How Zoroastrians wear their beliefs


Garments are designed to promote ‘good thoughts, good words and good deeds’

Members of many different religions wear clothing that is specific to their faith and their patterns of worship. Members of the Zoroastrian faith, one of the world’s oldest religions founded in ancient Persia in the sixth century B.C., wear two special pieces of clothing: a sudreh and a kusti.

The sudreh is a white undergarment vest. There is a “v” pocket in front called the “giriban.” One has to collect as many good deeds as possible in this giriban. A person wearing it is considered to be the keeper of the pledge to do good (kissaai-karfa). The fabric has to be clean, and a Zarathusti (another name for a Zoroastrian) wears the sudreh after taking a daily bath.

The second item of clothing, the kusti, represents the 72 chapters of one of the holy Zoroastrian books. It is woven of lamb’s wool and has tassels on both ends. It is wound around the waist three times to represent the good thoughts, good words and good deeds to be performed by the wearer. It is placed around the waist after the sudreh is put on. It is knotted twice, once in the front and once at the back. This sets a binding commitment to the Zoroastrian creed.

The sudreh is put on after a cleansing bath without any prayers, but donning the kusti requires the help of prayers. These prayers are found in the Khordeh Avesta, the daily prayer book of the Zoroastrian faith. “Khordeh” means “god” and “Avesta” is an ancient language of the Persians in which the book is written. Hence it is the “language of god.”

A child begins wearing the sudreh and the kusti during the initiation ceremony of the navjote (newly born). Traditionally this ceremony is performed at the age of 15, which is considered to be the age of reason or coming of age. One must have the capacity, maturity and training to make responsible choices, and to take responsibility for decision-making and judgments. Before the navjote ceremony, these things are the responsibility of parents. During the navjote ceremony, the child makes a pledge to abide by the tenants of the faith, a covenant (a pledge) that Zoroastrians will renew every time they recite the kusti prayers as they wrap the kusti around the waist.The Zarathusti initiate must have the capacity to enter the faith with this pledge and be responsible and accountable for every thought, word and deed.

According to the Zoroastrian faith, one is endowed with a good mind (vohu manah) at birth, to be used for good thoughts, good words and good deeds. The good is referred to as “spenta menuy,” and the evil as “angrey men,” according to the Avesta texts.

Cowsie Malva lives in Redlands. A retired school teacher, Malva is a member of the Redlands Area Interfaith Council and a Zoroastrian priest.

https://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/2019/01/24/matters-of-faith-how-zoroastrians-wear-their-beliefs/

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PARSIS AT AHMEDABAD CELEBRATED INDIA’S REPUBLIC DAY



Seated from left – Mr. Jamshed Shroff [Trustee]; Mr.Aspy Unwalla [Trustee]; Mrs. Hufreez Jambusarwalla [wife of Chief Guest Maj.Gen. [Retd.] Rohinton Jambusarwalla, Mr. Harvez Bharucha who escorted the Chef Guest for Flag Hoisting, Mr. Ariez Munshi [Trustee] and Mr.Aspy Bharucha [Trustee]

A true Indian always celebrates India’s Republic Day.     Every patriotic person respects and enjoy republic day.    So were the Parsi Zorastrians at Ahmedabad on last Saturday – 26th January.

Since 2015, the trustees of the Dhanjishaw and Manijeh Gamir Charitable Trust at Ahmedabad [known by DMGCT] celebrated India’s Republic Day as usual – 5th time.   Such a celebration is arranged every year since 2015.  Almost 325 community members attended the event which was started sharp as usual at 10.30 morning. 

The flag hoisting was in the hands of Maj.Gen. [Retd.] Rohinton Jamsurarwalla from Pune.   The event ceremony started sharp at 10.30 morning.   Mr. Harvez Bharucha, connected to NCC escorted Maj.Gen.[Retd.] Jambusarwalla who hoisted our national flag with our National Anthem, Jana Gana Mana, was sung by all participants at the event.  The ceremony was followed by two patriotic songs sung by Mrs.Armin Dutia and Mrs. Perin Davar both Ahmedabad residents.    Mr. Ariez Munshi, before flag hoisting, introduced the Chief guest, Maj. Gen. [Retd.] Rohinton Jambusarwalla, how well he had served the army for almost 40 years from day one of his joining till official retirement.  Maj.Gen. [Retd.] Rohinton Jambursarwalla in his speech highlighted how well he was inducted in the Army, different places and posts he served.   He highlighted that one time all different services, be it Army, Navy, Air force, the Parsis were in many numbers which gradually has been declining.   People use to keep in mind that the job attachment in any of the services is indeed very tough, no return as also life style remain different than what in business, other pomp services today observed by many educated one.   He urged young Parsi Zorastrians to join any of the services of they like and live with pride that they are doing something  for the country.    The vote of thanks were offered by one of the trustee, Mr.Aspy Unwalla who thanks the Chief Guest for visiting Ahmedabad for the event, Parsi Zarthostis of Ahmedabad for participating the event, Ahmeabad Parsi Panchayat for allowing to use the Sanitorium hall [Lalkaka Hall] and the Lunch served by Mek Caterers, Mr. Malcum Bastawala. 

