Zoroastrian Studies..A Symposium, 06 Apr 2019

You are invited to the following event:

When: 06 Apr 2019 1:00 PM, EDT


Zoroastrian Studies

A Symposium


Date:    April 6, 2019


Time:    1pm



Dr. Jehan Bagli, Timothy Harrison & Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi

Maria Brosius, University of Toronto

Miguel Angel Andres Toledo, University of Salamanca

Parvaneh Pourshariati, New York City College of Technology

3:30–4:10 BREAK

Enrico Raffaelli, University of Toronto

Jesse Palsetia, University of Guelph

Dan Sheffield, Princeton University



Click HERE for the Flyer


Ship owners dispel rumours and tell the real tale behind heroic evacuation of 722 Indians

People who have grudges against a feature film react variously. They petition the Censor Board, approach courts, tear off the film’s posters or stage dharnas. Hanif Modak whose father late Capt. I H Modak

 and now Australia-based Capt. V R Kekobad co-owned cargo ship

 MV Safeer, are responding to some of the alleged “lies” portrayed in 2016 film Airlift and setting the records straight with their documentary ‘Mission Safeer:37 Days to Freedom.’ MV Safeer’s heroic evacuation of 722 Indians from wartorn Kuwait in 1990 had hit global headlines. The film Airlift doesn’t directly name M V Safeer or its owners or the Captain who, in the film, is shown accepting bribes to allow the desperate evacuees on board the ship. “Yes, MV Safeer has not been named anywhere but by implication we have been shown to be heartless and it is an insult to the heroic joint efforts of seafarers, agencies and individuals who helped bring 722 Indians to safety in Dubai. We want to tell the real story behind the evacuation through this documentary,” says Captain Kekobad.

Seated in his DN Road office, Hanif shows documents, including M V Safeer’s original log book and newspaper clippings. With a cargo of bagged rice, and 26 crew members, MV Safeer left Kandla Port in Gujarat on July 24, 1990, docking at Shuwaikh Port in Kuwait on July 31, 1990. Trouble began on August 2 when Iraq invaded Kuwait. The ship’s s log book entry of August 2, 1990 reads: “No activity whatsoever in the port. Heard news on radio that Iraq had invaded Kuwait. Sounds of gunfire and shelling could be heard on the vessel and fire and smoke could be seen all over from the bridge…”

“Neither Captain Zain Abidin Juvale nor I or anyone else demanded money from anyone. All the required permissions to carry 722 Indians were secured by the owners. Once Captain Juvale met the then foreign minister I.K. Gujral in Kuwait, we prepared the ship for embarkation of the passengers. We made 20 temporary toilets on the main deck,” MV Safeer’s first officer Captain Nazir Mulla now settled in Mumbai. MV Safeer left Kuwait for Dubai on September 4, thirty-six anxious days after berthing and days of negotiations by officials, including senior Indian embassy official in Kuwait S M Mathur, MEA official K P Fabian, Dr M A Patankar in Mumbai. “Dr Patankar provided us the first breakthrough when he arranged our meeting with Iraqi attaché in Mumbai. We subsequently got permission for an embassy staff to visit the ship and ensure safety of our crew who were detained by the Iraqi army,” said Hanif.

Out of the 722 Indians rescued, 250 were from the Konkan region alone. Hashmat Kapdi, a jeweller in Kuwait, from Kasba village in Ratnagiri, was among them. “All the crew were very helpful and compassionate. There were doctors (6) and nurses (10) who travelled with us,” recalled Kapdi.

In an earlier interview to TOI Captain Juvale had said many wealthy passengers wanted to gift their expensive cars to the crew which the crew declined. “On reaching Dubai, Captain Modak, his daughter Sadika Modak, our staff and I welcomed the evacuees,” said Captain Kekobad. Hanif added the documentary is also a homage to his father’s memories.

At a recent screening in Delhi, viewers, including some of the officials now retired, involved with the rescue mission by M V Safeer, toasted the gigantic efforts. A letter from K P Fabian, now a prized possession of Capt. Kekobad, reads: “This is to confirm that Government of India did not pay your company any amount towards evacuation of Indian nationals…”


Request for Information for a photo-exhibition in Goa on Parsi Cyclists of 1920s

Greetings from Goa!

