Indian-American Neomi Jehangir Rao has been sworn in as US Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, widely considered to be the second most powerful court in the US, next only to the US Supreme Court, reports Press Trust of India (PTI).
With this swearing in, she became the second Indian-American after Sri Srinivasan to be part of the DC Court. Nominated by the Republican President Donald Trump, she will now replace Justice Brett Kavanaugh who was recently elevated to the Supreme Court.
Rao was confirmed by the US Senate last week by 53-46 votes. Joined by her husband Alan Lefkowitz, Rao was sworn in by the US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Tuesday (19 March). “She is going to be fantastic. Great person,” Trump had said about her.
Born in Detroit to Parsi physicians from India – Zerin Rao and Jehangir Narioshang – Neomi Rao received her B.A. from Yale University and her J.D. from the University of Chicago.
Before her elevation to the Court, Rao had served as the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) of the Office of Management and Budget.
In a previous stint, she was also a professor of structural constitutional law, administrative law, and legislation and statutory interpretation at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.
Wednesday,March6th – Today, Google Arts & Culture launched OnceUponaTry – the largest online exhibition about inventions and discoveries ever curated. Collections, stories and knowledge from over 110 renowned institutions across 23 countries,
including from ParzorFoundation, are brought together, highlighting millennia of major breakthroughs and the great minds behind them.
Everybody can now explore more than 400 interactive exhibitions that pay tribute to humanity’s greatest leaps in science and technology progress, and the visionaries that shaped our world,
as well as tales of epic fails and happy accidents. Once Upon A Try also lets you dive into Street View to tour the sites of great discoveries,
from deep underground inside CERN’s Large Hadron Collider to high in the sky onboard the International Space Station. Zoom into more than 200,000 artifacts in high definition,
including the first recorded map of the Americas from 1508, and Albert Einstein’s letters, never before published online.
Parzor Foundation contributes the exhibition BreakingNewGround:DarashawNosherwan.TheStoryofGeologistExtraordinaireD.N.Wadia. The exhibition allows users a glimpse into the Indian Geologist’s life and his pioneering contribution to Indian and world geology. The exhibit
includes images from the diaries he maintained on his field trips, his geological drawings and even a peek into his bookkeeping habits. Google Arts &
Culture Technology will now allow this material including images from Professor Wadia’s personal rock collection, to be preserved for posterity.
Online visitors can discover
· A special interactive story about the geologist pioneer Prof. DN Wadia with rare material to interest scientists, artists and just about anyone looking to study a fascinating life.
· 60+ new archives and objects related to Prof. DN Wadia (courtesy Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun, photography by Krish Bhalla.)
DrShernazCama,DirectorofParzorFoundation said “our collaboration with the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology and the innovative technology provided by this Google platform has allowed the work of Prof. D. N. Wadia to be made available for the benefit of the global geological and scientific community the world over. We are thrilled to be able to contribute to this global project with our exhibition on India’s forgotten Father of Geology.”
MsKritikaMudgal, Curator of Parzor Foundation’s exhibition BreakingNewGround:DarashawNosherwan, expressed gratitude to the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology for sharing their resources. “ Access to Prof. Wadia’s meticulous notes, his rather artistic geological sketches and his awe-inspiring rock collection was a wonderful opportunity. I am glad that the Google Arts & Culture Platform will now allow more of us to know about institutions
such as the Wadia Institute in Dehradun, their remarkable collections and the significance of the pioneering work of those like Prof. Wadia to various fields of human endeavours across ages. ”
MrKrishBhalla, photographer for the exhibit, iterated the significance of digitizing artefacts through photography in an effort to preserve our heritage, as also of the contribution of the Google Arts & Culture
Platform to the end of safeguarding artistic,
cultural and scientific heritage
in the modern world.
“Weinviteeveryonetoparticipateinthefirstphaseofanonlinecollectionthatcelebratesinnovationandscience.Throughinspiring,andattimessurprising,storiesfromover100partners,youcanexploretheinventionsanddiscoveriesthathaveshapedourworld.OnceUponaTryisallaboutthatfirstattempt,theidea,thejourneyoffulfillingadream,andwehopeit’llgivepeoplethatextraboosttofindtheirveryowneurekamoment,” said Amit Sood, director of Google Arts & Culture.
Explore OnceUponaTry on Google Arts & Culture (g.co/onceuponatry) or using our app on iOS or Android, and join the conversation with #onceuponatry.
