Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

HPY: Grooming Parsi youth for college life

Dubai resident Mahfrin Wadia could have travelled anywhere for her summer holidays, but the 16-year-old Parsi had decided months ago that she would spend all of May in Mumbai. Wadia finished her Class 10 exams last month, and is now in the city for the Holiday Programme for Youth (HPY) — an annual month-long activity camp for Parsi youth organised by the Bombay Parsi Punc-hayet.

Launched in 1987 as a short career guidance workshop for Class 10 pass-outs, the programme is now almost a rite of passage for Mumbai’s Parsis, who learn to prepare for college life through activities that include everything from talent festivals to sports and personality development.

In its 25th year, HPY now includes youth from across India and also cities such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha.

“All my senior friends had told me that this programme was not to be missed, and it has lived up to its expectations,” said Wadia, one of the 192 students who signed up for HPY at Charni Road’s BJPC Institute.

“Also, Dubai does not have too many Parsis, so this is where I get to make friends with others from my community.”

Getting Parsi youth to mingle with each other was one of the key agendas for the organisers, and the punchayet has recorded at least 14 marriages among alumni who met at HPY camps in the past 25 years. 

“But the main idea of the programme is to offer students an idea of college so they can cross the threshold from school to college more confidently,” said Azmin Mistry, a schoolteacher, alumna and now coordinator of HPY.

From May 1 to 28, the programme’s schedule includes career counselling, visits to old-age homes, organising a blood donation drive, classes on religion, talks by prominent Parsis as well as a host of talent-based competitions, sports and fun games.

At the end of the month, a valedictory function will be organised for the batch and organisers will crown a ‘Mr and Miss HPY’.

“I had been waiting for this programme all year and it’s the best fun I’ve ever had,” said Tehemton Khairabadi, 16, a Parel resident who is trying to be on his best behaviour in the hope of being selected to join next year’s organising team.