My name is Anoop Babani and I am a retired journalist. I live in Goa, India with my wife Dr Maria Savia Viegas, who is a retired professor and now a writer and painter. (www.saviaviegas.in).

We have founded and manage Saxtti Films (www.saxttifilms.com) which is a not-for-profit film society, passionate about good cinema and committed to cultivating and nurturing film ethos. We are ourselves avid cyclists too, part of a cycling group in Goa called Xaxti Riders.

In 2018, we organized two of India’s first-ever festivals of international films on the theme of Cycling and Running, named ReelsOnWheels and ReelsOnHeels.

The Cycling Films Festival was inaugurated by Alexi Grewal, only American ever to win an Olympic Gold Medal in Men’s Road Race Cycling, while the Running Films Festival was inaugurated by India’s Track and Field Queen, P T Usha.

During these festivals, we also organized – for the first-time ever in India – a photo exhibition on amazing global journeys of Indians who cycled around the world in 1920s and 1930s – all of them Parsees from Mumbai and in their early-to-mid twenties.

This Exhibition was titled ‘Our Saddles, Our Butts, Their World’.

I have attached pictures, posters and newspaper coverage for your information.

That is the background. And now the request.

I have been able to acquire some pictorial material on two of the three journeys (I am trying to get more material) through the families and friends of the cyclists.

I am now in the process of reaching out to families of the third group of cyclists, which was led Mr Keki Kharas and included Rustam D Ghandhi and Rutton D Shroff.

It is in this context that I request your help in contacting the family of Mr Keki Kharas and/or of the other two cyclists.

I am writing a book on History of Cycling in India, titled ‘Peddling History: Rise, Fall and Rise of Humble Bike’, and these global journeys will be an integral part of this book.

I am sure you will appreciate that these stories need to be told to younger generation of cyclists in particular and preserved for the future ones.

I extend my sincere thanks and warm wishes

Anoop Babani

Saxtti Films, Goa



Looking for Fram Balaporia

I am trying to reach Mr. Fram N. Balaporia.  I met him in 1960 in Mumbai, at that time Bombay city. 

He was a film Exhibitors at Lotus, Jayhind and many other theatres, in Bombay. He had a office at Tribhuvan Road, Bombay. I was a student at  K.C. college at that time and often went to his theatres on weekends and at new movies premier show. Mr. Balaporia was very successful and had a nice Impala car. However, he was always accessible and kind to me. He was most caring person. When I was not too well, he had write a nice letter and introduced me to his family friends Mrs. Irani who lived in Panchgani,  a hill station outside Bombay. Mrs. Irani was equally nice and had welcomed me to her beautiful home. She had a son who was handicapped and stayed home in their nice home. 
If you have any information about Mr. F.N. Balaporia family members, I would to like to contact them. I will appreciate, if you please send me at my following email address or text me.

For the last forty seven years, I have been residing with my wife of 51 years  in Los Angeles, California.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration. 
Vinod Dave 

Exhibition of Parsi portraits at Ahmedabad

 Gujarat Mitra of Sunday 2nd December supplement on p.8 carries an article re exhibition of Parsi portraits of eminent Parsi men and ladies. Mr. Anil Relia, a serigrapher artist and collector of portraits is displaying his collection of Parsi portraits at Ahmedabad Gufa at Ahmedabad from 4th to 9th December. Parsi sethias of 19th century who went to China or Britain had their portraits made. Some of the portraits are by Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906). A portrait of Rustom-Sohrab of Shah Nameh fame made in 1620 will be on display. Water colour and oil paintings of famous Parsis will be on display. This exhibition brings alive glimpses of times past.(see attachment to view some portraits)

Marzban Giara

Tower of Silence For Parsi Funerals Can Be Built in Texas

Traditional Zoroastrian funerals require stone structures called Dakhmas — “Towers of Silence” — on which corpses are eaten by buzzards, because the Zoroastrian holy text bans other funeral methods.

Excarnatory funeral practices are classified as criminal “Abuse of Corpse” by many state statutes and constitute a misdemeanor to felony offense, thus making traditional Zoroastrian funerals illegal for the 11,000 Zoroastrians in the U.S.

