Category Archives: Mobeds

Tribute to Er. Aspandiar Dadachanji

The passing away of Ervad Apandiar Dadachanji is a tragic loss for the Parsi Zoroastrian community.
He was an authority in matters of Zoroastrian higher liturgical ceremonies and had himself performed several Vendidad and Nirangdin ceremonies.
He guided and led the shifting of the Holy Fire at Tavri near Navsari to Godrej Baug in Mumbai.
Under his guidance and supervision several young boys including from overseas have been initiated as Navar and Maratab.
He was a spiritual mentor to many. He would guide both priests and laity in matters of religious observances without being pedantic.
He was gentle, soft spoken and kind to all.
Above all he was witty and had a great sense of humor. He was also fond of cricket and going on long drives.
I was privileged and blessed to know him closely and personally. He had accompanied me and my dear friend Coovershah Mehta of SVG Pune on several tours to Iran. His presence among the pilgrims had a serene and spiritual effect on all including fellow Zoroastrians residing in Iran. In the bus he would patiently answer queries on what to pray and how to live a pious Zoroastrian life. In fact when Coovershah and I met him recently, which happened to be his Roj Birthday, he expressed a desire to visit Iran one more time. Zoroastrian religious texts say the soul goes to the other word via the Albroze mountain range in Northern Iran. He will now travel to Iran in spirit.
With his flowing white beard and radiant face, he exuded rare piety and simply being in his presence was humbling and awe inspiring.
May his pious soul progress in the spiritual world and continue to bless us all.
Noshir H Dadrawala

Jashan to Welcome Positivity at ZAC Athashkadeh

It was the first time in recent times that all of the 5 High Priests/Vada Dasturs came together to give blessings and a message of love, peace, joy health, long life, and prosperity. They addressed the Global community after the Behram Yazad Jashan performed by Ervads Jal Birdy, Zerkxis & Zarrir Bhandara at the ZAC LA Atash Kadeh on Saturday, September 4th, 2021.

Courtesy: Parsi Times

Webinar – Challenges faced by full-time practicing Parsi Priests

Challenges faced by full time practicing Parsi Priests
Jiyo Parsi invites the community to witness the narrative of our priests. The Empowering Mobeds programme aims to develop priests as leaders, counsellors and teachers. Resilience is built in the DNA of a Zoroastrian priest by virtue of performance of liturgical ceremonies. Their courage has been amply displayed through the tough pandemic. The positive outcome of lockdown has been uniting priests and behdins on digital platforms, a first in the history of our community.
Meeting ID: 990 252 6711
Passcode: jiyoparsi

Fire Retardant Attire For Mobeds

Teams – Empowering Mobeds & WZO Trusts

Saturday October 24, 2020 was indeed a dark day, not only on account of the Pandemic but more so that Er. Zahan Meherzad Turel, all of 14 years young, a shining star of our Mobedi clan, suffered severe (48.5%) burns injuries whilst performing the ‘boi’ ceremony at Goti Adarian, Surat.

After being administered basic treatment young Zahan was rushed to Masina Hospital at Byculla, Mumbai, where he was given treatment for an extended period of time and thereafter discharged on Monday, January 04, 2021.

Fortunately for Er. Zahan Turel, he received excellent treatment at the Burns Unit of Masina Hospital and is well on his way to recovery.

Such a grisly mishap is not the first such incident that our Mobeds have had to contend with whilst tending to our revered fires. It is beyond imagination that in this day and age our Mobeds continue to perform religious ceremonies without a modicum of protection.

The incident triggered off intense discussions amongst the core group of Team Empowering Mobeds (a joint initiative of WZO Trust Funds and Athornan Mandal). After proactive discussions where various options were considered it was finally decided to have ‘Jamas, Padan & Hand Pockets (for Boiwala Mobeds to wear when inside the kebla) made from fire retardant fabric that would provide reasonable safety to our Mobeds whilst carrying out various religious ceremonies.

Over the last few months, experiments were undertaken to test fire retardant fabrics that would provide safety to Mobeds in case of embers landing on their ‘Jamas, Padan & Hand Pockets’.

Trials have been conducted, where Mobed Volunteers have worn Jamas made from different fabrics of thickness comparable to existing Jamas (on which the fire retardant process would be added later on) to test the comfort levels.

A well wisher Mr. Viraf Sohrabji Mehta who was keenly interested in the project coordinated the exercise with Ms. Firoza Karani, Director of Casablanca Apparels Pvt. Ltd., in having samples made and trials done for which we are most grateful to both of them.

