Dastur Khurshed Dastoor of Udvada appointed on the National Minorities Commission

Khushed Dastoor, a high priest of the Parsi community has been appointed as the Zoroastrian representative on the National Commission for Minorities. His appointment comes amidst the bickering within the community over nomination of Dinshaw Tamboly, a liberal member. Interestingly, Mr Dastoor, who is the high priest of Udvada fire temple is also known for his liberal approach.

Soon after the news came out on Wednesday evening about the centre appointing five members on the NCM including Mr Dastoor, the community got talking about how it was a “big setback to the orthodox groups”. “Vada dasturji Khurshed Dastoor’s appointment is in the right direction. We are very happy about it,” said Vispy Wadia, co-founder of Association for Revival of Zoroastrianism adding that the high priest has often taken a stand on allowing Parsi women married outside the faith to enter the fire temples. “He is the youngest of all out high priests. He is extremely progressive,” said Mr Wadia.

Mr. Tamboly had received support from Parsi Zoroastrians across the world who wrote letters favorring him. Even the chairman of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, the largest body of Parsis, Yazdi Desai, recommended Mr Tamboly’s name in January 2017 however withdrew his recommendation last week. The withdrawal started a series of debates in the social media platforms. However, Mr Dastoor’s name sprung a surprise as the community was unaware that he was in the running.
Jyoti Shelar

Does Muslim Prayer Come From Zoroastrianism?

A viewer asks, “Some people (among theme are some “Quranist” muslims) say that our 5 daily prayers are borrowed from zoroastrianism, because according to the claimants zoroastrians pray 5 daily “namaz” at the same time frames and according to them this is “too much coincidence”. How can we refute this strange theory?” Dr. Shabir Ally shares his answer.

Nisaba Godrej named chairperson of Godrej Consumer

Nisaba Godrej will take over as the executive chairperson of the Godrej Consumer Products from her father Adi Godrej.


Nisaba Godrej will take over as the executive chairperson of the Godrej Consumer Products from her father Adi Godrej. Godrej Group patriarch Adi Godrej stepped down from the post and the Godrej Consumer Products Ltd (GCPL) decided to name his daughter Nisaba Godrej for the post of the executive chairperson. Nisaba will take over as the company’s chairperson on May 10. The 75-year-old Adi Godrej will assume the Chairman Emeritus position.

 The elevation of Nisaba Godrej comes a couple of months after Pirojsha Godrej replaced his father as the Executive Chairman of Godrej Properties. Adi Godrej’s elder daughter, Tanya Dubash, is the executive director and chief brand officer at Godrej Group. “The foundations of GCPL are extremely strong. This is an opportune time to transition to a new chairperson, who will lead the company in its next phase of growth. Over the last decade, I have worked closely with her (Nisaba) and seen her deliver tremendous results,” Adi Godrej was quoted as saying.
  1. Nisaba Adi Godrej is also known as Nisa.
  2. After completing primary education from The Cathedral & John Connon School, Nisaba Godrej completed her Bachelor of Science (BSc) from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
  3. Nisaba Godrej holds Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Harvard Business School.
  4. Nisa has been part of the GCPL board since 2011.
  5. Nisaba initiated Project Leapfrog in 2007, which helped the Godrej group to grow in the domestic market and also expand outside India.
  6. The company expanded to UK, Indonesia, Latin America and Africa under Nisaba’s Project Leapfrog.
  7. Nisa has overseen various projects in, innovation, strategy and HR for Godrej Industries and its associate companies.
  8. Nisaba is married to Kalpesh Mehta and has a son.


Generic Drug Names

Medicines are prescribed (by doctors) by brand name not by the generics (Ingredients). Hence we end up paying more money for the same medicine. The following websites help you find substitutes for branded drugs – just enter the name of the drug and the substitutes will be shown to you, many of them at even half the price!

Here are some of the websites which give you the substitutes:




Please take advantage of the substitutes.

And please, please check with your doctor before taking the substitutes. The information given is only to create awareness and not for self medication.

