Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Portraits, memorabilia: When ‘Aapri Rani’ Elizabeth lived in Parsi homes & memory

This fascination with the British monarchy is not just limited to Bomanbehram, 75. Every Zoroastrian Parsi and Irani home, it is said lightheartedly, has a portrait of the queen, be it Victoria or Elizabeth. The community often referred to Elizabeth as “Aapri Rani” (our queen).

The late Boman Rashid Kohinoor, who ran Britannia and Co. cafe, was well known for his fondness for the royal family. Bombaywalla Historical Works

 

Among Hutokshi Bomanbehram’s family heirlooms is a miniature carriage, all of eight inches, with eight horses and four riders. A closer look reveals it’s a model of the Gold State Coach, the gilded carriage that British monarchs, including Queen Elizabeth II, have ridden in for coronations since 1821. That’s not all — Bomanbehram also owns a 50-year-old Wedgwood plate depicting the Tower of London and coins minted with Elizabeth’s visage.

This fascination with the British monarchy is not just limited to Bomanbehram, 75. Every Zoroastrian Parsi and Irani home, it is said lightheartedly, has a portrait of the queen, be it Victoria or Elizabeth. The community often referred to Elizabeth as “Aapri Rani” (our queen). And when she died on September 8, this refrain rang out across social media posts — some sincere, some tongue-in-cheek.

Bomanbehram, 75, who worked as a secretary at a company, said: “My interest in the British Royal Family is more than I would have for any other royal family. I probably got it from my cousin.”

From the weddings of Charles and Diana and William and Kate to the death of Philip and the Platinum Jubilee—Bomanbehram has caught up with most of the Royal Family’s milestones. The thing she loved the most about the late queen of England — her dignity. “I always got the feeling she was alone. But there was a dignity about her. That’s what I felt drawn towards.”

 Press release photograph of Queen Elizabeth II during her royal visit to India in 1961. Passing by Oriental Mansion Building (Opp. NGMA)
Courtesy – Phillips Antiques, Mumbai
Noshir Dadrawala, 61, a former trustee of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, recalls framed portraits of the erstwhile queens at home as a child. The frames are now long gone and the portraits have been tucked away. Dadrawala said: “My parents were from the pre-Independence era, and many continued to cherish a fondness for the British though they accepted the transition [to Independent India]. This didn’t mean they were any less patriotic. Those like Dadabhai Naoroji and Bhikaji Cama were a part of the freedom movement.”

Dadrawala recalled it was common to hear of resemblances between family members and the royals. A generation ago, it was routine to find odd knickknacks and valuable souvenirs connected to the coronation and the jubilees across Parsi and Irani homes. Coins, biscuit tins, tea sets and miniature models were treasured objects.

Sarvar Irani, 61, who works as AGM of administration at a Mumbai mall, has a unique collection, however. Some thirty years ago, Sarvar started seeking out books, souvenirs, carte de visites, postcards and other paper ephemera connected to the British monarchy, especially Elizabeth and Diana. Her favourite is on the coronation of Elizabeth published in 1953 by the Illustrated London News. She has also preserved Time magazine’s commemorative issue on Diana from 1997, the year she died. The souvenir for Elizabeth’s funeral, scheduled for September 19, is next on her list. Sarvar keeps an eye on social media posts and listings in community newspapers for worthwhile acquisitions.

 Hutokshi Bomanbehram carriage
CREDIT: Mayur Tekchandaney
“I loved the queen for her poise,” she said, observing that even as Elizabeth’s visage aged across portraits and memorabilia, she still had “the same smile and the same twinkle in her eye”.

Sarvar’s daughter Sharon, 37, a writer and researcher, recalls pictures of Charles, Diana and baby William at her aunt’s home back in her childhood. She said: “They were framed photographs so, as a child, I thought they were my relatives. Charles has a Bawa nose, so why not, right?”

Sarvar’s mother migrated from Yazd in Iran to Bombay (as it was then known) before independence. Sharon said migration may be one of the reasons why her community is interested in collecting in general. “Some people may think these royal memorabilia convey an imperialist mindset but a lot of it is about loss. We are keenly aware of time shifting,” she said.

