Author Archives: yazdi

A Festschrift in Honour of Nani Palkhivala


January 16, 2020 is the birth centenary of Nani Palkhivala. Every year, on this day, The Nani A. Palkhivala Memorial Trust organize an annual lecture by eminent persons. This year, along with the annual lecture, the Trust is releasing a festschrift in honour of Palkhivala.

An Advisory Board consisting of Justice Sujata Manohar, Justice S.N.Variava, Y.H. Malegam, H.P. Ranina and Arvind P. Datar collected contributions from several scholars, counsel, and colleagues and friends of Palkhivala. Mr. Datar is also the General Editor of this commemorative book. The festschrift contains articles on constitutional and other laws, economy and governance, and reminiscences of persons who knew and interacted with Palkhivala. The complete list of contributors is given below.
Festschrift in honour of Palkhivala

Festschrift in honour of Palkhivala

The festschrift also contains few articles written by Palkhivala in his youth. These were originally published in several periodicals between 1937 and 1947. This is followed by reproduction of selected letters and correspondences, and other documents like written submissions etc.

Title of the book: Essays & Reminiscences: A Festschrift in Honour of Nani A Palkhivala

General Editor : Arvind P. Datar

Publisher : LexisNexis

Launch date : January 16, 2020 at NCPA, Mumbai

Mumbai Author Takes Indian Literature to Chinese Shores

Murzban F. Shroff

Commonwealth Prize-shortlisted Author and 6-times Pushcart Prize nominee Murzban F. Shroff’s Mumbai-based novel, Waiting for Jonathan Koshy, has been recently published by Zhejiang Literature & Art, one of China’s most reputed publishing houses.  In acquiring the book, the publisher said, “Waiting for Jonathan Koshy is a brilliant story for readers, not only because it is dramatic enough, but has great humor and passion. Besides, it provides us with a real picture of how an Indian looks like in his own country, in his hometown. It is both, complex and fascinating.” The novel which follows the turbulent (and often hilarious) life of an irrepressible character, Jonathan, was nominated as a finalist for the Horatio Nelson Prize in New York and received high praise from two top-drawer American authors, including a Pulitzer Prize winner and a National Book Award Finalist. Shroff’s other works include Breathless in Bombay, a collection of Mumbai-based stories, and Fasttrack Fiction, a one-of-its-kind digital book for cell phone readers. Shroff, who defines Mumbai as his perennial muse, says: “I am delighted that the cultural nuances of our country will now be enjoyed by readers in China. It is a deeply satisfying experience and proves that well-intentioned literature can, indeed, transcend borders.” The English edition of Waiting for Jonathan Koshy is available on and at independent bookstores in Mumbai.


Crypt of Zoroaster Under the Blue Mosque Tomb of Hazrat AliShutterstock Image

The original crypt beneath the Blue Mosque in Afghanistan, dates to over a thousand years before Imam Ali, who locals believe to be buried there. There is only one local candidate of sufficient celebrity from that earlier era to give the site its ancient name, The Tomb of the Exalted or “Mazar-i-Sharif.” The name of the first occupant is revealed in the image of the “radiant camel” or “zarath – ustra,” which, according to legend, carried thither the body of Imam Ali. The pronouncement on which this legend is based thus re-established the splendid grandeur of Zoroaster’s tomb, set now to become more important to all religions.

Current scholarship is divided on the dates of the life of Zoroaster, but traditional Persian, ancient Hebrew and early Christian sources agree that the Persian prophet died in 551 BCE during prayers in the chapel at Balkh, then the only city of importance in the Persian province of Bactria. If so, according to his teachings, his remains would not have been “exposed” to the elements inside the community of Balkh and buried there. The Greek historian Herodotus, writing in the fifth century BCE, described the use of “high places” by Zoroastrians from their earliest period. “It is not their custom to make and set up statues and temples and altars but they offer sacrifices on the high places of the mountains.”[1] Over the course of time these natural sacred sites were elaborated and simple shrines were built for the bones of those whose bodies had been exposed to nature. These mountain mausolea became the focus of the Zoroastrian pilgrimage tradition, as compared with the later fire temples of the cities and villages.

So Zoroaster’s family and followers would have looked to the nearest “high point” of significance within walking distance, the place we call Mazar-i-Sharif, fifteen kilometers to the east, accessible but high enough to honor the most important prophet of that age and location. Similar such ancient high points remain unchanged near Yazd in Iran, near Petra in Jordan and elsewhere. We call the one in question Mazar-i-Sharif, which translates as Tomb of the Exalted, a name it acquired only after the building of a mausoleum there. That site is identified by its current name only after mid-sixth-century BCE as a memorial for the countless pilgrims then wishing to honor the life and ministry of the spiritual leader who had turned religious life upside-down from one end of the Silk Route to the other. They might just as easily called it The City of the Tomb, but that is how the community of Mazar-i-Sharif got its name as a settlement grew around the site on the cusp of an era described by the Economist magazine. “Societies became recognizably “modern” in the mid-first millennium BC, during the so-called “Axial Age,” the period in which figures such as Plato, Buddha and Zoroaster appeared on the scene, promulgating their moralizing ideologies.”[2] This observation, with sixth century dates increasingly accepted for him in the twenty-first century, sets the search for Zoroaster’s tomb right into the context of this book which identifies him as the father of the Axial Age.

