Parsi Punchayet dangles carrots to lure children into priesthood


April 16, 2013

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The title of the article by DNA India sets a very negative tone. That’s our opinion here at Parsi Khabar.

To save the community’s rituals from becoming extinct, the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) has decided to first save those who perform them, the priests.

By Ashutosh Shukla | DNA India

With more and more children in the priestly line — the only one whose members can be priests — not finding priesthood an attractive career, the BPP has come out with cash incentive and preferences in its housing schemes.

Lately, there haven’t been many people interested in becoming priests, or Mobeds and Boiwallas as they are called depending on the ritual they perform. The number, as compared to 50 years ago, has reduced to one-tenth across the country. As of now, the tentative figure is 350 priests all over India.

The fall has been largely blamed on the hard, austere life one has to lead while performing complex rituals. What adds to the problem is the meagre money priests get.

“Most priests in the community are either middle-aged or old. Very few young have taken up priesthood. Earlier, the first son would become a priest while others would pursue secular careers. But due to lack of respect for the noble profession and little money, children don’t want to become priests anymore,” said Muncherji Cama, BPP trustee.

To ensure they can manage their livelihood, children studying at the city’s two Madressas will get Rs2,500 a month into their bank account and Rs7,500 will be given to their family.

Also, once a child becomes capable of performing Samporna Navar, he will be given Rs50,000 as a one-time gift. The gift amount will increase to Rs1 lakh once he is qualified to perform the Martab (a higher order ceremony).

Retirement benefits will be Rs10,000 for those Mobeds who have been full-time priests. “It is a good initiative as priests are a neglected lot. While people spend lakhs in Navjot ceremonies, there is little a priest gets,” said Dasturji Khurshed, a high priest at Udvada.