Category Archives: News

Worli Crematorium partly operational till 7 May 2022

April 30, 2022

We have been informed today morning that the furnaces at the Worli Crematorium have been taken for urgent maintenance which is likely to last till May 07, 2022.

Patrons intending to utilize the facilities are hereby informed that till such time the furnaces at Worli Crematorium become operational, whilst the last rites will be performed at the Prayer Hall, the mortal remains will have to be consigned to the furnaces Shivaji Park or Dadar or other Crematorium/s.

Alternatively, cremation on wooden pyres at Worli Crematorium will continue to be available.

Trustees,

Prayer Hall Services & Maintenance Trust.

Karachi urban forest named after late Parsi educator

Deena Mistri served as principal of prestigious BVS Parsi High School


Karachi’s Administrator, Barrister Murtaza Wahab, at the revived urban forest.Image Credit: Karachi Metropolitan Corporation

Karachi: An urban forest near Karachi’s coastline has been revived and named after a late educator from the Parsi community in recognition of her 60 years’ service to educate thousands of students of the city.

Karachi’s Administrator Barrister Murtaza Wahab inaugurated the urban forest in the Clifton area. It has been named after the late Deena Mistri in recognition of her years-long education services in the city. Mistri served as the principal of the prestigious BVS Parsi High School in Karachi for several decades. She was also the recipient of the President’s Pride of Performance Award for her academic services.

Barrister Wahab said on the occasion that Mistri dedicated her life to promoting the cause of education in the city.

He praised the fact that Mistri continued with her educational services for 60 years with the sole purpose of providing the best schooling to generations of kids in Karachi.

He said that it was the third urban forest being launched in the Clifton area for thousands of beach-goers.

He said before its revival, the urban forest had been used as a garbage dump and anti-social elements used to take refuge at the place meant for public recreation.

He said urban spaces and gardens should be maintained in large cities like Karachi to save the citizens from harsh weather and that a tree plantation drive was being conducted to minimise the adverse effects of global warming.

Barrister Wahab added that indigenous and traditional species of trees, including gul mohar, neem, lignum, and banyan would mostly be used to conduct the plantation activity in Karachi. He said conocarpus trees would be removed from the city for their adverse effects on human health.

He expressed gratitude to a famous retail chain of Karachi for joining hands with the Sindh government to revive the urban forest.

https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/pakistan/karachi-urban-forest-named-after-late-parsi-educator-1.86797076

Justice Kathawalla retires from Bombay High Court

Justice SJ Kathawalla of the Bombay High Court was given a grand farewell by two advocates’ associations on Tuesday as he is slated to demit office on Wednesday after more than a decade on the bench.

The judge in his farewell address spoke at length about what the “judgeship” meant to him and also had some advice for young and budding advocates.

At the farewell event organised by the Advocate Association of Western India (AAWI), Justice Kathawalla spoke of how his “pilgrimage” was ending.

“To me, Judgeship was never a savvy career move or a professional high point. But in fact, it has been a pilgrimage that is coming to an end tomorrow,” he said.

He added that he felt blessed for having completed his pilgrimage and was in awe of the glory of the institution that he venerated deeply.

Putting to rest the million dollar question of why he gave up a lucrative practice to be a judge, he stated that his desire was always to ensure that justice should be dispensed effectively and efficiently to every litigant so that the “faith of society in the temple of justice never wanes”.

“Is money everything? When you come with nothing, and leave this world with nothing, should money be your master? What about soul satisfaction and the warmth in your heart when you realise that those cheated, defeated, miserable litigants who came vexed, crying and begging for justice before you are leaving with a smile, basking in the sheer delight of having their faith restored in the rule of law? Or their joy when they realise that the legal system is fair, just, humane and gives them their due when most needed it,” he said.

He added that it was more important to answer to the higher calling to dispense justice to every strata of society, which he described as being the collective “karma and dharma” of the legal profession.