Google Arts & Culture puts the collections of more than 1,800 museums at your fingertips. It’s an immersive way to explore art, history and the wonders of the world, from Van Gogh’s bedroom paintings to the women’s rights movement and the Taj Mahal. The Google Arts & Culture app is free and available online for iOS and Android. Our team has been an innovation partner for cultural institutions since 2011. We develop technologies that help preserve and share culture and allow curators to create engaging exhibitions online and offline, inside museums. Read about our latest projects on the Google Keyword
Furdoonji’s tryst with the medical field began in her hometown at the Hyderabad Medical School (HMS), in the erstwhile capital city of the Nizam’s dominion in the South. The medical school or Osmania Medical College as it is known now was set up by the fourth Nizam, Nasir-ud-Daulah in 1846. During his reign, the Nizam focused on getting men, as well as women, enrolled in the medical field.
A vision that Nawab Mir Mehboob Ali Khan, who ruled during Rupa’s time, shared along with Surgeon Major (IMS) Edward Lawrie, the Chief Surgeon of British residency, and also the Principal of Hyderabad Medical School.
It was on Lawrie’s motivation that five lady scholars of Hyderabad joined the medical course. Rupa Bai was one of these five women.
Rupa, who joined HMS in 1885, graduated in 1889 with the degree of Hakeem—a western medical qualification—so named because the medium of instruction at the time in HMS was Urdu—the state language. The English lecturers had Urdu translators during the classes.
Thanks to Lawrie, the medium of instruction changed to English in 1885 which opened up avenues for women scholars to study abroad later.
During the four-year course, she studied subjects like anatomy, physiology, materia medica, medicine, surgery, and midwifery. During the years 1889-1917, Rupa worked as an anaesthetic at the British Residency Hospital (BRH) (now known as Sultan Bazaar hospital), Afzalgunz Hospital and Zenana Hospital, Hyderabad.
Rupa’s academic as well as professional work, so impressed Lawrie that he encouraged her to travel to the UK for further studies. And so in 1909, Rupa took a break from her work and enrolled in Edinburgh University from where she earned a diploma in Physics and Chemistry. These subjects were useful for doctors handling anaesthetics as there was no separate course for anaesthesiology.
Later, Rupa also pursued a degree in medicine at the John’s Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, USA. This was when many medical schools in England and America refused admission to women candidates. Even the renowned paediatric cardiologist Dr. Taussig who founded the ‘Blalock-Taussig’ surgical technique for ‘Fallot’s tetralogy’ was refused admission in Harvard Medical School of Boston.
One of these historical letters is Dr. Annie Besant’s handwritten recommendation addressed to Mrs. Drummond dated 27th April 1909.
The founder president of the Theosophical Society of India and Rupa Bai set sail from Bombay to Edinburgh in the same ship. It was at this time that Dr. Besant wrote a letter recommending Rupa for a course at the University of Edinburgh.
Such was the impact of Rupa’s work in Edinburgh that when the time came for her to return to India, Mrs. Drummond wrote to Rupa’s associates in Hyderabad. She persuaded them to relieve Rupa of her duties as her expertise was required in Edinburgh. Upon returning to India, after two years in the UK, she served as a full-time anaesthetist at the BRH.
While not much is written about her career post-1920, she is said to have retired from Nizam’s Medical Service as superintendent of the BRH.
When the Hyderabad Chloroform Commissions, under the supervision of Lawrie, conducted anaesthesia experiments on animals, many students from HMS participated in it including Rupa. Thus she finds mention in Lawrie’s book, A report on Hyderabad Chloroform Commissions (1891).
Dr. Rupa became an anaesthetic during a time when only surgeons were considered capable enough to administer anaesthesia. In a majorly male-oriented field, Rupa made her mark with her determination to excel in her field of study.
We are proud to announce that our Documentary ” Mission Safeer ..Thirty seven Days to Freedom”has won the prestigious Best Documentary-Jury Award at the 6th International Film Festival at Noida Attached are the pictures of the award We would like more people to view our documentary and share it with others and give comments
Noel Tata, Ratan Tata’s half brother has recently joined the Tata trust’s Board. The induction of Noel Tata into the Board has once again given new air to the speculations of him, succeeding the present Chairman of Tata Trusts,Ratan Tata. He is currently the Chairman of Trent and also MD of Tata Internationals.
Many members of the Parsi community want some family member to head the Tata Trusts after Ratan Tata, who is now 81 years old.