The Zoroastrians arrived in India mainly fleeing persecution in Iran (formerly Persia) since the 7th century AD. They integrated with local communities here, and when the East India Company set up its trading offices in India, they were able to secure jobs as agents. During the Raj, the British accepted Zoroastrians in their offices more easily than other communities, partly owing to their fair skin and their keenness on an English education.

 Sarvar Irani
Courtesy: Sharon Irani
“The recent generation has understood this postcolonial hangover. Sometimes we make fun of our grandparents when they share memories of the British,” said actor and singer Zervaan Bunshah. Bunshah, 28, is popular for his comic sketches on social media and Elizabeth’s death elicited a humorous take on his community. In a sketch titled “Aapri Rani” he performs as fictional Zoroastrian characters, each lamenting the death.

Bunshah said: “The joke is about our obsession with the queen. It’s meant as a joke. But, in the current scenario, audiences take it too seriously and think it’s anti-national. I have received abuses for my post along these lines.”

Thankfully, many Zoroastrians are in on the joke. A post that circulated on WhatsApp on the weekend of September 11, which the Government of India declared as a day of mourning for Elizabeth’s death, said every Parsi home must observe a condolence lunch “to commemorate the passing away of our beloved cousin, albeit 378 times removed.” The menu included mutton dhansak, a traditional funeral dish.

The Zoroastrian figure most notable for his fondness of the Royal Family is the late Boman Rashid Kohinoor. Kohinoor ran Ballard Estate’s popular Irani cafe, Britannia and Co., which his father had set up in 1923. Historian Simin Patel, who is researching Mumbai’s Irani cafes for her upcoming book, had met Kohinoor over the years until his death in 2019 at the age of 97. She observed that while Kohinoor was known to dote on the Royal Family, it was one of his many efforts to build rapport with the international patrons at his restaurant. She said, “This image [of his love of the British royals] was really cultivated in the 2000s. He was very bright, had views on several subjects and was up to date. The fascination with the British was quirky, and the laminated photos helped that, but he had 15 countries that he spoke about at ease.”
At Britannia and Co., Kohinoor hung a portrait of Elizabeth right next to one of Gandhi. His son Afshin, 61, who now runs the cafe, said the portrait was sent to his father, along with a letter from Elizabeth, around 2012, the year of the Diamond Jubilee. The portrait will stay in its place till he runs the cafe, but is not sure of its fate after that, especially since younger generations aren’t keen on it. He said: “My father is gone. The queen is gone. This is all history now.”
Written by Benita Fernando

Full Report & Video link English Heritage Blue Plaque Dadabhai Naoroji Wed 10th Aug 2022

Dear ZTFE Members & Well-wishers

Attached is the full report written by Rohinton together with the video link of the proceedings also pasted below, link for photographs, transcript of the speech by our patron Lord Karan F Bilimoria CBE DL and why English Heritage opted to install a Blue Plaque at Dadabhai Naoroji’s former residence at 72, Anerly Park, Penge, London SE20 8NQ.

Dadabhai Naoroji Blue Plaque English Heritage Long Video Film by Videographer Paresh Solanki.

Dadabhai Naoroji Blue Plaque English Heritage Short Video Film by Videographer Paresh Solanki.

Dadabhai Naoroji Blue Plaque English Heritage photos by Documentary Photographer Lucy Millson-Watkins

https://photos.app.goo.gl/ckviWyfirbLYeF7E8

Kindly share the contents of this email with those who are not connected to the internet, or / and do not receive ZTFE Group emails.

Yours sincerely
Malcolm M Deboo
ZTFE President

Dadabhai Naoroji Blue Plaque English Heritage iReport Wed 10th Aug 2022

Celebrating Birthdays… And Life

Birthdays are special. In our childhood or senior years, most, if not everyone, looks forward to celebrating this day. Each birthday reminds us we’re getting older. However, it also commemorates important milestones in our journey. Birthdays provide us the excuse for extra celebration. Everyone, young or old, gets a day to feel extra special – especially by family and friends. It’s not necessarily a day to celebrate one’s length of life. It’s the day to celebrate the depth and intensity of one’s life lived with purpose, productivity and progress.

