SHERNAAZ ENGINEER's blog on the Parsi community

Saturday, August 20, 2016

What lies ahead…

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We are officially into 1386 Y.Z. and there’s a whole new Shahenshahi year to look forward to.

August 22, being Khordad Saal, marks the finale of our longish festivities, with the last round of rib tickling nataks bringing on the laughs, followed by some hearty feasting because which Parsi will let go of a good meal on a good day – or any day, for that matter!

The spirit of fellowship is best fostered when the community celebrates together. Seeing auditoriums full of Parsis laughing in unison at the same old gags, year in and year out, reminds us that there’s more that holds the community together than we are prepared to give credit for.

Sordid squabbles and cacophonous clash of ideologies may take centre stage regularly, but our shared bonhomie cannot be entirely discounted on account of our discord. We are as capable of getting together and having a good time, as we are of getting on each other’s nerves! The former is so much more endearing, you’ll agree. 

Festivals have a way of smoothing out the rough edges. They make you realize the importance of living harmoniously because, in the end, it is the happy times that make for happy memories. Life is constantly passing us by and needless negativity is such a waste of time.

If only we could practice the oft pronounced “Live and Let Live” motto, it could save us a lot of trouble. But we are constantly in varying states of agitation, neither living peacefully ourselves, nor allowing others do so!

That’s why we need New Year, Khordad Saal and other festivals to loosen the noose of the various controversies that throttle our collective joy.

While it is not feasible, nor desirable, to always agree on everything, it’s also necessary to have some reprieve from constant community kaklaat and conflict!

The past two weeks have brought much-needed relief. May we be optimistic enough to assume that in the New Year the tide will finally turn? Or is this simply the calm before yet another storm? The coming days will tell!

·         (This column first appeared in the Jam-e-Jamshed dated August 21, 2016)

Gratitude for the year gone by, And for the year that is to come...

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Pateti is knock, knock, knocking at our door and the New Year is waiting to be let in like a gust of fresh air! And all we can think of right now, is how profoundly grateful we are.

This seems to be a time of sweeping changes all around us. Brexit has taken its toll on Britain – and who knows whether Donald will Trump the hopeful Hillary in the November US elections?

Change may or may not always be a good thing, but it is inevitable and one has to take it in one’s stride. Life seldom comes with a lifetime guarantee for anything! And that is precisely why we are so grateful for all the blessings we have, because you just can’t take anything for granted.

Our families that nurture and sustain us through life’s ups and downs, through celebrations and altercations, and days rough and tough, holding our best interests paramount and prodding us to push ahead, they deserve our unqualified thanks.
Their support is the springboard for our success.

And then there are countless others who contribute to our well-being. Close friends who never let us down, colleagues at work who pitch in enthusiastically, seniors who inspire us and youngsters who amaze us!

So many people, in so many different ways, impact our lives and contribute positively that it is easy to overlook the few who irritate us and grate upon our nerves.

When you sit down to reflect, there’s so much you need to be grateful for. Good health, for instance, which is priceless. Good food, for another, that is such a delightful part of our Parsi heritage – ah, patra-nu-bhonu! Not to forget good humour, another aspect of our irrepressible Parsipanu.

Then there is good and righteous living that comes with good thoughts, good words and good deeds – ingrained in every Parsi since birth.

Being born into the glorious and radiant faith of Asho Zarathustra is something we are inordinately grateful for. Which of us would wish to be born anything but Parsi? 

And so, we can go on and on, and on, about all the things that we are grateful for – and we would still be leaving a lot of things out, because the list is so spectacularly staggering. Life is beautiful and it is a unique and very precious gift.

So, whatever the New Year may bring us, and wherever it may take us, may we always be hopeful, cheerful and, above all else, grateful, because gratitude is the best attitude.

Your glass may appear half empty – but it is actually half full! Let’s raise our glasses then, and say Cheers to the New Year. Chalo everybody, Bottoms Up!