With Noel Tata’s entry in the trusts Board, all three Tata brothers are now on the Board. Jimmy Tata has been trustee for almost last thirty years. In recent times, many trustees have expressed for an increase in the representation of the Parsi community on the Trust’s Board. Noel’s entry in the Trusts board is at a time when the Indian Conglomerate is grappling with allegations of Income Tax violations by another trustee R Venkataramanan.
R Venkataramanan resignation from the post of managing trustee of Tata Trust comes after allegations of violation in Income Tax. Also, last year in march CBI initiated an inquiry against him and some other top executive in a bribery case.
As per the case, Venketaramanan, bribed government official to tweak the 5/20 rule in their favour so that AirAsia India (owned by Tata Group) can start its international operations. The aforementioned rule mandates the Airline to have at least 20 planes and 5 years of domestic experience to start international operations.
Jehangir H Jehangir, a fellow Parsi and philanthropist who spearheads Jahangir Hospital located in Pune, was also inducted on the Board.
ADDRESSING AN URGENT URBAN ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGE
Civic Response Team (CRT) is a nonprofit that started in May 2015 to build evidence-driven solutions to civic and environmental challenges. One of the biggest initiatives they’ve undertaken is transforming the solid waste management system in Aurangabad, India.
Solid waste management is the most pressing civic and environmental challenge in many Indian cities. Civic Response Team knew that they would have to get creative–and collaborate with local government leaders–in order to effectively tackle this issue. So they looked at solid waste management best practices in other cities and compiled a report, which they presented to the municipal commissioner of Aurangabad in the hopes that he would be able to concretely replicate some of these initiatives.
However, there were thirty years of waste management practices to shift. Open waste dump sites were still the norm. Sanitation staff worked without protective equipment and in hazardous and undignified conditions. The commissioner didn’t have the required resources to implement the recommendations made by Civic Response Team
As a result, the organization realized they would need to get more directly involved in overhauling the municipal waste management system and undertake a holistic approach that worked with multiple stakeholders and addressed root causes to shift behaviors. After much hard work, they began offering coordinated waste management services and piloted their offerings with pilots of 500 households. Over time, they began serving wards of 1000 homes and today even work with full townships of 30,000 people.
Tackling the problem at this scale required a multi-disciplinary approach.
They needed to map the pain points, educate local communities on the benefits of improving solid waste management, make changes to bylaws and regulations, consider budget requirements, and modify the practices of the sanitation department team.
THINKING IN SYSTEMS
Very early into this work, Civic Response Team realized it would be critical to consider the whole system surrounding this problem of waste management–rather than just trying to clean up trash from the streets in isolation from the larger community dynamics and political power structures.
Co-founder Natasha Zarine explains, “We knew that unless we think in systems, it’s all going to go back to square one.”
In fact, they initially found that changes implemented in a pilot group of 500 households would hold for about six months before falling apart. The changes didn’t stick “because it was a little oasis in a larger context, within a larger system that didn’t change.” The organization recognized that for the system to truly shift, they needed “the buy-in of multiple stakeholders, including the leadership of municipal leadership.”
Municipal staff is generally supportive of the changes but Natasha found it was critical “to manage relationships at the highest level of the municipal administration and elected representatives.”
She recounts the experience with one waste management supervisor who had been working for 30 years running 14 wards of the city. Although he had amassed significant political power over his career, it was only when he began collaborating with Civic Response Team that he began to feel that his work offered dignity. “It is the first time in his life that he feels good about his work, that he feels he can do his work effectively, that he feels he’s doing the right thing,” Natasha says,
Previously, he didn’t feel proud to ask his staff to do their work, but there were no alternatives. Now, “he’s like our star sanitary inspector. He ensures that all the staff is well taken care of, that the work is happening effectively, he proudly speaks about the amount of public money he’s able to save because of the way his zone is managed, managing our waste.”
Cultivating these relationships and finding champions within local government has been critical to Civic Response Team’s ability to durably shift waste management practices in Aurangabad.
UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES FOR WASTE-PICKERS
Natasha and her colleagues also quickly recognized that they did not only have to consider powerful political figures if they wanted to change the system. They also needed to think about the downstream consequences that their seemingly positive interventions might have on some of the city’s poorest residents: waste-pickers.
In Aurangabad, there are approximately 600 waste-pickers who make their livelihoods by sorting through trash and finding bits that can be resold. Under the new, more efficient waste collection processes that Civic Response Team was rolling out, the trash pickers would no longer have access to waste coming directly onto the streets. Natasha realized that if they altered the current system significantly, there were going to be negative downstream economic consequences for some of the city’s poorest inhabitants.
