Update on the Udvada Land Issue: Dinyar Patel

Below is an update on the Udvada Land Issue by Dinyar Patel. Dinyar is a doctoral student at Harvard University. He is currently in India doing research for his thesis

Dear all,

I know that there has been some confusion over what has been happening in Udvada with regard to planned development near the Atash Behram. I’ve spoken to both Dasturji Peshotan Mirza and Rustom Marshall, the lawyer in this case, and the following is what they have told me.

There is a 200 acre property close to the Atash Behram which is currently agricultural. A part of the property was once owned by Parsis, then sold off, and finally came under the ownership of Lalu Jogi (apparently a local smuggler) along with the rest of the land in question, and has now been sold to a developer consortium (which
apparently includes a few Parsis). The developers had announced plans to construct an industrial estate on this property. After these plans became public and the Parsi community raised objections, they announced new plans to sell off plots for the construction of housing blocks.

This runs afoul of the law since an agricultural plot of land has been sold to non-agriculturalists — i.e., the developers — for non-agricultural purposes. Government permission is required for this transaction. The deputy collector of Valsad district did grant permission to the developer. The developers then offered to negotiate
with the Udvada anjuman over land use but the anjuman rejected this offer, pointing out that the permission granted by the deputy collector was not valid in the first place. Led by Rustom Marshall, they took this case to the Gujarat Revenue Tribunal, which has issued a “status quo” or “stay” order against the developers, which prohibits the developers from any further development or construction activity for the time being. The case is still at the Revenue Tribunal (I was unable to find any documents on the Tribunal’s website, http://www.revenuetribunal.gujarat.gov.in/) and the developers have not as yet taken this to the Gujarat High Court.

The obvious, primary concern for us in this case is of course the sanctity of the Atash Behram. Dasturji Mirza tells me that the industrial estate plans originally called for a plastics factory, which would require a major source of water that would both deplete and pollute Udvada’s water tables and impact wells used in the village and Atash Behram. Although a “stay” order has been issued, Dasturji Mirza mentioned that some trees on the property have already been cut down in preparation for construction.

There is a related environmental concern. Udvada suffers from major coastal erosion and the land in question apparently abuts the sea and is partially submerged during the high tide. Development here could be disastrous for village and whatever is built on these 200 acres.

At the moment, there seems to be two things we as the Zoroastrian community can do:

1) Support and publicize this case. I spoke to Rustom Marshall this morning and he agrees that some coverage in the media would help. I have already spoken to an editor at Outlook and a reporter from the Economic Times/Times of India — they seem interested in the story and hopefully they will pursue it. But these are only two possible leads. It would be great if others could contact media both here in India and in North America. This is, after all, the holiest Zoroastrian temple in the world. There are also environmental issues at stake which would affect more than just the Parsi community.

2) Raise funds to help purchase the plot in question. Rustom Marshall says that this is the simplest way to solve the situation, albeit also the most difficult. The 200 acre plot is worth about Rs. 40 crores in value, which is around US$9 million. Not a low sum, of course.

Over the last few months I’ve read a lot about the Udvada land controversy online that has turned out to be inaccurate and speculative. I’ll try my own best to find out more information on this issue and I will let you know if anything I have stated here turns out to be not correct. In the mean time, let us all do our best to find out more about this case and ways that we can help.

Best regards,

Dinyar


Dinyar Patel
Ph.D. Candidate, Modern South Asia
Department of History
Harvard University
+1 (650) 796-2486

Editors Note: All comments on this issue need to be pertinent to the issue at hand. Any comments that denigrate into personal attacks and name calling shall not be published.

  • Barak Aga

    .
    If the protest is on the grounds that “This project runs afoul of the law, agricultural plot of land has been sold to non-agriculturalists — i.e., the developers — for non-agricultural purposes”, it is worthy of support.

    However, if the protest is on the excuse that ” This is, after all, the holiest Zoroastrian temple in the world”, it is untenable.

    Fire Temples are not a part of the Zoroastrian faith. There is nothing Zoroastrian about Fire Temples.

    Several centuries after theZarathustra’s death, somewhere around 400 B.C.E. (more than a 100 years after Cyrus), it became a custom to venerate the Armenian cosmological figure Anahita (Aredvi Sur Banu) by erecting statues.

    Artaxerxes, one of the Achaemenian emperors, was the first to put statues of Anahita in the major cities of his kingdom and he commanded his people to worship these images.

    In the Avan Yasht (Yt. 5, 126-128), Anahita is venerated as a beautiful maiden, bejeweled, and wearing a crown.

    Statues so erected could not be left in the open; they had to be protected in buildings which became temples to go to in order to worship the goddess.

    To maintain these “temples” required the cooperation of the priesthood and the composition of the religious hymns in praise of Anahita suggests that the ruling class got the cooperation from the clergy.

    There were, of course, other priests and some laity who were shocked by this idol worship which went against Zarathustra’s teachings.

    To counter this idol worship, the “orthodox” built consecrated buildings as centers of worship.

    Instead of a statue, they put fire in the center of the edifice.

  • Geve Narielwalla

    Mr Barak Aga, I do not find it worthwhile to waste my time with a person such as yourself who twists things to suit their purpose. You represent the oldest Zoroastrian principal of druj opposed to Asha.
    You concluded your response with : “To counter this idol worship, the “orthodox” built consecrated buildings as centers of worship.

    Instead of a statue, they put fire in the center of the edifice.”