* This column appeared in the Jame dated August 14, 2016

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Iconic Parsi

October 29 was ‘Cyrus the Great Day’ – a day some people celebrate as the anniversary of the entrance of Cyrus into Babylon.
It is said that Cyrus the Great’s empire extended over almost 30 nations and was marked with exemplary governance and religious tolerance. Cyrus liberated the Jews and they, in turn, bestowed upon him the titled of ‘Anointed of the Lord’.
Cyrus was a man of great vision, compassion, courage and is best remembered for giving the world its first ever Charter of Human Rights – also known as the Cyrus Cylinder.
At a time when barbarism, violence and slavery were in vogue, he gave people the freedom to flourish without fear. Tolerance, equality and magnanimity – concepts unheard of in those days, were put into practice by Cyrus the Great, paving the way for what we call good governance today.
To think that we proudly count him as one of our ancestors – but just who in the community is upholding his illustrious legacy today!
On November 5 is the death centenary of Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, yet another iconic Parsi. His statue stands tall and proud outside the beautiful BMC building, opposite Victoria Terminus.
His long tenure of 46 years in the BMC, being Mayor (then called President) four times, and also being appointed Vice Chancellor of the Bombay University, are but a few of the many highlights of his life in public service. And what a life it was!
That finally brings to mind yet another iconic Paris who was in Mumbai last week: Zubin Mehta. His humility, warmth and devotion to his craft have won him many accolades all over the globe. Yet he remains a genial and gregarious Parsi to the core, settling down to hearty lagan-nu-bhonu with his team at the Colaba Agiary every time he performs in Mumbai!
He wears his talent and fame lightly, but continues to take his work very seriously.
What is it that makes us a community capable of producing such icons – although fewer and further between these days – and yet, paradoxically, we see so many young Parsis wasting away?
Have we become too comfortable for our own good? Do we believe that the dogged pursuit of excellence is no longer worthy? Have we started fancying ourselves to the point where arrogance has gotten the better of us?
Before we dive into our Sunday dhansak and doze off, perhaps we need to introspect and see if we can steer our course back on track.
We don’t lack role models – Cyrus the Great, Sir Pherozeshah Mehta and Zubin Mehta are but three names on a long list of illustrious icons bestowed upon our small tribe. But if we don’t generate new names, we’ll be doomed to mediocrity. Then the legacy of Cyrus the Great and scores of other iconic Parsis will be forever lost.

This column appeared in Jam-e-Jamshed dated Nov 1. 2015

Getting inspiration on board

The good thing about having a democratically conducted election for the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) is that it gives a wide variety of candidates the opportunity to contest.
While this might bring on some sniggers at the sheer audacity of relatively unknown persons in trying to push themselves into the fray, it is heartening to see that so many people, both humble and high-flying, have a shared mission of doing something for the community.
If any real progress is to be made in the coming seven years, our leadership will have to learn to be inclusive instead of being exclusive.
While several candidates may not have been successful at the polls, they still had noteworthy ideas that could be incorporated into the mission statement for the new term that has just commenced.
Elsewhere in this edition of the Jam-e-Jamshed, corporate honcho Jamshed S. Daboo has given a blueprint, detailing how the new BPP board can execute an actionable agenda for the community.
We are all looking forward to positive change at many levels and one of the ways of achieving this could be by integrating the best ideas from the manifestos that various candidates put out in pubic domain.
Some of these candidates could be co-opted on to committees to contribute by extending their ideas further.
For instance, a couple of candidates with impressive corporate backgrounds spoke of management systems that could be instituted in the areas of housing allotment and awarding contracts, so as to ensure good governance.
Another candidate spoke of a Code of Conduct, a Code of Ethics for trustees and the importance of a Declaration of Conflict of Interest, whereby sitting trustees do not get into business deals with the trust or take any benefit from the BPP, in any manner whatsoever, at a personal or professional level.
Yet another candidate spoke passionately of compassion and the need to speedily redress the grievances of the downtrodden, a priority that seems to have been pushed on the BPP’s backburner because of in-fighting.
Reducing the trustees’ term to five years was another worthy proposal, which should be acted upon.
Yet another candidate spoke of encouraging research in our religious scriptures and recommencing religious lectures by scholars of repute to restore pride in our roots.
Care for senior citizens was spoken of by a few contenders. This is an area of grave concern given our large ageing population. In fact, this election was once again driven by senior citzens, with one estimate saying barely 10 percent of the votes were polled by the youth. It brings home the need for the BPP to address the elderly demographic segment with the seriousness it deserves.
Solar power generation, water harvesting and garbage recycling to make our vast Baugs and Colonies ecologically complaint was one particular candidate’s mission – and it makes sense.
Entrepreneurship and educational opportunities for the youth was another point elaborated upon, which can certainly give our youngsters the fillip they need.
Doongerwadi and Dokhmenashini were also right up there as concerns for some candidates, with unequivocal commitments to preserve their sanctity and efficacy.
While many of these ideas might be part of the newly elected trustees’ agendas, it would not hurt to incorporate several other sound suggestions that germinated during election season.
While it was not possible for all 23 candidates to come onto the BPP board, their ideas could certainly be brought on board for the betterment of the community.