A tomb might be named after a person or after a place, but for a city to be named after a tomb the person buried there must be exceptionally famous. Through all time there is simply no candidate in that region for such an honor other than Zoroaster. It was identified as Mazar-i-Sharif more than a thousand years before the next significant burial in that mausoleum, that of Hazrat Ali, when it was appropriately expanded again on the earlier Zoroastrian foundations. However, it was following the time of the first burial there that the settled area of Balkh began to stretch beyond the geographic Bactrian plain to a “capital” area which grew to become the more important center.[3] This fact is a key element in our contention that Zoroaster could not have died in the eleventh century BCE or earlier, since there was no such identifiable center as Mazar-i-Sharif for another five hundred years.

In his authoritative book on architecture in Afghanistan, the University of Edinburgh’s distinguished archaeologist Warwick Ball comments on the Blue Mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif. “There are many non-Islamic practices associated with this shrine, such as the raising of a pole at Nauruz on March 21 each year when Mazar-i-Sharif becomes the main centre of the annual Nauruz (New Year) festivities. It might be that the shrine represents an Islamization of a much older, pre-Islamic cult that was focussed on this site, perhaps even of Zoroaster himself, who is traditionally supposed to be buried in the Balkh region.”[4]

Because the city is named after the tomb, it is only common sense that the tomb was there first. The community came into being and was settled in the sixth century BCE, co-incident with the burial of obviously the most famous person who ever lived in that area, whose tomb became the name of the city which grew up around it. In fact, from that day until this there has never been any personage other than Zoroaster of such import functioning out of that region and buried there, with the possible exception of Ali, a thousand years later, and he was brought there from elsewhere.

We may, or may not soon find missing pieces of the Zoroastrian Avesta (the “Dead Zee Scrolls”) a feature of this book, but increasing evidence identifying Zoroaster’s tomb provides at least a measure of increased familiarity and some intimacy with this prophet who, in certain respects, was the first to articulate a path to redemption for the world and its people. Moses and Homer are profoundly significant, at least to Western culture, like a Zoroaster who might have lived and died back in the mists of time. A Zoroaster of the sixth century relates to us like well-known figures of the Axial Age: Hebrew prophets, Greek philosophers, eastern mystics of popular religion. Identifying The Tomb of the Exalted as Zoroaster’s resting place connects him directly with Parsees and other Zoroastrians today, and with devotees and practitioners of the seven religions whose testaments are the subject of this study.

This book identifies Zoroaster’s tomb as being beneath the Blue Mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif, one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. Our identification of the tomb of Zoroaster fits the Islamic pattern of multiple burials in a single site, since he is regarded by Muslims as among the prophets of The People of the Book. Given the paucity of other possible candidates as occupant of a crypt beneath the tomb of Hazrat Ali, who could the original inhabitant of the mausoleum be except Zoroaster? It simply remains for experts with twenty-first century high-tech equipment to prove that somebody was buried there at a lower level, somebody important enough to have the city named after his mausoleum. We will get to that, but first let us become more aware of the whole story of the Blue Mosque and its connections to Zoroaster.

Canadian journalist Terry Glavin (National Post and Ottawa Citizen) described this location in a column after a visit to the site in Afghanistan. “For centuries, Mazar’s glorious Shrine of Hazrat Ali has been the journey’s end for Shia pilgrims from afar, and an everyday refuge of gardens and esplanades for the local Sunni majority. The Blue Mosque, where everyone prays together, is also a fountainhead of Sufi cosmopolitanism. It is a marvel of classic Islamic architecture built in the grand Timurid style on deep Zoroastrian foundations.”[5] The latter point is information he picked up on site as part of the local, but unofficial lore.

Why does it matter where Zoroaster is buried? Discovery of the tomb of Zoroaster would be of great importance to Zoroastrians today as they assume a significant role in interfaith discussions based partly on facts at last, rather than legends about Zoroaster’s dates and the importance of his teachings in the world of the Silk Route. Because of their interface in Babylon, this relationship is of interest to Jews who may wish to know if the connection with Zoroaster is direct or distant. Christians increasingly identify Jesus as the Savior of the World, the Saoshyant or “Redeemer” of Zoroastrianism, rather than merely the one who would restore the throne of David for the Jews of the early church. The location of the tomb in Afghanistan and its date also fits with self-identification of the four world religions further east and others, as the Zoroastrian Avesta and the Dead Zee Scrolls begin to function as the Rosetta Stone of religion described in Part Two of this book. This may be a starting point in one of the most critical discussions in the shrinking world of the twenty-first century, namely the place of religion as part of the problem or part of the solution to problems of divisions and relationships in our time.

