Category Archives: Mobeds

RIP Ervad Rustom K Bhedwar (1935-2020)

It is with great sadness that we inform you that our beloved Honorary Life Member & Trustee Ervad Rustom KaiKhusroo Bhedwar, passed away at Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, this morning around 9.16am, Mah Meher, Roj Dae-pa-Adar, Thursday 20th February 2020. Ervad Rustom was 84 years old. He was born on 24th March 1935. 

Below is tribute to Ervad Rustom by our Past President Dorab E Mistry OBE.  
Kindly note that all the after death ceremonies will be performed at the Zoroastrian Centre, except funeral.   
Uthemna ceremony will be on Saturday 22nd February at 3.30pm.
Patli raat-nu uthemna ceremony will be on Sunday 23rd February at 5.45am. 
Charam ceremony will be on Sunday 23rd February at 7am.
Funeral ceremony will be on Tuesday 25th February at 2pm at Golders Green Crematorium.
Dasmu (10th day) prayers will be on Saturday 29th February at 11.30am.
Maasiso (30th day) prayers will be on Jamsheedi NoRuz Saturday 21st March 2020. Time tbc.
Chamsi (6th month) prayers will be on Sunday 23rd August 2020. Time tbc.
Varsi (1st death anniversary) prayers will be on Friday 19th February 2021. Time tbc.
On behalf of the Trustees and Managing Committee of the ZTFE, I convey our deepest sympathies to his son Ervad Zubin Bhedwar, his niece Jasmine Bhedwar, Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastur Kekobad Dastoor and extended families.
Sadly, Ervad Rustom had not been keeping well over the past few years and have been in and out of hospital. 
May Ervad Rustom’s soul rest in peace in Garothman  next to his beloved Amy aunty!
Please inform those who are not accessible by email.
Yours sincerely
Malcolm M Deboo
President, ZTFE
Ervad Rustom served our Anjuman for 5 decades as our most beloved Mobed, as everyone’s favourite uncle, as ZTFE Trustee, as a most astute, popular and courageous member of our ZTFE Managing Committee and as ZTFE Vice President. His moderate views and his compassion held our community together in some very difficult times. Ervad Rustom was unanimously elected ZTFE Honorary Life Member for his meritorious service to the community at the AGM on 2nd October 2005.  
For me personally, this passing is a huge personal loss. It was Ervad Rustom who persuaded me to take up the Chair of the New Premises Steering Committee in 1995. He then convinced me to join the Managing Committee in 1996 and eventually to run for President in 1997. His support and his guidance were always invaluable and critical. I had the privilege to serve with him when he officiated as our Vice President from 2003 to 2005.
Ervad Rustom’s area of greatest interest, second only to his commitment to prayers, was Inter Faith and representing our wonderful ancient faith to the outside world. Wherever he went, he made close friends and left an indelible mark. He was twice invited to the Vatican and had the honour of meeting and praying with His Holiness Pope John Paul II. In fact, when he was at the Vatican on the second occasion, as Cardinal Arinze was introducing him, Pope John Paul reached out with his arm and interrupted the Cardinal saying “I know, he is Zoroastrian High Priest”
Ervad Rustom commenced his priestly training at the Dadar Athornan Institute in 1943, at the tender age of 8. During the next 6 years, he was taught to recite Zoroastrian prayers with correct pronunciation and to perform the rituals, qualifying him as a Navar and Martab. From 1948 – 1955, Ervad Rustom studied Avesta and Pahlavi, initially at the Cama Athornan Institute, Andheri, and later studies  at St Xavier’s College, Bombay University. His class mates at the Cama Athornan were our towering High Priest Dasturji Dr Fiiroze M Kotwal and Ervad Saheb Soli Dastur (now in USA and former Chair of the North American Mobed Council). 
Ervad Rustom worked for some time in MUMBAI at the BOMBAY Dyeing Textile company and thus began his deep respect and admiration for the Wadia family. After marrying his beloved Amy (nee Fatakia, of Calcutta ) Ervad Rustom came with his young bride to start a new life in the UK.  He was first invited to pray at the ZTFE in 1966 at the Zoroastrian House, by the late Dasturji Dr Sorabji H Kutar. Side by side his voluntary work as a Mobed began. After retirement from the Post Office as a Revenue Inspector and Auditor, Ervad Rustom devoted himself completely to community work – as a Mobed (always giving service in a completely voluntary capacity) and as a compassionate community elder since .
Ervad Rustom built up a close and wonderful friendship with our very beloved and dedicated Ervad Saheb Jal Karkaria and Ervad Saheb Marzban Dastoor. 
I believe one of the finest tributes to the exemplary service rendered by Ervad Sahebs Rustom Bhedwar and Jal Karkaria was by our philanthropist and benefactor Mobed Mehraban Zartoshty who said during his visit to London in 2005 “ Our Mobeds Bhedwar and Karkaria have held the community together by their regular service, their moderate approach and the love and compassion they provide to every family in its hour of need. They are exemplary Mobeds “
The New Premises Project and our acquisition and development of this beautiful Zoroastrian Centre would not have been successful but for his strong and steadfast support, his tireless fund raising and the goodwill that he earned for the ZTFE. He never lost an opportunity to promote our Anjuman and to impress upon community donors to support us in every manner.
Ervad Rustom and Amy were also founder members and ran the Harrow Zoroastrian Group for decades with personal dedication and commitment. Ervad Rustom was a founder member of Harrow Interfaith and was highly respected in interfaith.
Rusi and Amy were like a loving uncle and aunt to countless young Zoroastrian families in the UK. They diligently organised weekly navjote prayer classes at their residence in Norton Road, Wembley. Ervad Rustom firmly believed in the importance of pronouncing the Zoroastrian prayers correctly and performing ceremonies properly, especially after death ceremonies.  He was always willing to share his knowledge of Zoroastrianism and educate others by undertaking religious classes for all ages at ZTFE. In 1999, Ervad Rustom recited the entire Gathas of Zarathushtra in the true Zoroastrian tradition as he was taught at the Athornan Institute as a young boy, which were professionally recorded and produced on a 2 volume CD in 2003.          
Along with everyone else, Shenaz and I and our daughters Tina, Sherie and Roxanne will miss them very much and always fondly remember the happy times we shared. Ervad Rustom is now re-united with his beloved Amy. After Amy’s passing, Ervad Rustom was never the same. Yet despite ill health he carried on courageously. Ervad leaves behind his wonderful son Zubin, a rich legacy of community service and many happy memories of a successful fruitful life of exemplary dedication, compassion and generosity.
May Ervad Rusi and his beloved Amy always bless us all from Garothman.
Shenaz and Dorab Mistry