The illegality forces Zoroastrian-Americans to transport their dead overseas which can be prohibitively expensive or to have funerals against their religious mandate.

In a recent scholarly legal article published in the Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion — titled: “Buried, Cremated, Defleshed by Buzzards?” — I analogized the Supreme Court case Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, noting that Zoroastrianism and the Santeria religion both mandate practices involving dead bodies of people and animals. Employing the decision in that case, I argued that traditional Zoroastrian funerals should be legal through a 1st Amendment Freedom of Religion Free Exercise Clause exemption.

Of the three tests courts could apply to a Zoroastrian funeral case, I advocated that courts use the test where an exemption would be granted unless the government could demonstrate a compelling reason not to.

Based on the government’s arguments in Hialeah, I predicted that the government in a Zoroastrian funeral case would argue that it has a compelling interest 1) in protecting public health, safety, and welfare; 2) in preventing the emotional injury that is likely to result from witnessing a religiously motivated excarnatory funeral; 3) in protecting the dead from desecration; and 4) in restrictive zoning.

The government’s interest in public health, safety, and welfare is not compelling because the government’s interest is limited to the degree of risk human corpses pose which is negligible according to the World Health Organization and the American Journal of Disaster Medicine. Further, Zoroastrian custom requires tying corpses down thus mitigating concerns about buzzards carrying off corpses. Moreover, several states have ‘body farm’ facilities which involve exposure of corpses to the elements and scavenging of corpses by animals, so differential treatment of ‘body farms’ and religiously-motivated excarnatory funerals would weaken the government’s argument.

The government’s interest in preventing the emotional injury that is likely to result from witnessing a religiously motivated excarnatory funeral is not compelling because the mourners of deceased Zoroastrians will not suffer emotional injury because they do not enter the Dakhma. Moreover, the excarnation does not occur within view of anyone, and it is a culturally accepted practice in the community.

Similarly, the government’s interest in protecting the dead from desecration is not compelling because whoever desires a traditional Zoroastrian funeral can say so in their Last Will and Testament.

However, the government’s interest in restrictive zoning is compelling, but only to the point of on par regulation with similarly situated enterprises such as body farms.

Given the need for buzzards to consume the corpse, the need to sun-bleach the bones after excarnation has occurred, and the state’s likely desire to zone Dahkmas far away from residential and commercial areas, a promising state to build a Dakhma in is Texas.

This is because the Forensic Anthropology Center or the body farm at Texas State University is well-established. Moreover, the local vulture population has already been used to study the effects of vulture scavenging on human decomposition as would occur in a Zoroastrian funeral.

Khushbu Solanki

Rutgers Law School graduate





Originally from India, Riyaz Bhada has over 22 years of experience in working on international projects throughout the UK, Middle East, Uganda, India and Australia. Riyaz is currently the head of Perfect Practice’s growing design team and here we talk to him about his career, how healthcare design is changing and some of the joys and challenges of designing healthcare spaces in Australia…

What made you choose architecture and design at the beginning of your career?

I knew I wanted to do architecture from a very young age, probably 11 or 12, as buildings, arts and sculptures fascinated me. I realised it more when I was declared second in the entrance exam in 1991 among 11,800 other candidates at the university of Mumbai and the second time when I was the first student whose thesis was published in the Indian Institute of Architects journal in January 1997, to de-congest traffic in the CBD of Mumbai. Both reaffirmed my decision in pursuing this line of work and today, if someone asked me what i would have done if not architecture or design, I really don’t know!

So why fit-out and interiors and not architecture?

It’s the fast pace that excites me most, such as the pressure of everyone wanting everything yesterday. Architecture is much slower and prolonged with a lot more components as well, however both have their pros and cons.

Which University did you study at?

I studied at Sir JJ College of architecture, in Mumbai and finished with a first-class Hon’s Degree. I then had my degree accessed and re-qualified in the UK along with an advanced diploma in professional practice and management in Architecture. I also became a chartered Architect at the RIBA in London. (Royal Institute of British Architects)

What do you think are the biggest challenges of creating healthcare practices today in Australia?

Every projects brings its own challenges and problems. It’s solving these problems with the right solution that makes our job as designers interesting. Architecture is all about functionality. Each doctor works differently from one another but in keeping with the general principles of healthcare practices.