    What has such example to do with the problem today?

    If what you say is followed to it’s logical end, Zoroastrians should tear down their temple edifices and go back to worshiping in the open? How absurd can a person get?

    Every religion has evolved over the centuries, incorporating new rituals or forms of worship etc etc etc. Early Christianity began by using the fish, the Ichthus, as the central symbol of worship, the Cross was introduced 2 centuries later. Should Christians go back to placing the Ichthus as the central symbol in their churches?

    Zoroastrianism has always considered holding all the elements of nature as sacred, and have worshiped God with a blazing fire in the open, as attested by the Greeks, later we had huge complex (read plural) of buildings, where the sacred Fire was tended by a huge retinue of priests, and the sacred area spread over several acres, with a lake, or river flowing through the sacred precincts, as in northern Iran temple complex of Adur Gushnasp.

    With changing times, when the likes of you ruined Zoroastrianism, and made us a refugee people, Zoroastrians bravely faced all torment- In Iran, the sacred Fire, in some places, is still shielded by a very difficult entry through a low door, and housed in a very nondescript building to avoid the prying eyes of Muslims, bent on extinguishing our Fires, and our will to survive.

    Do not waste your time here, we will respond to all your hogwash, every time. I can see through you, trying to twist facts to suit your agenda. Be a little sensitive, and take into account the sentiments and all other elements in the hearts of Zoroastrians.

    Now, very briefly, to the main issue- if this 200 acre land is “developed” into whatever, under non-agricultural table, we will soon have more farmers in the region selling their lands to gain huge monies, and the entire region would become another Vapi. This leaves nothing of what Udvada is today.

    So please stop your nefarious

  • Geve Narielwalla

    Why we should value our religion and heritage.
    This is a link to the buried remains of our Fire Temple, buried beneath a Christian Cathedral in Armenia.
    Please also see the videos of the buried ruin in this link:
    http://jalilnozari.blogspot.com/2008/12/fire-altar-beneath-echmiadzin-cathedral.html

  • Phiroze

    Dear Mr. Geve Narielwalla,

    Thank you for exposing barak’s nefarious activities and limitted warped knowlege of Parsi Zoroastrianism gained from the internet. He claims descendance from a Parsi family but is totally against all Parsi Zoroastrian traditions, customs and rituals. He and his friends has been spreading misinformation on Zoroastrian group @ facebook too. Let us all respond to all his hogwash wherever and whenever we come accross. Thank you once again.

  • farzana

    We have been told by one Mr. Sharbatwalla Khambata that he is an owner of a 500 crore Sharbat Empire… so he can throw his weight around and all the vada dastoors have to go ‘ haanji han Sethjee ‘ with his diktats…
    Well, this is an opportunity for him to see his dream come true… provided first- Paisa feko…Rs. 40 crores only!!

  • Barak Aga

    .
    Mr. Narielwala,
    You behave as if you are the Ayatollah of Udvada.
    You state, “Do not waste your time here …………………”

    But even the tyrants and Ayatollahs find their days are numbered.
    In Tunisia, Egypt, Iran, leaders who have the same character and qualities such as you are facing the wrath of the masses.

    Your time is up now. All you pseudo-orthodox have been thoroughly exposed.

    Now all that the developer of the Udvada plot has to do is present your sleazy ZYNG calendar in court, and your case will fall flat on its face.

  • Contra Dhongi

    Right Farzana, The ofte repeated motto of WAPIZ has been “DHARAM PEHLE PAISO PACCHI” i.e. Religion gets precedence over money. Let us see how avid they are in their motto being placed in practice.
    Thanks.

  • Barak Aga

    .
    Dear Mr. Narielwalla,

    Thank you very much for the link to the website.
    I had already visited it, a long time back, and I also have a copy of the web page.

    It is pertinent to note that this Probable Fire Temple lies in Armenia, which was and is a Christian country.

    It was constructed by Yazdegard II, during his proselytising campaign against Christian Armenians, and was not constructed in the times of Zarathustra.

    If you accept the construction of this temple as “Zoroastrianism”, then surely you also have to accept the fact of conversion, and in this case forcible conversion to Zoroastrianism.

  • Firoz Mistry

    Dear Dinyar,

    Thank you for efforts to research the Udvada land issue and coming up with possible options.

    Whereas your first option could yield results, I think it will take a lot of time during which the land would be transformed (trees cut down etc).and destroyed. How is the land owner cutting down trees when there is a stay order?

    I think the second option is the only way to go. I had made a similar suggestion last November (see letter attached below) that we set up a land trust to purchase this land and maintain it in perpetuity. This is quite common here in the USA to protect land from development.

    Rupees 40 crores seems like a lot of money but in today’s environment it should be very doable by getting a combination of trusts and high networth individuals to contribute to a fund for this very worthwhile goal.

    The trust should be set up with strict rules to maintain the land in its agricultural or wild state and not start building houses and buildings as we have so regrettably done with the Doongerwadi lands in Bombay.

    I shall be glad to work with you and others in this worthwhile effort to set up a trust to buy and maintain the land. Please run this idea by the proper authorities and people in Bombay to see their response.

    (I wonder if the Parsi Khabar site has a mechanism to exchange email addresses in a confidential manner. Site moderator, please inform us how.)

    Thank you again for your efforts.