Local Muslim residents of Mazar-i-Sharif appear to have no objections to identification of this site with Zoroaster. To the contrary, guides and tour books often refer to the legend that the Blue Mosque sits on an earlier Zoroastrian foundation. Our presentation of additional evidence in this regard at the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions was greeted as big news, and it may be regarded by some as “the big reveal” of this book, though we are only presenting additional pieces of the puzzle, synthesizing them and making obvious inferences from them. It is our intention to move from legend and speculation to history and fact. In doing so it may also be possible to finally settle the long-standing debate over the dates of Zoroaster’s birth, life and death.

This shrine is considered locally to be first and foremost the tomb of Hazrat Ali, the cousin, son-in-law and an eventual successor of Muhammad, even though most Muslims elsewhere in the world recognize Ali’s tomb as being at the Imam Ali Mosque at Najaf in Iraq. Local Muslim devotees and tour guides in Mazar-i-Sharif have maintained the legend which says that the body of Ali was carried here on the back of a white (or “shining”) camel,” secretly, long years after his earlier burial in Najaf. Books, brochures and tour guides recount the story of Ali being buried at Mazar-i-Sharif in a grave which had already been known for centuries previous as The Tomb of the Exalted, though the antiquity of the name has not been realized until quite recently.

In Sanskrit and related languages, the word “Zarah,” is often rendered as golden, shining or white in various traditions, though linguists are unanimous in lexicons that the very best translation is “radiant.” In Sanskrit, as adopted in Arabic, Persian, old Avestan and cognate languages, “camel” is ustra (or ushtra). The obvious, but only now articulated, meaning of the legend is that this memorial to Ali is mounted on Zarath-ustra, whose full name is usually translated as Golden Camel, though radiant or white camel works just as well in most languages.

The original crypt beneath the Blue Mosque in Afghanistan, dates to over a thousand years before Imam Ali, who locals still believe is buried there. The pronouncement on which this legend is based re-purposed the apparent splendor of Zoroaster’s more ancient mausoleum, the “Tomb of the Exalted.” Over time this phrase has been assumed to refer to Ali ibn Abu Talib, but the problem assuming that the title refers to Ali is confirmed by documentary evidence. There is wide agreement with Dr. Ahmad Hasan Dani, a leading epigraphist and archaeologist of the Quaid-E-Azam University in Islamabad, that the city was named the Tomb of the Exalted since 138 CE at the very least, half a millennium before Ali. “This more ancient date is witnessed by the Mazar-I-Sharif Inscription, clearly dated from the time of Veka, a local Shahi Ruler long centuries before Ali’s death in 661 CE and his second burial in the year 701 CE.”[6] The only prophet of note from that area was obviously buried sometime before 138 CE but no earlier than the era soon after 550 BCE when the capital of Bactria was moved from Balkh to the newly established community which became Mazar-i-Sharif, surrounding the tomb of “the exalted,” a highly respected persona, one deserving of a mausoleum apparently like no other.[7]

The eventual attribution of the Mazar tomb to Imam Ali was perhaps understandable since it is known that Ali travelled in Afghanistan, where his “footprints” are preserved in stone memorials in two other cities.Mazar-i-Sharif was “revealed” or decreed to be the burial place of Ali by Harrun Al Rashid some 40 years after Ali died in 661. Harrun was the fifth Abbasid Caliph, who ruled in Baghdad 786 to 809. The fictional book One Thousand and One Nights is set in Harun’s magnificent court and some of its stories involve Harun himself, a figure of great imagination. He considered moving his court to the east, and eventually did move it to Syria for safety, but appears to have considered Afghanistan first.

Since there was already a mausoleum of a prophet in Afghanistan at the place called Mazar-i-Sharif, the Tomb of the Exalted, a tomb even then of interest to pilgrims, it suited his purpose for Harun to declare it to be also the tomb of Ali. He did so at the request of Ja’far as-Sadiq, who later became the sixth Imam in the Shia tradition and was seeking to establish a Shia stronghold in Afghanistan. Ja’far was a descendant of Ali on the side of his father, Muhammad al-Baqir, and his story was eagerly accepted by the local population of Mazar-i-Sharif, largely Shia at the time, even if rejected by many other Muslims. It is as if these holy men were looking for a ready-made shrine, popular among pilgrims. There were no such Jewish, Christian or Muslim sites that far east, but there was that mausoleum so impressive that the now substantial city was named for it, and the occupant was the prophet associated with the People of the Book named as Magian in the Holy Quran. Whether they brought the remains of Ali there physically or spiritually, the announcement had the desired effect of turning this shrine into a Muslim mosque.