‘We Must Transform Mobeds Into Leaders, Boost Their Numbers’

Priesthood in the Zorastrian community is a hereditary role. While traditionally men serve as priests, there are a few exceptions where women have served in the role

Nearly 30 members of the Parsi community attended a weekend workshop for Mobeds — Zorastrian priests — in Sanjan, Gujarat to develop ties among themselves and promote priesthood. Six parent-child duos also participated to enrich their bonds.

Priesthood in the Zorastrian community is a hereditary role. While traditionally men serve as priests, there are a few exceptions where women have served in the role.

The workshop focussed on young Mobeds aged between 13 and 16 years bonding with their parents who are serving as priests. Activities for communication skills, positive training sessions, and simulation exercises were held.

“It was wonderful to see the baton being passed on,” said Binaifer Sahukar, convenor of Empowering Mobeds, the platform that conducted the workshop. “The fathers were talking to the children about their work life, its importance, challenges they face.” A mother-son duo was also present at the workshop.

Sahukar emphasised on parent-child bonding as it ensures the survival of Mobeds. “There are 50 agiaries in the city and four Atash Behrams,” she said. “Given the declining number of Parsi priests, we have to try and retain the few children pursuing priesthood. The best way to do so is by monetising the profession. There has to be some incentive. Our senior priests are overburdened and are like doctors on call — running from one fire to another.”

Sahukar added that the community has to support and effect this change by being more respectful and generous towards priests. “The objective of empowering Mobeds is to elevate their position to that of leaders.”

Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

From A mobed’s heart to mobeds’ hearts


The following speech was delivered by Ervad Zarrir Bhandara at the Rippon Club Mumbai on Saturday November 2nd, 2019.  “Mobed’s Heart to Mobeds’ Hearts” event. This event was organized by the Global Health Guru and the Holistic Health Coach Dr. Mickey Mehta. The young and dynamic BPP trustee Mr. Viraf Mehta was the chief guest and Dr. Ervad Ramiyar Karanjia principal of Dadar Athornan Madressa was the guest of honor. This event was attended by about 20 mobeds which included the ex principal of Cama Athornan Madressa Ervad Kersi Karanjia.
Dr. Mickey Mehta thanked everyone and requested Mr. Viraf Mehta to introduce the speaker Mobed Zarrir.
Zarrir started his presentation by asking all present to hold each other’s hands and requested Ramiyar to lead the Hum bandagi of 2 Yatha and 1 Ashem Vohu.
Zarrir thanked everyone present and asked the audience how are you feeling? Then asked them to shake hands with the person on their right and left saying “I am a great Mobed and so are you”
He asked who are we. -Mobed which comes from the word Magu- Paiti, the word magic comes from the word the Magis- our ancestors who were able to perform super natural things due to the power of prayers combined with the knowledge of Astrology, Astronomy and Alchemy, we were  the teachers, leaders and role models of our Society what happened? What went wrong? How come the people who were once looked up to are looked down upon? How can we bring the faith of our community back into our own religion? We the priests are the back bone of our community.
 How do we shape the will of the community without shaking the spirit which will bring about the life time of transformation?
What is our role and responsibility? Before we examine our role, we need to start FEELING GOOD because when we feel good, we can do good. How do we feel good? He emphasized on the importance of mindfulness and the mental faculty as taught by our prophet Zarathushtra in the Gathas by quoting”For the uncontrolled, there is no wisdom, nor is the power of concentration without concentration there is no peace of mind and without peace of mind how can there be happiness.”- Zen in the Martial Arts, Bhadwad Geeta and Gathas
We have to realize that we are very privileged to be in this profession as this is the most noble profession “Mobedi Pesho, A ek dam uttam pesho che”. Provided it is practiced correctly. He asked many questions and fortunately or unfortunately it was only Dr. Ervad Ramiyar Karanjia was able to answer his questions. He asked which is the outer ritual in which, we enact the role of Ahura Mazda Himself, bringing about the blessings from the spirit world to the physical world. Namely, the Jashan/Afringan, what could be of more significance than this. (Thus boosting the self esteem of mobeds).
It is also a great responsibility as we are the mediator between the worlds by means of rituals.
Talking about ethics, he quoted “If you are true to the art the art will be true to you” Hanshi Vispy Bahadur Kapadia- my Karate teacher. Here instead of art I would say profession. Instead of chasing money, be a true service provider and the money will chase you. It is necessary to pray with proper pronunciation to create desire effect and initiate communication with the spirit world by means of vibrations.
We priests need to be steadfastly dedicated to proper performance and pronunciation, show that we care about what we are doing by being caring and loving by investing our feelings in our prayers  and performing rituals, rather than just performing mechanically and yes, there are no shortcuts to it. Do it right or don’t do it at all.
Also it is important to acquire correct knowledge of performing rituals, especially the higher inner liturgies- PavMahal ni kriya  and here in India you are blessed to have stalwarts likes Dasturji Dr.Firoze Kotwal a living legend, a reservoir of knowledge, Dr. Ervad Ramiyar Karanjia, Dr. Ervad Roointon Pir, Dr. Ervad Parvez Bajan, Mobed Aspandiar Dadachanji more.
 Further equip yourself with scholarly and Esoteric knowledge by reading Kangajis/ Taraporewalla’s, Daboo’s, JamaspAsa’s, Kotwal’s and also books on Kshnoom which will make the rituals more meaningful  to yourself and you can explain the significance of the same to others. Take the example of performing a Kusti which you know it’s a purification ritual, you can compare it with running a Virus scan before downloading any program in the hard drive. Essentially, you are cleaning your astral body- aura- removing impurities thus making room and becoming receptive to receive blessings from the spirit world by first reciting the 101 names of Ahura Mazda, which are His qualities which we download in ourselves thus becoming like Him as we all are made in His image. Further, when we make two loops reciting Manashni, Gavashni and Kunashni, which signifies the two worlds namely the physical and spiritual with a bridge in between signifying that when we traverse through this bridge of separator, we take with and leave in this world only the thoughts, words and deeds that we performed. Hence, it is so important to lead an ethical life.