    Sincerely,
    Firoz Mistry

    fmistry 18 November 2010 at 1:12 am #
    The loss of these lands behind the Atash Behram would indeed be a tragedy. I remember visiting the temple every December with my family and having a great time in the laid-back surroundings (compared to the constant bustle of Bombay).

    I am frustrated to hear only hand-wringing and pleas to the powers-that-be to help us. Why do we need to do so? We are a community of industrialists, professionals and generally well-to-do persons. Plus we have a Parsi Panchayet which controls countless crores of rupees.

    Is it too much to expect that we all get together and buy out this land-owner and then set up a trust to take care of this land and keep it in its natural state in perpetuity. The article says that the land was bought for about Rs40 crore. Can our community not raise an Rs100 crore fund and form a trust to buy this landowner out?

    It is sad that we lack the leadership in our community to do such a simple task. We all want to moan and groan, call others names (corrupt, evil, etc) but will not take matters in hand and resolve this issue.

    Where is the leadership of the Bombay Parsi Panchayet? Where is the leadership of the the Tatas, the Jeejebhoys, the Camas, the Petits, and all those illustrious families who built the community and the city?

    Whether it is the Iranshah in Udvada or the future of the community (intermarriage, religious education of our children, the sorry state of some of our colonies, the corruption in our institutions, the lack of initiative and the pursuit of the easy life, etc etc), we have to stop whining and grab the problem and solve it. We have to stop this petty and selfish infighting and solve these problems and save our community.

    If you agree, please share this with your family and friends. We will always be a small community but we can continue to do great things. Better days are ahead, but only if we work together.

    Firoz Mistry

  • Barak Aga

    .
    A very good suggestion from Ms. Farzana.

    Let us see one of these worthies, “saviours of the community”, dip in to their OWN pockets and buy out the Udvada developer.

  • Rustom Jamasji

    Mr Aga is either devoid of history or is trying to manuplate it.

    Armenia was a zoroastrian state that later became the first christian nation due to the political pressures and the thirst of the missoneries to convert all else into christianity. These missoneries backstabbed the persians and zoroastrins after taking refuge in zoroastrians lands when rome was against them. Thus the diff between the byzantines n nesotorians.
    In any case armenia being zoroastrians had anahita as their divinity and with pressures and various strategies to convert the Zoroastrians started labeling Marespand adurbad as blackest of black and Kushro anushirwan as being devoid of god as they resitsed the christian strategies.

    With time, presuure and strategies adapted small pokets of populace still maintained their zoroastrian roots.
    St Vartan the arch saint of Armenia had proclaimed to burn down mobeds and agiaries and stick skin of mobeds on agiary walls before cleansing the place to a church!!!!

    Zoroatsrian divinities were hijacked and given a new name, fame and story…christmas being an apt example

    The same strategies were used on zoroastrians …by the missoneries in india in the 18th and 19th centuries…and are still used in india to convert thre populace with total disregard to history…and facts…

    Anyone who knows history knows that it cannot be zoroastrian borrowing anahita from armenian , as it was zoroastrian divinity or mazdayasni in fact…and pockets of armenians maintaining their zoroastrian roots and thus divintiy.

    Unless of course mr barak is a disguise to pursue the goal of the byzantines …after all the thirst to christianise or islamise the world sees persians zoroastrian lands in war 2010 year hence…

  • Geve Narielwalla

    I am no Ayatolla, I am not even a pseudo Traditionalist, Mr Barak Aga, but you are very very obviously a baiter; you have absolutely no good feelings or good manners, your kind go around bad mouthing and biting as I can clearly see.

    Can’t you see, it’s only a very generous owner of this site that allows your comments.

    Prophets of doom have always failed.

    Do you ever do any good in your life? Have you any nice to say about anything. What are you achieving with this attitude.

    When I said “you are wasting your time here” I meant here or anywhere else, as you seem to have nothing but bad to say about Zoroastrians.

    Are you now saying the traditionalists days are numbered? But Zoroastrians will remain? I am most happy about that.

    I am laughing at your obvious immaturity and I pity the likes of you, you are some kind of a blinded person, arrogant, distasteful and totally spoilt.

    Have you paused to think you are you achieving nothing by this virulent bad mouthing of things that do not concern you.

    But how about finding out how you will deal with your own self as you grow more foul, and get it back when your fortunes are low.

    I live in a country where you would be legally hauled up for racist comments against persons of another community. it’s lucky you are where you are.

    Grow up Mr Barak Aga.

    As far as I am concerned I will not respond further to your obvious repartee. You can continue howling like a wolf in the dark of the Russian steppes.

    Good bye, and I wish you the best for your own sake.

    Geve Narielwalla

  • Geve Narielwalla

    Buying up the land under dispute will only be a temporary solution.
    The farmers of this region are obviously waiting for the outcome of this issue.

    Across India, certain regions get earmarked for urban development, like Vapi nearby, or innumerable other centers, like Noida and Ghaziabad near New Delhi. Land prices skyrocket and the once farming communities give way to urban and factory sprawls.

    We need to think of the future, not just this one case, and persuade the Gujarat government to declare the entire Udvada region as a Heritage site on the basis of it’s religious value.

    Wherer are all our leaders gone?

    Geve Narielwalla

  • Geve Narielwalla

    Mr Dinyar Patel. Please keep up the good work. Kindly read my comment s above.
    We need more people like your self.

