Lost Worlds’: Parsi ‘Çultures’ And Strongmen In Twentieth Century Bombay

The Board of Trustees and Members of the Governing Body



invite you to a lecture along with a power-point presentation


“‘Lost Worlds’: Parsi ‘Çultures’ And

Strongmen In Twentieth Century Bombay


          Dr Namrata Ganneri

       Research Fellow

Avabai Wadia Research Fellowship in memory of Phiroz Mehta


6 pm on Wednesday, 14th March 2018

in the Dr Sir J J Modi Memorial Hall of the Institute

136 Bombay Samachar Marg, Opposite Lion Gate, Fort,

Mumbai – 400 023

Dr Louiza Rodrigues

Professor, Department Of History,

Ramnarain Ruia Autonomous College, Mumbai

will preside

Do join us for tea at 5.30 pm


RSVP 22843893 / 08879253893                     E-mail: krcamaoi123@gmail.com

Right of Admission Reserved


‘Lost Worlds’: Parsi ‘Cultures’ and strongmen in twentieth century Bombay

Parsi patronage as well as participation in most modern ‘organised’ sports is well- documented and discussed, but their participation in ‘physical culture movement’ remains obscure and under-investigated.  The ‘Physical Culture Movement’ emanating from the North-Atlantic world consisted of various combinations of gymnastics, calisthenics, weight-lifting and dieting to develop  muscular, healthy bodies and  had adherents all over the world by the first few decades of the twentieth century. Consequently, ‘Physical Culture Homes’ or ‘Çultures’ were founded and physical culture became a craze amongst many Parsi men (and some women) in the city of Bombay.

This lecture traces the history of ‘Physical Culture Homes’ and some iconic strongmen and physical culturists who emerged from these institutes. Many of these men were ‘local heroes’ and are still alive in ‘community memory’ though their histories have not been recorded in any conventional historical archive. The lecture also retrieves traditions of Parsi involvement in ‘índigenous’ wrestling and allied sports and comments on continuities with older traditions of body-building.  Finally, the lecture will also be an opportunity to   showcase the wealth of material collected during interviews with elderly physical -culture enthusiasts and strongmen of the community.


Dr Farah Shroff in Mumbai

Health Advocacy – at SNDT Churchgate on Monday March 19 at 2pm on the 5th floor
Dr Shroff will discuss the social determinants of health–income, social status, education, housing and so forth and talk about taking action on these determinants of health, with aim of keeping communities healthy.
Reproductive Health--tentative topic – at SNDT Santacruz / Juhu around March 8, 2017
 Dr Shroff will discuss childbirth practices, the legalization and regulation of midwifery and challenges in Canada. She will reflect on Canadian midwifery vis a vis midwifery issues in India and other nations.
Farah Shroff – farah.shroff@ubc.ca

Gathas : Songs my father taught me

The Alliance Française de Pune 


Poona Music Society


concert called 

“Gathas : Songs my father taught me.” 


Ariana Vafadari 

under the label of 

Bonjour India 2017-18. 


Thursday, 22nd February | 7 PM
Mazda Hall, Dastur Primary School, Camp

The Gathas are the prayers of Zoroastrianism, the monotheistic religion of Ancient Persia. These poems from philosopher and prophet Zarathustra date from about 3700 years. They are surprisingly modern, expressing the life, doubts and choices of a man. As there are no records of the way they were sung originnally, Franco-Iranian Ariana Vafadari composed every song according to radifs or oriental scales. It results in music that constantly vibrates between its Oriental mystic foundations and their matching Western opera. Ariana Vafadari and her musicians have a common trait, they unremittingly stretch musical boundaries. In perfect continuity with their cultural and musical backgrounds, they were trained by traditional Iranian, Ottoman and Moroccan music, jazz, Western classical music or opera, in their improvisations and the practice of their instruments, they travel freely from one world to the next.

The third edition of Bonjour India 2017-18 is a four-month-long mega voyage across India that will celebrate Indo-French partnership as well as shape the next decade of human exchange between the two countries.



This concert is organised in association with Poona Music Society.

Zoroastrians Celebrating “Jashn-e Sadeh” In Yazd

The central province of Yazd is home to a large population of Iranian Zoroastrians. This past Tuesday, they celebrated the annual mid-winter feast “Jashn-e Sadeh” by preparing a large bonfire (also known as Adur-Jashan, or Feast of fire).

The annual festivity honors fire, the defeat of darkness/cold and signifies the coming of Spring.

Click Here for more pics


Whether it is the matter of globalization and social media growth or not, several celebrations and festivals which are originated from the West have permeated the Iranian calendar over recent years.

In all parts of the world, such events are rooted in ancient religious events, myths or lifestyle of people and Western ceremonies are not an exception.

However, Iran has one of the world’s richest civilizations boasting many events and celebrations similar to Western galas with nearly the same backstories.

Yet many of these ceremonies have fallen into oblivion and replaced with Western versions.

Valentine’s vs. Sepandarmazgan

In early February, the shop windows in Tehran and some other big cities nationwide turn to red color, reminding passersby of the upcoming Valentine’s Day.