Courtesy : Viraf Mehta


I have a dreaded fear that I am sharing in the open. When I grow old, I may become feeble. When I become old, my children may be far from me. When I grow old, I may become lonely. In perhaps no other prominent urban community is this reality more evident, than the Parsis. This community resides at the other end of India’s demographic dividend; even as India is getting younger, the Parsis are getting older (60 per cent of the community in Kolkata is above 65). Even as India’s population is growing, the Parsis are shrinking (down from 4000 in Kolkata about 40 years ago, for instance, to 450 today).

The Kolkata community was illequipped to address shrinkage, so it is addressing the challenge of age, a game over which at least some control can indeed be exercised. The Calcutta Zoroastrian Community Religious and Charities Fund allocated annuity income (generated from property ownership) for a project that addresses the needs of their elderly. This is what CZCRCF (trust only the Parsi ingenuity to create this tonguetwister) did: it identified 27 individuals needing periodic care; it created a team of five women caregivers; it created a regular roadmap of who would need to be visited by whom on which day and what time; it ensured that each individual would be attended at least eight times a month; it allocated a fund to remunerate the care-givers (not a fancy salary plus dearness allowance, but a ‘we would be grateful if you accepted this’ kind of emolument).

There are some remarkable things to be learned from this model. One, it is utterly simple. What Kolkata’s Parsis have achieved is not some fancy multi-competence operation: just afew individuals getting together to make things happen. This Kolkata operation is stewarded by a lady (who incidentally told me thrice during my conversation ‘please don’t mention my name’) who opted for a VRS with a multi-national and was the happiest to start this service. Two, this is a serious day-job for care-givers. They start at ten, visit one home, spend about half an hour, engage in chitter-chatter, say their goodbye (‘Oh sweetie, time over already? Havey kyaarey aavso?’), take public transport, move to the next individual and repeat the exercise.

Three, the caregivers have customised their act: they recognize that Freny aunty cannot be visited early because her BP is usually high before noon, that Jal uncle is usually irritable before lunch and best left alone at that time, and that since Katy aunty lost her husband the only thing that perks her up are walks to the club. Four, the caregivers are not just engaged in a home-delivered service; they need to put the recipient at ease – and that could mean taking an 86-year to the bank to withdraw cash from the ATM during demonetisation, arranging avisit to the doctor followed by a visit to the diagnostic centre for tests and purchase of corresponding medicines.

Five, the service has extended beyond the functional; the old and the informed don’t only want someone to periodically visit and ask ‘Tabeeyat kem chhey Cyrus uncle?’ But someone who can take them for a Dangal multiplex screening on World Elders’ Day, or drive them to Bakkhali for a spray of the sea breeze (crazy but that’s how it is), or take an 83-year-old for her manicure and pedicure, or even take someone to Jamshedpur (which for those who don’t know is the Parsi’s Avalon from where they dissolve and go straight to heaven). Six, the engagement can often become a 24×7 calling.

There are a number of times when the caregivers need to respond with urgency to shift an elderly to hospital at 2am; the families of the care-givers have gradually been drawn into providing logistical support; two community youngsters have volunteered to provide an anytime car pick-up-and-drop service. Seven, the service is beginning to evolve. One of the care-givers – she is nice, pretty, effervescent and youngish based on her WhatsApp DP before you assume that this must be a grim exercise for grim people – has graduated to preparing the expired body for the final rituals.

This has brought her eyeball-to-eyeball with mortality; she tells me philosophically that ‘all we really need in life is a room with a view, sun in the sky, a cupboard and a toilet – the rest is life’s overheads.’ There are fun moments too. Like coming across 86-year-old Roshan aunty who needed to be shifted from the hospital after an operation to someone else’s place for recuperation but who insisted (‘ziddi’ was the word used) on going home first to get her hair dyed and set. I am going to take the money I earn from this column and create a seed fund to start this initiative in my Dawoodi Bohra community in Kolkata. Wish me luck.


Workshop for Priestly Development: Jiyo Parsi

Dear Friends,

For many years we have been discussing the importance of giving respect to our Priests and enabling them to become Pastors to the Parsi community, as are the Catholic Priests as well as the Sikh Granthis. Jiyo Parsi has realized that without a strong ethical background in Zoroastrianism, our community is suffering. This is seen in some cases, in community rates of depression, in neglect of our Priests, our Elders, even our children, as we head towards an increasingly self centered society.

