Unethical Conduct at Doongerwadi

A follow up to this article is titled “Ervad Hathiram’s Editorial on the Doongerwadi Incident”

 

The below is a letter sent to Parsi Khabar by Minoo K Vaghchhipawalla

Minoo writes…

Unethical and unprofessional conduct by the “Man of God” viz. the Priest

Recently my brother Phiroz K Vaghchhipawalla, a resident of Godrej Baug passed away. We decided that up-to the four days ceremonies I.e. Charam, to be conducted at the Doongarwadi and thereafter will be performed at the Jokhi Agiary. Accordingly, my sister-in-law contacted Mrs. Maharukh P Madan and handed over the task.

On the morning of 15th April 2010, two priests viz. Mr. Jal Balsara and Mr. Dara Karanjia came to conduct Gehsarna ceremony. After about 15 minutes, suddenly Mr. Jal Balsara stopped praying half-way through and left the place in a huff, abusing his fellow dastur Mr.Dara Karanjia. All of us, including other mourners who had come to pay their last respect and homage to my dead brother were shocked and aghast to notice this horrible conduct of Mr. Jal Balsara.

We immediately rushed to the Doongarwadi office where we found Mr Jal Balsara sitting and relaxing. We asked Mr. Jal Balsara the reasons for leaving the ceremony half-way through. He told us that his fellow dastur Mr.Dara Karanjia is an incompetent priest, who could not even “read and pray” properly. We informed him that by leaving the Gehsarna ceremony half-way he has insulted the dead person. He in turn replied that Mr. Dara Karanjia was reading from the book and reciting prayers, and therefore could not keep pace with him. He further added that if he had continued any further praying along with Mr. Dara Karanjia, he would have been a partner in crime in insulting the departed soul. Thus according to Mr. Jal Balsara walking away in the middle of Gehsarna ceremony is not a sin or an insult to the dead but praying along with his colleague, who perhaps is not as well experienced as him and thus has to recite his prayers reading from the book, would have made him commit thousand of sins (paap na potla) and insult to the dead. Since he is a Man of God and thus answerable to the Almighty, he chose to walk away during Gehsarna ceremony.

This casual and careless reasoning on the part of Mr. Jal Balsara is an indication of the Man of God becoming an Almighty. The angry mourners were left dumb founded and shocked to the bone. I left the office immediately because if I had stayed there even a minute more, I would have done something unthinkable. It was the face of my dead brother which guided me out of the room. I take this opportunity to thank those angry mourners who showed great restrain and tried to talk through to find a solution. One of the mourners got in touch with the Bombay Parsi Panchayet. Two of the trustee viz. Mr. Dinshaw Mehta and Mr. Khojeste Mistry arrived at the Doongarwadi Office to resolve the crises. They requested Mr. Jal Balsara to at-least finish the Gehsarna Ceremony. The replacement priest was then called to perform Gehsarna ceremony which resumed an hour late. It was almost 12 noon when my brother was finally consigned to the Tower of Silence.

Dear Hamdins – I would like to put before you some of my thoughts and would request your valued opinions, suggestions :-

1) Was Mr. Jal Balsara justified in leaving the Gehsarna Ceremony ?

2) Was the reasoning given by Mr. Jal Balsara for leaving the Gehsarna Ceremony has any religious basis ?

3) Was abusing fellow priest in the middle of Gehsarna Ceremony is a justifiable act on the part of Mr. Jal Balsara according to the Zoroastrian religion ?

I understand from many of the mourners gathered that Mr. Jal Balsara has been the man controlling entire praying operation at Doongarwadi. All of us have to be, at one point or the other, at his mercy for carrying out the last rites of the departed soul of our near and dear one. Unfortunately, keeping in mind the seriousness of the situation, we the members of the family, have to be extremely cautious and restrain ourselves to ensure that the body of the departed member rests in the Tower of Silence. However, for man like Mr. Jal Balsara it is business as usual – more the bodies, good the business. For him time is of essence. He does not like any outside priest to perform any ceremony at Doongarwadi because it would deprive him of his share of money. Therefore to maintain control and dominance at Doongarwadi what could be a better occasion for him to lodge his displeasure or protest to the members of the dead person’s family? For priests like Mr. Jal Balsara control, dominance and money is everything, work and professional ethics can go to hell.

Unlike my other family members, I have never been a very religious person but more of an atheist. In fact this brother of mine, in his life time, must have spent lakhs of rupee going to Udwada to offer his prayers. That day I felt extremely sorry for my dead brother because even in his dreams he may not have imagined that a priest who is supposed to guide him in his last journey to the other world, would do so with utmost contempt and complete disregard to human decency towards departed soul because in his list of priorities for priestly life, money supersedes even moral values and ethics. Now that I have first hand experience of what actually happens at Doongarwadi, I would not like such men to lead me to the other world. I hereby declare my last Death Wish and request members of my family that the day I die, please do not take me to such a place but bury me elsewhere and use the money kept reserved in either educating a child or getting a shelter for poor and needy members of the community.

Lastly, I would not like to make any comment on the roles and duties of the trustees of Bombay Parsi Panchayet as according to them they have enough problems on their plate that they do not know where and how to start resolving them.

Minoo K Vaghchhipawalla Salsette Parsis Colony, Building No. 5,

18th April 2010. “B” wing, Flat No. 105, Old Pump House

Off Jijamata Rd, Andheri (E) Mumbai 93.