The biggest challenge is time, more so for the doctors with their busy schedules. We try and make sure we can get the most out of fewer meetings in taking advantage of all the time we have with them. It’s also important that these meetings are held in close access to the resources of our showroom. This makes it so much more practical when deciding on materials as all the sample are right there. It definitely helps ensure we get it right.

Do you see any old fads and trends coming back in to fashion that may appear in tomorrows practices?

Yes, fashion and interior trends do tend to come back in some form or shape. They do say history repeats itself, and some trends are definitely re-emerging, just with a modern twist.  For example wall paper and bright colours are being used more frequently, steering away from the neutral tones. Design, especially in healthcare, is being more and more influenced by the science of best-practice and ergonomic functionality whilst adopting human-centred design principals . With aesthetics, it really comes down to finding the balance between something bold or attractive and choosing materials that are timeless, not necessarily clinical but warm and aesthetically pleasing. Incorporating all this into a practice design, with close attention to all, that is what makes my team great designers.

How would you future proof a practice design?

Minimalism is the answer. Function follows form is my design principle. To future proof any practice it’s important to maximise its planning potential but not to overdo the requirements for future growth to such an extent that spaces aren’t used to their full potential. (For example – if you know you need a 3 chair dental practice, design it for 4 but not 6-7 chairs thereby reducing the size of all surgeries. In other words, common sense must prevail).

What are some of the most common questions clients ask you in the design meetings?

It’s difficult to pin point a common question, as each project comes with its own questions. Something very common would be –

  • How can I make my practice look different and stand out from all the others?

Then more on the technical side –

  • Why are the corridors so wide?
  • Why do you have to leave so much space next to the door? – on the latch side.
  • Why do we need a disabled toilet, my last practice didn’t have one?

All of the above are based on regulation as part of new access requirements.

  • How do I bring the cost down? And put those savings in the reception and waiting area.

What is the best part of working at Perfect Practice?

It’s the people that make a good organisation and we have a great team and the right people!

Our Centre for Healthcare Design showroom gives us access to every possible material that is seen in a healthcare practice and most importantly allows us to share this with our clients. It really is a great asset to have in the design phase.

What do you like to do when not at work?

Keep myself fit by going to the gym daily. I play golf and squash on most weekends and I love good food. I also enjoy hiking in my holidays.

If you could take any car in the world for a test drive, what would it be and why?

Test driving a super V8 luxury car would be nice but what fascinates me more is test driving a self-balancing fully-enclosed motorcycle or a flying car. Waiting for that to come soon!

And finally, if I gave you $100 to spend on whatever you wanted right now, what would it be?

A nice meal and flowers for my wife.

10 Indians in the 1920s-30s went on cycling expeditions; 7 succeeded

October 15, 1923 was yet another mellow Monday morning in Bombay, but the city’s central district of Grant Road was ablaze with blaring music. The erstwhile Bombay Weightlifting Club had organised a send-off for six of its young members — Adi B Hakim, Gustad G Hathiram, Jal P Bapasola, Keki D Pochkhanawala, Nariman B Kapadia and Rustom B Bhumgara — all of them Parsis in their 20s and readying for their cycling expedition around the world, a first such feat by Indians.


What had inspired them to undertake this seemingly-impossible journey? “It was a public lecture at Bombay’s Oval Maidan in 1920 by a French man who had walked from Europe to India,” reminisces 75-year-old Rohinton Bhumgara. Rohinton is foggy about the name of the world-walker, who eventually died of malaria in Assam, on his way to South-East Asia. Says Jasmine Marshall, granddaughter of Adi Hakim, “There was an extraordinary zeal of adventure in my granddad. ‘Nothing is impossible’, he would often tell me.”

Adi, Jal and Rustom pedalled 71,000 km over four-and-a-half years — at times in 60ºC, for days without food and some days without water, across pirate-infested territories and in swamp lands, through dense jungles and “up 6,600 ft amongst the terrible solitudes of the Alps”, avoiding the sea and traversing over most difficult routes, where no cyclists had been before. “We wanted to know the world more intimately and to acquaint the world with India and Indians,” they noted years later.