It is possible that the remains of Ali were transferred there at a time when some could not remember who first was buried in the mausoleum. Others may have wished to deny that the prominent shrine tomb belonged to a non-Muslim persona, though as we have seen, burial above any prophet from among the People of the Book was an established practice. The “Chamber of Commerce” would have encouraged the recognition of further enhancement of the site following the declaration also ascribing the tomb to Ali to this location.

The grave was then domed and greatly enhanced. Sultan Ahmed Sanjar of the Seljug dynasty expanded the main structure to something even greater, resembling present proportions, some three hundred years after the purported re-interment of Ali. It was desecrated and then partially hidden under earthen embankment for protection during the invasion of Genghis Khan around 1220 CE.  In the 15th century CE, Sultan Husayn Mirza Baygarah repaired and extended the superstructure in an outstanding example of the Timuridarchitectural style. It has been well maintained ever since as the priority budget item in the city, province and nation. The latest addition is a monument to the national hero Ahmad Shah Massoud, a Mujahadin leader, who fought both the Soviets and the Taliban, before his assassination in 2001.

The structure appears to be almost floating, a trick of this particular style of Islamic architecture, partially facilitated by intricately painted clay tiles, produced in a studio on site. Two square feet of tiling needs to be replaced every day, having been damaged by the elements or stolen by pilgrims as religious mementos. A site plan of the foundations made by engineers early in the twentieth century showed that there had earlier been a crypt in the smaller walled precinct under the original mosque, razed later but with portals still remaining as gateways for the current shrine.

No carbon dating has yet been undertaken, though current techniques of archaeological investigation are equally effective. LiDAR scans from space, as described by Richard Freund in Four Testaments, can reveal much about the original site, and close up Electrical Resistive Tomography and Ground Penetrating-Radar (ERT & GPR) scans are able to flesh out the story of this mosque and its sacred precinct as presented by Freund and his team at the 2020 Dead Zee Scrolls conference in Niagara Falls. The team includes Harry Jol, an anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin, who literally “wrote the book” on Ground Penetrating Radar Theory and Applications.[8]

Richard Freund is one of the world’s leading archaeologists. Since he and I write for the same publisher, Rowman & Littlefield, he had been asked to vet the portions of this book which pertain to archaeology prior to publication. Though he had heard unsubstantiated rumors about the burial of Zoroaster, it was when he reviewed the list of hints, clues and evidence listed below that he knew our theory about the tomb of Zoroaster was now more than speculation, and he got involved. Televised and written reports of the archaeological expedition to verify this identification of what lies beneath the Mazar-i-Sharif are available under the title The Tomb of the Exalted. Previous hints and clues about Zoroaster’s bones in repose in a crypt beneath the Blue Mosque had been rejected by scholars as mere speculation when considered individually. In this summary of the evidence, we précis the support for our model into twelve categories, which move from speculation and conjecture to an absolutely compelling concept when taken together.

  • Cartography (lay of the land within walking distance of Balkh)
  • Geography (zeroing in on the appropriate high point)
  • Migration (population from the Bactrian plain moving east)
  • Nomenclature (re the name of the city and the tomb for which it was named)
  • Common Sense (re significance of tomb existing before city)
  • Local folklore (then and now)
  • Muslim practice (assembling prophets’ bones in sites already identified as holy)
  • Linguistics (identifying Zoroaster as the “Zarah-ustra” in radiant camel legend)
  • Politics (the theocratic mix of government and religion by early caliphs)
  • History (facts about Ali in Afghanistan and other data re dates and personas)
  • Architectural (reviews of structural engineering issues over the last century)
  • Archaeological (verification by respected experts of the twenty-first century)

This much evidence and advance information from the site were enough for Freund to proclaim confidence that the proof is simply waiting to be announced at the launch conference for this book in Niagara Falls, May 29-31, 2020. The core of the shrine does contain a tomb chamber and an antechamber for prayer and worship, the starting point for high-tech investigations, untried heretofore. A question which remains is whether other members of Zoroaster’s family were also interred there subsequently, while the reputation of the mausoleum grew, long years before its expansion early in the Muslim era. If so, are there any artifacts, and could this be even the repository of the written materials for which Zoroaster was most famous. Missing portions of the Avesta found here may be the first cache of what we call The Dead Zee Scrolls, a motherlode of the missing Chapters 6 to 27, thought by scholars like Mary Boyce, to have been composed by Zoroaster himself. Such a tremendous possibility will be revealed in the future if the investigation by Professor Freund’s 2020 team is able to indicate that there is more there than just the bones of Zoroaster.