While speaking at the farewell organised by the Bombay Bar Association, Justice Kathawalla spoke of how he cultivated the practice of wiping his mind clean of any and all prejudices that he may have harboured against opponents.

While speaking at both events, he dispensed the following pearls of wisdom to young and budding advocates who aspire to join the Bench:

This profession calls for burning the proverbial “midnight oil,” as not only fortunes of litigants, but sometimes their life and liberty, depends on the hard work;

One may attempt to escape the blame of defeat, especially where it is on account of not doing one’s best by blaming the judge or calling it a bad case, but deep down, your lack of effort will be your real defeat;

An over simplified principle – do your best and leave the rest. He described one’s “best” as being till you can honestly tell yourself that you cannot do more or better;

Answer the higher calling and move from Bar to the Bench in the larger interest of justice;

One cannot fall prey to either fear or favour, nor is one sitting on the dais to win a popularity contest. “It is a tightrope walk and there will always be many who you will displease, including the powers that be – whoever they may be!”

Nobody will remember us for our fancy cars and designer watches. We will be remembered for our dynamic work ethic, our uncompromising quest for righteousness and aptitude for empathy;

The legal profession is thriving, but we need to safeguard against the quantity versus quality dichotomy. There needs to be more pro bono work. “Just because some people cannot afford the high costs of litigation does not mean that justice should be denied to them,” he said.

Justice Kathawalla was born on March 24, 1960 and enrolled as an advocate of the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa on September 30, 1985. After having a lucrative practice for more than two decades, he was appointed as an additional judge of the Bombay High Court in July 2008. He was made a permanent judge in July 2011.

 

https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/judgeship-never-a-savvy-career-move-it-is-a-pilgrimage-justice-sj-kathawalla-in-his-farewell-speech

https://www.freepressjournal.in/legal/mumbai-justice-shahrukh-j-kathawalla-who-conducted-hearings-till-midnight-retires

https://www.mid-day.com/mumbai/mumbai-news/article/bombay-high-court-judge-kathawalla-who-once-conducted-hearing-till-330-am-retires-23219699

https://www.indiatoday.in/law/story/let-your-conscience-and-god-be-your-gps-justice-sj-kathawalla-in-his-farewell-speech-1928314-2022-03-23

Excommunication of Parsi Women: A Legal Analysis

Recently, the Supreme Court of India issued a notice on a plea that challenged the practice of ostracizing Parsi women who chose to marry persons outside the Parsi community. The High Court of Gujarat in the case of Goolrokh Gupta v. Burjor Pardiwala, infamously held that when a Parsi woman marries a non-Parsi person under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, she ceases to be a Parsi unless she obtains declaration from a competent court stating that she has continued to practice her religion even after marriage. Upon the challenge of this judgment by the petitioner, the Supreme Court tagged this case to the Sabarimala review petitions citing the similarity of issues, which then drew attention to the Zoroastrian practice of prohibiting the entry of women who chose to marry persons from other religious faiths into sacred institutions of the Parsi community. This blog post seeks to discuss the test of “essential religious practices” and is a critique of the judgment of the High Court of Gujarat.

 

https://www.calq.in/post/excommunication-of-parsi-women-a-legal-analysis

Kersi Deboo has been appointed as a member of the National Commission for Minorities

Navsari-based lawyer, amateur historian, trustee in community trusts and reportedly a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Kersi Deboo has been appointed as a member of the National Commission for Minorities, according to a union government notification dated November 16, 2021. The appointment is for a period of three years. The previous Zoroastrian representative was Udwada High Priest Dastur Khurshed Dastoor.
Parsiana

Oldest member of Parsi community celebrates her 107th birthday

 

KARACHI: The geriatric ward at the infirmary of the Bomanshaw Minocher-Homji (BMH) Parsi Medical Relief Association was decorated with pink, white and gold balloons. You could see flowers everywhere as the Parsi community in the city came together here to celebrate the 107th birthday of Dina Homi Sethna, the oldest living Parsi in the world.

