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Gujarat high court dismisses Parsi woman’s plea to worship in fire temple

The Gujarat high court on Friday dismissed a petition filed by a Parsi (Zoroastrian) woman, married to a non-Parsi, seeking permission to enter and worship in the Agiyari ( Zoroastrian fire temple) and attend, in future, the last rites of her aging parents as per the community customs.

By Saeed Khan | Times of India

A three-judge bench refused to direct the trustees of the Agiyari in Valsad district in south Gujarat to permit her entry and to perform rituals. The petitioner’s father is also a trustee of the Agiyari.

The judgment argued that there was no declaration before a competent court that she had continued to follow Zoroastrian religion after her marriage to a non-Parsi. The HC, however, allowed her to obtain such a declaration from a civil court before she could be treated equally by the religious denomination.

A resident of Valsad, Goolrokh Contractor, now, Goolrokh Gupta had married a non-Parsi in 1991. Following her marriage, she was denied entry to religious temple as well as participation in Parsi rituals.

After raising the issue in the community, she approached the high court in 2010 seeking direction to the authorities of the fire temple situated at Mota Pariwad in Valsad as well as to other religious leaders and members of the community to allow her at the Agiyari. As per the community tradition, women who marry non-Parsis are barred from entering Parsi religious places and prohibited from performing certain religious rituals.

When the petition came up for hearing before a single judge, the point was raised that this was in public interest. The judge referred the case to division bench, which referred it further to full bench.

The Three judges – Jayant Patel, Akil Kureshi and Rashmin Chhaya heard the case and dismissed the petition on Friday.