The number of Mobeds has shrunk considerably in the recent past and today it is a serious problem to all Zoroastrians who wish to practise their religion, faithfully.
While on one hand there is a global interest in the study of Zoroastrianism, it must be recalled that the Zoroastrian religion exists with certain traditional ritual fidelity. It is already becoming increasingly difficult for regular rituals and for higher rituals like the Pav Mahal Kriyas to be performed, as there are very few priests, willing to undergo the austere life required to perform these complex rituals, for which the strict laws of ritual purity must be observed as per the tenets of the faith.
The writing is on the wall, if we do not have properly trained priests to perform both inner and outer rituals, then it will result in the decline of important religious practices. The lament of the laity is that the priests do not give good service and are unable to answer religious questions when asked by the laity and therefore often the laity feels that the priest does not deserve a higher salary in order to maintain a better standard of living. Due to this unwritten struggle between the priesthood and laity, young men who come from the priestly class have moved into secular careers and done brilliantly for themselves. In the old days, the brightest boys from Athornan families were inducted into the priesthood and the other brothers worked in other secular fields. Today, it is exactly the opposite. The bright ones avail themselves of a Madressa education and then move on to becoming professionals like lawyers, doctors and engineers, whilst those not so bright, end up being priests, with of course a few exceptions.
Keeping these many sad truths in mind, the Trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet wish to announce its Mobed Amelioration Scheme (MAS), which has as its aims:
1. To make Mobedi a more attractive profession, 2. To encourage boys from Athoman families to study in either of the two Madressas, in Mumbai, 3. To encourage qualified priests to work as full-time Mobed Sahebs, 4. To help the Mobed Sahebs improve their educational and social standing in society.
Phase I of the Mobed Amelioration Scheme
This scheme will be implemented as follows :
First Phase (commenced on 1st April, 2013)
The Trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet have decided to cater to the needs, first, for the following five categories of Mobed Sahebs
a) Students from either of the two Madressas in Mumbai
b) Pav mahal kriya karnar Mobed Sahebs including Atash Behram Boiwallas
c) Retired Mobed Sahebs who have worked as full time priests throughout their lives
d) Mobed Sahebs working as full time priests in Agiaries employing just one or two mobeds with no other secular work having been undertaken, in the past
e) Doongerwadi boi- bhantar full time Mobed Sahebs with no other secular work having been undertaken, in the past
To identify the above categories of Mobed Sahebs detailed analysis has been done to categorize fire temples all over India into five categories The first category comprises the eight Atash Behrams, the second comprises of Agiaries with over six mobeds, the third category are Agiaires with three to five mobeds, the fourth category are Agiaries with two mobeds and the fifth category are Agiaries with only one mobed.
Each of the above Mobed Sahebs in categories a b c d and e is proposed to be given a subsidy of Rs. 10,000/- per month leading to an outflow of well over Rs. 2 crore per annum from the BPP funds. It is hoped that other donors will also contribute towards the economic and educational upliftment of the clergy once this scheme begins, in order to improve the standard of living of our priests.
Pav Mahal Kriya Karnar Mobed Sahebs and Atash Behram Boiwallas:
All Mobed Sahebs qualified to perform the Pav Mahal Kriyas as well as the Boiwallas of the Atash Behrams will be given a monthly subsidy of Rs. 10,000/. from 1st April 2013
Donations from philanthropists, charitable trusts and well-wishers will enable us to take the Mobed Scheme further. A highly respected member of this Scheme’s formulation, Mr. Burjor Antia, senior partner MuIla and Mulla, has already sent the BPP a donation cheque of Rs. 1 crore from his personal account, with instructions to take it towards the corpus of the MAS and use the interest earned from it, towards the monthly outgoings of the scheme.
The Young Students’ Madressa Scheme
Students of the Dadar Athornan Madressa and the M F Cama Institute who agree to undertake full-time Sampurna Mobedi training will be given financial incentives as under:-
a. From 1st April 2013 onwards each student will receive in their bank account Rs. 2,500/- per month and his parents will receive Rs. 7,500/- per month, so long as the student continues to study in either of the two aforesaid institutions.
b. From 1st April, 2013 onwards, all such students having undergone the full Navar ceremony i.e. who qualify as a Samporna Navar, will be given a one-time gift of Rs. 50,000/- and on completing the Martab ceremony, will be given another appreciation reward of Rs. 1,00,000/- upon qualifying as a fully trained Samporna Martab.
c. If a young madressa educated boy, wishes to study Avesta, Pahlavi and/or Zoroastrianism at University level, then greater financial incentives will be provided to him, as the Trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet wish to encourage bright young boys to pursue their academic studies in any field of Zoroastrianism in order to make them enlightened priests.
d. The boy upon becoming a full-time Mobed Saheb after ten years, will receive an accumulated sum of monies with accumulated interest amounting to a tentative sum of over Rs.15 lakh, at the end of ten years.