Phone – 28362305. Cell No. 9820105507

E-mail – minoo_k_v@yahoo.co.in

 

UPDATE 01: Please read a very balanced account of the same incident by Ervad Marzban Hathiram, editor of Frashogard.com

Link to Marzban’s article: http://www.frashogard.com/my-response-to-the-incident-at-dungerwadi

  • Bejan Dara

    These are not priests. There is no calling within them. They are just chanters who “pray” for a “fee”. Sad that we have to tolerate such people.

  • Noshir H. Dadrawala

    What the priest did was not just irresponsible but despicable. As a senior and experienced priest he should have handled the alleged ‘incapacity’ or ‘incompetence’ of his colleague priest with sensitivity and understanding. Walking away mid-way during the geh sarna ceremony is not only professional mis-conduct but insulting to the deceased and the deceased’s loved ones.

    As a trustee of the BPP, I do feel morally responsible and feel not just very disturbed but also very ashamed and angry.

    I have offered my sincere apology to the bereaved family and I will also be taking this matter up very seriously with my co-trustees, at our Board Meeting scheduled this evening.

    What has happened is very unfortunate, but, alas, cannot be changed. However, every effort will be made to ensure that such an incident does not reoccur.

    In regret & grief

    Noshir H. Dadrawala

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  • farzana

    The Bard of Avon said that -cowards die many a times
    before their death.
    Now let us see how many VALIANT (!) CHAMCHAS venture to come to the rescue of this yet one another unethical member of their tribe. Such sympathizers and admirers of mammon worshippers call justifiable criticism as ‘Vituperative attacks’ ….My foot. Now rescue your ilk

  • Firoze Hirjikaka

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. This Balsara character runs the Doongerwadi like a Mafia boss and has been doing so for the past 25 years. For him, it is a business and he makes no bones about it. During my mother in-law’s funeral in 2008, he was openly bragging to my wife and me about how he and his missus have travelled all over the world. Rather strange on a dastur’s salary don’t you think? And when my father died 20 years ago, even before his body was unloaded from the hearse, Balsara proceeded to give me a detailed account of how much the ceremonies would cost and to ensure that I had the money.

    The real shame is that the BPP must be aware of what has been going on for decades; and yet chooses to turn a blind eye. I suppose they are too preoccupied with using strong arm tactics against Meher Master Moos and, more recently, against the Parsi lady married to a Christian, who is anxious to get her child’s navjot performed.

  • Pirojshah

    At the risk of causing consternation amongst the ‘dharam choost, I venture making a suggestion.for the magnificent seven.
    Since the Priests themselves crib about poor non rewarding compensation and since as in the incident shown above they have proved themselves to be heartless,why not install a good sound system in the Bunglis and play funeral prayers on a DVD.
    It may be made optional for the relatives of the deceased.
    This way complaints from both sides will end.
    We have to learn from other communities.These days, DARSHANS of Hindu Mandirs/Temples can be made over the Net. Caller Tunes have devotional bhajans and Gayatri Mantra.
    So why not Geh sarna prayers on D.V.D played on Bose Sound system.

  • Jeannie Antia

    This man is potty !

  • Dara Darabshaw Aria

    See my email to Mr.Minoo Vaghchhipawalla.
    Dear Mr.Minoo Vaghchhipawalla,

    Please take this matter very seriously with BPP and see to it that Jal Balsara is immediately removed from the duty at the Tower of Silence. He should be barred from performing any prayers at any Agiaries.

    BPP had the audacity to remove sincere dedicated Priests for performing their duties of praying for Zoroastrian Souls for those who opted for burial or cremation. If they BPP & the High Priests) have taken such a ‘Fattwa’ on the two priests, why not they do the same thing for Jal Balsara? We need an explanation from BPP as well the so called High Priests.

    I cannot accept this behavior, especially from the so called priest, Jal Balsara

    Though I am not from the Athornan family (I am a Behdin), I have prayed Geh Sarna prayers from the book, when I was in Bangalore. Nearly 20 to 30 Geh Sarnas I must have done for my fellow Bangalore Zoroastrians who opted for Burial or Cremation. But I did it with sincerity & with devotion, especially looking at the Zoroastrian body lying in front of me, whose Soul needs consolation. We pray for the Soul and NOT for the body.

    Please circulate your letter to as many Zoroastrian Parsees/Iranis. If you could tell Mr.Jehangir Patel, Editor of PARSIANA to publish your letter in their next issue, he will surely do it.

    You have caught the tiger (BPP-High Priests) by the tail.

    I will pray for the Soul of your dear brother Phiroz. May His Soul Rest in Peace.

    Regards,
    Dara Darabshaw Aria”

  • Kayan

    Very sad state of affairs, who does Mr.Jal Balsara think he is?

  • shehzad irani

    If this is true – then i believe that the BPP / Doongerwadi trustees have to look into the matter, and apologise to you.. What-ever the reasons – a priest cannot simply walk away from his duty. If he was really serious about “bhantar” so much he would firstly have told you that he shall do the whole ceremony again – at his responsibility…

    Secondly, i believe it HAS TO be raised against the BPP who brands itself as traditionalist.

  • shehzad irani

    First of all, let me convey my deep regret on hearing your whole affair – and the fact that you have lost someone close makes it even worse. Our deepest condolences to you and your family…

    If what you narrated is true – then i believe that the BPP / Doongerwadi trustees have to look into the matter, and apologise to you.. What-ever the reasons – a priest cannot simply walk away from his duty. If he was really serious about “bhantar” so much he would firstly have told you that he shall do the whole ceremony again – at his responsibility…

    Secondly, i believe it HAS TO be raised against the BPP who brands itself as “traditionalist” . This cannot be tolerated in a city of MUMBAI which is a stronghold of rituals – where we have one of the biggest traditional Zoroastrian communities..