How Ancient Persians Celebrated Birthdays: Herodotus, ‘The Father of History’, writes: “Of all the days in the year, the one which they (the Persians) celebrate most is their birthday. It is customary to have the table furnished on that day with an ampler supply than common with all types of meats. They eat little solid food but abundance of dessert, which is set on the table, a few dishes at a time; this it is which makes them say that ‘the Greeks, when they eat, leave off hungry, having nothing worth mention served up to them after the meats; whereas, if they had more put before them, they would not stop eating.’ They are very fond of wine, and drink it in large quantities.”

Our fondness of meats, desserts and wine seems to have remained consistent for more than two and half millennia. The Shahnameh (the Iranian Book of Kings) also narrates the extensive festivities on the joyous occasion of the birth of Rustom.

Ritual Celebrations: In the Zoroastrian tradition there are no specific or mandatory religious rituals that are prescribed for celebrating one’s birthday. One could simply pray at home before the hearth fire or pray and offer some sandalwood at an Agyari or Atash Bahram. Some offer Machi (a throne of long sandalwood sticks) to the Holy Fire after which the priest prays the Tandorosti – for good health and prosperity of the person celebrating his or her birthday. Some even perform a Khushali nu Jashan at home or at the fire temple.

Some Parsis also perform the Faresta ceremony. Fareshta means a Divine Messenger or Angel. In the Avesta, Faresta are referred to as Yazata. The Faresta ceremony is usually performed on joyous occasions, like marriage, birthday, Navjote, on moving into a new home or office or on fulfilment of a cherished wish. In this ceremony thirty-three Yazata are propitiated.

It is also considered meritorious to perform acts of charity on this day and earn blessings of those in need. There is also an old and forgotten tradition to plant a tree on this auspicious day and nurture it throughout the year. In ancient times (before urbanisation) this was quite common in the villages where Parsis lived in large mansions with sprawling compounds or at their farm houses and orchards.

Cutting a cake is a modern trend which we seem to have borrowed from the West. However, blowing out candles is considered strictly un-Zoroastrian. We are encouraged instead to light a divo (oil lamp) at home, at the Agyari or a well.

Blast From The Past: I remember as a child waking up rather early in the morning, with a lot of excitement and anticipation. In those days, there were no text messages to read on smart phones. We did not even have a landline at home. Birthday greeting cards or simple picture post cards would arrive a day or two in advance with blessings and good wishes penned in red-ink by relatives and friends. Red is considered auspicious as it represents the colour of blood or life and good health. These would be placed on a table that would have the traditional ses with a diva (oil lamp). Postcards ensured zero privacy and postmen would deliver the cards with a big smile and wish happy birthday and expect a generous tip.

The bath would be special with some warm milk and fresh rose petals in it. The milk would be poured from the head down to the toe and after which the head and body would be washed with a fresh new bar of soap and the body dried with a brand-new Turkish towel. Rose water would be added to the aluminium (there was hardly any plastic that we used) bucket of bathwater – we did not know of overhead or hand showers back then.

By the time I would be out from the bathroom, the floor would be swept clean by the domestic help (who would get a new sari and cash as gift), the door would be garlanded, the threshold decorated with chalk and the home would be fragrant with mixed aromas of rose, jasmine, loban and sev (vermicelli) being fried in the kitchen. After a quick prayer, I would be made to stand on a patlo (a small wooden foot-stool) which would be decorated with chalk. Of course, everything that I would be wearing would be new – from socks and shoes to the cap on my head.

My mother would first ensure that no evil-eye would affect me and so she would circle a raw egg seven times around my head and break it near my feet. Then a copper tumbler with water would be circled around my head seven times and the water would be thrown away. Finally, a coconut would be circled seven times around my head and cracked near my feet. We would be convinced after this ritual that my personal aura was purged of all impurities and negativity.

A big red tilo would adorn my forehead with rice (symbolising prosperity and abundance). I would be garlanded, given a fresh coconut in one hand and made to eat some rock sugar and fresh sweet curd. Presents would then be given to me – usually a cash envelope with eleven or twenty-one rupees (very generous pocket money for that time), a good book or a board game.