·         This column appeared in Jam-e-Jamshed (October 25, 2015) 

Don’t Shoot The Messenger

Today’s issue carries the advertisements of 22 out of the 23 candidates contesting for Trusteeship of the BPP.
While this is undoubtedly a humbling indication of the high esteem the Jam-e-Jamshed is held in, with its fair and balanced stance and unmatched reach across India and abroad, it also puts tremendous strain on our staff and infrastructure as we endevour to give each candidate our best.
Alas, there’s no pleasing everybody!
Although it is a wonderful opportunity for our readers to find, within the spiffy folds of one single newspaper, all but one of the candidates addressing a range of issues candidly, it does mean that some of our regular features have been deferred until after the elections.
It is only fitting that right now the candidates are given preference. After all, it’s not every day that we have an election. Did you say, thank God!
Our policy has been fair and square – no favours have been done to anyone. No agenda in the guise of interviews, profiles, views of eminent Parsis propagating certain select candidates, slanted articles or motivated editorials have been sneaked in. All advertisements have been clearly marked as such.

It ought to be obvious that Jame does not endorse the views of any of its advertisers and leaves it to the good judgement readers to make up their own minds. Not all the messages carried herein may necessarily be music to everybody’s ears. In that case ignore the message, but don’t shoot the messenger!

Vote With Care

Campaigning for the BPP elections is aggressively under way and by all accounts attendance is thin and lackluster at various candidates’ meetings.
Contrast this to the days (many would wistfully call them the good old days!) when food packets were dished out and upwards of 500 Parsis would enthusiastically attend.
Fuelled by the prospect of delectable bhonu at the end of it all, attendees would ask probing questions and put the candidates on the mat – getting fiery exchanges underway.
Contrast this with the current cooling off amongst the electorate. Perhaps, it’s the no-food policy or maybe it’s because the community is disenchanted with Parsi politics, but generally around 50-80 people turn up for elections meetings and few hard-hitting questions get asked.
It seems most Parsis are content to let contentious issues slide by, without putting prospective Trustees through the diligent scrutiny that is required before handing the BPP over to them.
Several worthy candidates are at a disadvantage because they don’t have the assertive PR skills some candidates have at their command and, thus, cannot drum up enough shoo-sha in their favour.
It’s crucial that the electorate makes an informed and careful choice. Many candidates are not revealing their full agenda and not enough attention is being paid to their track record and hidden intentions.
Voters are being fooled, in some instances, into believing glib projections of candidates, which are far removed from reality.
The onus lies with each one to attend election meetings and objectively assess candidates by asking relevant questions. Only if fully satisfied, should voters give their stamp of approval to a candidate.
We must mention here the thoughtful online advertising campaign (see it on the ‘Jam-e-Jamshed’ Facebook Page) that Sam Balsara has created for ‘Parsis For Harmony’ --  a small Think Tank of well intentioned community members.
The series of advertisements offers an important checklist to follow while voting:
1.      Is the integrity of the candidate absolutely impeccable?
2.      Is the competence and track record of the candidate outstanding?
3.      Will the candidate selflessly devote more than adequate time?
4.      Will the Trustees of the Punchayet work together like a well-oiled machine?
Ask these questions and then, only then, vote with care.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Navsari na Padshah ne Naman!

In the increasingly messy melee of the oncoming BPP elections, with anonymous messages circulating on Whatsapp and the Net, and rivalries at fever pitch, not enough note has been taken of a truly auspicious, momentous and historic occasion – the 250th Salgreh of the Navsari Atash Behram on October 3, 2015!

To our mind, this Atash Behram is perhaps the only edifice we have that comes close to a cathedral – so majestic and resplendent is its makaan that houses the Holy Fire, and so mystical and magical are the images of our revered saints that have appeared on its marbled walls!