To mitigate these unintended consequences, Civic Response Team identified the waste-pickers working in each ward and invited them to join a sorting facility.
They did not have the budget to pay a salary and at first wondered how they would effectively get waste pickers to shift their behavior and adapt to this new system. They discovered that if they concretely communicated to the workers that they would get direct access to 300 to 500 KGs of dry waste, of which 70% is recyclable, they were eager to adapt. An added bonus was that–because the waste was no longer soiled—workers could recover much more for recycling and selling.
As they began working at the sorting facility, waste-pickers were able to more than double their income. Previously, they earned about 210 rupees a day, or $3. However, now working at the sorting center they earn on average 450 rupees per day, or $7. They also benefit from more regular working hours, more family time, fewer cuts and bruises, and more dignity. Critically, they now also take pride in their work and are happy to tell people they work at the sorting center. Word quickly spread.
Civic Response Team has now trained over 1800 sanitation staff and worked with 105 waste-pickers.
One waste-picker who they met in the first pilot has done so well she was invited to speak at a UN conference in Paris about recycling to share how it has impacted her life and how it affects the environment.
This woman’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to take a leadership role, going on to recruit three friends to work at the first recyclable waste center. She soon started managing it and “is an owner in a way because she manages everything – she gets the profits, she distributes, she makes payments to the other waste pickers who are working with her. It’s been running for four years without anyone else’s intervention because she’s understood not only the business of collection and recycling but also managing a sorting center,” Natasha says.
SHIFTING COMMUNITY BEHAVIORS
One of Natasha’s most notable learnings is that waste management is all about people. You need to understand “their behavior, their relationship to waste, their relationships to each other, to their past, to their religion or their beliefs…It’s extremely complex.”
Natasha describes how complex challenges like these need a technical solution but mostly require adaptive leadership.
Adaptive leadership recognizes that both shared ownership and continuous learning are central to achieve lasting behavior change. As Natasha shares, when people think of solid waste management, they think you need, “vehicles for collection, composting machinery, biogas plants, etc. which are definitely an important part, but it’s all about people.”
The other element of behavior change that surprised Natasha is that people are ready and willing to make changes when they directly see how their actions are impacting the environment and each other.
Another way to promote behavior change is to keep the steps small and incremental. In the communities that Natasha works with, it would be too large a jump to introduce home composting right away, but they will work towards this goal since it’s the most efficient way to manage organics. Natasha points out how technical solutions come into play, “this is where technology comes in. If we have the right type of products to help people compost at home and store their waste a certain way it creates a better buy-in for the overall waste management system.”
CRT is still in the process of figuring out the best balance of centralized facilities with decentralized home management for waste, recyclables, and organics.
NATASHA’S ADVICE FOR CHANGE-MAKERS
Natasha’s advice for others interested in exploring the link between social well-being, poverty, and environmental conservation is to “dive right in.”
Bringing together a team invested in the collective vision is essential to make change happen. Although CRT’s experience with recruited volunteers has been positive, especially for short-term commitments, CRT finds it necessary to set up the sustainable funding structures that can support paid staff positions.
Natasha explains, “You really have to stand your ground and insist on either getting funding or getting paid for your services because that’s the only way to be valued.” Even when doing important work, it will not always be recognized so holding the collective vision and having the necessary structures in place for financial sustainability allows the team to remain motivated and committed to moving the work forward.
Natasha speaks of the importance of using systems thinking, research, and on-the-ground experience to understand the nuances and complexity of the behaviors you are trying to change in a larger system you are working to address.
“There’s so much happening under the epidermis that covers everything, so be aware of that.”
Finally, where people and process interact for environmental change, managing relationships is everything. Relationships build trust, and trust is essential for any behavior change to take place. Natasha says, “If people know that you’re trying to bring about a certain kind of change, and not just coming from a certain agenda, then they’re much more willing to partner with you to take that change forward.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Danielle Sutton is the Content Animator at Acumen where she surfaces stories to inspire and activate social entrepreneurs. In an age of information overload, she believes in learning ‘the right thing at the right time’ to intentionally design impactful social enterprises. You can usually find Danielle digging into the Acumen course library, playing in the mountains, or exploring marketing on The Sedge blog.