At this point we get to the Indiana Jones style speculation that some undergraduate students may enjoy, or the Dan Brown portion of the story for public library and congregational book clubs, except that some of all of it could well be proven true. The week-long expedition is set to proceed under the on-site administration of financial manager Arthur Brown. The earth penetrating radar equipment is set up at sixty predetermined target locations identified by Dr. Harry Jol through preliminary scanning. Richard Freund’s practiced eye looks down one visual shaft after another. John Bedel videotapes the sequential moments for the TV networks.

Interviewer David Bruce keeps asking “What do you see, Dr. Freund?” When the EPR cameras detect anything promising (bone, wood, even crypt-shape stones) at a depth of up to forty feet, Freund exclaims, “This could be it.” A discreet two-inch steel tube then extracts material from the level under consideration for identification and carbon dating. This all takes place under government permits granted to Dr. Omar Sharifi of Boston University and the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies in Kabul, and under the watchful supervision of environmental technician Sarah Brown, trained for this at Seneca College in Toronto and present to insure absolute structural integrity, with no disturbance whatsoever in any part of the Blue Mosque itself.

At least that is the way things have been scheduled to unfold by Jenny Sutacriti, my wife and research associate, who described the historic opportunity to her professional grandchildren, Arthur and Sarah, and persuaded them to dedicate their professional talents to the financial and environmental concerns in support of the archaeologists who volunteered for this expedition. It is Jenny who envisioned the aspirational moment as David Bruce again asks, “What do you see?” and Richard Freund replies, “I see a stone structure that appears to be a crypt, with a human skeleton, and some objects which could be scrolls on either side of the bones.”

At this point in the actual expedition, Freund would interject. “Hold on, everybody. It is true that Brian Brown’s evidence is enough for us to be sure that if there is anything that far down there, it is likely from 2500 years ago rather than 1500 years ago. In that case we can presume that what we see is related to Zoroaster, and that he was buried around 551 rather than much earlier. But we are not going to find the Dead Zee Scrolls just like that. There is something there, but much analysis remains to be done, and if its results are more specific, we still need Afghan government approval to actually excavate to the level which proves that in burying Ali here and others since that time, the custodians of this sacred precinct did indeed honour the memory and the earlier prophetic ministry of Zoroaster. This is very exciting, and may indeed verify the site as Zoroaster’s tomb, but there is much work yet to be done.” This may be closer to the report we will receive at the Niagara conference following the expedition. Watch for it as a TV documentary or as a new book from Rowman and Littlefield.

Tombs of varying dimensions were added to the Blue Mosque for a number of Afghan political and religious leaders over the years, which has led to the development of irregular dimensions which have done nothing except enhance the beautiful structure. The Blue Mosque is already a magnificent attraction for pilgrims and visitors, and its current recognition as being also the tomb of Zoroaster will increase the worldwide interest in this shrine. It already has national status similar to Westminster Abbey in the United Kingdom and Notre Dame in France or Wat Arun in Thailand and the Taj Mahal in India.

The Blue Mosque is one of the most beautiful edifices on the planet, but following the verifications by the archaeological team under the leadership of Professor Freund, this multi-layered shrine may attain world status more like that attributed to the Vatican in Rome and the Kaaba in Mecca. This will assist in the current quest to gain a better understanding of the story of Zoroaster, the dates of his life, and where he was buried. As with the examples from other countries given in Appendix C, a great debt is owed to the Muslim community for preservation and respect for earlier prophets from among the People of the Book, a contribution to the twenty-first century quest to develop new mutual respect one another among traditions across the religious spectrum.


[1]The Histories of Herodotus 1:131

[2] Economist, March 21, 2019

[3] P. Leriche, “Bactria, Pre-Islamic period.” Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. 3, 1998.

[4] Warwick Ball, The Monuments of Afghanistan, p. 248

[5] Dissent Magazine, April 5, 2011

[6]Ahmad Hasan Dani, Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, Vol. 61, Part One: Millennium Session (2000-2001), pp. 132-135

[7]Afghanistan: A Treasure Trove for ArchaeologistsTime Magazine. 26 February 2009

