Category Archives: Mobeds
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
On behalf of The Parsee Voice team
Hanoz M. Mistry
At the recent meeting of GWG held on May 05, 2019 at Orlando, USA, one of the issues discussed was the importance of making Mobedi, a financially viable profession to enable our respected Mobeds to lead a comfortable life and for survival of our community.
In this context, it was felt necessary to extend financial support to young full time practising Mobeds.
Full time, practising Mobeds, under 60 years of age, earning less than Rs.6,00,000/- per annum, and interested in receiving financial support to augment their incomes, are requested to submit their name, age and address latest by June 15, 2019, after which they will be sent a form to be filled in.
The data collected will be forwarded to a prospective donor (a Multi National Corporation) for consideration. If approved it is expected that support should commence from the quarter, January/March 2020.
Mobeds selected under this initiative should note that they will be required to submit every six months, a certificate from the Atashbehram / Agiary / Dadgah to which they are attached, signed by the Trustees or Mobed in charge of the institution, confirming that the recipient of the support continues to profess Mobedi as a full time profession.
Community members in general and Mobeds in particular are aware that since January 2019, Global Working Group (GWG) has initiated a welfare scheme for full time Mobeds aged 60 years and above, and widows of elderly full time Mobeds, under which 114 Mobeds and 31 widows of Mobeds are given quarterly sum of Rs.19,500 & Rs.13,500 respectively.
This initiative fructified, thanks to the tireless efforts of Mr. Neville Shroff, Chairman GWG, having made a recommendation to a Multi National entity based in Hong Kong, who accepted the same and remitted funds through Zoroastrian Charity Funds of Hong Kong, Canton & Macao to WZO Trust Funds.
Those Mobeds under 60 years of age and earning less than Rs. 6,00,000/- per annum interested in availing of the proposed new scheme under consideration, may write to:
The WZO Trust Funds,
C-1, Hermes House, 3rd floor,
Mama Parmanand Marg,
Mumbai 400 004.