Professor Almut Hintze FBA, Professor of Zoroastrianism and Co-Chair SOAS Shapoorji Pallonji Institute of Zoroastrian Studies, London, along with her colleagues Ms. Celine Redard, Mr. Benedikt Thomas and Mr. Kerman Daruwalla, presently at Navsari were keen to visit some villages in South Gujarat Navsari to see for themselves and understand the harsh conditions in which many of our Zarathushti brothers and sisters live and the work the WZO Trusts are doing to bring them into the mainstream of society.
Two members of Team WZO Trusts at Navsari accompanied Professor Almut Hintze and her colleagues on a day trip to a few villages on January 30, 2019. We are pleased to attach some photographs taken during their visit.
WZO Trusts express their gratitude and are very grateful to Professor Almut Hintze and her colleagues for their interest and having taken the time and trouble to visit some of the villages for firsthand knowledge.
WZO Trusts have since 1991 impacted the lives of 489 families in 198 villages, having facilitated their transition from abject poverty and back into the mainstream of society.
The Parsi Directory has tied up with Thyrocare to bring you a suite of comprehensive preventive health check-up packages at hugely discounted rates. To avail of this facility, all you have to do is login to your account at www.TheParsiDirectory.com and click on the link provided. You can then view the plans and fix your appointment instantly. If you are not already registered on www.TheParsiDirectory.com, please do so immediately and avail of this fantastic offer now!
A true Indian always celebrates India’s Republic Day. Every patriotic person respects and enjoy republic day. So were the Parsi Zorastrians at Ahmedabad on last Saturday – 26th January.
Since 2015, the trustees of the Dhanjishaw and Manijeh Gamir Charitable Trust at Ahmedabad [known by DMGCT] celebrated India’s Republic Day as usual – 5th time. Such a celebration is arranged every year since 2015. Almost 325 community members attended the event which was started sharp as usual at 10.30 morning.
The flag hoisting was in the hands of Maj.Gen. [Retd.] Rohinton Jamsurarwalla from Pune. The event ceremony started sharp at 10.30 morning. Mr. Harvez Bharucha, connected to NCC escorted Maj.Gen.[Retd.] Jambusarwalla who hoisted our national flag with our National Anthem, Jana Gana Mana, was sung by all participants at the event. The ceremony was followed by two patriotic songs sung by Mrs.Armin Dutia and Mrs. Perin Davar both Ahmedabad residents. Mr. Ariez Munshi, before flag hoisting, introduced the Chief guest, Maj. Gen. [Retd.] Rohinton Jambusarwalla, how well he had served the army for almost 40 years from day one of his joining till official retirement. Maj.Gen. [Retd.] Rohinton Jambursarwalla in his speech highlighted how well he was inducted in the Army, different places and posts he served. He highlighted that one time all different services, be it Army, Navy, Air force, the Parsis were in many numbers which gradually has been declining. People use to keep in mind that the job attachment in any of the services is indeed very tough, no return as also life style remain different than what in business, other pomp services today observed by many educated one. He urged young Parsi Zorastrians to join any of the services of they like and live with pride that they are doing something for the country. The vote of thanks were offered by one of the trustee, Mr.Aspy Unwalla who thanks the Chief Guest for visiting Ahmedabad for the event, Parsi Zarthostis of Ahmedabad for participating the event, Ahmeabad Parsi Panchayat for allowing to use the Sanitorium hall [Lalkaka Hall] and the Lunch served by Mek Caterers, Mr. Malcum Bastawala.
The event started sharp at 10.30 morning with a welcome speech by Mr.Aspy Bharucha, Trustee, who welcomed all at the event, as also the Chief Guest. He briefed the occasion which was cherished by Mrs. Manijeh Gamir, one of the testator of the Trust and in her life time as a trustee narrated in her speech delivered very first event in 2015, as to how she as a Teacher at the School in her old days use to arrange such celebrations. Mr. Aspy Bharucha in brief introduced late Dhanjishaw and Manijeh Gamr of their simple life style leaving behind legacy for the welfare of the Parsi Zorastrians of Ahmedabad.
This was the 5th event started since 2015. All these years, the Trust is able to find a right dignified Parsi Zarthosti having served any of the Service wings. Earlier to this event, the Flag Hoisting was arranged in the hands of Maj.Gen. [Retd.] Mr. Navroz Chinoy now settled at Ahmedabad, and in line thereof, 2nd was in the hands of Brig. [Retd.] Mr.Jehangir Anklesaria [Ahmedabad] 3rd was in the hands of Mr.Areez Khambatta, Ex-Commondar of Home Guards and Chief Operating Officer of Civil Defence, Ahmedabad, and 4th last year it was in the hands of Col. [Retd.] Kaizad Bhaya from Pune.