The Atash Behram has put out an appeal (carried in our Jame this week on Page 17), which fervently pleads for funds. In our humble opinion, it is the duty of every Parsi to send whatever sum they can afford to. Such occasions come but rarely and if we don’t help maintain our own religious places of worship then who will?

After all, what did we come to India for but to uphold and preserve our religion and race? Generations of our ancestors put the faith first and this is what has sustained the community.

The BPP was set up to protect the Doongerwadi lands in perpetuity and ensure that Dokhmenashini is not threatened. Our Agiaries and religious institutions are on covenanted lands meant exclusively for the use of Parsi/Irani Zoroastrians and all this was done by our forefathers to ensure that the faith and community stay secure.

Today, it has become fashionable to shrug off religious responsibility. Many aspiring BPP Trustees are glibly saying religion is a “personal” issue to justify their ‘sitting-on-the-fence’ attitude towards ensuring the sanctity of our time-honoured practices and faith.
Yes, religion is a deeply personal quest– but as co-religionists our responsibility towards both religious observance and adherence is collective.

As the Navsari Atash Behram's Padshah Saheb celebrates 250 years of enthronement and efficacious glory, may the flame of faith be reignited in us – especially those who aspire to lead our flock. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Beware, chameleons are everywhere

 Appearances are deceptive – yet, this is a lesson almost none of us is willing to learn. We continue to get totally taken in by superficially impressive people!
Reports have been raging over the past few days, detailing Page 3 prima donna Indrani Mukerjea’s alleged crime – murdering her own daughter in cold blood.
It’s a case so grisly that it completely defies belief. However, there’s so much to be learnt from this sordid story.
To what depths of evil malevolence can a human being descend? How far will you let your ambition take you? Will greed for wealth and glamour make you disown your own children and lie to your spouse that they are your siblings? Does creating a fake world of showmanship matter more than being true to your soul?
There are countless Indranis everywhere. Outwardly chic and glamorous people, who are so desperate to take speedy shortcuts to name and fame that they’re willing to lead deceptive lives full of lies and falsehood. What they project is not who they are.
They hide their humble background, almost ashamed of their past, in a bid to create a flashy future at any cost. Nothing is sacred – not their parents, nor their spouse or friends. They use and abuse people as stepping stones, only to pelt them out of their path once their usefulness is over.
They think they’re smart – and more often than not succeed in outsmarting other simple folk who just cannot match their cunning, crafty ways. But divine justice has a way of catching up.
Sadly, this often happens too late in day when they have left a trail of havoc and devastation behind them.
This is why it is so crucial to be able to look through false appearances and make wise decisions about who to trust.
On a different but not entirely unrelated note, it’s equally important to be able to correctly judge people who are to assume public office and pole-vault into positions of leadership.
We’re soon going to be in the throes of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet election. Several candidates will exuberantly fling themselves into the fray, expecting us to lap up their well-crafted campaigns – but it’s up to us make the attempt to look through their facade, read between the lines and sharpen our own judgmental abilities. The wellbeing of the community will depend upon this.
Let’s work together to ensure we make the right choice – although it appears as though there may not be too much of a choice!
Send us your suggestions, questions and comments regarding the forthcoming elections. Our Facebook Page (Jam-e-Jamshed) is a beehive of activity and interactivity and much of the feedback is an eye-opener.
In the coming weeks, Jam-e-Jamshed will endeavour to be your voice. We will articulate your vision, concerns and aspirations for a clean, progressive and professionally-run Punchayet.

Do write to us and suggest the way ahead.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Dinshaw Mehta, Chairman of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, with Arvind Mayaram, IAS, Secretary - Ministry of Minority Affairs, at a meeting with Parsi representatives in Mumbai on November 20, 2014

The will to live

“Do you have the will to live?” asked Arvind Mayaram repeatedly. 

The very erudite and insightful Secretary of the Ministry of Minority Affairs (MOMA), Government of India, was met members of the Parsi community earlier last week in Mumbai to understand why the population crisis afflicts the community so.

As he kept repeating the above question, at strategically timed intervals, it struck us that he needed to repeat it so often because affirmation wasn’t entirely forthcoming.

The will to live ought to be pretty elementary. But, for the Parsi community facing extinction, is it really so? For if it were, would we be on a suicidal path?

What the Parsis appear to have is the will to fight – with each other and to the finish! We also have the will to disgrace ourselves with ugly spats that the mainstream media preys on with relish.

