Category Archives: News

BPP Installs DIRECT HELP LINE For Community Members

Dear Community Members,
Given the difficult times the world is currently going through with the fatal danger that the dreaded COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) poses to the country in general, and our aging community in particular, the BPP is taking several steps to proactively, positively and effectively address the issues faced by our community members.
Our endeavours are aimed to help community members at multiple levels, to the best of our ability and our resources, despite the extraordinary challenges posed by a nation under lockdown.
The BPP has installed  Dedicated Help Lines for community members to reach out to us for help/assistance on any issues that they are facing due to the lockdown, or for emergencies.
We will try to resolve issues regarding lack of food supplies/groceries, etc. as well as cater to medical needs/emergencies by connecting the elderly or incapacitated with doctors and GPs nearby and provide ambulance services.
We will endeavour to help to whatever extent we possibly can under these trying and difficult circumstances.
Kindly contact us on the following two numbers: Ronny Patel :9867946384 and Jimmy Merchant : 9819027857 between (9.00 am to 9.00 pm).
The BPP is also in the process of setting up small groups of volunteers per settlement (Baug/Colony/Building) who will be accessible to help out resident community members as well as those living close by. Community members who would like to volunteer in effacing the challenges faced by our brethren are requested to connect with us on the same numbers.
We are also working on a Disaster Management Plan and request professionals, especially doctors, to come forward and help our community members, during these challenging times.
We also request all members of the community  to follow all government advisories in terms of health safety for all.
Since no publications are being printed (as physical copies), we request you to forward this message to as many people as you can, to ensure maximum circulation of this Dedicated Help Line, which will prove to be of great help to those in need.
We hope to serve ajnd resolve as many issues as possible for you!
Board of Trustees
Bombay Parsi Punchayet

GEN Z AND BEYOND A GLOBAL ZOROASTRIAN SURVEY TO SECURE THE FUTURE OF OUR COMMUNITY

Funding Needed To Study The Twin Goals Of Unity And Growth In A Global Zoroastrian Survey

 

What does the Zoroastrian community, especially our youth, seek? How can we preserve our identity and strengthen the community as a whole? Community members across the globe dwell on these questions without a clear answer. A new initiative called Gen Z and Beyond seeks to create a global Zoroastrian study to provide up-to-date, accurate, substantive and authoritative data to inform and guide our thinking to help us secure and shape the future of our community, its aspirations and identity.

 

Dr. Sarah Stewart, the Shapoorji Pallonji Senior Lecturer in Zoroastrian Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London will lead the global survey and data analysis. Zoroastrians in India and across the globe will be invited to participate in an online anonymous survey. Researchers aspire to survey 100 % of the Zoroastrian population and plan to visit rural areas where online access is not available.

 

This global survey is different from those in the past as it will solicit demographic, behavioral, and attitudinal input from Zoroastrians. It will generate an all-encompassing database and draw a comprehensive set of facts, insights and ideas to inform and inspire Zoroastrian communities to develop future projects that will secure, strengthen and further the wellbeing of the community.

 

 

Detailed information and answers to Frequently Asked Questions can be found at

 

Home

 

Gen Z and Beyond sponsors have provided seed capital close to 30% of the approximately $275,000 total Survey cost. The goal is to raise the balance by the project launch date of May 1, 2020 and complete the project by December 2021. We cannot do this without your help and request each Association around the globe to support this initiative as well as make monetary contributions and help to create the future of our community.

 

Contact To Learn More And Join This Effort.

 

Yazdi Tantra – yazdi@on-lyne.com – +91 98922 19340

Dinyar Devitre – dinyar@devitre.net –  +1 646 266 9156

Toos Daruvala – tdaruvala@gmail.com –  +1(917) 626-3570

Edul Daver – eduldaver@gmail.com – +1 908 397 4443

 

http://www.genzandbeyond.com

Iraqi Kurds Turn To Zoroastrianism As Faith, Identity Entwine

Iraqi Kurd Faiza Fouad takes part in a ritual ceremony in an ancient and ruined temple as she joins the millennia-old Zoroastrian religion Photo: AFP / SAFIN HAMED

In a ceremony at an ancient, ruined temple in northern Iraq, Faiza Fuad joined a growing number of Kurds who are leaving Islam to embrace the faith of their ancestors — Zoroastrianism.

Years of violence by the Islamic State jihadist group have left many disillusioned with Islam, while a much longer history of state oppression has pushed some in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region to see the millennia-old religion as a way of reasserting their identity.