  • Noshir H. Dadrawala

    According to Ervad Jal Balsara, Ervad Dara Karanjia could not keep pace with him or to be technically correct Ervad Karanjia could not be in sync with him.

    As a pair of priests joined in the ceremony, they were incompatible. This is indeed a fact!

    However, it is also fact that Ervad Balsara knew Ervad Karanjia’s ‘lack of competence’ and had the choice of refusing to pray with him at the very start instead of creating a drama mid-way during this solemn ceremony and hurting the sentiments of the mourners.

    Noshir

  • Beroz

    I had referred to this shameful and disgraceful
    incident earlier. I would now like to know the learned opinions and justifications from the likes of Ratan Elavia who bemoans about poor service conditions of proests,the ever eager and ever present Rustom Jamasji, his COTERIE, and of course how can we forget Bandra based Puff and Rathestar alias Firoz Adas and the senior citizen, Jamshed Bastani.All “Holinesses”, NOW please inform the community why any body should revere and respect such unethical priests.
    Is this how the priestly class have been ‘responsible’ for preserving the Religion? It is not oncommon to brage ‘what would have happened and would the Religion have survived had we not been present.” As the Gujarati saying goes, (translated) Who will sing praises for a squint eyed except his own mother.

    As for Trustees to say that they have problems a plenty, let them know that the problems are of their own creation to digress the attention of common Parsees from genuine issues.

  • piloo

    Shortly one will see innumerable ‘dharmrakshaks’ posing as Orthodox & Scholars distorting the facts, shifting the blame and ‘exonerating’ the member of their cartel. Just wait and watch.There will be propaganda that it is the ‘Reformist’ lobby attempting to ‘malign’ a member of ‘orthodox’. Name of the game is hoodwinking the community and taking for granted fellow humdins. And as usual one perennial blogger will start his senseless and meaningless discourse on the ‘wishes’ of the donor.
    Why BPP can not terminate the contract and why have a contractual system in the first place.

  • homai

    Sad to here about yr brother Mr. Minoo, As it is its a sad thing to hv lost yr fly member & on top this an arrogrant behaviour of the priest. Mr. Balsara does not seem to hv any compession for his job. His reasoning sounds very feeble.Am sure it is not the first time he was clubed into this prestigious GEHSARNA CEREMONY with Mr. Karanjia. He must be having some knowledge of Mr. K’s prayer setbacks. Instead of making a mocckery of the SERCICE he could hv solved his problem internally but gues he wanted to make ‘Tamasha’. Strict action should be taken against such erring priest. & As for Mr. Karanjia, its a shame to know that he does not know his prayers by heart. Wonder on what grounds BBP people employ such priest? One, does not hv any respect for the dead lying at their mercy to be consigned to his resting place. & Another, who is far from his religious tenents by NOT knowing the prayers.

  • Burjor Bharucha

    This is not the first time when Er. Jal Balsara has been accused of behaving in an autocratic manner and I feel it is high time the BPP Trustees investigate the whole system at Doongerwadi which has become more commercial than religious and effect changes wherever necessary. If I understand correctly Er. Jal Balsara holds a monopoly over the paydast rites and no other practising mobed can conduct the last rites at the Doongerwadi. There have been reports that questions are being raised by the juniors at the doongerwadi to the bereaved relatives whether they want new clothes for the deceased or old ones and whether they want long prayers or short prayers. Most of the times the relatives do not understand the questions and are thoroughly confused moreso because they are in a shocked state of mind and do not know what implications would follow or what difference it would make financially to them and celestially to the deceased. Even tips are decided and specified clearly before start of each ceremony with the number of employees involved. All this needs to be changed.
    The basic costs for the Pydast and Uthamna rites should be prominently put up on a board in each of the Bunglis and the charges for different modes of prayers and facilities should be specified clearly on a board in each of the Bunglis. The choice of selecting a particular mode of prayers and clothing would then be left with the family members to choose from and would save the bereaved family members considerable confusion and make life for them in this difficult hour a bit easy.

    Hope the BPP trustees would give due consideration to this suggestion.

  • Aspi Bodhanwalla

    Today there is no merit with what the priest does. All they care for is money as money is GOD to them and no ethics are involved. The less said about the Parsi Panchayat the better. All the trustees are spineless people and have no ethics themselves. They are hand in glove with priests like Jal Balsara.

  • I request everyone to please read what Ervad Marzban Hathiram has written on Frashogard on this topic.

    This will bring things into perspective.

    http://www.frashogard.com/my-response-to-the-incident-at-dungerwadi

  • Jansher banaji

    This is really a sad thing to hear. This is an act of absolute frustration needless to say shame on the part of Mr. Balsara. With what right’s does he have to leave a ceremony just because his partner could not keep up. There are so many instances which i have see in front of me, where the dastur just mummers while the other dastur is praying. I agree they are dastur’s and men of god, but that doesn’t mean they can do what they want. Mr Bulsara should have his job revoked asap.

  • As I see, the only solution is for The BPP to take on itself the running of our institutions. The priests have to live a life of dignity as such could be paid a salary that ensures that he lives comfortably as if he is practicing some normal profession and the BPP standardizes the fee for performing the various rituals and collects the amount which will ensure proper maintenance of the property. It should ensure that the priests then perform their duties to the satisfaction of the community.