The event started sharp at 10.30 morning with a welcome speech by Mr.Aspy Bharucha, Trustee, who welcomed all at the event, as also the Chief Guest.   He briefed the occasion which was cherished by Mrs. Manijeh Gamir, one of the testator of the Trust and in her life time as a trustee narrated in her speech delivered very first event in 2015, as to how she as a Teacher at the School in her old days use to arrange such celebrations.    Mr. Aspy Bharucha in brief introduced late Dhanjishaw and Manijeh Gamr of their simple life style leaving behind legacy for the welfare of the Parsi Zorastrians of Ahmedabad.    

This was the 5th event started since 2015.   All these years, the Trust is able to find a right dignified Parsi Zarthosti having served any of the Service wings.  Earlier to this event, the Flag Hoisting was arranged in the hands of Maj.Gen. [Retd.] Mr. Navroz Chinoy now settled at Ahmedabad, and in line thereof, 2nd was in the hands of Brig. [Retd.] Mr.Jehangir Anklesaria [Ahmedabad] 3rd was in the hands of Mr.Areez Khambatta, Ex-Commondar of Home Guards and Chief Operating Officer of Civil Defence, Ahmedabad, and 4th last year it was in the hands of Col. [Retd.] Kaizad Bhaya from Pune.

The event was followed by Games which was participated by all ages both individually and in group.   The games were organized by Mrs. Jeniffer Kapadia, and Mr. Ariez Bokdawala both from Ahmedabad.   As usual, the event was full of Joy, Fun, Enjoyment and Food without which any Parsi event will not end.    The lunch was served by Mr.Malcum Bastawala of Mek Caterers of Udwada. 

================

ASPY BHARUCHA6


Maj.Gen. [Retd.] Rohinton Jambusarwalla from Pune.  

Thanking you and with best regards,

Bombay Panjrapole


The Panjrapole was founded by two businessmen, Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy and Amichand Shah, in 1834, initially to look after stray dogs and pigs. They were helped by another Parsi philanthropist Cowasjee Patel, after whom the area, CP tank, gets its name. “The British had ordered a shoot-at-sight to control the nuisance of stray dogs and pigs on Bombay roads,” says Adi Mogralia, secretary, Bombay Panjrapole. The shelter, currently being run by a Parsi trust, has expanded to include branches in Kalyan, Chembur and Bhiwandi, and one in Bhilad, Gujarat.

The aim of the Panjrapole is to nurture and care for animals in distress and protect these strays from ending up at slaughter houses or being tranquilised. “We are here to look after sick animals, not kill them. To us, they are like orphan kids. We provide for them till they die,” he says.

What started as a shelter to protect the strays has today acquired a religious significance. The dominance of cows here, coupled with a plenty of temples in the vicinity, has lent a sacred air to this shelter. It now draws pious residents and shopkeepers from in and around. “Every amavasya (new moon), people descend in huge numbers to feed the gavmata and the birds,” says the owner of a small imitation jewellery shop adjacent to the shelter.

Another interesting fact is that the presence of cows here is more incidental than intended. The Panjrapole, says Mogralia, is not a typical gavshala (cow shelter). The cows were brought in to feed cow milk to strays. “Over time, the number of cows increased. Today, out of the 1,800 animals in all seven branches, 1,300 are cows,” says Mogralia. The Bhuleshwar shelter alone yields 800 to 1,000 litres of milk daily, which is not sold to dairies but to local residents. The money is used for the shelter’s upkeep. “We don’t use artificial ways to produce more milk. Our cows are healthy. We look after them like our babies,” he says.

Each cow here is ear-tagged and they all have names.

Jeejeebhoy also built a complex housing 200 shops and 450 tenants in the area, the revenue from which was intended for upkeep of the animals. “Today the rent is not even sufficient to run the Panjrapole,” says Mogralia. Meanwhile, with generous donations and the goodwill of pious locals, the Panjrapole continues to stand tall, even after a century.