[8] An Elsevier book, Amsterdam


                                                    GENESIS OF
                                      IRANSHAH UDVADA UTSAV  
                                           – Dinshaw K. Tamboly, 
                        Trustee, Foundation for Development of Udvada
History of Foundation for Development of Udvada (FDU):
Foundation for Development of Udvada (FDU) was established on September 22, 2003, and has already a very vibrant history.
FDU was formed purely due the initiative taken by Prime Minister Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi. In January 2002, during his stint as Chief Minister of Gujarat State he was present at the ‘Foundation Stone’ laying ceremony of the Institute of Hotel Management at Ahmedabad along with erstwhile Hon’ble Minister (Tourism & Culture), Government of India, Shri Jagmohan.
At that function he very graciously acknowledged the positive role played by the Parsi community in nation building, ever since their arrival from Persia over 1300 years ago.
Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi. mentioned that the most sacred religious place of Parsis was Udvada, where the holy fire – Iranshah – was perpetually maintained and appreciated that ever since the Parsis arrived as migrants they had abided by a code of conduct which preserved their identity without offending the sensitivities of any other community.
He went on to mention that Udvada today showcases the glorious history of the Parsi community of over 1300 years and thereafter made a suggestion to the erstwhile Hon’ble Minister (Tourism & Culture), Government of India, to project Udvada as a place of harmony, religious tolerance and opportunities provided to a miniscule community to realise their full potential. This was appreciated by the erstwhile Hon’ble Minister (Tourism & Culture), Government of India who held that Udvada symbolised one of the finest examples of the cultural tradition of our country.
Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi thereafter requested renowned hotelier, Mr. Jehangir Cama (now Late) who was present at the function with his wife Mehru to proceed in the direction of setting up suitable infrastructure of converting these thoughts into reality.
A proposal was thereafter submitted to the Government of India for providing certain basic facilities, which would enable the State of Gujarat to project Udvada as a unique place in our country symbolising traditions of tolerance, harmony and progress through partnership with the Parsi community.
The Government of India accepted this proposal and released a grant-in-aid amount of Rs. 97.27 lakhs to the Government of Gujarat. The Government of Gujarat has also allocated an amount of Rs. 24.32 lakhs for the project making a total of Rs. 121.59 lakhs.
It was the recommendation of the Government of Gujarat that the project should encompass the following areas:
Establish a Museum & Cultural Centre at Udvada.
Establish a Heritage Walk at Udvada.
Organise an annual festival of Parsis at Udvada, where Parsis from all parts of the world could congregate.
Organise a tourist circuit of the places where the holy fire – Iranshah – was lodged prior to installation at Udvada.
After discussions with various members of the Parsi community, it was decided to establish and register a Foundation to be managed by well known Parsi’s and a nominee of the Government of Gujarat, who would undertake responsibility of directing and executing the project. FDU was thus established as a result of the abovementioned initiatives.
Genesis of Iranshah Udvada Utsav (IUU):
In June 2014, Hon’ble Narendra Modi, just a couple of weeks after assuming office as Prime Minister, invited Dasturji Khurshed, Homai Engineer, late Jehangir Cama and me, all of us being connected with FDU to meet him and provide an overview of the strategic plan to develop Udvada as a pilgrim centre being undertaken by UADA (Udvada Area Development Authority) set up by the Government of Gujarat.
At that time he reiterated what he had mentioned earlier when FDU was under formation, that our community’s contribution towards nation building was without parallel. He reiterated that Udvada showcases the glorious history of the Parsi community of over 1300 years and repeating what he had told us earlier about his keen desire to project Udvada as a place of harmony, religious tolerance and opportunities, reminded us to organize the first ever festival at Udvada where Parsis from all over the world could congregate.
He urged us to organize Iranshah Udvada Utsav (IUU), when community members from all over the world would be able to visit Udvada, and participate in the celebrations. He also recommended that we plan the same, from time to time, sometime in December as many Indians residing overseas visit our country at that time of the year.
Honouring the wishes of our visionary and dynamic Prime Minister, Foundation for Development of Udvada & the Udvada Samast Anjuman along with a group of dedicated volunteers has together participated in bringing this project to fruition.
IUU – 2019 to be held on December 27-28-29, is the third such event following similar events held in 2015 & 2017.
A galaxy of eminent Parsees attended IUU – 2015, when Mr. Ratan Tata, the leading present day icon of our community was felicitated on December 27, 2015. Noted philanthropist Mr. Cyrus S. Poonawalla, Chairman, Serum Institute of India, has very graciously agreed to sponsor IUU – 2015 in memory of his loving wife Late Villoo C. Poonawalla. Late Cabinet Minister Mr. Arun Jaitley graced the occasion with his presence when Mr. Ratan Tata was felicitated.
IUU – 2017 was celebrated with equal enthusiasm and passion, with Mr. Vijaybhai Rupani, Chief Minister, Gujarat State and Mr. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister for Minority Affairs, Govt. of India, inaugurating the event. Eminent physician Dr. Farokh Udwadia was felicitated by H.E. Vice President of India Shri Venkaih Naidu. IUU – 2017 was sponsored by Shapoorji Pallonji & Co. Pvt. Ltd and Gujarat Tourism.
Union Minister Hon’ble Mrs. Smriti Irani, has attended both the earlier editions of IUU and has confirmed her participation for IUU – 2019 as well. She has been friend, philosopher, guide and an ardent supporter of all our activities for which we are very honoured.
Trustees, volunteers, well wishers and supporters of FDU are all very grateful for the trust reposed in us by Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi and supported the various initiatives undertaken by us.
All Parsi Irani Zoroastrians can take legitimate pride in the fact that Iranshah Udvada Utsav, is illustrative of the acknowledgement by our nation’s leader of the contributions made towards nation building by our miniscule community, adhering in letter and in spirit to the pledge of loyalty, our revered ancestors made when seeking sanctuary on Indian soil 1389 years ago.