  • Pingback: Ervad Hathiram’s Editorial on the Doongerwadi Incident | Parsi Khabar()

  • Jeannie Antia

    Why doesn’t the old priest just relax and take long walks on Marine Drive and Juhu Beach instead of disturbing other people’s lives?

    Can anyone tell me?

    I exclaim: Mr. Dasturjee – it’s time to retire!

    Jeannie Antia
    born in Bombay based in Hamburg

  • piloo

    Exactly at 5.31 I posted a message that rescue act will come to shift the blame. Pl read hereabove. WAS I WRONG. Hathiram’s rigmarole ‘defence’is a testimony to my prediction.

  • Mickie Sorabjee

    Physical therapist Glenn Doman had assessed: “The human brain is unique in that it is the only container of which it can be said that the more you put into it, the more it will hold”. But it appears that majority of the elected trustees (6 out of the 7 on last count) on the present apex board are sadly bereft of these containers altogether or else they are riddled all over with so many holes as to prevent them from reading the writing on the wall and sense the way the community’s winds are blowing.

    Some time ago, the controlling BPP Trustees wasted no time in banning two priests who they believe have gone against the grain of our religious practices.

    Now here we are dealing with disregard for sacrosanct ritual protocol by the main Ervad known for his monopoly over paidast ceremony rituals at our Towers of Silence, in Mumbai. His disrespect for the ruvaan of a Jarthosti brother in the middle of the geh saarvanu during the last rites for the mortal remains of the late Phiroz Vaghchhipwalla is unpardonable no matter the reasons or explanations belatedly proffered to bring things into perspective.

    After disclosure of the above traumatic incident by Minoo Vaghchhipwalla, the aggrieved and indignant brother of the unfortunate deceased, it follows that it is such an errant professional among our priestly class who deserves to be de-barred and banned. Not those obliging priests who compassionately offer to execute the four-day prayers of mounting numbers of devout Parsees who out of compulsion opt for cremation as opposed to the traditional practice of Dokhmenashini.

    A biased WAPIZ will print supportive letters in their next paid ad page in a predictable cover-up on this latest controversy over a priest whose unethical behaviour discredits him and blotches his credentials to continue his professional duties at the Doongerwadi managed by the BPP. Understandably, WAPIZ has its lackeys on the BPP vessel to protect from going down in this appalling incident unheard of before this, in the annals of paidast rituals. It is no secret that WAPIZ and six elected executors of the BPP Charity Trust walk hand-in-hand and side-by-side.

    Even a juxtaposed public apology from the BPP and the offending “world travelled” Ervad to the affronted family members in mourning cannot overlook this dereliction of religious obligations, which demands immediate stringent action by managing body.

    All eyes are now turned to see how Jame Weekly serves the community’s interest in handling the outrage over this issue. This time around, not even a magical broom will help to push all the Doongerwadi dirt under an already over bulging BPP carpet.

  • Freddie Movdawala

    I myself have lost faith in the priests and have found that money is more important to them then anything else. No Religion fractures people. Ours does it by Mobeds and Behdins. God has created us we are no different. Who is Vada what are his duties. I have not respect of Priest in our Religion. All ceremonies these days are only for money

  • a.rustomjee

    As Bejan Dara says “They are just chanters who “pray” for a “fee”.” True Bandwallas in Navjotes and Weddings also play for a fee. So there is NO difference between a an Ervad and Bandwalla. I agree with you Dara.
    I am more impressed by a suggestion a well meaning one at that made by one Pirojshah, which is more practical. Instead of soulless Mobed, a inanimate DVD player will be a better option. Right you are.
    As for the rest of messages condemning the conduct of this Mobed, I find that Mickie Sorabjee has aptly summed up the issue and where the fault lies.

  • jokerpoker

    Jeannie Antia 22 April 2010 at 1:05 pm #

    This man is potty !

    This women is giving her own dum introduction, please do something about this…. delete the post, its a literal abuse!

  • Fancysoul

    I AM PROUD OF THE WAY THINGS HAVE GONE, GREAT GOING TO MR.BALSARA, THANK HIM FROM ALL THE HEART FOR NOT DOING A SINFUL THING!! THANK HIM AGAIN FOR CARING SO MUCH ABOUT THE DEPARTED SOUL. THANK YOU SIR FOR NOT DOING THE PRAYERS THE WRONG WAY, ALL ME RESPECT SALUTES YOU!!!

    ONE WOULD WONDER STRONGLY WHY DID THIS PERSON NAMELY HIS BROTHER TELL HALF SIDE OF THE STORY, WHICH FOR A SECOND ALSO GOT ME WILD, BUT WHEN I CAME TO KNOW ABOUT THE FULL STORY, I WAS REALLY PROUD OF OUR PRIEST…

    DUE TO DEATH OF A MEMBER, ANYONE CAN GET HURT, ITS NATURAL ALTHOUGH IN THEIR OWN FAVOR WAS THIS DECISION BUT THEN TOO THEY GOT WILD, ONE CAN SURLY UNDERSTAND AND SURLY WOULD NOT DARE TO BLAME THEM AT THIS STAGE, GOD BLESS ALL…

  • piloo

    The dictionary meanings of potty are =
    * trivial,
    * sightly intoxicated,
    * crazy,
    * confused.
    WHAT IS ABUSIVE ABOUT IT? IT IS TIME FOR SOME TO REFER TO DICTIONARY PREFERABLY ENGLISH TO GUJARATI

  • Noshir H. Dadrawala

    This matter was discussed by the BPP Board yesterday evening.
    All the trustees are very disturbed about what has happened.
    A warning letter will be issued to Ervad Jal Balsara today.
    A Press Statement in this regard has also been prepared by the CEO and will be released today.
    As a BPP trustee, I once again offer my apology to the deceased’s family for the needless trauma they had to undergo.
    And, May the Soul of the departed Rest in Peace.