Not all six completed the ride, though. Nariman returned home from Tehran “for personal reasons” after giving “us company for 5,000 miles”, and Gustad decided to make the US his home. Disheartened by this, Gustad’s close buddy, Keki sailed home from New York.

On their expedition, the cyclists pedalled through Punjab and Baluchistan, crossing Prospect Point in Ziarat, 11,000 feet above sea level and in snow, reaching Iran and then Baghdad. Braving sandstorms, parched throats, temperatures over 57°C and saved from imminent death by Bedouins, they set a record by crossing the 956-km Mesopotamian desert from Baghdad to Aleppo in Syria, in 23 days.

They sailed to Italy, rode over the Alps, across Europe, finally reaching Britain. Three weeks later, they sailed to New York. The threesome cycled 8,400 km across the East to West Coast over five months and boarded S S Tenyo Maru to Japan, a leisurely cruise after months of grilling rides.

Continuing their journeys, they reached the ‘Hermit Kingdom’ of Korea — the first bikers to do so — and on to Manchuria and China. On their last leg, they cycled through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, North Eastern India, Calcutta and Southern India, returning to Bombay on March 18, 1928. They recalled being “surrounded by people who had come to receive us… and garlanded till we were buried in flowers” and hoped that their city would welcome “Scouter F J Davar, who is shortly due in Bombay on the conclusion of a similar enterprise.”

Framroze Davar, 30, was to return home only in 1931. His was a far more adventurous, lengthier, and in-part, solitary journey for “rational curiosity”, beginning in January 1924, and totalling 1,10,000 km, 52 countries and five continents. The 30-year old did not compress his account in a single volume, as it could be “a book of geography gone mad”. He chronicled his arduous ride over the Andes Mountains in Cycling Over Roof Of The World(1929), risky passage through Sahara in Across The Sahara (1937) and crossing of the Amazon in The Amazon in Reality and Romance (1960).

He had cycled more than 5,000 km entirely on his own, for 11 months! In Vienna, he met Gustav Sztavjanik, his cycling mate for the next seven years. The duo cycled through Western and Eastern Europe, rode over the Alps and Mont Blanc mountain, pedalled through parts of erstwhile Soviet Union, Baltic countries, Poland, and Scandinavia, including Lapland, and returned to France 18 months later, to sail to Algiers in Africa. They tortured themselves through the Sahara, counting 156 camel skeletons along the way, surviving eight sandstorms, and a malaria attack. After cycling through Africa for another six months, they boarded a ship from Dakar to Rio de Janeiro, to take on their next big challenge, riding over the mighty Andes. Six months and 2,700 km later, they reached Argentina from Brazil, and scaled the Andes up to a height of 5,200m.

America was a relief. They got back to their saddles, cycling from the East to West Coast, lecturing and meeting dignitaries, including President Herbert Hoover and tycoon Henry Ford, before sailing to Japan. They sailed to Shanghai, cycled through Hong Kong, Singapore, Sumatra, Burma, Calcutta and Bombay on March 22, 1931.


Luck and the exciting accounts tempted yet one more — and the last — group of cyclists, Keki J Kharas, Rustam D Ghandhi and Rutton D Shroff. “We were all thoroughly and hopelessly afflicted with wanderlust,” they wrote in Across The Highways Of The World (1939). Setting off from Bombay in 1933, they cycled through central and northern India, Punjab, Kashmir, Multan and Baluchistan (then a part of India).


“In Afghanistan, we were marooned in the desert for three successive days and nights without either food or water and traversed on camel and donkey tracks; we were snow-bound in northern Iran; and were suspected as British spies in eastern Turkey,” they wrote in Pedalling Through the Afghan Wilds(1935).

Keki, Rustam and Rutton cycled through Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Britain, France, Spain, Switzerland and Italy. They sailed to Alexandria and pedalled “twenty-one months across Africa, from Cairo to Cape Town, a distance of 12,000 miles (nearly 20,000 km). We were fortuitously saved oftener than we can recall.”


In 1937, the trio sailed from South Africa to Argentina and cruised through South and Central America until they reached Mexico and rode into USA from Texas. They spent a year cycling through the ‘New World’ and touching the borders of Canada. From USA, they sailed to Japan and cycled across Japan, China, Australia, Singapore and Burma, before reaching Bombay on January 29, 1942. In slightly less than nine years, Kharas, Ghandhi and Shroff had traversed 84,000 km, spanning five continents.