    Geve Narielwalla

  • rajeshchouhan

    Thank you feroze mistry and dinyar patel for your positive approach.as a well wisher of parsis i would like to say only this is not a time of arguments but parsis shoud come togeather and do something.instead of criticising one another.parsis need more dinyar patel and need people who support dinyar patels endeavour.
    wellwisher.

  • Firoz Mistry

    Hi Rajesh,

    Thank you for your good wishes. I agree with you thoroughly that we need to work together and not engage in futile and esoteric arguments which do not solve any problems. The problems are very solvable if we all had a resonably open mind, wished to work with others for the good of our community and suppress our egos.

    May be we can start showing this on this email stream. To all on this stream, please give your positive suggestion as to how the Udvada land problem can be resolved to the benefit of all. We cannot blame the current land owner for his plans, but we can give him/her a reasonable option and hope that he/she will reciprocate.

    The problem is not in others but in ourselves. Let us show that we have inherited the community spirit which our forefathers showed in the past centuries. Can we? Shall we?

    Thank you.

    Sincerely,
    Firoz Mistry

  • Barak Aga

    .
    I did not say that “the traditionalists days are numbered”.

    It is the pseudo-orthodox, and those who wear religion on their sleeves who are suffering the consequences of their own dishonesty.

    Case in point, the Cama Athornan Institute headed by Dasturji Firoz Kotwal, which he himself laments is now almost empty.

    The “Dokhmas” where corpses walk out and are surreptitiously buried.

    The Fire Temples, many of which are in dire financial straits.

    On Armenia
    The native Armenian name for the country is ‘Hayk’.

    The name has traditionally been derived from Hayk (????), the legendary patriarch of the Armenians and a great-great-grandson of Noah, who according to Moses of Chorene defeated the Babylonian king Bel in 2492 BC, and established his nation in the Ararat region

    Several states flourished in the area of Greater Armenia, including :
    1) the Hittite Empire (at the height of its power), Mitanni (South-Western historical Armenia), and
    2) Hayasa-Azzi (1500–1200 BC). Then, the Nairi people (12th to 9th centuries BC) and

    3) the Kingdom of Urartu (1000–600 BC) successively established their sovereignty over the Armenian Highland.

    Each of the aforementioned nations and tribes participated in the ethnogenesis of the Armenian people.

    To cut a long story short, you claim that Armenia was Zoroastrian, would you allow an Armenian in to your fold?

    Suppose an Armenian wished to enter a “Fire Temple”, would he be allowed.

    Also, if you say that Armenians were Zoroastrians, kindly explain the assertion that is made that there are only 2 types of Zoroastrians, 1) Parsi and 2) Irani.

    Who is correct, those who say that Armenians were Zoroastrians, or those who say that there are only 2 types of Zoroastrians, 1) Parsi and 2) Irani?

  • Barak Aga

    .
    Mr Chouhan,

    How will folks who have themselves developed residential projects in and around the Pak Iransha, confront the developer of this project?

    If “Parsis” have themselves built hotels and apartment complexes in Udvada, how can they oppose others?

    There are advertisements in Jame Jamshed for sale of row houses near Pak Iransha.

  • Barak Aga

    .
    Mr. Firoz Mistry asks “Where is the leadership of the the Tatas, the Jeejebhoys, the Camas, the Petits, and all those illustrious families who built the community a………….”

    From the pseudo-orthodox I understand that Mr. J. R. D. Tata’s navjote was not performed.

    On one of the websites a pseudo-orthodox gentleman was even proud of the fact that Mr. J. R. D. Tata was stopped from entering a fire temple.

    Now why turn to the Tata’s for help?

    One gentleman who posts on this website often gripes about the “Tata, Godrejs and Wadia’s money power”.

    In regard to the navjotes, the gentleman states “it is all about money power”.

    Why would they be inclined to financially help you, if all they got in return was ingratitude?

  • Barak Aga

    .
    Mr. Narielvalla,
    I have not asked you to destroy fire temples.

    I have only quoted Mary Boyce’s research on the cult of fire and Fire Temples.

    Nothing more.

    Also I see that conducting civilised debate is beyond the likes of you.
    You are all to quick to dismiss anything that does not suit you as “hogwash”

    If Fire Temples are a part of the Zoroastrian faith, please inform us of any Fire Temple from the time of Zarathustra.

    I have an open mind.

  • Behram Aga

    Hello Editors, you mention “Note: All comments on this issue need to be pertinent to the issue at hand. Any comments that denigrate into personal attacks and name calling shall not be published.”
    Geve Narielwalla has vilified Barak Aga by personal attacks, and has exhibited his character and mental makeup, and you are silent spectators.
    Put your money where your mouth is and stop adopting double standards.
    By the way who the hell is this Narielwalla who considers himself qualified to make comments and sit in judgement on other people and their views.
    It is in his own interest to stop engaging in such filthy comments as he can get it back in his own coin. He is entitled to his views and so also are others, there is no need to resort to character assassination just like the scumbags of WAPIZ do in the Free Press Journal.
    Instead of advising Barak Aga to grow up this guy should go to school learn some manners, decency, and himself grow up to be a bit matured.
    It is indeed good news that he has decided to shut up, and keep his trap shut and not respond to Barak Aga.
    Don’t try to browbeat others that won’t work.
    Behram Aga.

  • Behram Aga

    Editors Note: All comments on this issue need to be pertinent to the issue at hand. Any comments that denigrate into personal attacks and name calling shall not be published.
    Are you kidding, you have double standards.
    Geve Narielwalla may be a relative or someone special that is why he has a free run to denigrate Barak Aga. That is why you deleted my views.
    Please keep it up, and show your true colors.