Dad would then take me to the Agyari at Mazagaon where I have lived for most part of my life. Back in those days, the Patel Agyari at Mazagaon had a huge compound with a beautiful pomegranate tree. It had quaint village atmosphere which I loved. With my birthday falling in the month of August, it would usually be a rainy day and I would love the scent of wet earth in the Agyari compound.

Back at home, breakfast would be sev, boiled eggs and sweet curd, after which I would be made to distribute boxes of jalebi or suterferni (purchased the evening before from Grant Road) to the neighbours. Lunch would be sagan nu dhan daar and patio – the fish would usually be pomfret. We would then catch a movie at 3:00 pm, either at Novelty cinema or Apsara talkies at Grant Road. We would travel by bus, but on our return, it would be the luxury of a Fiat taxi, but not before picking up some fresh and hot wafers and sali (potato straws) from ‘A1 Wafers’ at Balaram Street!

Dinner would be at home – usually chicken with sali picked up earlier from A1 wafers. It was not fashionable back then to eat out and my mother was amazing with her culinary skills. Dessert would either be jelly or a bar of Cadbury’s milk chocolate. No photographs would be shot because we did not even have a simple camera. We did not cut any cake either. We would simply eat mithai. Only the Parsi Roj Birthday was celebrated. The date birthday was given no importance.

Trust me, those were my most memorable birthdays – through the sixties and the seventies. Simple, yet satisfying and when less was more!

Noshir Dadrawalla

Celebrating Birthdays… And Life

120-year-old Masina Hospital gets ₹22 crore facelift

Mumbai: The historic Masina Hospital—city’s second oldest healthcare centre, is all set to complete the ₹22 crore revamp of its patient facility in the next two months
Mumbai, India – August 22, 2022: Masina Hospital at Byculla, in Mumbai, India, on Monday, August 22, 2022. (Photo by Bhushan Koyande/HT Photo) (HT PHOTO)

The hospital, which became functional with four patients in 1902, and was known for treating patients during the Spanish flu, has recently recentered itself as a multispeciality hospital that also has a heart transplant programme and a dialysis centre.

Spread over 8-acres of land, Masina had initially thought of reviving and restoring the heritage look of the hospital. However, sources have confirmed that the medical facility has put its restoration project on hold for now.

Dr Vispi Jokhi, chief executive officer, said the focus is on upgrading the patient facility. “Our hospital is one of the oldest Parsi Trust-owned hospitals and our focus is on affordable healthcare. While we want to have the restoration work done, our focus right now is on upgrading the health infrastructure only. We started with revamping our operation theatres last year amid the pandemic. This was followed by upgradation of the wards,” he said.

The Kharas Memorial Centre, which houses the main wards, and operation theatres, now has centralised air-conditioning, which was not there earlier, said Dr Jokhi.

He added that the revamped operation theatres now have HEPA filters and laminar airflow for stringent infection control. “We now have suites. But, the beds in the general ward and the beds in suites will have the same patient care. All the beds are connected via monitor to keep a check on vitals like ECG, heart rate, oxygen levels etc. We have also introduced day care centres,” said Dr Jokhi.

The hospital has renowned vascular surgeon Dr Gustad Daver heading the advisory board to help them with the revamp plans. “The work started last year and we intend to complete it in the next two months. We have introduced a 14-bed dialysis centre as well and have made a separate provision to attend to sero-positive patients to avoid spreading infection, if at all. The dialysis centre also has a private room, in case of a demand for the same,” said Behram Khodaiji, joint CEO.

The hospital has also added 10 beds to the existing 15-bed Parsi ward and started a dialysis centre.
By Somita Pal

A SPECIAL DEDICATION FOR OUR HIGHLY RESPECTED MOBED MEHRABAN FIROUZGARY

FROM: MEHER AMALSAD, WESTMINSTER, CALIFORNIA, USA
 
A SPECIAL DEDICATION FOR OUR HIGHLY RESPECTED MOBED MEHRABAN FIROUZGARY
Globally Regarded As One Of The Most Highly Revered Senior-most Zarathushti Head Priest In Iran.
 