IranShah Global Initiative 2020

Please Share This Email Within The Circle Of Your Family, 
Friends And Local Associations On December 27, 2019
The Flame Goes Higher 
When Your Heart Is On Fire
May The Flame Of IranShah
Shine On You And Your Family
IranShah Global Initiative 2020
A Celebration With 
Education, Inspiration and Donation
BaNaMeh Ahura Mazda
My dear Global Zarathushti Leaders:
With Immense Joy and Pride, coupled…
With the blessing of our High Priest of IranShah Udvada, Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor, 
as well as unanimous support from all our Global Zarathushti Adult and Youth Leaders…
We would like to announce this very special Global launch of
The IranShah Initiative 
At the 2019 Udvada Ustav on Dec 27.
Under the guidance of FEZANA VP Arzan Wadia, this interactive website has been created by our very own IranShah Initiative Ambassador Tinaz Karbhari from Hong Kong, for our Future Generation across the globe to get involved through Education, Inspiration and Donation.
On this website, we have a Special Icon titled: ASK NOSHIR for our future generation to liaise directly with him for any specific queries pertaining to IranShah.
Our immense gratitude to our BPP Trustee, Noshir Dadrawalla  for his scholastic guidance and kind support towards this first step on promoting Global Education about Iranshah.
This website will be launched at the opening ceremony after the iconic presentation of our very own FEZANA President Homi Gandhi.
For more details, please visit…
Furthermore,  for the first time in the history of Iranshah…
We are also planning for a Global Birthday Celebration in honor of IranShah on April 21, 2020.
And would like to get you all involved as an integral part of this unifying Global Initiative in honor of our Sacred IranShah.
More information about this Celebration to follow in January 2020.
In the meantime…
Here is some exciting news at a Global Level:
1. FOZYA under the Leadership of President Mabrin Nanavatti,  is committed to mobilize our Zoroastrian Youth of India by promoting this launch via a special session organized by FOZYA on December 27, at the
28th All India Zoroastrian Youth Meet, Panchgani December 27-29, 2019
2. Jehaan Kotwal, our Global Youth Director of World Zarathushti Chamber Of Commerce,  has graciously offered to promote this initiative among our Global Zarthushti Youth Entrepreneurs and inspire them to participate actively.
3. Mojdeh Hamavand, Chair of the Zoroastrian Youth Of North America, ZYNA (FEZANA) has graciously offered to reach out to our Zoroastrian Youth Of North America.
4.  Sherri Kapadia, Chair of the 2023 8th World Zoroastrian Youth in United Kingdom and Chair of the Young Zoroastrian Group of ZTFE, has offered to reach out to our Zoroastrian Youth of United Kingdom.
5. IranShah Initiative Representatives from our Motherland Iran
From Tehran: Kaveh Gheibi
From Kerman: Arash Khosropour
From Yazd:  Sasan Foroodi
From Shiraz: Behnam Khodadadi
6. IranShah Initiative Representatives from Pakistan
A. Kermin Parakh, Principal
     BVS Parsi Boys High School
B. Furengeez Tampal, Principal
     Mama Parsi Girls High School
C. Natasha Mavalvala, Joint Secretary
     Young Men Zoroastrian Association
7. IranShah Initiative Representative from Singapore
Xerxes Ghista [Parsi Zoroastrian Association of Singapore (PZAS)]
8. IranShah Initiative Ambassador and Representative from Hong Kong
Tinaz Karbhari  (The Incorporated Zoroastrian Charity Funds of Hongkong, Canton and Macao)
9. IranShah Initiative Representative from New Zealand
Delshad Sidhwa [Zarathushtrian Association of New Zealand  (ZANZ)]
10. IranShah Initiative Representatives from Australia

Adil Bodhanwalla [Zoroastrian Association Of Victoria  (ZAV)]

Bravo To All Of Them For Their Unconditional Support.
Let’s Join Hands With Each Other
And Walk Together 
As Torch Bearers of
The Light Of IranShah
Be Blessed and Stay Blessed.
Happy Holidays and a Prosperous 2020
To You And Your Respective Families.
With Love, Light, Appreciation and Gratitude 
Meher Amalsad, Westminster, California, USA