  • Dorab.Unwalla.

    A person calling himself Pirojshah has suggested giving an alternative of DVD with Sound System as an alternative. I read this yesterday. I first thought it to be trivial. But to -day on visiting the blog I find that one A Rustomjee has seconded it.After considerable thought I am convinced as well that this will be a better choice since even Er. Hathiram says that it is strenuous for Mobed to stand continuously for over 45 minutes and the looming shortage of competent Mobeds. BPP Trustees are urged to consider this well meaning suggestion.

  • Maki Kapadia

    My sincere sympathies with the family & friends of the bereaved.
    Er. Bulsara has caused terrible hurt to the grieving folk present & has also harmed his own Manashni, Gavashni & Kunashni.

    The BPP must assume responsibility, immediately suspend the erring mobed & hold an enquiry with a deadline.

    Whilst not condoning Er. Bulsara’s conduct, the community must do an internal audit, specially of the bad treatment meted out to mobeds in the past. The current mobeds surely remember this & no doubt find it difficult to forget the utter lack of respect shown to their forefathers.

    Er. Bulsara should genuinely apologize for his conduct & make sure there is no repetition in the future. He is fortunate to be a learned mobed, let him live up to the standard expected of a good pious mobed.

    Maki Kapadia

  • n

    It is simple enough to understand that there’s nothing ethical either in writing about ‘unethical conduct’ with the aim to “spread” conflict and division. There’s too much expressed above, which are products of a disturbed mind, free to rule without control. Many comments here carry words belonging to a respectable lot of goodness but trading it for violence and hurt is not right.
    Even after all this there’s still hope for reconciliation and dear friend, sir, Mr. Vaghchhipawalla, do forgive and accept the difficult. If not outwardly (as the case may show) atleast let the goodness within survive for the peace of not only the deceased but also for the living faithfuls. You may not find yourself a religious man but atleast let religion survive for others the way it has been so far. I’ve experienced the passing away of a family member as a calm and surreal feeling of life, almost mystical to say the least, then how can it lead one to react sharply and indulgently in a perspective on the play of ‘professions’ as you people consider our Priests. How can human ideas and limited perspective substitute the divine and unknown, which many hold as faith?
    Allow reality to unfold before one’s eyes and leave its silent observer searching and wondering in these happenings. As bitter taste soon raises freshness and sweet purity.
    Orthodoxy is a friend to a friend. The question ‘otherwise’ or ‘only to’ implications cannot arise for it reads a simple, forward lesson of unity. That which is not one, doesn’t exist.

  • Dara Darabshaw Aria

    I fully agree with Dorab Unwalla’s suggestion of DVD.
    After all the Geh Sarna Prayers “Ahunavati Gatha’ is based on Sound (Mantras) & Vibrations. So that is the best way for the Zoroastrian Ruwan to hear the Mantras & Vibration is through DVD.

  • Vistaspar C. Mehta

    Dear Parsi & Irani Zoroastrian brethren

    It was indeed unfortunate for the Vaghchhipwalla family to have undergone the trauma and for which the P & I Zoroastrian Community as a whole is with the Vaghchhipwalla family.

    In my capacity as a Zoroastrian practicing the faith through GOOD THOUGHTS, GOOD WORDS and GOOD DEEDS would humbly request Mr. Minoo Vaghchhipwalla not to take a hasty decision on the traditional matter.

    I am now 43 years of age and I have seen Ervad Jal Bulsara serve our Community selflessly at our Doongarwadi since I was in school and have always appreciated his untiring efforts and his able leadership in holding the fort on days of religious festivities. It may have been really un tolerable for Ervad Jal Bulsara. Of course it does not absolve him of leaving the Gah Sarna prayers half way due incompetence of the other priest.

    I am associated with a ‘Voluntary, Non-Political and Educational Movement’ for the children Globally. We train the Adult Leaders who in turn teach the children to be better Citizens of our great Country. In our programme, we have a re-orientation programme wherein after a gap of every four years the leader trainers need to attend a Re-Orientation Programme and in which if and only if found suitable their Honourable Charge is renewed for a further period.

    With due respects to all our Ervads, and with Positivity, the above model of re-orientation may be put into practice in accordance to our religious books and ofcourse with the sanction of our High Priests. Please excuse my ignorance as I am unaware whether there is such a provision for the practicing mobeds. This would reduce such incidences wherein incompetent personnel are assigned duties which they may not be capable of.

    May Ahura Mazda see us through all our difficult times.

  • Jamshed H. Bastani

    Thank you Noshir and to your wonderful BPP team whose prompt action against this erring priest has brought the situation under control. We hope that our bloggers now bury this senseless debate.

    I wish to offer my deepest condolences to the Vaghchipwala family members on the passing away of Late Phiroze Vaghchipwala and pray that his soul attains the highlest level in Garothman Behsht.

    Atha Zamyat Yatha Afrinami.

  • Epicurus bawa

    I disagree with A.Rustomjee, Ervads who pray for fees and Bandwalas who play for fees are not the same. Bandwalas know what they are playing and are more entertaining. However, I support the idea of Sound System and DVD players to replace both -Ervads and Bandwalas if needed, as Phirozsha, Dara Aria and Dorab has suggested. Such Priest who think they can indulge in professional blackmail and hold believers TO RANSOM are widely off the mark. The Stone Age didn’t end because of a shortage of stones.
    It’s time WE FORGET this stone age as well.