We have the will to exult in our eccentricities, feast on our bhonu, live lives of reasonable privilege in our Baugs and bask in the glory that being Parsi bestows upon us by virtue of birth.

But do we have the will to excel with integrity and without compromise the way our forefathers overwhelmingly did?
Do we have the will to contribute to the nation and pursue a philanthropic mission that encompasses all deserving causes?
Do we have the will to steer the young on the propitious course of marriage within the fold at an early age, in order to prioritise family life?

Do we have the will to make the right decisions that will not precipitate our multifarious crises?

In short, do we really have the will to live? This is a question that merits much soul searching.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why We Love The Jiyo Parsi Campaign

Self deprecation is a good thing. Self flagellation isn’t! Somehow, we’ve become so adept at whipping ourselves into a public frenzy, often over nothing in particular, that it’s tedious and draining.
Look at the extreme reactions to the Jiyo Parsi advertising campaign – to be released in print soon. Instead of taking a few moments to understand, perhaps even applaud, the enormous effort and well meaning intent behind this significant mission, callow community members are hurriedly tearing it apart.
It’s easy to be overcritical, cynical, defensive or even offensive. We are a community of self opinionated and largely self centered individuals who put personal gratification at a premium.
Larger issues like the survival of the community and the sacrifices needed for it count for very little. This is precisely why we’re in such a sorry state that the Government of India needs to step in and bail us out with Jiyo Parsi.
You would think this would make us happy, grateful and eager to make the most of the Rs. 10 crore grant and the opportunity to reboot and recharge.
Alas, it’s merely another excuse to crib and carp! Well, life is too precious to be wasted wallowing in niggardly nit-picking. So, we’re going to list the reasons why we love the Jiyo Parsi advertising campaign:

1.Its central message that Parsis should marry within the community and beget children before slipping into dotage is priceless. Staying single, inter marrying or delaying parenthood is not good for the community, even though it may serve our individual interests. We need to have the wisdom to understand this – and remedy it as best as we can. 
2.The campaign, comprising over a dozen piquant ads, uses humour and parodies Parsi eccentricities with elan. Even with serious issues at hand, it helps if we can share a laugh. That’s the charm of being Parsi! 3. Many of the ads encourage introspection by reinforcing stereotypes such as boys being overly attached to their mothers and girls having unrealistically high expectations. Instead of taking offence and getting huffy, it would help if we reexamined the premises around which many of us live our lives. 
4.The campaign spells out the template for happiness and fulfillment in wholesome terms: marriage, parenthood, togetherness, work-life balance, fun and family bonding. In our excessively ambitious and career-driven age, maybe this is the wake-up call our community needs to shift the focus from Me to We. 
5.Finally, what we appreciate is that this is a determined effort to see the silver lining. Here’s an all-Bawa ad campaign that celebrates hope. Despite our number crunch, with the latest fertility treatments, a change in mindset and wholehearted help from the government, we could see results if we just get on with it! 
To all those who are being negative about Jiyo Parsi, we humbly suggest: drop your defenses and raise a toast. Cute Parsi babies are waiting to be born!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Empty lie our Agiaries

                                                                                                                                    Picture for representational purposes only

An interesting article caught our eye in The Times of India a few mornings ago. 

It spoke of GenNext turning to spirituality and seeking solace in religion in order to beat anxiety.

The writer was at pains to point out that in the megapolis of Mumbai, the young were increasingly drifting towards divinity in its myriad forms – yoga, meditation, scriptures, chanting, temple visits, Art of Living and what have you.

This observation, interesting as it appears, seems largely at odds with what we see within our community today. If the stark emptiness of our Agiaries is any indication, spiritualism and religion seem to have low priority (or no priority) across the community. 

The few who do make the effort of factoring faith into their daily (or weekly) roster and actually take the trouble of going to the Agiary/Atash Behram are generally the aged. They often defy infirmity to affirm their devotion with unwavering zeal. The rest falter at the altar.

There could be many reasons for this. 

South Mumbai is no longer the stronghold of the Parsis as a large chunk of the populace has shifted to the suburbs. Since the largest concentration of Agiaries is in this part of town, they tend to wear a desolate air. 