Click Here to read more

 

A decade of bonding, praying together at Bhikha Behram Well

The initiative of holding Parsi community prayers every month on Ava Roz (day of water) is completing 10 years on Friday

Once a month, 80-year-old Parsi businessman Nariman Mody ensures he stops by at Bhikha Behram Well at a corner of Cross Maidan in south Mumbai. For Mr. Mody, the humbandagi or praying together is a good opportunity to catch up with fellow Parsis. This initiative of community prayers every month on Ava Roz (day of water) is completing 10 years this week.

“Barring three to four times when I was unwell or someone in my family was unwell, I have not missed the humbandagi for the past 10 years,” said Mr. Mody, a Grant Road resident.

The idea of organising the prayers was thought of by community members Hoshaang Gotla and Perzon Zend in 2009, and they approached the trustees of the well. “They were very supportive of the idea,” said Mr. Gotla. They started with leaner crowds of 20 to 30 people and now see up to 200 to 300 Parsis, especially on the weekends.

“A lot of bonding takes place when people pray together. We wanted to create that atmosphere,” he said.

The Ava Roz, when Parsis pray to the divinity of water, falls on different days every month. Bhikha Behram Well, which is a rich source of water, is a perfect religious place for such a gathering. Viraf Kapadia, one of the five trustees of the well, said it is a significant religious place for the community. “Dating back to 1725, the well was built by Parsi gentleman Bhikaji Behram, who came to Bombay on foot all the way from Bharuch,” said Mr. Kapadia.

Anniversary talk

The monthly prayer is followed by a talk delivered by several people from the community. From senior priests to religious scholars, many Parsis have delivered the talks over the past 10 years. On October 25, for the 10th year celebration of humbandagi, Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) trustee Noshir Dadrawala has been invited to deliver a talk on the topic, ‘Pray together, stay together’.

“I have delivered talks at Bhikha Behram Well earlier too,” said Mr. Dadrawala. The gathering is a great way of getting the young and old together, he said. “The crowd fluctuates every time. But when Ava Roz falls on a weekend, the place is packed,” he said.

However, the news of Mr. Dadrawala delivering the talk to mark the 10th year has not gone down well with some Parsis, who consider him a reformist. Mr. Kapadia said, “Mr. Dadrawala has delivered talks at the event many times. The platform is open for all community members, including trustees of BPP.”

Jyoti Shelar

https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/a-decade-of-bonding-praying-together-at-bhikha-behram-well/article29772127.ece

 

Persis Amrolia – Patients with incurable leukaemia declared cancer-free after groundbreaking treatment

A new treatment for an incurable form of leukaemia has been hailed by experts after it left patients without a trace of the disease.

The patients were treated with a faster acting version of CAR-T therapy, in which the body’s immune system is used against the malignant cells.

The trial at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London was carried out with the aim of reducing the side-effects of treatment for the patients, most of whom are children.

The treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) sees the patient’s own immune cells genetically modified and then used to target cancer.

During the trial, 14 patients with a previously incurable strain of ALL were given the therapy and 12 saw the disease cleared after three months. Five of those patients remain leukaemia free.

Professor Persis Amrolia, the study’s chief investigator, said: “CAR-T therapy is a fantastic example of using the power of the immune system to specifically target cancer cells.

“While it doesn’t work for everyone, it can offer hope for those children who have run out of all other options.

“We’re just at the beginning of this new treatment and over the next few years, I hope we can refine it further to make it safer and more effective.

“The side-effects of CAR-T therapies can be severe, so we hope that this new technology can reduce the risk for patients.”

Austin Sweeney, 10, was diagnosed with ALL when he was two and was subsequently invited to take part in the trial after he had exhausted all other treatment options.

His father, Scott Sweeney, said Austin was “so fortunate” to have been able to participate.

“He had the cells at Great Ormond Street Hospital in October 2016 and we found out on his birthday at the end of that month that the cells were doing exactly what we needed them to do,” Mr Sweeney said.

“Two-and-a-half years later, Austin is doing so well. He is more physical than he has ever been. It is lovely to see him full of energy.”

ALL affects around 400 children in the UK each year, according to the hospital, and while most patients can be cured with standard treatments including chemotherapy and transplant, some relapse.

Survival for children suffering from ALL increased from under 10 per cent in the 1960s to 90 per cent in 2015, though the survival rate is lower for babies.

The hospital said the research, which was published in the Nature Medicine journal on Monday, offers great hope to those with relapsed ALL, which is the most common cause of child cancer death in the UK.