THIS VIDEO PRESENTATION WILL BE SHARED AT THE SPECIAL COMMEMORATION CEREMONY IN HONOR OF MOBED MEHRABAN FIROUZGARY ON FATHER’S DAY (AUGUST 21, 2022) IN IRAN
 

 

BaNaMeh Ahura Mazda

To Think A Good Thought, To Speak A Good Word, To Do A Good Deed Is Righteousness.

Happiness Comes To Those Who Choose To Live With The Consciousness Of Righteousness.

And With That Preciousness, Ladies And Gentlemen…

This Is Meher Amalsad From California,  And With Immense Pleasure,

I would like To Speak A Few Words In Honor Of Our Highly Respected Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary, at this very special commemoration ceremony in his Honor on Father’s Day in Iran.

He is globally regarded as one of the most Highly Revered Senior-most Zarathushti Head Priest in Iran.

I have had the good fortune of knowing him as a passionate Mobed and a compassionate family friend for the past 35-Plus Years.

And over the years,  we have had this distinctive opportunity to work together towards supporting our Future Generation In Iran, through the World Zoroastrian Youth Congresses, and via other communal endeavors that were focused on promoting our Zarathushti youth in Iran. And I have truly appreciated his kindness and graciousness towards reaching out to humanity.

Presently, he is also serving as the Senior Advisor and the Guiding Light for the BaHumata Global Prayer, Leadership And Entrepreneurship Monthly Webinar Series, for which we are truly grateful.

 

My Dear And Respected Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary…

You have been an inspiration for serving the worldwide Zarthoshti community, with a commendable willingness to share your wisdom and knowledge, along with your scholastic contribution of numerous articles on various religious subjects.

You have been a pioneer in Avesta recitations through the best researched pronunciations, which were shared globally through your conducted classes, teaching media, as well as through audio recordings, in conjunction with your published book on Khordeh Avesta, which has been standardized for teaching,  as well as for public prayer recitations.

You have been an avid promoter of Gender Equity, Human Equality and Communal Equanimity,  by spearheading the basis and graduation of eight Lady Mobedyars in Iran.

Being officiated in the Yasna rituals,  you have trained five very proficient Mobeds to replace you in that role,  for which I salute you with all my heart and spirit.

 

Now For Those Who Don’t  Know…

Our Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary  has been awarded the “Chehre Mandegar” (Everlasting personality) by the Tehran Zarthoshty Anjuman,  for his 50 plus years of selfless service to our community as well as humanity.

He has been appointed as the Marriage Registrar for Zoroastrians of Tehran, by the Justice Ministry of the Iranian government,   which he conducts with immense joy and pride.

Our Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary  has represented Iran, and participated in panel discussions at several prominent venues namely:  the Parzor UNESCO Filing of Novrooz amongst UNESCO’s World Cultural listings, The World Zoroastrian Congress in Tehran, and Tehran University celebrations of UNESCO’s declaration of the 2000th year of Iranian Culture.

He has also been involved in numerous national and international seminars on Iranian culture and interfaith meetings, the last being his Panel and Prayer sessions at the 2019 Ninth European Conference of Iranian Studies held at Berlin University.

In addition to serving as a Mobed, he built an outstanding career that spanned over 5-decades, as an Industrial Electronics Engineer after receiving his Bachelor’s Degree from India in 1958.

For 10-years, he was employed by J. N. Marshall & Co – a Parsi Owned Engineering firm in India, where he held responsible and prominent positions as the Service and Branch Manager.

In 1968, he married Mehrangiz from Iran and a year later returned to Iran,  where he was first employed by IBM international and then transferred to Honeywell Controls in Tehran,  where he served as the Head of the Electrical and Instrumentation department for over 20+ years.  Even though he officially retired in 1999, he continued to work until 2016. That’s What I Call A Commendable Dedication.

Ladies And Gentlemen:

It is said that: How We Think About Our World, Changes Our World

My Dear And Respected Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary:

Your Forward And Insightful Thinking,  has helped to change the inner world of many Zarathushtis in Iran and worldwide.

Your name “Mehraban” means kind, but you are kinder than kind.