Think priestly duties as divine privilege, even if charging money, put your best effort into it, be disciplined, be dedicated, be devoted. Do it from your heart (etekad sathe) thus breaking this vicious cycle of carefree priests which influences the community to be careless about their religion.
 Also if you are in any other profession apply the good things from those professions into your priestly duties to compliment your priestly duties to make you a better priest. For example I being in the field of Martial Arts, every time we block or punch has to be a better than the previous one similarly, every time I perform ritual it has to be better than my previous one. Also, being an ex model I know how important it is to look good. Hence, as a mobed you should look presentable and pleasant, so that you can be willingly and easily approached. Also, having a background in alternative medicine- helps me to do spiritual healing- combining Mathra and Mithra. Being an electrician, I know how important the connection is, which helped me to make sure that I am connected with the ground – Earthing and with the implements to be consecrated and at the same time also forming a connection between the laity-the physical world and their dear departed ones-the spirit world thus completing a circuit.
When you include ethics as the most important component in your priestly duties and in life, and live your prayers then you are the one more than anyone else, who is going to benefit the most by progressing in both worlds physical and spiritual.
He shared his success story and how his life was saved through power of prayers after a traumatic road accident and also his Journey as a priest giving credit to Athravan Education Trust.
Start educating people with simple yet important things like Sudreh and Kusti the golden tools as mentioned in Khorshed and Meher Niyaesh “Zarvanem Surem Yazamaide”
The key principle to follow is the principal of Asha- righteousness in all your endeavors to be full of Asha HOPE.
When you follow Asha for the sake of Asha Righteousness, you experience Ushta Happiness the Ashem Vohu prayer.
The physical entity or the creation that comes under Asha Vahishta is Fire son of Ahura Mazda. Fire is the manifestation of that energy which is present in all living beings, in other words God’s spark/ energy is present  in all living beings,  which gives us the notion of oneness  in the universe, which is unity in diversity in our community and in the world. Hence we celebrate our different calendars, sects beliefs even religions, as paths are many spirit is one.
 I am not saying it’s going to be a rosy path, you have to strive as you will still come across a lot of criticism and controversies, talking about criticism and controversies, the people who are often most criticized are the trustees who are performing a thankless job whether in US or in India, look at BPP trustees Noshir Dadrewalla, Kersi Randeria, Viraf Mehta Xerxes Dastur who are the most honest people yet they are challenged and criticized every day.  In such situation, you diffuse the issue with love and light rather than shove and light.
He asked what is common between past highly evolved souls like dasturji Kookadaru and many others of that status, Dasturji Daboo and our Mickey Mehta. It is the Ethical, responsible and compassionate eating which is very important for spiritual development, it is also good for you, the environment and animals.
We are the role models we have to practice extreme devotion and piety then we can expect at least a few, if not all, community members to be inspired by this.
He concluded the talk by expressing his gratitude to Xerxes Dastur, Viraf Mehta, Fr. Mickey Mehta, Dr. Ervad Ramiyar Karanjia and also his mentor and friend Dr. Huzan Kharas/Daver, his son Zerkxis Bhandara and his friend Meher Amalsad for helping him with this presentation.
Caption from left to right:
Ervad Kersi Karanjia ex principal of Cama Athornan Madressa, BPP Trustee Viraf Mehta, Ervad Dr. Ramiyar Karanjia principal Dadar Athornan Madressa, Dr. Mickey Mehta, Ervad Zarrir Bhandara