The birthday girl herself, sporting a pretty pink sash over her pink party dress, cut her big rectangular chocolate cake though with a little help as everyone around her said “Happy Birthday”. People from outside the Parsi community were also invited to celebrate the momentous occasion. There was Cardinal Joseph Coutts, politicians Mangla Sharma, Ramesh Singh, Anwar Lala and Abdullah Hussain Haroon along with other celebrities from the showbiz and sports world including actor Feroze Khan.

Well-known female rally driver Tushna Patel, who organised the birthday party, was trying to figure out how to fit 107 candles on the cake. She settled for a set of golden alphabet candles that she put together to make up ‘Happy Birthday’. “My daughter is also name Dina, and today it is also her birthday, according to the Parsi calendar,” Tushna shared with Dawn.

“It’s a big honour for our community to have someone among us who is 107 years old. We Parsis are dwindling in numbers so having a 107-year-old member in our community is amazing,” she added.

Dina’s daughter Sunnu and son-in-law Farrokh Golwalla were also there. “My mother is as wane as any other woman,” said Sunnu. “She was born in 1914 and when we were celebrating her 100th birthday in 2014, she was most annoyed to receive cards that congratulated her for completing a century. She returned all the cards that had 100 written on them. She didn’t want anyone to think she was a day older than 70,” the daughter laughed.

“Mother, as not everyone would know her, is an introvert. She keeps mostly to herself. She has also been hard of hearing. Her hearing is almost gone now. Because of this she has been unable to converse confidently,” Sunnu added.

“She is very caring. When she naps in the afternoon, she tells her attendant to also have a shut eye. ‘Tum bhi so jao, baith kay kia kerna hai [you should also catch some sleep while I do the same]’. The lady volunteers, her attendants lovingly call her Maa [Mother]’,” she shared.

About having her mother committed at the home, Sunnu regrettably added: “I have not left her care to them completely. Physically I am unable to lift her or bathe her but mentally and emotionally my good husband and I are 110 per cent engaged with her well being.”

About the facility, Roshan Mehri, chairperson of the managing committee at the BMH Parsi Medical Relief Association, said that it was a pre-Partition hospital to help the local Parsi community, which has now been turned into a kind of nursing home as well as a facility for geriatric persons who are alone and don’t have anybody to look after them or who can’t be looked after at home.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2021

https://www.dawn.com/news/1656747/oldest-member-of-parsi-community-celebrates-her-107th-birthday

How citizens helped make Dadar Parsi Colony streets disabled friendly

NEED FOR MUMBAI INFRASTRUCTURE TO BE DISABLED FRIENDLY

I am a resident of Dadar Parsi Colony in Mumbai with cerebral palsy. I’ve been using a motorised wheelchair for the past two years. Before that, I used elbow crutches, but a nerve compression in my spine forced me to make the shift to a wheelchair. While a wheelchair could mean more independence to move around, I quickly realised that most of Mumbai’s roads were not accessible to me. The dangerous conditions of road travel in the city made it difficult for me to do basic chores like going to the grocery store, chemist, bank, or visit public spaces recreationally.

My conversations with my physiotherapist, Dr. Unnati Shelar, on inaccessibility in Mumbai, developed into action. In July 2021, we decided to visit several authorities  hat could potentially support us. At first, we tried to contact Amey Ghole, the area corporator, whom I knew personally. We were attempting to execute this initiative when the pandemic was at its peak, so it wasn’t a surprise that we didn’t receive a response, and decided instead to move on. The next stop was the BMC ward office. This time, we were accompanied by another active citizen, Kersi Ujwala.

 

We reached the ward office after only a brief call with the officer’s personal assistant, who was informed of my condition and why we were asking for better infrastructure in our area. We made a few more trips to the offices after that, each time bringing more documentation of inaccessible streets and encouraging healthy conversations on solutions.

