Category Archives: Names, Surnames, more

Parsi Surnames

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While most surnames in India reflect caste and lineage, the Parsis had a delightfully modern streak — having landed without caste, history and context, theyy created identities through professions and urban streets.

Our family moved to Bombay (now Mumbai) from Rawalpindi in 1947. We came as refugees but the family soon settled and by 1953 my father had restarted playing golf at the Willingdon Club. I was eight years old and would walk 18 holes with him every Saturday and Sunday. The three Parsi gentlemen who made up his regular four-ball were uncles Poonawala, Coorlawala and Colabawala. Very soon they had rechristened my father Pindiwala.

Uncle Colabawala did not live in Colaba but in a penthouse on Malabar Hill. May be his ancestors had lived in Colaba. I used to spend hours searching the telephone directory to find Parsi surnames and building up stories around their families.

There was prohibition in Bombay those days. So to get liquor you had to find Mr Dalal, who would introduce you
to Mr Daruwala, who in turn would get bottles delivered to your home by Mr Batliwala who would be accompanied by
Mr Sodawaterbottleopenerwalla (the longest Parsi surname I have come across).

Other surnames whose ancestors were in the beverages trade were Mr Fountainwala, Mr Ginwala, Mr Rumwala, Mr Sodawala and Mr Jhunjhunwala.

We used to have two delightful Siamese kittens in our flat and these were gifted to my mother by her friend Mrs Billimoria. My mother spent hours knitting cardigans for them, with wool she bought from the Unwala family.

My uncle ran the air force canteen in Cotton Green and his partner, yes you guessed it, was Mr Canteenwala. They had this fantastic cook, Mr Bhajiwala. Their mild and meek manager, Mr Jeejeebhoy, nodded his head and agreed with everything everybody said.

My grandfather was the Sheriff of Bombay. I think the first and only Sikh to hold this position. Being Sheriff it was only natural that he had Mr Bandookwala and Mr Golimarwala as his constant companions.

Grandfather had many Parsi friends who were in politics. There was this squeaky clean khadi-clad Mr Ghandy, and the not so clean Mr Kalaghandy — <who was invariably being hounded by Mr Kotwal. But he never left home without his friends
Mr Barrister, Mr Vakil, Mr Lawyer and their munshi Mr Mehnty.

My grandfather built Hotel Waldorf on Arthur Bunder Road in Colaba. So for this he naturally used the services of
Mr Contactor and Mr Mistry. He never went to the conservative moneylenders when short of money, but borrowed it from his Parsi friend Mr Readymoney.

Our neighbour and family physician was Dr Adi Doctor — he was only half a doctor. He lived withh his in laws Mr and Mrs Pochkhanawala. My sister swears they ate only poached eggs for breakfast.

I remember going to Dr Doctor’s sister’s wedding. She married Mr Screwala. What he did for a living, I do not know to this day. If you are in Mumbai maybe you can track him down in the yellow or pink pages.

Jokes apart, there is a lesson for all of us here: imagine if we could christen our politicians through democratic vote: Jinnahwalla, Nikarwalla, Icequeen, Motawalla! It would really be able to keep everyone in check, where individuals and media didn’t only control your public profile but also your public identity.

The Parsis have taught us that if you take serious interest in satire, you can change the world!

My name today is Comedymanifestowalla!
Courtesy : Cyrus Bulsara

Parsi Surnames !!

This article appeared in The Tribune, Chandigarh, on the 6th of Jan 2010.

We all are intrigued by the Parsi names.

OK tata bye-bye
by Pushi Chowdhry

While most surnames in India reflect caste and lineage, the Parsis had a delightfully modern streak having landed without caste, history and context, theyy created identities through professions and urban streets.

Read on to bring a smile … click here…. Parsi Surnames_intrigued

Courtesy : Dara Acidwalla


GAZDARS OF GANDEVI. The surname GAZDAR amongst PARSIS, started in the 18th. century. During that period, the WADIAS had come to Bombay, to construct docks for the PORT of BOMBAY, and build sailing vessels, for the EAST INDIA CO. For this purpose they needed plenty of timber.This timber was obtained from the forest of DANG, near GANDEVI and BILLIMORIA in Gujarat. The Parsis of GANDEVI owned vast stretches of this forest, and used to supply timber to the WADIAS at Bombay. This timber had to be measured and cut to different sizes, as required by the purchasers. For measuring they used a yard long scale, which was called a GAZ, and also used a rope called DOR, for measuring lengths longer than a yard. Several Parsis of GANDEVI were engaged in this measuring process, and just because they used GAZ and DOR for this purpose, they were called GAZ-DORS. Gradually, they adopted the surname GAZDAR. Amongst the famous GAZDARS of Bombay, is JAMSHEDJI. GAZDAR who was once President of the INDIAN MERCHANTS’ CHAMBER. JAMSHEDJI JIVANJI GAZDAR, passed M.A. from ELPHINSTON COLLEGE, Bombay, in 1867, and then went to England to become a barrister in 1870. He practiced there only, and returned to Bombay in1892. He was made a FELLOW of BOMBAY UNIVERSITY, and theMAHA-RAJA of BHAVNAGAR, appointed him as his state’s CHIEF JUSTICE. In 1900, he became the REGISTRAR of BOMBAY HIGH COURT.

Courtesy : Minocher Damania

Who was Who in Persian History

1) Zarathust / Zarathost / Zoroaster

Prophet Spitaman or Spetman Zarathust who preached, the first ever monotheist religion, was born in Iran, in the city of Rae, which was on the banks of river Durji, flowing from the mountain Jabar. His Mother Dogdo or Dugdowa. was also from Rae, but father Poursasp was from the western region of media province called Azarbaizan. He first preached his religion at the city of Balkh, during the reign of Kyanian King Goshtasp. Being from the Spitaman or ancestral family, was called spetman Zarthust. He was born on the day of Khordad Sal (Mah Farvardin, Roj Khordad) and was killed on Zarthust no Diso I.e..Mah Dae, Roj Khorshed) by Turani Sardar named Tur-bar-tur in the fire temple at the city of Balkh at the ripe age of 78.

2) Noshirwan

He was better known as Noshirwan-e-Adil and was the son of Kobad and 20th King of the Sassanian dynasty.His real name was Khusrav, but due to his righteous justice, he was called Noshirwan-e-Adil. He destroyed the followers of anti-Zoroastrian cult named ” Mazdak ” and ruled for 39 years.

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Parsi Irani Surnames

Normally Surnames do not have any meanings. Our ancestors had no Surnames, they were known by their Father’s / Family name. e.g. Rustom bin Zal. (Rustom of Zal), later on they took on names of places/ family names as additional to their names. It was only when they came to India that they adopted their trade/service/vocation/family/or some traits -(Waghmaru, Batki etc.). A very interesting collection by Burjor Minocher Daboo of Ahmedabad.

Click here for the full list and some interesting, some amusing  meanings.

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