The event was followed by Games which was participated by all ages both individually and in group. The games were organized by Mrs. Jeniffer Kapadia, and Mr. Ariez Bokdawala both from Ahmedabad. As usual, the event was full of Joy, Fun, Enjoyment and Food without which any Parsi event will not end. The lunch was served by Mr.Malcum Bastawala of Mek Caterers of Udwada.
From the quirky motifs hidden in the sari to its genesis, Ashdeen Lilaowala breaks down the nuances of a traditional Parsi Gara
The timeless elegance of a traditional Parsi Gara is undeniable. Embroidered to life with photorealistic precision, the Gara sari is a unique member in the exhaustive variety of crafts found in the country. Predominantly worn by the Parsi community during weddings and special occasions, the exquisite Gara sari deserves not to be stashed away just for those big days. Vogue spoke to Ashdeen Lilaowala—one of the few creative minds carrying the legacy of the Gara forward—about the history of the embroidery, its evolution and the lesser known facts.
Tell us about the origins of Gara
Gara embroidery came into our design lexicon at a time when the Parsis from India would travel to China for trade. They carried opium and cotton with them from India, which was bartered for tea in China. Tea as a commodity was gaining a lot of popularity in Europe and the British wanted to sell more tea in Europe. The Parsis quickly became rich trading with the British.
When they came back on their ships, they also brought back ceramics and various other antiques that were available in China. Legend says that one of the traders brought back a new kind of artistic embroidery, which was very realistic in its depiction of flora and fauna and was targeted to the European market. Eventually, it was commissioned as a five-and-a-half-metre sari for the traders from India. Earlier, the pieces that came in were fully embroidered, corner to corner, but then slowly the women started travelling to China too, and they edited them to have borders, blank spaces for tucking in, etc. The Parsi community had newly settled in Bombay, become quite rich, and now wanted a certain new look—and they adopted the Gara saris as their signature.
One of the famous designs was ‘Cheena Cheeni’, which depicts a Chinese man and a Chinese woman against a landscape of pagodas, bridges, plantations and people doing daily chores in China, carrying lanterns and other knick knacks—but these were things so exotic and unseen in India, that the design became a prized possession. They also brought back narrow borders that are called as ‘Kor’, and clothes for the children—the tunics were called ‘Jhablas’ and pants were called ‘Ghicha’. These were some of the different products that were coming via the trade.
Can you tell us a little more about other popular Gara designs?
We have quirky names for motifs. Apart from ‘Cheena Cheeni’, there is a polka-dotted motif is called ‘kaanda papeta’, which stands for onion potato. Polka dots were so common at one point, that they were jestingly compared to onions and potatoes for how readily available they were. Then there is a spin wheel motif, which the Parsis call a ‘Karoliya’, or a spider. We have a ‘Marga Margi’, which is a rooster and a hen and there’s a ‘Chakla Chakli’ too, which is a male and female sparrow.
During a research exercise, we found that there is a kind of rock formation on the sari that usually comes with a peacock perched on it—the motif is called ‘The Divine Fungus’. But when you tell a Parsi woman that there’s fungus on your sari, they (naturally!) don’t take it well. And we have seen borders with exquisitely embroidered bats as well. Indians are not fond of bats, and for Parsis, bats are equivalent to death—I’ve actually had customers tell me they’re not wearing the pieces again once I confirmed the embroidery denotes a bat, and not a butterfly, as they originally thought. We also have a sari in our recent collection called ‘Morning Glory’—it has a sun and a huge spread of birds, flora and fauna, so it is like a whole narrative about the sun being the element that manifests this abundance of flora.
How long does it take to make a Gara sari?
Depending on the density of the work, it can take anything from three weeks to two months. And when I say two months, I mean six to eight people working on one sari together.
What is the base fabric of the sari?
Even though the sari is covered in silk thread embroidery all over, it has a nice flow to it and can be draped well. The original fabric was called ‘Sali Ghaj’, which has very thin lines running through it.
Garas went out of fashion in the ’30s and were only revived in the ’80s. In Mumbai, they started using this thick fabric—Shamu satin and thick Crepe d Chine back then. Presently, we largely use crepe, but not georgette or chiffon—because the silk thread is hand-embroidered and these fabrics can’t take the weight of the embroidery.