  • Shaimak Madon

    Farzana is absloutely right. If the Amdavadi is true to Zoroastrian faith and wants to be rememered as a “SAVIOUR” he should do something concrete and buy over the land. At best we can rename Udwada to “New Khamhat”. That will be better homage to our faith than just thrusting WAPIZ page every fortnight which in most hoseholds finds its way in rubbish can without being read.

  • Geve Narielwalla

    The Editor,

    I would please request all my comments here be kindly deleted, thank you. Please respect my wishes.

    I realize my mistake of writing frankly and candidly, but have been wrongly accused of denigrating some persons here, although I placed my views here strongly as our system of fire temples was brought into question(!!!), clearly uncalled for when our the Iranshah is under such unpredicted pressure.
    I was called an Ayatollah of Udvada!

    Then, we have another respondent whose letters are simply from a person beyond my perception of what a decent human being should be.

    I am sorry I spent time here, with faith in my views being understood here.
    I fear I have to disassociate here, from respondents for whom the less said the better, therefore please delete my comments here.

  • Behram Aga

    I wish you all the best Mr. Dinyar Patel in your endeavour, and effort.
    If the law is on our side then there is nothing to worry about. But laws can be changed and have been in the past.
    There are 130 or so Parsis residing in Udwada, and come election time politicians will be concerned about votes and not sentiments, which needs to be taken note of.
    Besides since this is an agricultural plot, what prevents the owner from building farmhouses and sell them, to interested buyers. In and around Delhi there are any number of such farmhouses. Would that not be a legal act? So also is it not possible for the owner to pursue cottage industry, on his land which does not violate the law such as poultry farming or such other thing.
    If the value of the plot is Rs. 40 crores, what makes anyone so sure that the owner will be too happy to sell the plot at that price? Isn’t it pure wishful thinking?
    Parsis are prone to seeing ghosts at their whims and fancies, and go hysteric. This is yet another case that the fire will get polluted, and the Atash Behram will be destroyed.
    When the centre or museum at Udwada was to be created Parsis particularly the WAPIZ type went berserk and ran amok, protesting about it. When the opening was delayed twice or thrice they were ecstatic and with glee, proclaimed it a CHAMATKAR and published it in the press. But once the place was opened to public they put their tails between their legs and scoot, and have shut up.
    There are any number of Atash Behrams and Agiyaris in Mumbai which are cheek by jowl to other buildings and various business activities.
    Aslaji Agiyari is in a gully, and a few feet away from residents who are non-Parsi and various business establishments. So is Anjuman Atash Behram.
    Banaji Atash Behram has a building in its compound and a Hall which is for hire for various functions to people.
    Nothing untoward has ever happened to the fire or the structure.
    So let not Parsis lose their marbles and run amok, evaluate the pros and cons, of the situation.
    Eventually the matter will go to court and that will take years to be decided. Hope Parsis join the issue and fight it out.
    Behram Aga.

  • Barak Aga

    .
    Dear Mr. Narielvala,

    For your information. People who stay in glass houses should not …………….
    ——————————————————————————————————-
    Move to redevelop Cama Baug may trigger row

    Nauzer K Bharucha I TNN

    Mumbai: With its spacious open-air otla and several bungalow-like structures including a fire temple,Cama Baug in Grant Road has been a landmark venue for joyous occasions for generations of Parsi-Iranis for 140 years now.

    Countless weddings and navjote receptions have taken place in this precinct and guests from other communities too have experienced the lavish Parsi feasts here.

    Now,a controversial decision by the trustees of Cama Baug to redevelop the prime one-acre property and use the open space to construct two residential high-rise buildings is likely set off an acrimonious debate within the community.

    Trustee Hoshang Wania justified the project ,stating that the development has to happen

    Conservation architect Pankaj Joshi,however,warned that the Cama Baug complex had been listed as a Grade-2 structure under heritage regulations.

    They cannot construct anything here without taking the approval of the Mumbai Heritage Committee, he said.

  • Geve Narielwalla

    Dear Editor,

    Since my request to delete my comments here has not yet been responded to, and readers here might wrongly assume I have been “silenced,” far far from it!

    Firstly, my very sincere and profound apologies, I am repeatedly ready to proffer to all those contributing here, starting with Dinyar Patel, and all the rest who have been making constructive suggestions, for continuing to respond in a manner that on the immediate surface seems not productive, but I am afraid, I have to. This response is to support the good things said here!

    I too can ask who in hell’s name is Mr Behram Aga? His one sided arbitrary response clearly shows this man for what he is. He can go fish.

    Has this man absolutely no intelligence? HE FOUND IT THICK TO UNDERSTAND I WAS USING STRONG LANGUAGE (WHICH NOW HAS BEEN TURNED AGAINST ME)……TO GET ACROSS TO A PERSON, THE OTHER AGA-BARAK, WHO QUESTIONS OUR BASIC RELIGIOUS ETHOS AND THE VERY FOUNDATION OF OUR FAITH, BY STATING THAT TEMPLES ARE UN ZOROASTRIAN!!!

