“You, Parsis, have a great responsibility to carry your faith to the next generation safely. But it’s hard to stick by these rules…Most young people would get frustrated by them and some may even leave the faith because of this,” reads a comment by a Pakistani on a Facebook group, Parsi Against Conservatism (PAC).
Against the backdrop of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet’s (BPP) decision to bar two Parsi priests from entering fire temples and Towers of Silence, the PAC has escalated the debate on conversions and conservatism in the community. Parsis are openly sharing their views as the dwindling community raises questions about its ‘universality’.
Started in mid-July this year by two Parsi sisters, Camille and Zeenia Framroze who live in the US and Toronto, the group already has over 1,400 members. This is their second initiative after an online signature campaign in support of the two banned priests, Khushroo Madon and Framroze Mirza.
The sisters have written on Facebook: “Their only crime has been the performance of the navjote ceremony and after-death prayers of children from mixed marriages. Prominent members of our community have chosen to defend these two priests and what they stand for. Though we are not associated with them, we support their stance.”
Talking about the idea of such a group, they state: “We are two Parsi girls, aged 17 and 20, and we find the stance of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet unacceptable. Not for personal or selfish reasons; we are the daughters of two Parsi parents. But we are offended by this exclusive attitude and rigid intolerance. We believe that if either parent is Parsi, the children have the right to be inducted and accepted into our religion.”
They say children of mixed marriage should have the option of choosing which religion he/she wants to practise. “We are here to seek support from people in the community to fight ultra-orthodoxy and inequality within our community,” they have written.
A comment by one Vispy Wadia says, “It is not restricted to people who believe in only one kind of view. It is nice that it is open to all views, and we throw an open challenge to views held by other people. It helps people see the truth and what the religion stood for.”