You truly are a person who is “gifted with a spiritual and luminous face, emanating vibrant energy coupled with the knowledge, wisdom and ability to propagate the pristine message of our prophet Zarathushtra”.

And that’s why you are revered as a “Peer”, the eldest, and most enlightened dedicated Iranian Mobed.   But with utmost humility and modesty, you still prefer to be addressed as “Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary”.

I Love That Spirit Of Humility And Dignity In You.

You Truly Are A Gem Of A Human Being For Which I Salute You With All My Love And Light

Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary, it has been a joy and a privilege;  of knowing you as a Special Friend.

So, At This Very Special Commemoration Celebration in your Honor

I Thank You For Your Fatherly Guidance To Our Zarathushti Community And Humanity.

I am grateful for the gift of your friendship and thankful for the blessing of your leadership.

And, I wish you a life filled with Love, Light, Grace, Joy And Peace.

Be Blessed And Stay Blessed With The Blessings Of Ahura Mazda.  Ushta-Te And Ushta-Ve

I LOVE YOU… 

Happiness Today, Love Always To You My Dear Respected Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary

Meher Amalsad

Westminster, California, USA

 

A Special Dedication In Honor Of Our Highly Respected Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary – Head Priest, Iran

The ONLY Parsi Couple Living in City since 1985 Celebrates ‘PARSI NEW YEAR DAY’

The ONLY Parsi Couple VISPI KATPITIA Aged 72, And Ms VEERA KATPITIA, Aged 64, Living In City Since 1985 Celebrate ‘PARSI NEW YEAR DAY’ By Inviting Their Friends, Including Doctors, Toastmasters, Entrepreneurs, And Therapists, Among Others At Their Newly Moved In Apartment ‘AquaMarine’ Near Mangalore Club, Morgan’s Gate, Mangaluru, Open-Air Balcony On 16 August 2022. A Happy And Joyous Navroz!

Mangaluru: Believe it or not, they are the ONLY PARSI COUPLE who have been living in Mangaluru, since 1985, and on that occasion on 16 August, husband and wife, VISPI KATPITIA aged 72, and  VEERA KATPITIA, aged 64, celebrated the PARSI NEW YEAR DAY by inviting their friends, including doctors, toastmasters, among others at their newly moved in apartment ‘ Aqua Marine’ near Mangalore club, Morgan’s Gate, open-air balcony.

Parsi New Year marks the beginning of the Parsi calendar, and this day is also known as ‘Jamshedi Navroz’ after the legendary King of Persia, Jamshed who started the Parsi Calendar and Navroz meaning ‘new day’. While in various places the event is celebrated in March, in India, the Parsi community celebrates it in August. This time, the Parsi New Year fell on Tuesday, August 16.

According to the Katpitia couple, Pateti is celebrated on the eve of Parsi New Year. Nowruz, also spelt as Navroz, is the Iranian New Year celebrated by ethnic Iranian people. Pateti is observed on the eve of Navroze, which is a day of penance where one repents for their sins. People from the Parsi community follow Zoroastrianism, a religion which is one of the oldest known monotheistic religions. Approximately 3,500 years ago, it was founded by the Prophet Zarathustra in ancient Iran”.

“The tradition of celebrating this festival dates back to 3,000 years and it holds great significance in the Parsi community. People from this community visit their friends and relatives and wish each other Happy New Year. To mark the onset of a new year, people wear new clothes, give gifts, do house cleaning and make charitable donations.  Parsi New Year is celebrated on the first day of the first month of Farvardin in the Zoroastrian calendar. Spring Equinox, which occurs annually on March 21, symbolises the beginning of the season. The Parsis in India celebrate this day in July or August because they follow the Zoroastrian calendar for religious occasions. The holiday, which has its roots in Persia (now Iran, post-Islamic conquest), is celebrated with zest and vigour in India”, added the couple.

They further said, “A variety of dishes is prepared on the day including fish, chicken, mutton, daal and desserts. Besides celebration, Pateti is dedicated to cleaning and purifying the mind and starting a new year with love and peace. On this day, Parsis wear traditional clothes and visit a fire temple also known as ‘Agiary’. There is a tradition of offering milk, flowers, fruits, and sandalwood to the sacred fire”.