Click Here for their website – http://www.bombaypanjrapole.org.in/

The incredible history of the traditional Parsi Gara sari


From the quirky motifs hidden in the sari to its genesis, Ashdeen Lilaowala breaks down the nuances of a traditional Parsi Gara

Gara-Emroidery-Feature

The timeless elegance of a traditional Parsi Gara is undeniable. Embroidered to life with photorealistic precision, the Gara sari is a unique member in the exhaustive variety of crafts found in the country. Predominantly worn by the Parsi community during weddings and special occasions, the exquisite Gara sari deserves not to be stashed away just for those big days. Vogue spoke to Ashdeen Lilaowala—one of the few creative minds carrying the legacy of the Gara forward—about the history of the embroidery, its evolution and the lesser known facts.

Tell us about the origins of Gara

Gara embroidery came into our design lexicon at a time when the Parsis from India would travel to China for trade. They carried opium and cotton with them from India, which was bartered for tea in China. Tea as a commodity was gaining a lot of popularity in Europe and the British wanted to sell more tea in Europe. The Parsis quickly became rich trading with the British.

When they came back on their ships, they also brought back ceramics and various other antiques that were available in China. Legend says that one of the traders brought back a new kind of artistic embroidery, which was very realistic in its depiction of flora and fauna and was targeted to the European market. Eventually, it was commissioned as a five-and-a-half-metre sari for the traders from India. Earlier, the pieces that came in were fully embroidered, corner to corner, but then slowly the women started travelling to China too, and they edited them to have borders, blank spaces for tucking in, etc. The Parsi community had newly settled in Bombay, become quite rich, and now wanted a certain new look—and they adopted the Gara saris as their signature.

One of the famous designs was ‘Cheena Cheeni’, which depicts a Chinese man and a Chinese woman against a landscape of pagodas, bridges, plantations and people doing daily chores in China, carrying lanterns and other knick knacks—but these were things so exotic and unseen in India, that the design became a prized possession. They also brought back narrow borders that are called as ‘Kor’, and clothes for the children—the tunics were called ‘Jhablas’ and pants were called ‘Ghicha’. These were some of the different products that were coming via the trade.

Can you tell us a little more about other popular Gara designs?

We have quirky names for motifs. Apart from ‘Cheena Cheeni’, there is a polka-dotted motif is called ‘kaanda papeta’, which stands for onion potato. Polka dots were so common at one point, that they were jestingly compared to onions and potatoes for how readily available they were. Then there is a spin wheel motif, which the Parsis call a ‘Karoliya’, or a spider. We have a ‘Marga Margi’, which is a rooster and a hen and there’s a ‘Chakla Chakli’ too, which is a male and female sparrow.

During a research exercise, we found that there is a kind of rock formation on the sari that usually comes with a peacock perched on it—the motif is called ‘The Divine Fungus’. But when you tell a Parsi woman that there’s fungus on your sari, they (naturally!) don’t take it well. And we have seen borders with exquisitely embroidered bats as well. Indians are not fond of bats, and for Parsis, bats are equivalent to death—I’ve actually had customers tell me they’re not wearing the pieces again once I confirmed the embroidery denotes a bat, and not a butterfly, as they originally thought. We also have a sari in our recent collection called ‘Morning Glory’—it has a sun and a huge spread of birds, flora and fauna, so it is like a whole narrative about the sun being the element that manifests this abundance of flora.

How long does it take to make a Gara sari?

Depending on the density of the work, it can take anything from three weeks to two months. And when I say two months, I mean six to eight people working on one sari together.

What is the base fabric of the sari?

Even though the sari is covered in silk thread embroidery all over, it has a nice flow to it and can be draped well. The original fabric was called ‘Sali Ghaj’, which has very thin lines running through it.

Garas went out of fashion in the ’30s and were only revived in the ’80s. In Mumbai, they started using this thick fabric—Shamu satin and thick Crepe d Chine back then. Presently, we largely use crepe, but not georgette or chiffon—because the silk thread is hand-embroidered and these fabrics can’t take the weight of the embroidery.

Click Here for the full interview – https://www.vogue.in/content/parsi-gara-embroidery-saree-history/

A Russian’s decade-old love for Parsi dialect


The scholar, Anton Zykov, worked for the Russian Embassy between 2011 and 2013, but in November 2017, he started working on a unique three-year project of recording and analysing the Parsi dialect (Parsi Gujarati or simply Parsi in India and Zoroastrian Dari or Gavruni in Iran).

