuries, the Zoroastrian communities of India thrived in the vicinity of Udvada, and supported it physically and financially. But during the last century a large number of Zoroastrians have moved all over Haft Keshvar Zameen. Today, more Zoroastrians live outside India than in India. So many in India and the diaspora believe that they owe their prosperity and wellbeing – in all senses of the word – to the blessings of our IranShah.

 IranShah lives in our hearts and mind as a testament to the continuity of our faith. Words are inadequate to truly describe what it means to so many individual Zoroastrians who have prayed before it and experienced the Divine Grace of Ahura Mazda. So, it is now up to all of us in India and around the world to participate in the IranShah Initiative to support this treasured institution spirituality, physically, financially in every possible manner. May Ahura Mazda bless our IranShah and our Zoroastrian community for all times to come!

Homi D Gandhi

NEVILLE SANJANA, RECIPIENT OF ‘PRESIDENTIAL EARLY CAREER AWARD’

White House Honors Sanjana with Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers


NYU’s Neville Sanjana, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology and at NYU School of Medicine, has been awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Neville Sanjana. Image courtesy of the New York Genome Center

New York University’s Neville Sanjana, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology and at NYU School of Medicine, has been awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The awards, announced by the White House, identify outstanding scientists and engineers who will broadly advance science and the missions important to federal agencies.

The PECASE Awards are the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their careers and “who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology,” the White House stated in naming this year’s winners.

They are conferred annually at the White House following recommendations from participating federal agencies. Sanjana, a core faculty member at the New York Genome Center who is developing new tools for precise gene repair using CRISPR, a pioneering gene-editing technology, was nominated by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Recently, Sanjana and colleagues at the National Cancer Institute uncovered dozens of novel genes involved in resistance to therapies that harness the immune system to fight cancer.

The findings, which appeared in the journal Nature, stemmed from the team’s development of an innovative use of CRISPR—a “two-cell type” CRISPR assay system that specifically examines how genetic mutations in one cell can affect the interaction between two different cell types.

Under a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) award, given in 2018, Sanjana is now working to accelerate the creation of new methods for precision gene editing to repair disease-causing mutations.

In addition, under a National Institutes of Health (NIH) “New Innovator” Award, a five-year, $2.9 million grant, Sanjana and his team are in the process of identifying the sequences and proteins that govern gene expression.

In the long-term, Sanjana seeks to construct a catalog of all functional elements in the noncoding genome—the part of the genome that does not provide instructions for making proteins but which is increasingly seen as vital in understanding how cells function—in order to more fully comprehend the nature of diseases such as cancer.

https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2019/july/white-house-honors-nyu-s-sanjana-with-presidential-early-career-.html

Avesthagen study may help determine genetic predictors for tobacco-related cancers

Researchers are studying about how Zoroastrian-Parsi genes may help scientists characterize biomarkers predictive of diseases caused by tobacco use, such as lung, head and neck, and esophagus cancers

Avesthagen is using an innovative approach to identify genetic indicators of tobacco-related cancers. In a new paper, available on bioRxiv, researchers characterize genetic traits specific to the Zoroastrian-Parsi population—a community that has historically abstained from smoking. Because of this unique social practice, Zoroastrian-Parsi genes may help scientists characterize biomarkers predictive of diseases caused by tobacco use, such as lung, head and neck, and esophagus cancers.

Since 2008, the Avestagenome Project has collected blood samples and extensive patient data from over 4,500 members of the Zoroastrian-Parsi community. This initiative is supported by the Foundation for a Smoke Free World (FSFW), a US-based, independent nonprofit organization that aims to end smoking in this generation. FSFW has awarded Avesthagen a grant to explore “Cancer risk in smoking subjects assessed by next generation sequencing profile of circulating free DNA and RNA.”

Dr Villoo Morawala-Patell, Founder of Avesthagen Limited and The Avestagenome Project, said, “We believe in bringing science to life by drawing it out of the confines of the laboratory and setting it free to work in the real, everyday world.”