Many Iranians celebrate the day with big red teddies and red roses on February 14.

The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery. February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman traditions.

Iran has one of the world’s richest civilizations boasting many events and celebrations similar to Western galas with nearly the same backstories. Yet many of these ceremonies have fallen into oblivion and replaced with Western versions.

Sepandarmazgan, an ancient Persian festival with Zoroastrian roots, is widely known as the Iranian Day of Love, which is celebrated on February 24.

This day is dedicated to Spenta Armaiti, the Amesha Spenta who is given the domain of “Earth”. The date of the festival as observed in the Sassanid era was on the 5th day of the month Spandarmad, the last month of Iranian calendar, Esfand, which is from February 20 to March 20.

The deity Spandarmad protected the Earth and the good, chaste and beneficent wife who loves her husband.

In recent years, many Iranians have taken steps to introduce Sepandarmazgan as a national replica for Valentine’s Day, which is celebrated ten days after its Western edition.

Christmas vs. Noruz 

Christian Armenians in Iran celebrate Christmas each year in different parts of the country.

Some Christian neighborhoods offer Christmas sweets and ornaments days before Christmas.

However in recent years, confectionaries, photography studios and other stores offer Christmas packages to their customers and many non-Christians hold Christmas party and reunion.

  • Noruz, the Iranian New Year Celebration, is annually held on March 21, worldwide by the Iranians, along with some other nations, as the beginning of the New Year.

The United Nations General Assembly recognized the International Day of Noruz in 2010, describing it as a spring festival of Iranian origin, which has been celebrated for over 3,000 years.

House cleaning and shopping, Haft Seen (a tabletop arrangement of seven symbolic items), visiting one another and Sizdebedar (last day of Noruz holidays spent outdoor in the nature) are some predominant rituals on the occasion of the event.

A photographic studio in Tehran offers decoration for Halloween – theme decoration

Halloween vs. harvest festivals

In the past, Halloween was a celebration Iranians watched just in movies. However, in recent years, it has been turned into a celebration for many Iranians.

They celebrate the event as a reunion in which foods and deserts made from pumpkin is served.

Halloween is an annual holiday, celebrated each year on October 31, which has roots in age-old European traditions.

This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death.

Iranians in different regions celebrate harvest season in different ways.

Farmers all over Iran celebrate their harvest time which may vary based on the types of products.

Today we are more connected with people in all parts of the world more than any time in history, which has its own pros and cons.

If we are aware, maybe it turns into a chance for us to benefit from historical experiences of other nations but what is clear is that being a mere replica of others is not the way we should take.


Gregorian and Persian Calendars

Happy US Thanksgiving to all.

In Canada Thanksgiving was celebrated on 9 October DO YOU KNOW WHY?
Because the immigrants who came from Europe in the 14 & 15th century had a vague memory of Thanksgiving from back home. Those that had landed in Canada celebrated it in the first week of October in the year 1578. They were 53 immigrants and 90 Natives who took part.
In the US in 1621 Thanksgiving was celebrated by the settlers for the first time at the end of November about a month before winter.
President Lincoln celebrated it officially for the first time and Franklin Roosevelt made it national in 1939 then it was approved as a holiday by Congress in 1941.
Which of them is correct?
Maybe Neither because both were celebrated by European settlers from a vague memory they had from back home. Thanksgiving was related to harvesting and so each chose a day of their choice depending on when they found time after their harvest ended.
In Europe and England in the 1500’s they had about 95 Church holidays apart from the Sunday’s and they were required to attend prayers at church. Reformists were against such holidays and reduced it to 27 holidays. Today most of Europe do not celebrate Thanksgiving.
IN ANCIENT IRAN (3755 years ago) all festivals were related scientifically to the position of the Earth in relation to the sun, and its result, the change of season in Nature.
Thanksgiving MEHREGAN was celebrated on the Autumnal Equinox when Summer ended and Autumn started. Just like they celebrated Nou Rooz on the Vernal Equinox. They celebrated Mehregan on the First of Mehr month (23 September).
NOTE that the Europeans did not know that the Earth went around the Sun and in 1615 when Galileo said so, he was prosecuted and asked to retract his claim. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest.
The Persian calendar from the 2 millennium BCE  (as mentioned in the Bundahisn)  has been recognized as a PERFECT CALENDAR check it at.
The Gregorian calendar has gone so wrong that it calls the last four months as the 7th.  8th,  9th and 10th.
Did you know that originally it was a Roman lunar calendar that started in Spring? They had 38 weeks of 9 days, in 10 months,  And they intercalated the last 23 days in winter. That March April May & June are names of Roman gods. The rest were serial numbers.
That Julia Caesar named the then 5th month after himself JULY and Augustus Caesar named the next month after himself so we have AUGUST.
Check Out the PERFECT ancient Zarathushti calendar at
Hope one day very soon the world (UNESCO) will recognize this natural calendar that tracks nature and needs no correction for 110,000 years and adopts it as a Perfect calendar.

Fariborz Rahnamoon