GLOBAL WORKING GROUP Renews Amelioration & Welfare Scheme of Senior Mobeds & Widows of Senior Mobeds.

Community members are aware that Global Working Group (GWG) – comprising of elected Parsi Irani Zoroastrian Federations, Associations in countries that do not have Federations and some prominent Zoroastrians –  being aware of the economic challenges faced by Mobeds (Priests) & widows of Mobeds, 60 years and above – had due to the initiative and efforts of GWG President Mr. Neville Shroff, received funds for disbursement during the year 2019 from a Charitable Trust registered overseas, administered by Philanthropy Services Division of a leading international bank.


From the funds received, 109 Mobeds and 30 Widows of Mobeds, 60 years and above, whose annual income is less than Rs.600,000 in the case of Mobeds and Rs.300,000 in the case of widows of Mobeds, are being assisted to the tune of Rs.19,500 per quarter in case of Mobeds and Rs.13,500 per quarter in case of Widows of Elderly Mobeds.


The funds have been received by and are disbursed through WZO Trust Funds to the beneficiaries in India.


WZO Trust Funds are pleased to inform all the beneficiaries that once again, due to the efforts of GWG President Mr. Neville Shroff, the same Charitable Trust registered overseas and administered by Philanthropy Services Division of a leading international bank have agreed to continue the same level of support during the course of 2020.

Many elderly Mobeds and their widows, who having sacrificed gainful employment all their working days and tended to the spiritual needs of the community, have at best been surviving on very nominal incomes, finding it economically challenging to pass the sunset phase of their lives. It is indeed very commendable that the Charitable Trust registered overseas, administered by Philanthropy Services Division of a leading international bank have made it possible to introduce some degree of comfort into the lives of these elderly Mobeds and Widows of Elderly Mobeds who have spent their lives being guardians of our faith.


WZO Trust Funds takes the opportunity to place on record the untiring efforts of GWG President Mr. Neville Shroff, whose initiative and efforts have made it possible for the project to be renewed for the year 2020.



Dinshaw K. Tamboly;


WZO Trust Funds.


Mumbai: School for Parsi priests marks 100 years, struggles to stay afloat

The school estimates that it will be required to spend Rs 2 lakh per head for boarding, lodging and educating each student and has sought donations from both Parsis living in India as well as abroad, apart from corporates and organisations.

Dadar Athornan Institute has 25 students from classes I to X. (Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty)

In November, the city’s only school dedicated to training Parsi priests will complete a hundred years since its founding. Yet, just last month, it placed an appeal in the Parsi Times, a weekly newspaper, seeking funds to stay afloat.

The call for donations said, “The success and survival of our Zoroastrian community is directly linked to our religion and our priests (Mobeds). Training and introducing new Mobeds into the mainstream is very vital, for without erudite Mobeds, we only face the bleak future of the end of our religion and, consequently, our community.”

The Dadar Athornan Institute, as the school is called, currently has a batch of 25 students from classes I to X. The school estimates that it will be required to spend Rs 2 lakh per head for boarding, lodging and educating each student and has sought donations from both Parsis living in India as well as abroad, apart from corporates and organisations.