Jiyo Parsi therefore has worked with experts from Masina Hospital and other Counseling centres and our senior Priests, to create a special programme for our Priesthood which will be conducted in Mumbai as per the advertisement issued in the Jame Jamshed yesterday. This  is attached herewith for your quick perusal. We need you as the Leaders of the community and important voices to encourage priests from your Anjumans and Baugs to come, with their wives, on a fully reimbursed Workshop and travel  to and at Mumbai on Saturday 13th May  2017. We need a good response and the importance of this needs to be understood by our clergy and community.

If this is successful, the Priests will be trained in a Series of Workshops, as per their willingness to:


Become eloquent speakers

Communicate values and ideas

Deal with Youth and their problems

Be Effective leaders who can stand up for Zoroastrian values.

Showcase their great talents gained during their priestly training

Become advocates for their own improved conditions

Personality development skills

Emotional development and their own marriage issues

To provide solace at times of grief

To Become Pastors to their community in each Agiary and Atash Behram.


These are only some of the planned events. A Certificate of Participation will be given and if the programme is successful we can even workout more interlinking with High Priests and greater exposure through universities and Academic institutions.


We request you to send as many Mobeds for this initial workshop with the idea that it is a method of self improvement and development. The Priests have been asking for correct interventions and interface with the Parsi and larger community. This is a carefully worked out chance for them. It would be sad if they missed it.Looking forward to your support and your spreading the word quickly.

With warm regards,

Dr. Shernaz Cama


Sad Demise – Sam Fredoon Pedder

It is sad informing you that

Sam Peddar, pilot with the Royal Indian Air force during the  early 1940’s, who along with the  Engineer brothers saw action in
the then N.W.F. Provinces &  Burma. Later he and Jangoo Engineer opted for  Air India,  he was the Chief Instructor  with Air India,

one who also  flew the  Holy  Fires  from Aden to Bombay in the 1970s. He  passed away in London earlier  today April 22, 2017.

exactly five years to the day that he had a stroke.


He willed his body to the London Anatomy Office for medical research.
According to Sam’s wishes, there will be no funeral. If anyone wishes to donate in Sam’s memory,

please do so either to Oxfam, Greenpeace (UK or India) or to the Bhopal Medical Fund (https://bhopal.org/).

The latter is the only charity providing free medical aid to the tens of thousands of victims of the Union Carbide gas leak.


Hope the attached collage of Sam’s journey through life leaves those who knew him with happy memories.



Rusi Sorabji

Para Mobeds?

Last week’s column on the ordainment of two deacons in Mumbai’s Catholic Church attracted a lot of interest among Parsi-Zoroastrians. Unlike members of the clergy, who need to be celibate, deacons can be married men. Ranking next to bishops and priests in the hierarchy, these trained theologians perform many religious services and can be standbys, especially in areas where there are not enough priests.

Zoroastrians in Mumbai – nearly half of them live in the city and there are more than 40 fire temples – had started a programme where men who are not priests were trained to perform religious services. These men can lead prayers at homes, but cannot conduct certain rituals such as funeral rites or some services at fire temples. They can attend to holy fires in lower-ranking shrines though. While only members from a small group of families can train to be priests, any Zoroastrian man can train as a paramobed – the term for a Zoroastrian priest is mobed.

The scheme, unlike the one at the Catholic Church, has not been a success. “Paramobed scheme does not attract many, though a modest payment is made for services,” said Jehangir Patel, editor of a Parsiana weekly, in a message to this correspondent. “No seminaries or ashrams for training.”

Dinshaw Mehta, former chairperson of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, the community’s largest representative body, which also runs fire temples, said that when the paramobed scheme started a few decades ago, the community was looking for substitutes who could fill in for mobeds. “Especially in mofussil areas, where there is a shortage of priests,” said Mehta. “But the idea has not caught on as expected.”

Ramiyar Karanjia, priest and principal of Dadar Athornan Institute, a religious school, said that the concept of paramobeds started in Mumbai in the 70s. “At that time, there was an objection to the term and it fizzled out,” said Karanjia. “It was revived 10 years ago under a new term – Behdin Pasbaans – and there are five or six active paramobeds in Mumbai who go to places like Jhansi, Ratlam and others (where there are Zoroastrians but no priests).”