It is not uncommon to be the sole individual in an Agiary in and around the Fort area, at any given time, from early morning to late evening. A priest may be present – but only if it’s boi time. Otherwise, it’s an exclusive audience with Almighty and the Holy Fire, one-on-one, uninterrupted by human presence – save the portraits of illustrious ancestors looking down benevolently and, perhaps, wondering why they endowed the community with these beautiful abodes of faith if they were to remain empty!

The case is a little different in Agiaries that are attached to the Baugs – but only a little. Here, you will find the odd youngster popping in, generally before exam time. Few make daily worship a way of life.

Perhaps, it’s simply a sign of the times. Churches in the West also remain empty. As societies become affluent and self sustaining, faith is no longer their fulcrum. Adversity and misfortune seem to be far more conducive in coaxing communion with the Creator!

And, yet, till only two generations ago, Parsi families almost without exception nurtured staunch practices of the faith, including the divo at home, praying daily, visiting the Agiary regularly and, of course, leading an upright and illustrious life. Somehow, all this seamlessly integrated into a wholesome whole. 

Today, we are floundering on many fronts as a community – qualitatively and quantitatively. And our Agiaries are almost always empty. 

Who has the time for religion or spirituality? We’re too busy with our smartphones!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Creating an Epic Congress
Mumbai is to host the 10th World Zoroastrian Congress (December 27 to 30), and it promises to be an amazing opportunity to bring the community from all parts of the world together in a city that boasts a rich lineage of Parsi culture and heritage, as well as the largest concentration of community members.
Clearly, the task for the organizing committee, led by the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, is daunting. While details are still being worked out, the venue has finally fallen into place. According to the Congress website, the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) has been booked.
After examining various options (including the Taj Mahal Hotel and the NSCI), the NCPA was chosen as it is India’s foremost cultural establishment. It also has a very obvious Parsi connect with its Tata affiliation.
So, what else is in store?
While Congress sessions will inevitably offer a host of keynote speakers and a plethora of panel discussions, the trick is to get the right mix and sustain interest over four days. Not easy!
Often, organisors tend to get influenced by subjective considerations, personal obligations or the sheer embarrassment of having to say no to pushy people and permit them a place on the podium, to the utter ordeal of the audience.
It is, admittedly, impossible to make everyone happy. But a Congress of this magnitude must uphold lofty standards and offer inspiration, insight and an opportunity for the community to debate and dissent with intellectual ardour, but without personal vilification. For this, themes and moderators would need to be well chosen.
Of course, the food has to be superlative or the consequences will be dire!
Two wonderful add-ons have been announced.
The National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) will host From Canton to Mumbai – The Story of Parsi Textiles and the Alpaiwalla Museum at Khareghat Colony is being restored for its grand reopening around the Congress dates. Both projects are reportedly the brainchild of two lovely ladies – Pheroza Godrej and Firoza Punthakey Mistree, who have earlier collaborated on the exquisite tome, A Zoroastrian Tapestry.
Entertainment, of course, will be the big ticket draw – it would be great to have a Zubin Mehta concert for the community around the time (wishful thinking!) or at least a Shiamak Davar show (surely he can be persuaded?), although the opening ceremony at the Gateway of India could provide enough scope for dramatic impact.
Through all this, the theme of the Congress – Zoroastrianism in the 21st Century:
Nurturing Growth and Affirming Identity – must be kept squarely in sight.
Unless we seriously nurture growth with a master plan for the way ahead and affirm our identity as Parsi/Irani Zoroastrians with fervour and faith, it will be an opportunity lost and just another extravagant (but pointless) waste of time, energy and money.
The onus is on us to make this an epic Congress. Can we rise to the challenge?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Big Fat Parsi Weddings