Our Saddles, Our Butts, Their World is a photo exhibition of the cyclists, to be held in ReelsOnHeels, India’s First-ever International Festival of Films on Running, December 1 and 2, 2018 at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao, Goa, curated by former Mumbai-based journalist and now avid cyclist, Anoop Babani

Courtesy : Parsi Khabar – https://parsikhabar.net/sports/10-indians-in-the-1920s-30s-went-on-cycling-expeditions-7-succeeded/18994/

Gujarat’s Arzan Nagwaswalla keeps Parsi legacy alive in cricket

Parsis have played an important part in Indian cricket history.

Parsis were the first Indian side to visit England in 1886. And around 12 Parsis, such as Farrokh Engineer, Polly Umrigar, Nari Contractor, have played for the Indian cricket teams over the years. The last big name being India women’s captain Diana Edulji.

There still exist a few Parsi clubs in Mumbai which play in the famous monsoon cricket Kanga League, but the Parsi cricketers are almost invisible on the cricketing scene.

On Wednesday morning, one Parsi cricketer — Arzan Nagwaswalla must have made his community proud with a heartening bowling performance, representing Gujarat, that bamboozled Mumbai in their own den Wankhede Stadium.

On a grassy pitch, Nagwaswalla not only came up with a five-wicket haul (5/78) but also seemed to indicate that it is not all over as far as cricketing legacy of the Parsis is concerned.

Nagwaswalla was involved in a major batting Mumbai collapse after bringing three wickets down in two overs at 74 of Suryakumar Yadav, Armaan Jaffer and Aditya Tare even as the calls by his teammates of “Well bowled Bawa” went around. He completed his five wickets after dismissing Dhrumil Matkar after dismissing Mumbai’s crisis man Siddhesh Lad.

“This is my first season and third Ranji match. I have played age group cricket for Gujarat and the performances there helped me in my promotion to the Ranji side,” said the 21-year-old cricketer.

Nagwaswalla said he was nervous when he was handed over the new ball to bowl at the Wankhede. “It all evaporated after the first over. It was my first match on this ground, was a good wicket to bow on. I got the rewards for putting the ball on the right place.”

The youngster has not played club cricket, but he has trained under former Ranji Trophy players. “There are no clubs. My village Umbergaon is on the border of Maharashtra. We had a few Ranji players at our players and I worked under them. I got interest and then the opportunities one after another.”

Nagwaswalla isn’t aware if whether Parsi cricketers still play cricket in domestic circuit. “Mine is not a cricket background. I knew there were Parsi players, who played for India and I know some names. However, I don’t know about the current situation…who is playing or not.”

“I am the youngest player in my town. Not many from my community are left back there and they have either moved to Mumbai or migrated elsewhere,” said Nagwaswalla, who idolises Zaheer Khan and Wasim Akram.



I was raised to treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO.

Genocides will come & go

As long as the rivers of

Hatred Racism Discrimination

Bigotry Sacrilege

Continues to flow

Let’s not be

The world’s watch dog

Clean up our own mess

Heed & practice the

Pristine Message

The legacy He left us 

Hundreds of years ago

If one cannot

Treat as well follow

The Pristine Teachings

With Respect & practice

They it was supposed to be

Then one cannot

A Zoroastrian  be.

Praying the Avesta

From cover to cover

Going to Atash Behrams

As well as Agiaries

To pray & pay homage

To the Holy Fire

On the other  hand

Stoking the fires of

Racism Discrimination

Bigotry & Segregation

Higher & Higher.


`This my Religion.

There is no need

For temples;

No need for

Complicated philosophy.

Our own brain

Our own heart

Is our temple

The philosophy is

Kindness…. Dalai Lama

Treating someone

With disrespect

Because of their

Ideologies colour caste

Or Creed

On the lower rung

Of the social status

May be a little

Rebuke from

Ahura Mazda is

A jolt one needs


Leadership is not about titles,positions or flow charts  It’s about one life influencing another

John C Maxwell.

In a nut shell: Get rid of Prejudice Ego Pride but treat each other with Respect Dignity Humility including Understanding

Choicest Happiness