Though this latest study, Dr Morawala-Patell and her colleagues found genetic variants common across the Zoroastrian-Parsi community. Such variants can affect essential biological processes and increase the risk of inheriting a variety of medical conditions. Thus, by identifying variants, researchers can potentially elucidate links between genes and disease. The Avesthagen team first sequenced a representative genome of the Zoroastrian-Parsi population and generated the first complete de novo Zoroastrian-Parsi mitochondrial reference genome, called AGENOME-ZPMS-HV2a-1.

To obtain a complete picture of population-specific variants, the Avesthagen team analyzed one hundred Zoroastrian-Parsi mitochondrial genomes to generate a “consensus genome.” This is a process that combines genetic information from a large number of individuals to determine the genetic traits typical to that population. The mitochondrial DNA of one hundred Zoroastrian-Parsi individuals sequenced created the “consensus mitochondrial genome” (AGENOME-ZPMCG V 1.0). For practical reasons, maternally-inherited mitochondrial DNA is often used for this type of analysis. The researchers also did phylogenetic mapping to determine the ancestry of the Zoroastrian-Parsi community and found a largely Persian origin, attesting to their historical migration from ancient Persia.

The researchers identified a total of 420 mitochondrial variants in the hundred Zoroastrian-Parsi genomes. Analysis of the variants revealed genetic indicators of longevity and of diseases that tend to emerge later in life. The genomes showed, for example, variants linked to colon and prostate cancer, as well as neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s disease. Because these diseases typically affect older individuals, indicators of their presence corroborate apparent longevity in the Zoroastrian-Parsi community.

The researchers found no indicators of tobacco-related diseases that often cause premature death. The genomes had a low frequency of mutations linked to carcinogen-induced diseases, such as lung cancer. These findings serve as biological validation of a well-known cultural phenomenon: Zoroastrian-Parsis, whose origins date back millennia, don’t smoke.

FSFW President Derek Yach comments, “This community has an ancient practice of nonsmoking. By analyzing their genomes, Avesthagen was able to show the biological manifestations of this practice—findings that may be used to identify predictive indicators of disease in smokers.”

In addition to clarifying genetic sources of illness, AGENOME-ZPMS-HV2a-1 can be used to establish a genomic record of the migration of Zoroastrian-Parsis. Furthermore, the study uncovered 12 mitochondrial variants, previously unreported in other populations, which are under further investigation.

https://www.expresspharma.in/latest-updates/avesthagen-study-may-help-determine-genetic-predictors-for-tobacco-related-cancers/

How to observe Muktad at home in these difficult times

Muktad can be observed in the house in a very simple way –

first select a small corner in the house, which has to be kept relatively clean. If necessary it can be covered by a curtain.

Place a small table there. On the table, keep a small clean metallic glass, karasya or vase with clean water and one or two flowers in it, preferably roses.

Clean the glass, karasya or vase daily and change the water daily.

You can even wash the flower(s) and re-use them if they are fresh.

Ensure to have a continuously burning diva on the table, if possible.

Members of the house can do their Kasti and daily prayers here.

Each member of the house, young or old, should devote some time, at least a few minutes, in prayers there.

Prayers to follow when praying for the Muktad from home:

One can select from among the several prayers, either or multiple of which can be done in that corner, from the simplest to the elaborate, after doing the Kasti, like:

Praying 12 Ashem Vohu (especially for children).

Praying ‘Muktad no namaskar’ (from the Khordeh Avesta).

Praying ‘Satum no Kardo’ (after farajyat prayers).

Praying Framraot Ha (first 5 days) or Gathas (later 5 days).

Praying ‘Farvardin Yasht’ (after farajyat prayers).

Pray 570 Yatha ahu vairyo + 210 Ashem vohu + 120 Yenghe hatam daily (especially for elders in the house if they have time.)

This will create a very fragrant and pleasant atmosphere in the house which is necessary for welcoming the souls and Fravashis and conducive for them to be guests in the house. Whenever the souls and Fravashis are pleasantly remembered and prayed to during these days, they return back, showering blessings which bring success and prosperity to the house, and blessing its inhabitants with health, strength, happiness, protection and abundance.