Within a month of the meeting, without any follow up, the work started in my neighbourhood. I was sent an acknowledgement of footpaths named, and our initiative landed us new ramps and railings. As of last week, after a few trials and initial mistakes rectified, we have successfully made the entire lane adjacent to my building, disabled-friendly, with smoother footpaths, ramps and railings wherever required.

inaccessible footpaths
Footpaths before the accessibility project. Photo – Siddharth Mhatre
smooth ramps for wheelchairs
Footpaths after prompt action. Photo – Siddharth Mhatre

The proactive nature of the operation came as a surprise. Without any prior appointments, we were heard, and promises were fulfilled. Recently, I got a call from a BJP corporator of Matunga, Hindu Colony, saying they wanted to take up an accessibility project in their area.

Problems still arise. Somebody will park their bike on the footpath or slope, a trashcan will be kept on a narrow footpath, blocking the whole road. While we managed to address the problem in infrastructure, we still have a long way to go with citizens. For now, we have decided to put handicapped logos on all the accessibility ramps. We’re hoping this will make a difference.

 

How citizens helped make Dadar Parsi Colony streets disabled friendly

Yazdi Desai passes away

Ex-Chairman of BPP Mr. Yazdi Desai has passed away.
We pray that at this difficult time may Ahura Mazda give his wife Anahita Desai the strength and courage to bear this irreversible loss .
Garothman behest hojo ji.

========================================

Former Chairman of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) Yazdi Desai was ailing since quite sometime.
In a way his passing away today on 2nd November 2021 has put an end to his physical suffering.
He loved the community dearly and gave of his time, talent and money most generously.
He served the BPP first as trustee from 2008 to 2015 and from October 2015 onward as chairman.
He discharged his fiduciary duties with passion and diligence.
As trustee, I often differed with him on ideological issues but never doubted his genuine zeal to do good for the community.
He worked tirelessly and selflessly balancing his professional life with the onerous responsibility he carried as Chairman of BPP.
He worked till late in the night, burning the candle of his life at both ends.
Always well dressed with a tie and well groomed hair, he was courteous and helpful to all those who sought his help.
May his devoted and loving wife Anahita find the strength and courage to bear his loss.
Farewell Yazdi. You will be missed by many but Anahita will continue to carry your legacy of service to the community forward.
Noshir H Dadrawala

=================================

When we heard the news about the passing away of Yazdi Hosi Desai, the words of the American singer, songwriter, novelist, humorist, politician and former columnist for Texas Monthly – Kinky Friedman, came to mind. Friedman famously said, “Find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain you of your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you and let it devour your remains. For all things will kill you, both slowly and quickly, but it’s much better to be killed by what you love“.

One could say Yazdi died for what he loved so dearly – the community, the religion and the BPP. His passion to do good burned the candle of his life at both ends!

He had dedicated the last two decades of his life to the community and his passion made him obsessive enough to consume him mentally, emotionally and physically. As Trustee and later as Chairman of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, he took proactive steps to root out inefficiency and corruption from this August institution.

As Chairman of the Federation of Parsi Zoroastrian Anjumans of India (FPZAI), he was much respected and loved by various Anjumans, especially in Gujarat.

When Yazdi contested the BPP elections for the first time, he lost. But there is no dishonor in losing any race or contest. There is only dishonor in not racing or contesting out of fear of losing. Yazdi was persistent and in 2008 he was elected as trustee and in October 2015 he won for the second time and was appointed Chairman of BPP.

It’s true that Yazdi genuinely loved the Parsi Zoroastrian community. He believed in the religion of Zarathushtra even more deeply. He regarded our High Priests with reverence and often used to say that since our scholar High Priests have dedicated their lives to the study of the religion, we, as a community should follow whatever they say without questioning their religious knowledge or wisdom. He cared deeply for all mobed sahebs, especially those serving in mofussil areas.

