Dinshaw Mehta, chairman, Bombay Parsi Punchayet, was a member of the group that stopped the ceremony held at the Zoroastrian College near Sanjan, Gujarat, on February 19 to make Mikhail Chistyakov, a 48-year old Russian, a Zoroastrian priest. Mehta said he opposes conversions because during its 1,300-year history in India, Parsi-Zoroastrians have never allowed the practice.
Interviewed by Manoj Nair / DNA
Why did you oppose the initiation ceremony of Chistyakov?
He (Chistyakov) came to India on a tourist visa and joined an institution. He had not just converted to Zoroastrianism, but was being trained as a priest. Conversions are not permitted in our religion.
A petition has been filed in the Bombay high court by Chistyakov and Master-Moos saying they should have the freedom to spread the Zoroastrian religion. What are your comments?
We are aware of the petition. She (Master-Moos) is saying that freedom of religion allows her to propagate and spread Zoroastrianism. Let us see what the court rules.
Some groups among the Parsis are saying that Parsi and Zoroastrian are different terms. Please comment.
Parsi and Zoroastrian is the same thing as far as India is concerned. For nearly 1,300 years that they have been in India, Parsis have never allowed conversions.
Are there not Zoroastrian groups in other countries who are not Parsis?
Iran is the only place where there are Zoroastrians. Parsis are the descendents of those Zoroastrians who left Iran for India. Parsi and Zoroastrian are synonyms. One cannot be a Zoroastrian in India unless he or she is a Parsi.