A Parsi wedding in Navsari

THIS RUSSIAN scholar’s ‘Parsi connect’ dates back a decade, when he chose Zoroastrianism as his thesis subject as an MPhil student at Oxford. The scholar, Anton Zykov, worked for the Russian Embassy between 2011 and 2013, but in November 2017, he started working on a unique three-year project of recording and analysing the Parsi dialect (Parsi Gujarati or simply Parsi in India and Zoroastrian Dari or Gavruni in Iran).Advertising

“The focus is on contemporary spoken Parsi (also known as Parsi Gujarati). I am looking forward to document the language as it is spoken. So I try to record the conversations which Parsis have with each other in Parsi Gujarati. It’s just an attempt to give an objective picture of the language,” said Zykov.

Anton Zykov

The scholar works by collecting video and audio samples of the Parsi speech from various places, among Parsis of various ages, professional and socio-economic background. These samples are processed, annotated and analyzed to understand syntax, lexicon, morphology and semantics used among the different varieties of the Parsi speech.

Many in the community have become his friends and collaborators on the project, like the family of Rohin and Frazin Kanga from Navsari, who hosted him for three months while he was based there gathering language material, he said. Recalling some interesting interactions with the community, he said, “Once I was making a recording at a dar-e-mehr (Fire temple) in Navsari. When I was changing my camera’s battery, the person whom I was recording asked me if I was married. I said “no” and asked the reason for his curiosity. He told me that he heard from someone that I was married to a Parsi girl. So there are some Parsis who suspect a hidden agenda in my research,” said Zykov.

The Russian scholar aspires to complete the project by publishing a grammar book and dictionary of the Parsi language and successfully archiving it with Endangered Languages Archive of SOAS University of London, which has funded the project.Advertising

“I wish to draw the community’s attention to its rich linguistic heritage like the munajats (Parsi popular devotional songs), kahavaten (proverbs) and even galliyan (cuss words) are a source of unique Parsi linguistic treasure. All this will be lost if linguistic shift towards English keeps on increasing among the Parsis and Parsi Gujarati continues to have a low social prestige. I hope my work can be used among the Parsi diaspora to learn Parsi Gujarati and maintain their identity and tradition,” he added.


Written by Abha Goradia |Mumbai |Published: January 14, 2019

https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/a-russians-decade-old-love-for-parsi-dialect-5536750/

Zarthusti Women’s Herstories | Department of Family Practice


Zarthusti Women’s Herstories | Department of Family Practice


Faravahar Atashkadeh Yazd (The Faravahar is the part-human part-bird image that Zarthustis often use to identify ourselves)

The ZXX study was created as a tribute to Zarthusti women and as a way to celebrate their lives. Our aim was to interview Zarthusti women about their lives in order to gain insight and contribute to the gap in literature surrounding this topic. We also wanted to create an insider participatory action project. Most scholarly literature about the Zarthusti community is written by outsiders but this project is community based and community driven. ZXX refers to Zarthusti women, as the genetic symbol for females is XX.

It is the brainchild of Dr Farah Shroff, who started the first version of this study, ZXX 1.0, as a series of interviews with Zarthusti women which were transcribed and audio recorded. ZXX 2.0 is a video recorded oral herstory project. Inspired by the love of her family and community, this project is dedicated to the wonderfully warm, eccentric and inspiring Zarthusti community.

While Zarathustrianism is considered the world’s first monotheistic religion, not much is known about the individual members of the religion or the community as most scholarly work has been of a theological nature. Many people are surprised to learn that living members of the community exist at all. Furthermore, many studies conducted about Zarathustrianism have been undertaken by scholars outside the community. This study is unique in that the majority of the researchers and authors are Zoroastrian women. Two of the researchers were also participants in the study.

In the study, Zarthusti women ranging in age were video interviewed by Dr. Farah Shroff. Topics such as childhood, school life, and religious identity were explored through the interviews. We hope you enjoy watching the videos and reading our study!

https://zxxresearch.med.ubc.ca/

Ava Irani – Support her kickstarter campaign


I am an 8th grader at a middle school in the USA. I have been very fortunate to experience the wonders of traveling to other countries, and meeting other children around the world. Each time I come back home, I find that other people also love to explore and learn about exotic destinations, but not everyone is able to experience them firsthand.

I thought about other ways to help children learn more about the world, while having fun at the same time. Based on  this idea, I created Travel Explore Discover.

Check out the board game and support this Kickstarter campaign.

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…”

https://m.timesofindia.com/city/mumbai/ship-owners-dispel-rumours-and-tell-the-real-tale-behind-heroic-evacuation-of-722-indians/amp_articleshow/66902375.cms