In May 2005, along with Industrialist – Areez P. Khambatta, Renowned Scholar – Khojeste P. Mistree, Tax Expert – Homi P. Ranina, Former Vice Chancellor of Bombay University – Dr. Mehroo D. Bengalee, Chartered Accountant – Hoshang N. Wania and Social Worker – Jamshed J. Mohta, Yazdi Desai formed the ‘World Alliance of Parsi Irani Zarthoshtis’ (WAPIZ), with the aim to strengthen the voice of Parsi Zoroastrian tradition and to protect and preserve the unique Parsi Irani Zarthoshti identity.

Today WAPIZ is a household name, thanks to the effort put in by Yazdi and his beloved and devoted wife – Anahita, working with him shoulder-to-shoulder. When WAPIZ celebrated its second anniversary at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse, over 2,500 Parsis, including High Priests and priests turned up to express unity and solidarity. WAPIZ encourages home industry by organizing sale of Parsi house-hold items twice a year at Cama Baug. This event is much sought after by both Parsi consumers and entrepreneurs.

While Yazdi is known more for his involvement with the Parsis, professionally he joined Writer Corporation as an Accounts Assistant in the year 1984. His previous experience included working with AF Ferguson & Co, Chartered Accountants. At Writer Corporation, Legal, Taxation and Corporate Governance were Yazdi’s prime responsibilities though he was actively involved in virtually every area of Writer Group’s finance and administration. He was also a Trustee of Kripa Foundation devoted to the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts.

In April 2020, he suffered from a massive stroke and while he initially recovered well, his general health continued to deteriorate, culminating in his passing away on 2nd November, 2021, which happened to be Fravardin Roj of Mah Khordad, as per the Shehenshahi Zoroastrian calendar. Fravardin is dedicated to the Guardian Holy Spirit (Fravahar) and Khordad embodies the essence of Ahura Mazda’s perfection.

Yazdi was always neat and clean in his personal habits. He was impeccably well-groomed and dressed immaculately. He was a patient listener and he would spend several hours every week either at the BPP or at WAPIZ, listening to grievances of community members and offering solutions, wherever and whenever possible. He was generous to a fault and gave freely of his time, talent and wealth.

Like all Parsis, he was fond of good food and had a sweet tooth. While he was gentle and courteous to all, he would often get impatient with those trying to take advantage of his goodness. He had a short-temper but at the same time, he was also forgiving and had the courage to own up whenever wrong or misled.

The huge turnout at his funeral on 3rd November, 2021, at Doongerwadi bore testimony to his huge popularity. The staff of BPP and Writer Corporation, as also several well-wishers paid a tearful farewell to their friend and leader.

They say, the things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honor leaders after they are no more. They’re like the pyramids that the Egyptians built to honor the Pharaohs. Only instead of being made of stone, they’re made of the memories people have of the leader. Yazdi and his good deeds will remain alive in the individual and collective memory of lives that he touched for a long time to come.

Our heart goes out to Yazdi’s wife – Anahita. To say she was his ‘better-half’ would be an understatement. Whatever Yazdi was and became, was thanks largely to Anahita, who was his true friend and ‘soulmate’ – always doting on him, supportive and encouraging in good times or difficult times! She is a strong woman with a soft heart.

Anahita loved Yazdi dearly. One could say, among Yazdi’s blessings in life was having a spouse as loyal and loving as Anahita. We know she is heart-broken and therefore it may be apt for us to conclude with a verse by Mary Hall:

If I should die, and leave you here a while,

Be not like others sore undone,

Who keep long vigils by the silent dust and weep.

For my sake, turn again to life, and smile,

Nerving thy heart, and trembling hand to do

Something to comfort weaker hearts than thine,

Complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine,

And I, perchance, may therein comfort you!

Noshir H Dadrawala

Yazdi H. Desai: A Tribute

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