Additional reporting by PA

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/leukaemia-cancer-cure-free-children-great-ormond-street-trial-a9088556.html

Inauguration Ceremony of Udwada Railway Station

Dear Parsi/Irani Community,
Today the 6th Sept 2019, Mah: Farvardin – Roj: Ram Y.Z. 1389, marks the day for the Inaugural of our restored Udwada Station, with Feliciation ceremony of our Vada Dastoorji Shri Khurshed Kekobad Dastoor and his efforts and personal attention towards the Restoration of the Udwada Railway Station and the whole of Udwada. It’s the most beautiful station in South Gujarat and equipped with the latest technology and the most modern facilities for commuters. An announcement for halting Flying Ranee and another train for the convenience of commuters was made by Vada Dastoorji Shri Khurshed Kekobad Dastoor for which he shall put in an appeal and request our Railway Minister Mr Piyush Goyal to do the needful. He also requested citizens to take care of the upgradation and considered it as their own by keeping the surroundings clean and requested everyone to join the “Šwachh Bharat Mission” a dream of our adorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra bhai Damodardas Modi Jee. Ervad Mr Zarir. M. Dastoor too was present with other Parsi members of Udwada Gam to applaud Vada Dastoorji Shri Khurshed Kekobad Dastoor for his fulfilment in getting the project completed in the stipulated time period. Many more from the Lions club, WE club, Senior citizens club, Bhakti and Shakti Mandal members, Udwada Anjuman, Vyapari Mandal, Gram Panchayat and District and Taluka Gram Presidents were present to grace this special day.
The programme started with Maa Saraswati Vani by students of Bhagini Samaj School, speeches were held by the dignitaries and ended with reciting our National Athem. It was a wonderful evening and a successful inauguration of the beautifully made air-conditioned rooms was done by Vada Dastoorji Šhri Khurshed Kekobad Dastoor.
Sweets and chocolates were distributed to everyone present to mark the happiness and fulfilment of the day.
Bharat Mata Ki Jay.
Love and Regards
Shahin J A Mehershahi.

Historic UN Gathering in Salt Lake City Attracts Thousands

Global Civil Society Representatives Adopt Outcome and Youth Climate Compact
(Salt Lake City, 28 August 2019)

 

At a first-of-its-kind UN gathering in the western United States, representatives of non-governmental organizations, faith-based organizations, educators, students and individual activists from Utah and around the world today adopted an outcome document outlining a global vision to achieve inclusive and sustainable cities and communities by 2030. Youth themselves drafted and adopted a stand-alone climate compact.
President of the United Nations General Assembly María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés addressed participants at the closing plenary session, remarking, “In our increasingly interdependent world, where shocks in one country can affect the lives and livelihoods of people across the globe, it seems clear that we need more cooperation, not less. It is a great honour to be the first President of the General Assembly to receive a UN Civil Society Conference outcome document. And you can count on me to be your advocate.”
The conference was a milestone moment to build momentum leading up to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, and the high-level week of the UN General Assembly in September, where the status of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals will also be a focus.
Conference Chair Maruxa Cardama, Secretary-General of the Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transportation (SLoCAT) said, “Safe and sustainable cities and communities are not a dream but wholly within our grasp if we work together as a global community and empower civil society. There is no contradiction between embracing global goals to promote prosperity for all and protect our planet and maintaining local traditions and national sovereignty. The Outcomes of this conference demonstrate the resolve of civil society across the world to play an active role in achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 in their vision for government and private sector accountability, and concrete suggestions for individual action.”
The 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference theme, “Building Inclusive and Sustainable Cities and Communities” reflects the fact that over half of the world’s population, some 55 per cent, now live in urban areas, with that figure expected to rise to 68 per cent by 2050. The track record of Salt Lake City on inclusion and sustainability, as well as its experience hosting international events, were factors in support of bringing the conference here.
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said, “Salt Lake City’s track record for defending individual human rights, taking action to address the global climate emergency and protect the health of our people and our environment is undeniable. I am so grateful that the world has come to Salt Lake City for this important conversation and I am honored at the opportunity to highlight our achievements on an international stage. As Mayor, I offer you my unwavering commitment to the ongoing work of our vibrant civil society and to the inspiring youth who play a central role in mitigating the effects of climate change and building a sustainable world.”
Dozens of representatives from civil society organizations based in New York, Utah and elsewhere came together to plan and organize this massive endeavor in partnership with the United Nations. NGO

Boman Irani sings at ZTFE Khordad Saal function

On the auspicious day of Khordad Sal, Thursday 22nd August 2019, the ZTFE hosted the Parsee Gymkhana Cricket Team for dinner at the Grade II* listed Art Deco Zoroastrian Centre, London.

