A BRIEF HISTORY OF FOUNDATION FOR DEVELOPMENT OF UDVADA
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.