Vispi Katipitia moved from Mumbai to Mangaluru in April 1985, after he got the officer post at the Corporation bank (now Union Bank), Pandeshwar, Mangaluru, and his wife Veera was also a banker at Central Bank of India, Mangaluru. Vispi said earlier there were many Parsi students pursuing their studies in Mangaluru, but after completion of their education they went back home, but we are the only two being attached to this coastal city and made a vast number of GOOD FRIENDS, thus felt reluctant to move from here. His wife is a professional toastmaster.

For any religion, keeping up traditions in the modern world can be a challenge. The Parsi community in India, however, faces a unique obstacle. Parsis, who came to India from Persia (Iran) a thousand years ago with their Zoroastrian faith, have gone to great lengths to maintain their unique funeral rituals. But they’ve had to make a few adjustments to keep up with the times and not upset the neighbours. Vispi said that a cemetery for the Parsis still exists in Car street, Managaluru.

Narrating about the Parsi funeral rites, he said, “Parsi funerals begin in a way familiar to many faiths: prayers are chanted and mourners pay last respects. We have an unusual method of disposal of the dead. The Parsi corpse is exposed to the rays of the sun, and the corpse is consumed or devoured by birds of prey — vultures, kites and crows. For Zoroastrians, burying or cremating the dead is seen as polluting nature. So for centuries, the Parsis in Mumbai have relied on vultures to do the work — that is, until the entire population of vultures in the city vanished. Without the vultures, the Parsis have had to rely on man-made ingenuity”.

On the occasion praising the friendship and good memories with Vispi and Veera Katpitia, their friends spoke a few words of wisdom about their association and friendly relationship with the duo- those who shared their thoughts on the Katpitai couple were- Dr C K Ballal- renowned Neurosurgeon; Retd Group Captain in the army Pradeep Shetty; Urmila Shetty- Retired HoD of English at St Agnes College, Mangaluru; Prabha Kamath- the owner of Final Touch- a framing shop; and Dr Kalpana Ashfaque-professor at A J Institute of Medical Sciences & Research Centre.

And the entire bash was conceptualized by Sabrina Hougaard, who also compered the occasion in her witty style.

The Katpitia’s had lived for several years in a home right across from Sabrina’s mansion in Falnir, and just recently in April 2022, they moved to the AquaMarine apartments, Morgan Gate, Mangaluru.

It should be noted that Parsis are one of the most successful minorities and migrant groups in the world. Ratan Tata, Pallonji Mistry, Nusli Wadia, Adi Godrej and Cyrus Poonawalla are some of the families that have made billions by building the backbone of the industry.

Belated wishes to the Katpitia Couple from Team Mangalorean, “May this new year bring a lot of happiness to you and your loved ones. May the day bring you luck, good health and prosperity. God bless you now and always. Happy and a joyous Navroz to you!

By

Alfie Dsouza, Team Mangalorean

The ONLY Parsi Couple Living in City since 1985 Celebrates ‘PARSI NEW YEAR DAY’

The story behind two Parsi New Years: Prochy N. Mehta

The Parsi New Year is celebrated in India about 200 days after it is celebrated across the world

Children celebrate Parsi New Year Pateti in front of a Fire Temple. The celebrations begin on the eve of the New Year and are known as Pateti

Shutterstock

Navroz is being celebrated this year on August 16. People often ask why there are two Navrozes – one on March 21, which is a fixed date and then again in August? The answer is not simple, but I will try to explain why we have two New Years.

We have three calendars, the Shahenshahi, Qadimi and Fasli calendars. In addition, we have the Yazdegerddi era, which starts from 632 CE and counts the years from the accession of the last Sassanid ruler Yazdegerd III.

People in India mostly follow the Shahenshahi calendar. While the Fasli calendar has the Parsi New Year fixed on the Spring Equinox and for them Navroz is fixed on March 21. The Shahenshahi calendar does not take leap years into account and as a result of which, the Parsi New Year is celebrated in India about 200 days after it is celebrated across the world. (A fortunate result of this is that we also celebrate two birthdays-by the English Calendar and the Parsi Calendar).