  • JEROU

    While agreeing completely with Yazdi Palya may I also suggest to the dear ones of the ‘ruvan’ to pray from the ‘Avesta’ along with the CD (as proposed by some) in unison,with all sincerity and love for the dear departed Soul, which I am certain will help the Soul to proceed on the onward journey happily and peacefully, knowing that the loved ones care so much….just as when friends and relatives go along to say their ‘farewells’ when one travels on a journey. After all, death of ones body is nothing short of a long journey of the Soul,to another dimension/space.
    Once when I had a discussion with our very revered Dasturji
    Navroze Minocheherhomji, he told me that if one prayed this way the Soul is more pleased and progresses to the destination without any obstacle, happily.

  • Pirojshah

    Mr. Dadrawalla,
    A mere warning letter is certainly not commensurate with the gravity of lapse on the part of Erward Balsara.. The extenuating and mitigating circumstances mentioned by Er. Hathiram are just too preposterous to condone this type of misbehavior.
    It is widely believed that Trustees were diffident in taking stringent action because of a constraint, i.e. Balsara is a person who knows too much about the conditions at the Towers and therefore they are hesitant to ‘provoke’ Balsara for the fear that he may go public with disclosures that would be too uncomfortable for those who claim that ‘the system is working satisfactorily’. As a religious minded person, it is earnestly requested, that you justify the reasons for this ‘paper’ type censure.
    Any other Trustee who is committed to the cause of the Deen, i.e. our Faith should also openly justify the reasons for closing this issue by a mere Censure..
    One of those who have filed a Court case against this failed system has done so because his conscience is pricking at this late stage of his life for being economical with facts during his tenure as previous Trustee. Let such pricking of conscience not be encountered by any present Trustee later on after their tenure ends.

  • Hosi.Pardiwala

    @ Noshir Dadrawalla,

    Unlike other Trustees you have shown courage and accountability to make a statement in brief about the decision of the Board of Trustees to issue warning letter to Er.Balsara. Can you just let the community know if any other Trustee including yourself did not propose a more major penalty. If so why? Or are the Trustees too afraid of the consequences?

    This issue can not be buried that easily by assuming public memory to be short. Your clarification/statement on this point will be appreciated by enlightened members of our Community.

  • Vyara

    Unethical Conduct, amazing

    Minoo K Vaghchhipawalla we stand with you at this moment,
    I offer you my condolences.

    Jal Balsara needs to be answerable.

  • Byram Sidhwa

    Hosi & Pirojshah,
    Do you seriously expect a satisfactory reply from Dadrawalla.
    If you want to know the state of affairs at the resting place read the current issue of Parsiana. We call Dakhmas as consecrated and our ELECTED trustees are reported to have allowed sprinkling of Bovine Urine on the corpses lying and rotting. The intention of these noble Trustees is to prevent the stanch of rotting corpses.
    Now friends, if a person stationed at the Towers like Balsara were to go public, just imagine the loss of face for our noble Trustees. It is alleged that such bovine urine is collected from Panjrapole. Now just visualise the bovine urine could have got mixed up with menstrual bleeding of the female bovine since they do not wear sanitary napkins.
    May Ahura Mazda spare our community from this type of governance.

  • Voice of Reason.

    If what Byram says is correct then it amounts to defiling a consecrated place held by the community to be on par with Fire Temples.
    This is an ourageous hoodwinking of the community. And the Parsee Press which is supposed to be the guardian safeguarding the interest of the community has been made a puppet.
    High time for the community to shed its slumber and rise in unison.

  • Yazdy Palia

    This is shccking. If it is true, it is against the tenets of our religion. As I understand one of the reasons attributed to the use of Dokhma is to ensure that we do not pollute the five elements of nature.
    If this story is true, we are violating one of the tenets of our religion polluting the air. If bovine urine is being used to cover up the foul smell emanating from the putrifying corpses, the powers that be are having a very poor opinion of the intelligence of our Prophet.

  • piloo

    Yes Yazdy, I too read in the Press what Sidhwa has stated.
    It is also mentioned that a letter enquiring in to the fact of the matter was addressed to BPP but they had not replied till such time the matter was published. These autocrats have taken the community for granted and think no body can question them. The important question is do our ‘eminent high’ priests endorse this heinous and sacrilegious act.
    Only remedy is to get this highlighted in the National Press and on T.V. Channels since the community’s press has become a puppet on the strings.Once this comes on front pages of national dailies, heads are bound to roll. I totally agree with Voice of Reason, the time for community to realise that days of its casual and indifferent attitude are over.
    Any wonder Er.Balsara cares a tuppence for the sentiments of the ordinary members of the Parsi Community . He is like a man who knows too much.

  • Darayas Malegam

    @Piloo , Yes I totally agree , this must be exposed at a National Level – The dead can do without Bulsara , can Bulsara Do Without The Dead ? . His Monopoly has to end but it wont because the BPP will do nothing . May be the tax man should visit the Dastoor for he never gives a receipt for all the cash he takes — Better still IGNORE HIM , people should bring their own dastoors and if no dastoorji is available play the Geh Sarna prayers available on a CD but the monopoly of Bulsara should come to an end .

    I speak this so that those who wish to go to the Dokhma wont have their relations suffer at the hands of the likes of Bulsara .

    Personally I have written in my will that my mortals remains to be cremated , the funeral prayers if possible will be at my residence after which My deeds alone will take me to my rightful place in the other dimenssion.