    My continued “harsh” response now, is, basically, to support the cause that the environment of Sacred Iranshah be left unscarred, BY DEALING WITH THIS DUO OF TWO B’s-Barak and Behram, BENT ON CREATING SOME DISTRACTION, BEFORE TURNING GOODY GOOD AND PRAISING THE OTHERS HERE FOR THEIR CONTINUED PRODUCTIVE WORK……IT WAS LIKE THE BRITISH WHO DESTROYED THEIR ENEMY AND THEN GAVE THEM A STATE FUNERAL……THE BASIC ISSUE REMAINS HERE, AND IT BEOMES A INTEGRAL PART OF THE ISSUE HERE AS OUR SYSTEM OF FIRE TEMPLES HAS BEEN CALLED INTO QUESTION(!!!!) AND TO REMAIN SILENT TO SUCH VERY DEVIOUS KNOW- ALL AND HIS MISGUIDED SUPPORTER, SOME MORE TELLING BECOMES ESSENTIAL!

    Here I quote from Barack’S first response:

    “However, if the protest is on the excuse that ” This is, after all, the holiest Zoroastrian temple in the world”, it is untenable.

    Fire Temples are not a part of the Zoroastrian faith. There is nothing Zoroastrian about Fire Temples.” !!!!!!(exclamation marks my own.)

    Please note, this last quoted sentence from Barak’s first mail:

    “THERE IS NOTHING ZOROASTRIAN ABOUT FIRE TEMPLES.”

    My responses were based on this, and unfortunately we have Barak’s champion in this Mr Behram (who is Mr Behram?)

    I also took time to explain that religious practices evolve, that the Greeks did observe we had worship in the open, and temples are a later development, just like the Christian Cross was iconized 2 centuries after Christ, but further asked Barak how this is appropriate in today’s context.

    Basically, I urge other readers here to understand this was not a personal attack on Barak or Behrams of this world, but TO EXPRESS MY UTTER DISBELIEF THAT CONTRIBUTORS HERE QUESTION SOME VERY VERY BASIC RELIGIOUS PRACTICES OF ZOROASTRAINISM, NAMELY THE STAND TAKEN THAT “THERE IS NOTHING ZOROASTRIAN ABOUT TEMPLES.”

    IN ANY CASE, BY THE BY, IT IS NOT THE TEMPLE STRUCTURE THAT IS BEING SOUGHT TO BE PROTECTED HERE, BUT THE HOLY FIRE ENSHRINED IN THIS STRUCTURE!

    AND, UDVADA SHOULD NOT BECOME ANOTHER VAPI! IS THIS TOO DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND? DEAR AGA’s?

    Besides, I urged Barak in conclusion:

    “Do not waste your time here, we will respond to all your

    hogwash, every time. I can see through you, trying to twist

    facts to suit your agenda. Be a little sensitive, and take into

    account the sentiments and all other elements in the hearts

    of Zoroastrians.”

    To question THE VERY relevance etc etc of our sacred FIRE TEMPLES, that these are unZoroastrian, IS FIT TO BE CALLED HOGWASH; IT IS LIKE TELLING MUSLIMS THERE IS NOTHING ISLAMIC ABOUT MOSQUES (I AM QUOTING BARAK.) BECAUSE ONLY THE KAABA IS? BY LOGICAL EXTENSION.

    When in his response Mr Barak called me an Ayatollah of Udvada and FURTHER QUOTED A VERY DAMAGING POINTER , AND I QUOTE HIM AGAIN:

    “Now all that the developer of the Udvada plot has to do is present your sleazy ZYNG calendar in court, and your case will fall flat on its face.”

    If by a thread of mails and the other ways to send this information this matter of the calender is shown to whatever courts, it would not be very supportive to our case.

    I hope by now wise persons here have realized why I took the matter further to the point where i had to question this man’s full profile……….if this man, Barak, can say things that are likely to damage the cause of this community, in however trifle or significant way……..why should I stop at a decent goody good response……….here is a person who definitely wishes to harm ………..please read his first 2 responses again, and you would all understand my strong and harsh responses.

    I am reminded here of the peoples who came out of a dessert and ruthlessly destroyed a civilized people, ably supported by a renegade priest from the latter, an act I see in microcosm here. The two Aga’s.

    “There is nothing Zoroastrian about temples.”

    Geve Narielwalla

  • Geve Narielwalla

    As for Mr behram aga, he bears the name of our Angel of Victory, who vanquishes evil and assures the victory of good; here we have a namesake who supports a person who questions our beliefs and the very relevance of Temples in our religious system, (please see the first mail from Barak) with a vicious verbal assault on my person, then goes on to be pally with the rest here to support their cause. That mr behram is double talk.

    You further give irrelevant examples of other temple conditions today, irrelevant because of the very obvious reason, several wrongs do not make anything right.

    I will fight you at every response from you. Be sure of that, mr behram aga………because I am not distracting, but opposing the detractors!

    Geve narielwalla

  • farzana

    //TO GET ACROSS TO A PERSON, THE OTHER AGA-BARAK, WHO QUESTIONS OUR BASIC RELIGIOUS ETHOS AND THE VERY FOUNDATION OF OUR FAITH, BY STATING THAT TEMPLES ARE UN ZOROASTRIAN!!!//

    Dear Geve, relax sir. As i read it, Barak has only stated that there was no temple culture in early Zoros and that early Zoro priest used to offer prayers in presence of TEMPORARY fire built on artificial mounds. NOW THIS IS A FACT attested by archeological findings…No where has Barak said he wants to do away with all fire temples …I think he is trying to say, just as early Zoroastrians accepted change as it happened and mounded their culture/religion accordingly, we should , in present times do the same. All the emotional outburst regarding Udvada Fire temple is kind of unwarranted…

  • Phiroze

    Dear Geve Narielwalla,

    I am with you. Thank you for showing Behram Aga his double speak. Not only is barak spreading inflamatory misinformation about Fire temples but he and his friend one Homee Dalal are inviting and instigating people to demolish the mumbai dokhmas on facebook zoroastrian group. When I exposed them, they threatened to complain to the cyber cell.