Housing for the Mobeds
The BPP Board also plans to give accommodation on a priority to deserving young Priests, in need of housing, provided they have worked as full-time priests for ten years in Mumbai. This is a very important incentive being offered to those who wish to dedicate their lives to the Mobedi profession
The BPP with the encouragement and guidance of our High Priests have taken this initiative. The Trustees of the BPP look forward to receiving financial support for this scheme so that all Mobed Sahebs are financially provided for in the near future so as to make Mobedi an attractive profession to take up.
It must never be forgotten that “if there are no priests, there will be no religious practices”
Mobeds working in Agiaries that employ just one or two Mobed Sahebs
These full-time serving Mobeds will also be given a monthly subsidy of Rs. 10,000/ from 1st April 201.3.
All Mobeds who have as yet, not submitted their forms in the format required by the BPP are requested to forward the duly completed Form at the earliest, failing which their cases will not be entertained.
Based upon the number of Mobed Sahebs who have responded to the questionnaire sent out earlier by the BPP, the implementation of Phase I is likely to entail an annual financial outlay of over Rs. 2.5 crore from the BPP funds. In spite of its commitment to cater to the various and multifarious needs of the whole Parsi community at large, the Trustees have decided set aside Rs. 2 to Rs. 2.5 crore every year for the Mobed Amelioration Scheme. Donations from philanthropists, charitable trusts, and well wishers will enable us to go further.
Retired Mobed Sahebs
Retired Mobed Sahebs who have been in full-time service as priests throughout their lives will be given a monthly subsidy of Rs. 10,000/-, from 1st ApriI 2013. Mobeds who have been doing life-time mobedi, and have completed 70 years of age would be considered as Retired Mobeds.
In the event of an unfortunate demise of a retired Mobed, his widow, if eligible will be entitled to a similar subsidy
Phase II of the MAS
The Trustees of the BPP would like to implement Phase II by including:
a) All mobeds working full time in all Agiaries in India.
b) Approximately, some 200 Mobed Sahebs who are now working as full-time priests in Agiaries, but who earlier had worked in non-priestly jobs and services.
c) To give still greater financial incentives to students and their parents who are enrolled in the two Madressas as well as Pay Mahal Kriya Karnara Mobed Sahebs, in order to increase the performance of higher inner ceremonies like the Nirangdin, Vendidad, Baj and other high liturgies.
d) To raise the standard of living of full-time chasniwallas who continue to work in all the ancillary services involved in running an Agiary.
We look forward to generous contributions from members of the community, well-wishers and other charitable trusts, in order to further expand the Mobed Amelioration Scheme (MAS) to include the above categories.
If all the above categories of Mobed Sahebs and Chasniwallas are taken on board for financial assistance, then the scheme will require about Rs. 6 crore of funds every year, a tall target indeed, as the same will have to be serviced with a huge corpus to generate that kind of income, each year.
Monitoring the MAS
This project will be monitored using modern management techniques in order to ensure that the monies are not given to undeserving cases, nor to those priests who may become lazy and choose to slack off from performing the daily rituals. A simple form has been designed to ensure that the priest under the scheme, ticks off all the rituals performed on a daily basis with the Panthaky Saheb of the Agiary, confirming by way of his signature that the said rituals ticked by the Mobed Saheb have been duly performed on a weekly or monthly basis.
To ensure an ongoing efficiency, a complaint cell is soon to be formed to look into any problems faced by the priests and / or the laity
Your Support is Needed
In conclusion, for the first time in this generation an ambitious scheme such as ours has been put together by the Trustees of the BPP for the long-term sustained amelioration of the Zoroastrian clergy. We seek your support, as the lead has been taken by the Board of Trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet who have made a financial commitment of Rs. 2.5 crore, annually, aside from the preferential allotment of housing which is going to be given for the socio-economic upliftment of our noble priests.
Help us realize our goal with your generous contribution and please draw a cheque in favour of ‘PARSI PUNCHAYET BOMBAY’.
For further information, contact:
Mr. Cawas Panthaki Senior Executive Welfare
Bombay Parsi Punchayet Office
209, Dr. D N Road,
Fort, Mumbai 400 001
Tel: 022-2267 7421/22 Mobile: +919820081832
Courtesy : BPP Review April 2013