  • Beroz

    Dear Yezdi,
    “I believe that our Parsee community has not understood the significance of Kapal Kriya among our Hindu friends.

    A few minutes after the pyre has been consigned to the flames, Kapal Kriya is performed. In this, one of the longer bamboos used in the Arthi is used to break the skull of the body. This is done by the person doing the cremation. There are many reasons why this is done:

    – The Skull bone is a very hard bone. Once it is broken, its easy for it to burn with the rest of the body.

    – Many occult practitioners prey around Cremation grounds for fresh spirits (of the recent dead) to “use”. A spirit cannot be used endlessly by the occultists so Cremation grounds are frequented by them. Skull is an effective way and tool for them to do what they are doing. If the skull is broken, it is of no use to them. If the skull is not broken and has not burnt along with the body, then the spirit of the dead is susceptible to the malafides of the occultists.

    So while it is summer time and its natural that foul smell from dead bodies at Dokhma will become too obvious. So our Orthodox friends have thought of inventing this new cow piss sprinkling ritual to cover up the obvious. But the important issue is are the skulls of the deceased Parsees safe?

  • Adarbahman

    If the likelihood of apprehensions raised by Beroz are true, I wonder how many will prefer to make Doongerwadi as the final resting place after such revelations.

  • Boman.

    The game plan seems to be to compel the rational members of the community to have a prayer Hall of their own so that later on when Malabar Hill premises are in disuse, the property sharks can have a field day. It is rightly said that “HIGH” priests have nothing high about them and were ‘appointed’ by ceremony of shawl ‘odharwani’ by another member of their profession.Some of these ‘high’ priests are hereditary.
    Just as one decides the Medical practitioner or hospital,it is time to decide for oneself the mode of disposal.Let us have CD ands DVD’s of all prayers and then forget for good the Priests high or low.
    But the issues raised by Parsiana and Beroz need to be got legally examined and if possible criminal proceedings could be considered for such unnatural acts.Surprisingly those who quoted Tenets are surreptitiously dodging the issue.Parsees are really seeing the worst days.

  • Yazdy Palia

    To those of us who are worried about the possibility of the fresh skulls being used by people who practice occult, may I remind them that we are living in the 21st century and such fears should have no place in our lives.
    We must remember that our religion was the first to speak of Monotheism, in fact Zoroastrianism had been the inspiration for Christianity and Islam.
    To day we are making a laughing stock of ourselves.
    What we need to remember is that several antibiotics have been the cause of the decimation of the population of the vultures.
    Our government has banned the use of these antibiotics on animals for the simple reason that the dead cattle in the villages are just left on the waysides for the vultures to come and devour them. Experts attribute this to be the cause of the death of vultures.
    Most people in any corner of India look up to the Parsis as that is the reputation that we have. We have always been role models. Today, should we be branded as culprits in the decimation of the number of vultures?
    Last month a journalist who is also a nature lover, asked me for an interview. The topic was the practice of feeding our corpses to the vultures. I explained to him the logic behind the practice. I explained to them the belief that we hold that all the elements of nature are pure and that we should not pollute any of the five elements. I also explained to him that we believe that we should be as useful after death as during our lives. To his query that we are contributing to the fall in the population of the vultures because of this practice, I replied that wise people in the community are debating the matter and that we will definitely take a step. I explained that morality ends where force begins as such, we believe that we should take an action only after a good debate where logic is the final arbiter and every one in the community is convinced about the need to change.
    I must remind my brothers and sisters in the community that
    The Jews were expecting a Messiah before the birth of Christ and yet they rejected him because by then they were used to all sorts of dogmas. They could not digest the teachings of Christ who indeed was their messiah. The same folly was repeated by the Jews when Mohmad was born. They were so much engrossed in so many meaningless rituals that they did not recognize the Messiah that they were waiting for.
    In our case Opportunities are in front of us. Do we wish to let them go by? We have always been leaders in innovation and in making progress, do we wish to be left behind.
    Rise my brothers and unitedly make wise decisions instead of bickering amongst ourselves.

  • Piloo

    @Yezdy Palia,
    Sir you say among other things that wise amongst us are debating the matter and that we will definitely take a step. How long will we go on debating and deliberating? People are ready to take wise decisions but for cussedness of a few.

  • Yazdy Palia

    Dear Mr. Piloo,
    As long as even one person is dissatisfied, we have to debate and try and convince him. We are human beings each having the faculty of volition. We can not force anybody to take a stand that he does not agree. Because morality ends where force begins.That is why I stated let logic be the final arbiter. If everyone agrees on that, nobody will be forced to accept a stand that he does not agree on. However it must be pure logic.
    Regards
    Yazdy.

  • piloo

    According to many, instead of imposition of views best thing would be to give option to the concerned persons without any element of coercion. No single system is free from being doubted as the best.

  • Yazdy Palia

    The concerned people already have an option given by the Parsi Panchayath and that is they can have their own arrangements. Parsi Panchayath does not have any objection.
    However once the concerned person has chosen his own path, the Parsi Panchayath would wash their hands of them, you know one can not eat your cake and have it too.
    Therefore my friend, do not take a hasty decision. It is easy to spoil a case in haste, it would then take a lot of pains to rectify the mistake.
    The best possible method is to debate in a calm and friendly
    manner and logically reason out and take a joint decision. Otherwise, we will be divided like the Shias and Sunnis, like the Roman Catholics and Protestants. Then the issue will be of the huge property held by the Panchayath. It will take years and years and lots of acrimony. Please do not precipitate matters and spoil everything created by our forefathers. We have a problem and it is not insurmountable.
    We should get a handful of prominent people of substance to sit down and take a sensible decision.