  • Rathestar.

    Mr. Phiroze,
    I do not think that anybody in his right senses want to demolish Dokhmas but at the same time your coterie cannot compel others to follow a failed method. Your coterie wants to curb the freedom of others by denying prayer facility to those opting for alternate methods and to that nefarious end even issued fatwas against noble priests who offer prayers for departed souls.If those who are comfortable with rotting of their corpses, none should prevent that but simultaneously learn to respect feelings of others who think on lines based on what they perceive.
    WAPIZ and “High’ Priests are not masters of souls of every Zoroastrian Parsee. So stop being dictatorial.
    Earlier in the morning in another post, you said that YOU WERE NOT ORTHODOX. And now what are you,an orthodox or a deformist?
    Why obstinate persons like you cannot realise that end to all controversies lies in allowing others to practice the Religion in the manner they want to. Mind you, I am not referring to encouraging blanket conversions of anybody and everybody, but only to alternative for practice of disposal of corpses of Parsee Zoroastrians.
    There is a saying in English “LIVE AND LET LIVE” for which persons like you have scant regards.

  • Geve Narielwalla

    Thank you Phiroze and Farzana.

    Farzana, I did not disagree with Barak, about how our worship rituals evolved.

    In my first response to Barak’s mail, I said the following and I quote:

    “Zoroastrianism has always considered holding all the elements of nature as sacred, and have worshiped God with a blazing fire in the open, as attested by the Greeks, later we had huge complex (read plural) of buildings, where the sacred Fire was tended by a huge retinue of priests, and the sacred area spread over several acres, with a lake, or river flowing through the sacred precincts, as in northern Iran temple complex of Adur Gushnasp.

    With changing times, when the likes of you ruined Zoroastrianism, and made us a refugee people, Zoroastrians bravely faced all torment- In Iran, the sacred Fire, in some places, is still shielded by a very difficult entry through a low door, and housed in a very nondescript building to avoid the prying eyes of Muslims, bent on extinguishing our Fires, and our will to survive.”

    But things evolving into new developments, new systems, is one thing, and preserving what is seen as precious and of heritage value is also tied to this.

    IN INDIA, DEVELOPMENT AND MODERNIZATION, ARE EXCUSES TO DO AWAY WITH, LITERARY WIPE OUT, THE ENVIRONMENT AND EXISTING STRUCTURES OF EVERLASTING NOSTALGIC AND HERITAGE VALUE.

    IN PUNE, FOR EXAMPLE, THE BEAUTIFUL, GREEN AND WELL LAID OUT KOREGAON PARK, WITH PICTURESQUE HOUSES WITH WELL LAID OUT GARDENS IS NOW A CONCRETE DUMP. ALL IN THE NAME OF DEVELOPEMNT!

    HOWEVER, HERITAGE PRESERVATION CULTURE IS DOING IT’S BEST, IN THE FACE OF THIS BLACK MONEY BASED CONCRETE REAL ESTATE BUILDERS SHARKS AND THEIR SLEAZY SHIFTY EYED ESTATE AGENTS, VULTURES OUT TO MAKE A FAST BUCK.

    ALMOST EVERY FLASHY AND HIGH PRICED HOUSING COMPLEX IN PUNE IS DUG UP WITH VERY DEEP BORE WELLS FOR WATER, OR EVERY HOME HAS TO HAVE OWN INVERTER FOR POWER, WE ALL KNOW THIS.

    SAME CAN BE SAID OF CONCRETE JUNGLES OF MUMBAI, OR DUBAI, OR LONDON, NOT EUROPE! TRAVEL THROUGH INTERIOR EUROPE AND ONE IS AMAZED HOW NO CONCRETE EYESORES DOT THE LANDSCAPE. TOURISTS SAILING DOWN THE DANUBE WILL SEE ONLY OPEN GREEN, CASTLES, MANORS, QUAINT VILLAGES, ASSIDOUSLY PRESERVED.

    SIMILARLY, HERE IN AUCKLAND, WHERE I LIVE FOR THE PAST 10 YEARS, THE GREATEST STRESS IS LAID ON PRESERVING THE LUSH GREEN ENVIRONMENT. EVERY “ENCROACHMENT” ON OUTLYING OPEN LAND, CITY EXPANSION, IS PERMITTED PROVIDED EVERY HOME IS SET IN LAWN, GARDEN AND TREES. NO HIGH RISE BUILDINGS ARE ALLOWED. Every outlying suburb is like living in a farm town, fresh air and greenery and quiet!

    Udvada village and region (and many such regions in India, now being actively ‘invaded’) falls within this environmental and heritage value, that would be better for all of us if preserved, in a concerted effort to stop the onslaught of concrete or commercial invasion.

    Presently, the far larger local (non-Z.) population of Udvada village is never seen to interfere with or treat the Iranshah Temple precincts and the heritage value homes of the few Parsis, in any devaluing manner.