Like the Catholic Church, Zoroastrians are struggling to find enough priests. The shortage is accentuated by the community’s shrinking numbers and also by the rule that priesthood is restricted to members of a few families. Framroze Mirza, who has been a priest for nearly five decades, said that in the 1960s, when he started assisting his father with his work at Udvada’s Atash Behram – the holiest of the fire temples – the main hall would be filled with praying priests. “There would be no room to stand. There were so many priests that each one got a turn at duties after several days; there are only two priests now,” said Mirza. “When I retire – which happens in five years – we will have to look for priests.”

Priests like Mirza, who were looking forward to trained assistants, are disappointed by the lack of interest in the work. “Paramobeds were planned as assist priests, but many people who have been trained for the work are not practising,” said Mirza. “According to me, the scheme (for paramobeds) is not that effective.”

“Paramobeds are paid by fire temples and families for their services, but many feel that the remuneration is too meagre to attract young people. It is not a paying profession,” said a member of the community.

“It is a secondary occupation, so people do it out of interest,” said Karanjia, adding that the next batch of paramobeds would be trained in May.


Sam Balsara on Daughters

I always encouraged my daughters to achieve something significant: Sam Balsara, Madison World

I always encouraged my daughters to achieve something significant: Sam Balsara, Madison World

Sam Balsara, Chairman & Managing Director of Madison World, is one of the most influential persons in the Media & Advertising world. He is also a loving dad to his two daughters, Lara and Tanya. Lara Balsara Vajifdar works with him as Executive Director at Madison World. Here, Balsara and Lara tell us how they drive each other to be the best version of themselves.  

Creating a legacy

The proud father tells us about how he wanted his daughter to find her own path to success. “Ours is a culture that celebrates achievement. People respect you for what you do. Looking back, I always encouraged my daughters to have fun and enjoy their lives, while also urging them to achieve something significant. I am delighted to have Lara join me at the workplace.  She helps me take important decisions in a very cool, distant manner without getting too emotionally involved. I learn from her every day,” he says, adding that she challenges the common stereotype that women are less rational and more emotional at the workplace.

Lara tells us how her early years at Madison set a strong foundation for her future. “More than 12 years ago, when I started working at Madison, I received no special privileges and had to work my way up from an executive level. My father’s philosophy, integrity and the way he conducts himself have really inspired me and helped me make tough decisions as I took on bigger roles.”

Why daughters are special

Balsara tells us he never felt disappointed at not having a son. “I was delighted to have two daughters, and now I have a little grand-daughter too! I am not sure why we, as a country, focus on having male children but I am confident that this attitude will change eventually. In fact, I never treated my children differently just because they were girls. I gave them the space and encouragement they needed to grow, and I would have done the same if they were sons.”

Nayi Soch

Lara is specific that being a woman is no impediment to success. “It is advantageous being a woman in the Advertising & Media world. This industry is full of successful and talented women. I take it for granted that I am an equal in this organisation, in the industry and even at home,” she says.

Balsara adds, “While our family has never believed in gender typecasting, there is a need to gently nudge the vast majority of the country towards gender equality. Parents need to recognise that their daughters can do as much as their sons, if not more. The Nayi Soch campaign is an excellent step in that direction.”

Sam Balsara and Lara Balsara Vajifdar on Star Plus’ Nayi Soch 

Baby Zarathushtra Art Print

I run a small illustration business, Crispy Doodles in California and we are getting ready to welcome spring with a wonderful new poster to celebrate Zarathushtras teachings!
I rarely if ever, come across a fun way to teach my 2 year old about our religion, I thought of creating this poster for her and for Zarathushti children around the world to learn and get engaged in understanding our faith. It’s a bright and happy print and will make a great addition to a kids room or living room.
For deliveries in Mumbai, send SMS “NAVROZE17” to  8779452227
I would really appreciate if you could share this with Zoroastrians organisations or individuals who would be interested in buying this print for their children or for gifting.
You can also contact me directly at delzinchoksey@gmail.com
Thank you,