The institute, which is located in the leafy Parsi Colony in Dadar East, became operational on November 9, 1919, with the aim of imparting religious, scriptural and secular education to Parsi children and train them to become priests, free-of-cost. It was shut for a year between 1965 and 1966 when funds dried up, before the new management revived it.

On average, the Institute ordains three priests every year. However, after graduating, students first opt for a five-year-long formal college education and then take the decision of either becoming full-time priests at a fire temple, or following a different career path. “In the last 60-65 years, 20-25 per cent of our students have become full-time priests,” said Ramiyar Karanjia, who has been the institute’s principal for 25 years.

The institute provides its students with free education, food and housing and mainly relies on public donations to survive. “Our donations range from between Rs 10 and Rs 10 lakh,” said Karanjia.  While admitting boys, the institute only requires that they shouldn’t be older than 9-10 years. “Many of our previous students came from villages in Gujarat, but incomes of families have steadily increased and most Parsi parents living in rural areas can now afford better schools,” said Karanjia, adding that the number of students has been dwindling.

But the institute has adapted to these changing times by relaxing its rules. Where students were once required to wake up at 5.30 am, classes now begin for older students later in the morning, and in the afternoon for the younger ones. Students are also taken on outings, allowed to meet their parents more often and socialise more.

Written by Srinath Rao, Sanya Runwal

Sad demise of Dasturji Dr. K. M. JamaspAsa

Vada Dasturji Dr. Kaikhusroo Minocher JamaspAsa, High Priest of Zarthoshti Anjumanna Atash Behram, Mumbai has left for his heavenly abode. He passed away in London on 19th May. He was 87 years of age. In his passing away, the Parsee community has lost a renowned scholar, a religious leader and a friend.

He was born in Mumbai on 11th March 1932. He undertook his under graduate and graduate studies in Avesta and Pahlavi from St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai and thereafter, in 1966, he obtained his Doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Bombay.

He was installed as the High Priest of the Zarthoshti Anjumanna Atash Behram on 3rd October 1956 and continued to hold this position till his passing away. He comes from a long line of illustrious scholar priests, with his great grandfather, Dasturji Dr. Jamaspji M. JamaspAsa, who consecrated and installed the Anjuman Atash Behram. Soon after, he held the position of Honorary Professor of Iranian Studies at St. Xavier’s College for over 3 decades. Concurrently, he also became Principal of the Sir J. J. Zarthoshti Madressa for 10 years and served as the Senior Lecturer of the Mulla Firoz Madressa, in Mumbai, as well.

Dasturji was fluent in German and French due to his orientation in European scholarship in his chosen field of Iranian studies. he also served as a Visiting Professor at the Asia Institute of Pahlavi University in Shiraz.

Dasturji has many scholarly books to his name. His most important publications are on ‘The Pahlavi – Pazend Text of the Aogemadaeca:The Vaetha Nask; and the Pursishniha’. He has written a number of learned articles in renowned international academic journals.

Under his hand, hundreds of boys from priestly families have undergone their Navar and Maratab ceremonies. Under his religious authority, over 200 Nirangdins and other higher liturgical ceremonies have been performed.

During the many years that he was a Vada Dasturji of the Zarthoshti Anjumanna Atash Behram, he steered the community onto the path of tradition and has upheld the beliefs and practices of the Zoroastrian faith. He has constantly advocated the need for the community to adhere to the time tested belief and practices of our religion. Dasturji firmly believed that the only way to ensure the survival of the faith in the times to come was to maintain the socio-religious laws of the community fused to the religion, in order to safeguard the religious institutions such as the Fire Temples, Dakhmas and other religious bodies.

Dasturji is survived by his wife Dr. Bakhtavar, son Jamasp and daughter Shirin.

We extend our heartfelt condolence to his family in this their hour of loss. May his immortal soul gain the divine protection of Sarosh Yazad and may he progress from Tanasakh to Tanpasin at the earliest.

In grief

On behalf of The Parsee Voice team

Hanoz M. Mistry

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