    With the exception of some encroachment by way of high rise buildings and hotels’ expansion, the village still maintains some degree of quaint 18th century ambiance.

    This commercialization of the 200 acre plot with a far larger number of row houses, will bring in an influx of all sorts of city dwellers looking for life style holiday homes, that also ensure a nearby shopping mall for easy buying, more cars and noise, new money showing off, and admittedly these new people will not know of the infinitely incalculable religious and heritage value of our temple there.

    IT WILL NOT STOP WITH THIS ONE 200 ACRE PLOT. MORE ESTATE SHARKS WILL COME SNIFFING FOR MORE LAND, THEIR DEVIOUS MINDS FILLED WITH DREAMS OF MORE FAST MONEY. AND, FARMERS THERE LOOKING FOR PROFITS ON THEIR ANCESTRAL FARMING LANDS WILL LOOK FOR QUICK SALES AND EASY LIFE. NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT, EXCEPT THAT VERY SOON UDVADA WILL BE A TYPICAL CONCRETE JUNGLE. VAPI IS AN EXAMPLE CLOSE NEARBY.

    WE CANNOT JUST CLOSE OUR EYES AND TAKE ALL CHANGE FOR GRANTED.

    THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO GUARANTEE WHATSOEVER, GIVEN EXAMPLES OF DEVELOPMENT IN INDIA, THAT THE ORIGINAL AMBIANCE OF UDVADA WILL BE ENSURED WITHIN AN ENCROACHING URBANIZATION.

    AS YOU SEE, I HAVE GIVEN A SECULAR VIEW, WITH EXAMPLES OF HOW CERTAIN SOCIETIES, IN INNER EUROPE AND AUCKLAND, AS EXAMPLES, WHO HAVE SUCCESSFULLY PRESERVED THEIR ENVIRONMENT.

    NO WAY HERE IN UDVADA. THE BUILDING LOBBY IS THE BIGGEST CONTRIBUTOR TO POLITICAL CULTURE IN INDIA, SO BEWARE!

    PLEASE FORGIVE MY BOLD TYPE, I AM NOT SHOUTING, BUT PLEADING THAT UDVADA BE SAVED.

    Geve Narielwalla

  • Behram Aga

    Dear editor,
    You have done a wise thing by ignoring the wish of Narielwalla as he wanted to wipe out all the evidence and statements on record.
    Here are some of his blah, blah, blah.
    “Barak Aga I do not find it worthwhile to waste my time with a person such yourself who twist things to suit their purpose.”
    Then why are you still wasting your time and energy after Barak Aga. Can’t you make up your mind?

    As for your crude remark “He can go fish” I can do whatever I please and I couldn’t care less about people who have loose tongue, who don’t mean what they say and cannot honour their own words.

    Narielwalla and his ilk can only resort to personal vilification, character assassination, and to belittle people who differ from their views, but WAPIZ is miles ahead in this field. They have neither the courage nor the qualification to counter the issues.

    Behram Aga.

  • Geve Narielwalla

    Mr Behram Aga,

    For your kind information I wrote to the Editor, in a personal mail, that I have changed my mind, do not remove my comments, as I would like to counter every mischief and misinformation that people give here.

    I am not after Barak Aga, read my immediate mail above your last one.

    I did not dispute Barak’s claim that temples were not part of the original Zoroastrian practices, rather temples did develop, and are here and now a reality, since several centuries; and that quoting this when our Udvada Temple and environment are under threat of possible rampant urbanization, quoting that temples are un Zoroastrian, is out of context.

    As for “go fish,” this is a perfectly good term to address people, used across the world, when others talk irrelevant or nonsense.

    I am sorry to point out, you do not even have your head on your shoulders……..you address your letter to: “Dear editor,” then go on in your fifth para to say “As for your crude remark…………” make up your mind when you say “your crude remarks,” are you addressing me or the Editor?

    Yor further say, Nariewalla and his ilk etc etc……….but if you read my last response, find me any thing there which is ” personal vilification, character assasination, etc etc.”

    In fact, I would love to win you over, it is a waste of time and awful negativity, to do character assasination etc etc, Mr Behram, which you now accuse me of for want of any effective defense.

    I have not reached the age of 65, living in a perfectly well ordered and well mannered society, in a foreign land, to be seen to be targeting one Mr Behram Aga, somewhere in this world, or Mr Barak Aga, for useless unproductive character assasination etc etc.

    Far from it, my intentions are amply clear…..somehow our heritage and religion can be saved, and if the Behrams and Barak Agas are on my side, even better.

    But that may be wishful thinking because people are not the same, have differing views, and sometimes, unfortunately, hidden agendas, personal grudges, lack of vision, or lack of seeing a full picture, or plainly no love lost for their own people.

    Remember, Dastur Dinyar, becomes Salman i Farsi, Solomom of the Persians(!!!!) Solomon !!!! , instrumental in the utter destruction of Zoroastrian Iran.

    Geve Narielwalla

    p.s. If you have something with WAPIZ, why don’t you say that straight to their face, instead of writing here?

  • Phiroze

    Mr. Rathestar Hansotia, you were as much a part of that discussion so don’t pretend otherwise. I advocate Live and let live and am not an orthodox. No one is forced to use the Khurshednasini method. All that is being said is if you want to use some other method do the prayers at some other place of your choice which is absolutely fair. The system has not failed My friend you and all others including me have failed the system. You cannot keep the cake and eat it too.

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