It has now been decided to place an order for manufacturing 800 sets each of ‘Jamas & Padans and 200 sets of hand pockets with Casablanca Apparels Pvt. Ltd., a well known garment manufacturing unit established in 1993 that manufactures a variety of garments for both domestic and export markets.

As fire retardant fabric is not available off the shelves, Casablanca Apparels have placed an order with Arvind Mills, Ltd., to produce the minimum quantity required. The fire-retardant fabric is expected to be ready by mid-June 2021, and the final product ready for distribution sometime between mid to end July 2021. A set each will be offered gratis to practicing Mobeds for their use, should they be interested.

After the fabric has been manufactured, appropriate certificates of the fabric having Fire retardant properties will be obtained from Arvind Mills, the manufacturers of the fabric, as well as Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) an international inspection agency that inspects Apparels, Machinery, Medicines etc, before shipments.

High Priests, Dasturji Dr. Firoze M. Kotwal, Dasturji Khurshed K. Dastoor, Dasturji Keki P. Ravji Meherjirana, Senior Mobed Aspandiar Dadachanji, have all been informed about the initiative and their approval received.

After using the initial set, if Mobeds are satisfied in all respects, it will be for them, or their Agiary Trustees / Panthaki’s to procure additional sets from the manufacturers against payment. A suitable system will be put into place that will make it convenient to procure future supplies.

The ever-generous Trustees of Zoroastrian Charity Funds of Hong Kong, Canton & Macao have committed to make funds available for this initiative through WZO Trust Funds which will facilitate the initial production from fire retardant fabric of 800 Jamas 800 Padans and 200 pairs of Hand Pockets.

Mobeds, Panthakies and Trustees of Agiarys wishing to accept sets of Jamas & Padans and Hand Pockets made from fire retardant fabric are requested to contact and coordinate with:

Er. Hormuz A. Dadachanji,
D. E. Mithaiwala Agiary,
Opp. Grant Road Station (West),
Mumbai 400007
Telephone Contact (+91) 9820493812

Disclaimer:

It is clearly understood, implicitly agreed to and accepted by the Mobeds using attire made from Fire Retardant fabric that the initiative taken by Empowering Mobeds & WZO Trusts and funded by Zoroastrian Charity Funds of Hong Kong, Canton & Macao has been undertaken solely with the intent of providing safety to our Mobeds.

 

Empowering Mobeds, WZO Trusts or The Zoroastrian Charity Funds of Hong Kong, Canton & Macao, their Trustees and members will under no circumstances be held responsible or liable should the product malfunction / is found ineffective / does not offer protection / or causes any other complications.

 

It is also reiterated that The Trustees / Members of Empowering Mobeds, WZO Trusts or The Zoroastrian Charity Funds of Hong Kong, Canton & Macao have no commercial / pecuniary benefit from this project. 

Dinshaw K. Tamboly;

Chairman.

C – 1 Hermes House, 3rd Floor,

Mama Parmanand Marg,

Opera House,

Mumbai 400 004

Tel. Nos: 91 – 22 – 23684451 / 52 / 53

Mobeds and Fire Hazards

Problems, Suggestions, Solutions & Action

Teams: WZO Trusts & Empowering Mobeds

 

The Cause

The recent incident of a young Mobed performing the boye ceremony being severely burnt due to the Jama worn by him having caught fire by flying embers has made it essential to review safety norms in the interest of our Mobeds.

Background

Since time immemorial Zoroastrians have worshipped the fire and generations of Mobeds have tended to the fires in our various Atash Behrams and Agiaries. In recent years there have been a series of unfortunate incidents involving Mobeds being burnt as a result of stray flying embers.

This article is an attempt undertaken by Teams: WZO Trusts & Empowering Mobeds to identify the problems, offer suggestions for solutions and share the initial action taken.

Considering the gravity of the situation, it is very essential that necessary dialogue should be undertaken through which safety norms can be introduced, impart training to Mobeds and Behdins on measures to be undertaken during an emergency situation whereby safety of Mobeds who are prone to grievous injuries for no fault of their own is ensured.

Note about the Jamaa

The Jamaa that Mobeds wear whilst tending to fire in the kebla is a white coloured traditional flowing robe worn over their clothes and is often made of cotton or fine muslin. In older times Jamaas were made of thicker quality hand woven linen.

