The Parsi community laid the metaphorical building blocks that made the city of Mumbai. On December 27, the World Zoroastrian Congress — a conference that brings together Parsis from across the world to discuss its culture and the issues the community faces — will return to the city after a gap of 23 years.
By Kevin Lobo Indian Express
World Zoroastrian Congress started in 1960 and the first event was held in Tehran.
Maneck Davar, honorary secretary of the organising committee says, “It is not a religious gathering. It is a meeting place for Parsis from across the world to network, discuss how we need to increase our dwindling numbers, recognise contribution by people from the community, among other things.”
The venue for the event is decided by an international committee. However, so far, there have been nine editions of the Congress. Davar says they want to hold the event every four years now at various locations across the world. Mumbai has hosted four of these events in (1964, 1978, 1985 and 1990), and the last one was hosted in Dubai.
President Pranab Mukherjee is slated to open the five-day event which will be held at the National Sports Club of India.
The event will include panel discussions, speeches and performances. The highlights include a ballet, which traces how Zoroastrians came to India, by danseuse Mallika Sarabhai, a tribute to Adi Marzban’s plays and a performance by Shiamak Davar’s troupe.
Davar says, “This is the first time we want a larger Indian audience to be a part of the event. Passes will be available for non-Parsis, too.”
Among the events that lead up to the Congress will be a display of the Cylinder of Cyrus the Great, considered to be the oldest declaration of human rights, and an exhibition — Across Oceans and Flowing Silk: From Canton to Bombay 18th-20th Centuries — which covers the story of Parsi trade with China.
Davar, who attended the last Zoroastrian World Congress in Dubai, says, “There are very few Parsis in Dubai. The one in Mumbai will have 1,500 delegates, which is a larger number because there is more support for the community here. Zoroastrians have been part of the city’s fabric, and have contributed to the development of the city.”
The next Zoroastrian World Congress will be held in Singapore in 2017.