  • Byram Sidhwa

    Yezdi Palia,
    Frankly, I am unable to comprehend what you meant to say. You have said “The concerned people already have an option given by the Parsi Panchayath and that is they can have their own arrangements. Parsi Panchayath does not have any objection”
    First question for sake of clarification, which Punchayat you are referring to?.
    Second question what is the nature of Option you are talking about. I am convince that there is some disconnect between you and what others are referring to. Please take no umbrage.
    Please can you clarify on the above 2 aspects.
    Thanks.

  • Yazdy Palia

    Dear Mr. Byram Sidhwa,
    In the first place, could you tell me something about yourself please?
    I am not aware that there are more than one Parsi Panchayath.
    It is possible that there is some dissconnect between me and the others.
    I am not able to follow as to where I have annoyed you. I have read in the past during the course of some other discussion, somebody mention that the reformist have an option and that is what I was referring to.
    My intention was to create an understanding of the situation and not to create a discord.
    Regards
    Yazdy.

  • Jeannie Antia

    Wishing everyone a wonderful spring time !

  • Byram Sidhwa

    Yazdy Palia,

    Let me clarify, Yazdy, I am not all annoyed with you. In fact I seldom get annoyed even with my opponents. Having said that, let me tell you that there is a) Bombay Parsi Punchayat,
    b) Surat Parsi Punchayet c) Pune Parsi Punchayet,
    all with distinct set of Trustees. At least that is what in my knowledge.

    It would be wrong to call any person not satisfied with the failed ‘system’ as a Reformist.In my view, adapting to circumstance does not mean REFORM. As for the person who misinformed you that there is an option, please ask that person to clarify. My apologies if I have hurt your feelings,
    I remain,
    Byram.

  • Yazdy Palia

    Thanks for briefing me about the various Parsi Panchayat. I agree with you that anybody who does not agree with a failed system need not be a reformist. For that matter I do not think that being a reformist is bad.
    If our ancestors had not made changes, we would still be living in caves. You have not hurt my feelings. I do not easily get hurt.
    My stand is that logic is the most powerful weapon and we should always go by it. There is something called inertia with most people, they do not wish to have any changes made. They do not wish to go out of their comfort zone. We should use all the persuasive powers at our disposal and make the changes by remaining within the system.
    Regards
    Yazdy.

  • piloo

    @Byram,
    It seems you have forgotten to mention Ahmedabad Parsee Punchayet.

    @Yazdy,
    For your information, no facilities whatsoever are provided at the Towers for those whose kith & kin have willed to be disposed off in a manner other than consigning the corpse to dakhmas.
    Even though the Bunglis are unoccupied, they are not allowed to be used for prayer facilities unless the ‘traditional’ method is accepted.
    Not only that but even priests of Fire Temples have been directed NOT to recite prayers for persons who have not willing to consign the corpse to the so called traditional resting place.
    I trust whatever clarification was needed to remove your
    doubts has been provided.

  • Yazdy

    Dear Piloo and Byram,
    This is what I was referring to when I mentioned that the panchayath has given you an option, have the corpse disposed off as you wish and have your own arrangements about the prayers.
    Please note, I do not agree with this logic but this is what you are heading towards if you get on to the limbs. The matter needs more engagement with the panchayat, we should fight the system by remaining within the system. If need be get into some kind of arbitration with a person held in high esteem by both the groups.
    We must take it up on different levels. For example the damage done to the environment when the corpses putrify in the tower of silence. A thorough study of the laws of the land must be made and find out if somewhere a rule of the land is being violated. It is only then that they will get ready for negotiation.
    Regards
    Yazdy.

  • Jeannie Antia

    Yazdy, I really appreciate what you are saying. Desai and Partners are very good lawyers in Bombay and maybe their partner Kayomurzd Billimoria could help and get involved into this matter.

    Do approach them.

    Jeannie

  • Yazdy Palia

    Dear Ms. Jeannie Antia,
    Many thanks for your comments. However, I live in far away Kerala. In fact quite far from civilization as Mumbaikars know. At the moment, my hands are full and will not be able to approach Desai and Partners or any one else.
    However, I will stand by rational Parsis. However, I believe that we have to use logic in our arguments and keep on debating till we have solved our problems. We have to persevere.
    Regards
    Yazdy.

  • Jeannie Antia

    WoW, Kerala must be so beautiful. They call it the untouched paradise of India!

    Unfortunately I’m even farer off – I am in Hamburg / Germany, but next time I come to India I will look out for some rational Parsis and check out the legal rights of India!

    Thank you for your kind words and stay happy!

    Jeannie

  • Yazdy Palia

    Hi Jeannie,
    Many thanks for the good wishes. Kerala is not what it used to be. Wayanad is fast changing too. I am fortunate that I have my estate touching the Wayanad wild life sanctuary and as such can not change. You still see part of its pristine beauty.
    If you wish to keep in touch, you could write to me on yazdypalia@gmail.com
    Regards
    Yazdy.

  • Jeannie Antia

    Dear Yazdy, I will keep in touch ! Thank you so much for the offer.

    Have a lovely weekend!

    Jeannie

  • CONTRADHONGI

    Jamshed Bastani, Now a SENSIBLE(?) debate about Aviary experiment is on. What is your view.

  • CONTRADHONGI

    Jamshed Bastani, Now a SENSIBLE(?) debate about Aviary experiment is on. What is your view.