 

Fire Hazards facing Mobeds

A number of recent unfortunate incidents have happened where mainly Mobeds clothes have caught fire. In a majority of cases it has started with the Jamaa catching fire whilst the Mobed has been performing boye ceremony in the kebla and in some cases where ceremonies such as jashan’s, monthly remembrance prayers by coming into contact with the Divo (Oil Lamp) or by a stray flying ember.

Mobeds are aware that flying embers are very common and will agree that whilst the Setranji (Cotton rug used for prayers) is singed frequently but there has never been an instance of a setranji bursting into flames. The reason for this is purely the thickness and proximity of the setranji to the ground.

 

Putting Out A Clothes Fire

When a person’s clothing catches on fire, action must be instinctive and immediate. There is no time to think.

 

The one thing one should never do is run.

To minimize a burn injury when clothes catch fire, it is very essential to STOP, DROP, and ROLL. Burns are among the most painful of injuries and the third leading cause of unintentional death. The hands, groin, face and lungs are at particular risk because they are delicate structures and easily injured.

The healing process is slow and painful, resulting not only in enormous personal suffering but also enormous financial expenses are incurred that Mobeds are generally unable to bear on their own.

The principles of STOP, COVER / DROP and ROLL are simple, Prompt action will reduce the severity of any burn injury.

STOP

 

It is very important not to panic and run. Running fans the flames and increases the fire.

COVER

 

Heat rises up fast so cover your face with your hands to protect the delicate eyes and skin on the face and to protect airways from the smoke.

 

 

DROP

 

Drop to the ground immediately.

ROLL

 

Roll backwards and forwards on the flame to smother the fire. By rolling on the flames you starve them of oxygen and put out the fire.

 

A bystander can assist by dousing the fire with water, or using a fire blanket, non-flammable mat, blanket or article of clothing to assist in smothering the fire. A water fire extinguisher (all red body) is the only type of fire extinguisher which can be safely used in this situation. It is very important not to use any other type of fire extinguisher.


Ways suggested to Avoid / Mitigate the problem

It is very necessary that Trustees and Managements of every Atashbehram & Agiary should:

  1. Raise Awareness levels by providing regular training and demonstrations to be given to Mobeds and Behdins alike via various mediums.
  2. Place a setranji or fire blanket in an easily accessible corner of the room where ceremonies are performed.
  3. Easily operable push button Fire Extinguishers (preferably water based) should be made available near areas identified as having hazards
  4. Treating Clothing with Flame retardants is not viable as most flame retardants wash off after a few washes at best and often irritate the skin and cause rashes.
  5. Minor change of design to the Jamaa where behind the kas (cotton tie) snap buttons can be fitted like in daglis so that it can be taken out within seconds, in cases of emergency.
  6. Vada Dasturjis need to be consulted, and permission needs to be taken if a badan (not collared shirt) and an ijar over the legha can be worn for boye ceremonies in Adarians or a sahyo (worn by Irani mobeds). Atash Behtam boyewallas can continue wearing the full regalia.
  7. Use good quality seasoned and properly dried sandalwood and kathi whenever possible.
  8. Consult with Fire Safety experts and formulate a training program.

 

Quick thinking by onlookers and Mobeds having been trained will certainly save lives in the future.

 

Initial Action Underway

A donor who wishes to remain anonymous has gifted to WZO Trusts’ 300 hand held cans of a fire retardant, with a request that two cans be given to every Atashbehram & Agiary in India which can be kept on hand wherever a Mobed is performing religious ceremonies.

These cans will shortly be distributed through volunteers team of Empowering Mobeds.

A short video is being conceptualised that will educate Mobeds on the proper way to tend to the fires. It has been the experience of senior Mobeds that young Mobeds many a times extend their arms very close to the fire, singeing the cuff of their jamas that creates such avoidable mishaps.

 

Suggestions welcome

Suggestions of a practical nature that would further enhance the safety of our Mobeds are welcome and looked forward to. We can be contacted on Face Book Walls of ‘World Zoroastrian Organisation / WZO Trust Funds’, and ‘Empowering Mobeds’, also at mobeds@mobeds.com

 

In Conclusion

Recognising that the safety and wellbeing of our Mobeds tending to the spiritual needs of our community is paramount, WZO Trusts’ & Empowering Mobeds have jointly undertaken this initiative with the hope that with proper training, our Mobeds, accidents that have been occurring will be eliminated.

 

 

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

https://www.mid-day.com/articles/we-must-transform-mobeds-into-leaders-boost-their-numbers/22630214

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