 

The Parsee Gymkhana Team were visiting London to play against Surrey County Cricket Club Charles Alcock XI at the Kia Oval on Friday 23rd August for the coveted ‘1886 Trophy’.

 

Accompanying the Parsee Gymkhana Team was their No.1 fan,  Boman Irani, A Listed Bollywood Actor & Theatre Personality, actor extraordinaire, photographer and singer.

 

Over 310 Zoroastrians and interfaith guests, including The Worshipful The Mayor of Harrow Cllr Nitin Parekh, Navin Shah AM, members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, Harrow Interfaith were entertained by Boman Irani on Khordad Sal, Thursday 22nd August 2019.

 

To conclude the evening, Boman sang ‘I did it my way’, the song previously sang by Frank Sinatra.

Mumbai Muktad Diaries 2019

During the recent 10 day farvandian/muktad days I posted some observations on social media. Below is a compilation of all the posts. Many of the images were in black and white, but a lot of people requested I also post the color images. So in those cases I have posted both.

Batliwala Agiary, Tardeo, Mumbai

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The muktad prayer days mean a lot of things to all Parsis. It’s the time to remember our dear departed, but also a time to treasure what we have with those we love and are around us.

To me, visiting my agiary for the prayers is like going back in time. The earliest memories of this beautiful agiary are of going there every morning with my mom to pray for my mamaijis muktad. Buying flowers for the vase and being allowed to go to the upper floor, I remember being awe struck at the beauty and Majesty of the space. A dozen and more priests praying, sandalwood fragrant in the air, flowers in beautiful vases all lined up on table after table made me realize that this was a once a year special time.

Today when I return to this place, not much has changed. It’s still the safe place it always was. The same familiar faces, many of them friends who I grew up with, praying as priests today, and everyone collectively sitting waiting for the prayers of their dear departed. But also sharing together the collective commonality that while we all grieve for those who have passed away we also acknowledge the spirit of those who we never knew but now do, as a vase with beautiful flowers on a marble table.

So as we seek blessings of our own loved ones we also are fortunate to receive the blessings of all the loved ones this agiary was home to, and are being prayed for these Muktad days.

Anjuman Atashbehram, Near Princess Street, Mumbai

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One of the four #Atashbehram in #Mumbai, the Anjuman Atashbehram comes alive during Muktad. The entire upper floor is full of row upon row of muktad tables. The hum of priests praying and devotees joining in with their own prayers, makes for a fantastic aural experience. The scent of flowers and of sandalwood and loban (incense) makes one’s non visual senses come alive.

I’ve always wondered as to how our prayer ceremonies are not only visual in experience, but encompass all our senses. The prayers soothe the ears, the sandalwood smoke the nasal passage, the touch of the sandalwood to our fingers ….all of these make it a complete experience. Without any one of these, it would not be complete. The next time you go for Muktad prayers, notice for yourself.

Vaccha Gandhi Agiary, Hughes Road, Mumbai

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Agiaries that are adjacent to or within Parsi colonies get more footfall than those that are not. It was the vision of our forefathers to build infrastructure in that manner. A classic example is the Vatcha Gandhi Agiary opposite the Kharegat Colony at Hughes Road in #Mumbai

Run by two generations and counting of the Dadachanji family, the agiary during Muktad is a beehive of activity. With just about standing room only you see a master class in choreographed movement as a senior Mobed through actions…a mere nod, a pointing of a finger in a direction or a slight tap on the shoulder of a devotee sets in motion a series of prayers. Hardly a word is spoken. The only thing one hears is the hum of prayers. And the touch of sandalwood. And the smell of flowers and loban.

These choreographed actions are honed over decades of practise and adaptation. The priests and the devotees seem to know their own roles and perform them to perfection.

And this differs from Agiary to Agiary. No two agaires do it the same way. But they all seem to do the same thing.

The fluidity of ritual practise has to be seen and observed to be appreciated.

And it cannot just be transplanted. As our faith spreads in the world to new lands and new diaspora emerge from the faithful of the old world settling in new places, these are the type of rituals that need to transcend oceans and continents.

Religion cannot be practised and sustained in a vacuum where prayers are the only thing. Traditions, practises, rituals…or as we call it Reeti Rivaaj are as integral as are the buildings that sustain and nurture them and make them possible. Nowhere so you see this orchestra play better and with more pomp than in Mumbai.

I feel blessed to be an active audience and participant in this year after year. May all these traditions far outlive me and the generations that follow.

Atha Jamyat Yatha Afrinami.

Continue reading this post by Arzan Wadia – on Parsi Khabar – Click Here

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