A young, middle-class Parsi couple decided to get married and their families met over dhan-daar and tareli machhi to discuss the details.
The bride’s mother, a large and loud lady, declared: “Let’s have a big fat Parsi wedding.”
Her not-so-large husband jibed, “With you in attendance, it will definitely be both big and fat!”
“That’s not what I meant,” she snapped. “I keep reading in the newspapers about all these fancy non-Parsi weddings – they call them big fat Indian weddings. Let’s have a Parsi equivalent.”
The groom’s mother nervously asked: “Doesn’t that sort of thing cost a lot of money? I read that a recent wedding cost over Rs. 50 crore and they had 6,500 guests.”
The bride’s mother beamed, “Aapre bhi kai evha tevha nathee. We can easily muster up 2000 guests. Tamhara bhi 1000 guests toh thussey?”
The groom’s father took out his hanky, wiped his forehead, and confessed: “We’re thinking of restricting our invitations to close family and friends, no more than about 350 people.”
The bride looked dejected. “Let’s discuss the functions. Apart from the engagement, madasoro, adarni etc., I’d like to have a mehendi and sangeet.”
Her father loudly protested, “Eh su badha naatak?”
The large mother snapped: “You have no clue what’s happening in the world. Nowadays our Parsis are having these functions also. Why should our daughter be deprived? At a recent high society parjat wedding they gifted foreign cars and European holidays to guests who attended the sangeet. See how they grandly celebrate their nuptials!”
The groom’s father spoke shakily: “How can we possibly match these rich non-Parsis? I have just managed to buy a Tata Indica. And we holiday every alternate year at one of the reasonable Parsi hotels in Panchgani.”
The bride demanded of the somberly silent groom: “Surely our honeymoon will be at some foreign location? And you must upgrade your car soon. Darling, please also tell your parents I like only diamond jewellery.”
Her mother added: “I read that a big fat wedding is incomplete without an event manager. Aapru Jame recently wrote about a few…”
At this point the bride’s father, somewhat embarrassed by the blabbering his wife and daughter, diplomatically concluded the meeting.
After they left, the groom’s mother fired him: “See how bossy the girl and her mother are. Tu saano gup chup baisee rahyo without saying a word? You will be totally henpecked.”
Her husband piped in: “My mother said the same thing at the time of our marriage – but I lived happily henpecked thereafter! So will our son.”
And so it came to pass that another big fat Parsi wedding was solemnized with pomp, show and an event manager!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

 At Mumbai's Anjuman Atash Behram, the new Nayab Dastur Dr. Jamasp was installed on Roj Ardibehesth Mah Ardibehesth, September 19, 2012, as trustee of the Atash Behram, Burjorji Antia looks on

Emergence of the new order
It is always exciting to witness the ascendance of the new order.
Few as we are, and fewer still as we appear to be getting, nothing gladdens the community more than the resurgence of the Parsi spirit with the arrival of fresh blood!
Kindly cast aside your cynicism, if you’re one of those jaded sorts who sighs and declares that GenNext is just not interested in religious adherence.
Week after week, we’re amazed at the response younger readers give us, particularly when it comes to articles pertaining to a further understanding of the faith. Believe it or not but young Parsis, for most of the part, are passionate about preserving both Parsipanu and the Zoroastrian religion.
Do read the story on the centre pages of aapru Jame this week, of how twenty-somethings across the world feel about being Parsi Zoroastrians and how infectious and admirable is their zeal!
And, yet, the road is not entirely easy for them, especially for those living in the West, where popular culture and peer pressure are often at odds with traditional religious practice.
That they still manage to hold on to our precious legacy and are proud of it, speaks volumes not just for the way in which they’ve been raised, but also for the power and glory of what has been given to us thousands of years ago by our Prophet.
It is a gift that cannot be taken for granted. And one that brings continuing joy for those who foster the faith!
Earlier this week, at Mumbai’s resplendent Anjuman Atash Behram, a beloved bastion of the devout, the 115th Salgreh festivities on September 19 turned into a double celebration with the induction of Nayab Dastur Dr. Jamasp, scion of the illustrious Jamasp Asa clan.
Succession planning is one of the most challenging and rewarding exercises that few enterprises or institutions can afford to ignore. Sadly, at the Wadiaji Atash Behram, a worthy successor wasn’t initiated upon the retirement of Vada Dasturji Dr. Firoze Kotwal
several years ago, although, reportedly, there’s no hereditary ‘gaadi’ of Dasturi there.
However, there is no reason why another scholar priest could not have been – or still cannot be – installed. If our biggest Atash Behrams don’t nurture the emergence of religious scholars of the stature of some of our current senior Vada Dasturjis, where is the young generation going to get guidance from?
The community and its Trusts must facilitate the emergence of a new cadre of Vada
Dasturji who will bring us credit with their scholarship, their understanding of contemporary issues and, above all, their unflinching resolve to conduct themselves with grace, without ever compromising on the core principles of the religion that have stood the test of time and made us who we are.
This reminds us of Tennyson’s sagacious assertion that “the old order changeth yielding place to new, and God fulfills Himself in many ways…”