Jashan or religious thanksgiving ceremony in progress at Zoroastrian Anjuman Atash Adaran fire temple

Jashan or religious thanksgiving ceremony in progress at Zoroastrian Anjuman Atash Adaran fire temple

The festival is also known as Jamshed-i-Navroz, after the name of the Persian king Jamshed, who introduced the Parsi calendar. The emperor Jamshed is believed to have begun the celebrations some 3,000 years ago. The day when both the North Pole and South Pole have equal duration of day and night is the Spring Equinox and that is the day when Navroz is celebrated, that is March 21. At present in our Shahenshahi calendar it falls in the month of August. People pray for prosperity, health and wealth on this day.

The celebrations begin on the eve of the New Year and are known as Pateti. It is also believed to be the day of remission of sins and repentance. Zoroastrians dedicate the day to cleaning their minds and souls from evil deeds and thoughts and renewing their spirits with positivity, peace and love.

Parsi flavours rising above the city din in Kyd Street

Our miniscule community in Kolkata celebrates Navroz every year with a Jashan or religious thanksgiving ceremony in the morning at our only existing fire temple, the Ervad DB Mehta’s Zoroastrian Anjuman Atash Adaran. Community members dress up in their traditional attire and attend the prayers which is followed by a breakfast and partaking of the ‘chasni’ (blessed food).  Some might proceed to our nearby Dharamshala for lunch. It’s a typical Parsi ‘Sagan nu Bhonu’ (festive meal) of ‘Patra ni Machi’ (fish cooked in banana leaf)  Dal, Chawal, Chingri no Patio, (dal, rice and prawn curry), Lagan nu Stew, (Parsi stew) Gajar Meva nu Achar (carrot and dry fruit pickle) and Parsi Custard. Then it’s siesta time till the ‘Natak’ in the evening.

Parsis of Kolkata at a dinner in 2017 celebrating Navroz according to the Shahenshah calendar

Parsis of Kolkata at a dinner in 2017 celebrating Navroz according to the Shahenshah calendar

The natak is our annual Gujarati play performed by community members. It is a labour of love and the performers practise for at least three to four months to entertain us. The play is always a comedy and this year it’s called ‘Behram Ni Sasoo’ (literally Behram’s mother-in-law). It is directed by Cyrus Madan and guaranteed to keep us all in splits of laughter. This is normally followed by a community dinner which has been cancelled this year due to the fear of Covid.

I remember as a child the excitement of Navroze day. We would get a holiday from school, dress up in our new clothes and meet everyone at the fire temple. The play was always the highlight of the festivities. We children would get unlimited free chocolates and sweets and cold drinks and we really gorged on them. This would often be followed by a contributory community dinner. The tradition to meet, greet and eat together lives on.

 

Prochy N. Mehta is the author of ‘Who is a Parsi?’ and ‘Pioneering Parsis of Calcutta’. She is an Asian record holder in sports and also the first female president of the Calcutta Parsee Club. 

https://www.telegraphindia.com/my-kolkata/people/prochy-mehta-writes-about-the-history-and-traditions-of-parsi-new-years-day-2022-or-navroz-in-india/cid/1880416

Lord Bilimoria’s lecture: ‘Leading in crisis – in the thick of it as CBI President, lessons learnt and what next’

Here is the final keynote lecture by our patron Lord Karan F Bilimoria CBE DL as CBI President titled; ‘Leading in crisis – in the thick of it as CBI President, lessons learnt and what next’, delivered at Saïd Business School University of Oxford on Wednesday 22nd June 2022. 

About the event:

Lord Bilimoria, President of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), in his final keynote lecture conveyed the inside story of his past two years working with leaders from across industry and government. You will gain insights on how UK businesses have not only survived but stepped up to be a trusted force for good. Discussing lessons learnt, Lord Bilimoria sets out what’s next for the UK and how with radical collaboration, ambition and resilience we can go from strength to strength on the global stage.

Lord Bilimoria is a fellow at University of Oxford, Centre for Corporate Reputation, Saïd Business School. 

Facilitator for the event was Richard Whittington, Professor of Strategic Management, Saïd Business School.



Yours sincerely
Malcolm M Deboo
ZTFE President

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