Parsis urge leaders to drop case against ‘rebel’ priests

Bombay Parsi Punchayet, which has already spent Rs 3 crore on litigation, insists on pursuing the case even though many in the community feel the issue could easily be settled out of court.

06-1 The Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) has spent Rs 3 crore from the community’s funds over the past three years to fight a case against two ‘renegade’ priests who perform religious ceremonies for Parsis who choose to be cremated, and navjote for children with non-Parsi fathers. The expenditure has, however, not gone down well with many Parsis, who feel that pursuing the case is a waste of money.

The two priests – Framroze Mirza and Khushroo Madon – were in 2009 banned by the BPP from performing rituals inside Doongerwadi and two BPP-controlled fire temples. Eminent Parsis Jamsheed Kanga and Homi Khushrokhan had challenged the ban on behalf of the two priests. While the high court quashed the ban in 2011, the BPP challenged the decision in the Supreme Court, which appointed a mediator to try and settle the dispute amicably. However, on Tuesday, the attempt at mediation failed, with the majority of the seven BPP trustees opting against it.

Jehangir Patel, editor of Parsiana, a Mumbaibased magazine for the community, termed the Rs 3 crore expenditure a “criminal waste of the community fund”. He said, “Money is being spent on preventing a priest from praying three to four times a year. This matter could have been settled easily, but they have made it a prestige issue.”

While Mirza and Madon are banned from the two BPP-controlled fire temples, they do continue to perform religious ceremonies in agiyaris that are not under the purview of the BPP. However, the ban from Doongerwadi has hurt them the most.

Another member of the community, Behram Aga, said, “Such a huge amount of money is being used simply for propaganda as the BPP elections are due in 2015. With this issue, they can assert that they are protectors of our religion.”

“Also, no one will ever get to know the real expenditure. There is always jugglery with accounts,” said Aga, a resident of the Parsi colony in Parel village.

BPP chairman Dinshaw Mehta confirmed that the litigation expenditure had touched Rs 3 crore. “We have senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi fighting the case. Other lawyers travel business-class from Mumbai and are given fivestar accommodation when they go for the hearings. The expenditure is not justified at all but we cannot do anything if the majority of the trustees do not want mediation,” said Mehta. With BPP’s insistance on fighting the case in court, community members fear of losing several more crores in the coming years.

  • Sohrab Kamdin

    Sir, in a small community like ours it is unfortunate that on the one hand some Parsi Priests are prevented from performing their duties as Priests & on the other hand we constantly talk about the fall in the Parsi population. I am not for or against any philosophy or ideas. Actually we are in a “CATCH 22” situation & neither side is to blame. So let’s go back into our history. There were no Zorastrians before Zoraster was born; there were no Roman Catholics before Jesus was born; there were no Prodestants before King Henry the V!!!: no Jews before Moses. & so on for most religions.If A Roman Catholic wishes to marry outside his religion the opposite party has to convert & in the Muslim community it is the same. We have attached a lot of baggage over the centuries to our religion over the centuries because at that time it was the need of the hour e.g.purity of race & promises made to Jadi Rana at the time of landing in India in order to escape persecution. For about 1300 years we have stuck to the conditions laid down by the King of Gugrat.Most of us have stuck to our religious practices but one has to admit that plenty of water has also passed under the bridge. I feel that mixed marriage AFTER CONVERSION to our faith & religion seems to be an idea waiting to be explored. We know that we do not wish to place our charities. accomodations etc. at the disposal of NON-PARSEES & our leaders need to sit together & find solutions for these problems.

  • Sohrab Kamdin

    Comments are removed for whatever reason. People may lose interest in reading PARSI KHABAR!.

  • Teлeц

    Ah! these Gujjus.
    Gujarati names, Gujarati language, Gujarati customs, traditions and religious practices, Gujarati cuisine. And they call themselves “Parsi”. Not a drop of “Parsi” blood in them. They sully the name “Parsi”.
    True “Parsis” do not eat “Dhansaak”, (which is nothing but the Gujarati rice and lentils). True “Parsis” do not pay obeisance to photographs, (which is akin to the Gujarati practice of idol worship). True “Parsis” do now adorn black prayer caps, as black is the colour of the Arabs and Islam.
    The BPP has been hijacked by a bunch of Court Jesters. Only jousting in Court has the lawyers laughing all the way to the bank.
    It is a good thing that this fake “Parsi” community of India is vanishing. They will go back to being Gujaratis, which is what they were in the first place.

  • Sohrab Kamdin

    My!, My!. Sounds like a comment made by a person who has been ‘ jilted’ by a member of the Parsee Community!. We DO NOT have Gujju names. nor do we speak the Gujju dialect & neither do we have Gujarati customs, traditions, or Gujju religious practices !.Parsees do not exist on “Dhansak” alone (which is nothing like the Gugrati rice & Dal). To mention a few dishes we have are “sali ma marghi, sali boti, cutlets & kababs, kid gose, papeta per eedu & several combinations of the same,Curry & rice, veggeies made in different styles, patra ne macchi, eeda no poro, khichri & saas, & many other dishes which could fill up this page. Various types of achars & chutnies. If you are a vegetarian, bad luck because in general Parsees are non-vegetarians. Yes we do wear black caps but also mahroon & silver caps are worn by the youngsters. There is no such thing as a True or False parsee. Our community is not from Gugrat (May have been many centuries ago).
    We have produced a FIELD MARSHALL, Attorney & solicitor Generals, Highly rated Business people & well decorated citizens from the 18th century & continuing to do so. Your message is loud & clear but you cannot ‘rubbish’ the parsee community so easily. We can read between the lines. A gujrati person has just become The P.M. of India . Any comments on that?

  • Sohrab Kamdin

    Get a book written in the beginning of the last century, called
    “PAKWAN VANI” . It will give you an ides of what Parsees eat !.