“When The Last Tear Drops Falls” 2

When everything does not go one’s way

Giving up one’s Prayer

As well Religion

It’s not the way

Even though one faces

Road blocks along the way

And seems to be no way out

A teeny tiny voice inside will whisper

“Do not give up

As I will be there till the last tear drops fall”


Changing one’s religion is not the solution

It’s not easy for me to say

Having one’s faith in prayers

Will carry the day


Please do not lose

Even when one feels

Like giving up

He always provides a

Safety net

By saying:
“I will be there

Till the last tear drops fall

Choicest Blessings


Shree Parsi Panchayat Vadodara – Baroda


B. N. Seervai Parsi Dharamshala / Godrej Banquet Hall / Wedding Lawn

New Website –

Parsis of Baroda

On the banks of the river Vishwamitri lies the erstwhile State of Baroda. The city of Baroda has now been renamed as Vadodara. At present it is the third largest city of Gujarat, after Ahmedabad and Surat and has a population nearing 18 lakhs.


On November 6, 1642 the “Parsee Prakash” takes note of a first Parsi Panchayat assembly at Navsari, but it seems that the Panchayat only established its authority after Bombay was taken over by the British The Panchayat was constituted by the Elders and influential members of the Community.


With a ‘Dokhma ‘ in Baroda near Vishwamitri constructed as far back as 2nd May 1842 i.e 156 years ago, and the imposing Umrigar Agiari in Fatehgunj constructed on 1st February1845, it is safe to conclude that Parsis have been living in Baroda since the last 200 years or even more. History records that Parsis played a very active role as political agents in the courts of the Maharajas in the 19th century. In 1800 the earliest Parsi in Baroda was A. Desai, he was of great service in negotiations between the British and the Gaekwar. The other Parsi at the court of the Peshwa was Khursedji Jamsedii Modi, who hailed from Khambhat and was appointed Native Agent to the British. These were two of the earliest Parsis, whose names have been recorded in history and who served under the Gaekwar of Baroda. There must have been a flux of Parsis to Baroda at this time and no better proof can be provided than the construction of the Dokhma in 1842 and the Umrigar Agiari in 1845. The next Parsi to be heard of was the eminent Dadabhai Naoroji in 1873 Gaekwar Maihar Rao of Baroda who was charged by the British with maladministration, called upon Dadabhai Naoroji and made him the Dewan of Baroda in 1874. Dadabhai took up the challenge and it has been recorded that during the short period of two years that he was Dewan of Baroda, Dadabhai Naoroji had repressed bribery and corruption which had overwhelmed the administration of justice in the State. Due to uncalled for interference and unsubstantiated allegations against him by the British Resident, he resigned and returned to Bombay and from there went to England where he fought for India’s freedom and was the first Indian to be elected to the British House of Commons by a wafer thin majority of 3 voles.


As on today, the Parsi Community in Vadodara compromises of 305 families, totalling 1059 individuals (49% Males, 51% Females). Our Panchayat is a unique institution which combines within itself all types of activities, religious, social, cultural, educational etc.


The Trustees’ main objective has always been to work for the welfare of the Vadodara Parsi Panchayat and for the happiness of the entire Comminity. Our Dharamshala in Hira Baug, Fatehgunj, is one of the most well maintained and comfortable rest houses to live who come from outside Vadodara. The Vadodara Parsi Panchayat was officially registered as a “Trust” on November 13, 1953 with the Charity Commissioner’s Office, Vadodara bearing Registration No. C-2. The Trustees of the Vadodara Parsi Panchayat hold dual responsibility, first as leaders of the community, and second as Trustees of the various funds and properties. Each one knows that as a Trustee, he has to be involved in manifold responsibilities involving him in every big and small decision. This involves several hours of work each week, apart from the Board Meetings at which 2-3 hours are spent.


The Trustees of the Panchayat have to maintain, manage, improve, develop and deal with the properties. under their control, which includes the Dokhma, Agiari, Dharamshala premises and the Pirojsha Godrel Hall. They also manage the religious, charitable and other trust funds entrusted to them created for the benefit of the Parsi community, or for some specific purpose (like ‘Gambhars’) Other problems concerning the Community also requires their attention and action. While most of the above activities are left to the Trustees of a progressive Panchayat like ours. Their Major achievement has been to maintain complete unity and harmony between all members of the community and have made themselves available and open to new ideas. Various Committees to deal with specific issues been constituted where other members of the Community are involved. This tradition has come, over the in years in Vadodara. At the helm of the Panchayat have been its past Presidents, who have played a very vital role in the running of the Panchayat affairs.

« Older Entries Recent Entries »