Shared by Erv. Ramiyar Karanjia

Looking for Furdoonjee D.J Paruck of Bombay

My name is Purushotham Reddy Koppula, based out of New York. I am a numismatist and a history enthusiast , currently trying to trace the family of Mr.Furdoonjee D.J Paruck of Bombay.
 
I am in the process of studying and writing a review article on the evolution of sasanian coinage of persia and in this regard, trying to find a copy of a book that was authored by Paruck ji. Please find attached, an image of the front cover and page of the original 1924 publication of his work (Apologies for the poor image quality). Published by the Times Press, Bombay, this is the first ever scholarly work on sassanian coins, from India. Paruck, Furdoonjee D. J., Sasanian Coins, Bombay 1924, 535 pages, 36 plates of photos and Pahlavi alphabet, 32 tables of line drawings, hardcover. This book was reprinted in 1976 by  Indological Book Corp, New Delhi.
 
He was a member of the Numismatic Society of India (NSI), BHU, Varnasi, of which I am also a life member and could not get any info on him.
 
From what I know, Furdoonjee D.J.Paruck was a resident of Bombay and lived in the Kala ghoda area of Bombay. His ancestral home/bungalow was called as “Gul Mansion”. I tried finding out more info, with the help of my friend in Mumbai, but unfortunately, he said there is nobody related to Paruck ji’s family living in that house. Does anybody in today’s Mumbai know any living heirs of Paruck ji? I am looking to find this book of his, which will serve as a reference for my article and would appreciate, if somebody could help me get in touch with his current family members or somebody who has this book and could help me.
Purushotham Reddy Koppula

The Lockdown Blues

Award-winning Author Murzban F. Shroff Pens Pandemic Poetry Series

Mumbai-based author Murzban F. Shroff, known for his award-winning books, Breathless in BombayWaiting for Jonathan Koshy, and Fasttrack Fiction, has now penned a series of poems on the Covid-19 pandemic, tracking its causes and consequences. Shroff, a Commonwealth Prize-shortlisted author and a 6-times Pushcart Prize nominee, says he turned to poetry in order to capture the intensely emotional and psychological states created by these extraordinary circumstances. “The purpose of literature is to bring man in closer contact with nature, to expand our understanding of the universal laws that govern us, and which we are bound to obey by mere virtue of having taken birth on this planet. I found poetry to be a liberating and powerful medium to convey this,” adds Shroff. “The Lockdown Blues” (below) is part of a series of poems that will feature in Shroff’s debut collection of poetry. Shroff’s stories have appeared in over 65 literary journals in the U.S., UK, and Australia. He has been invited to speak about his work at universities like UC Berkeley, UCLA, and USC, and at literary festivals like the London Short Story Festival, the Emirates Literature Festival, and the Irrawaddy Literary Festival in Myanmar. Shroff can be contacted on murzbanfshroff@gmail.com

The Lockdown Blues

This is the winter of our confinement

This is the spring of our unease

This is the summer of our expectations

The fall of our species

This is the weakness of our senses

This is the outcome of our greed

This is the collapse of our intellect

The negation of our needs

This is the night of our darkness

This is the prison of our morrows

This is the cumulus of our burden

The song of our sorrows

This is what we brought our world to

Conquering land and sea and sky

Not for a moment did we pause

Thinking where our limits lie

We robbed the earth of its beauty

And we drained the soil of its strength

We blew off the tops of mountains

We were so hellbent

We did not spare the rocks

And we did not spare the trees

We even dammed our rivers

Before they could reach the seas

We did not spare the seabed

And we did not spare the air

We did not think of the species

With whom our planet we share

And now we live in solitary caves

Nothing to show for our wealth

Worrying about our future

Uncertain about our health

Do I have the virus?

Do I show the signs?

Will I make it safely

Make it through these times?

Will we live like humans?

And will we roam at will?

Or will we experience life

Standing at our window sill?

Will we live off our phones

And our flat-faced computer screens?

Will we know once more

What real freedom means?

Will we rub shoulders?

And will we feel the same?

Will we ever hug

And learn to trust again?

Murzban F. Shroff

As published in the Parsi Times E-Paper Dated 4 July 2020.

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