Will Bombay Parsi Panchayat Go The Karachi Way

A recent decision by the Karachi’s apex Parsi trust to give children of women married to non-Zoroastrians the right to adopt their mother’s religion has generated interest in Mumbai where the community is still divided over the issue.

By Manoj Nair | DNA

The Karachi Parsi Anjuman Trust Fund, the counterpart of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP), passed a resolution saying if one marital partner is a practising Zoroastrian, children of such marriages can be initiated into the religion. The trust has also permitted funeral rituals on their premises for all Zoroastrians, even those who opt for cremation and burial.

In Mumbai, the orthodox and reformist sections in the community have differences on the issues. A few years ago, the BPP banned two priests from the Towers of Silence and fire temples because they had been conducting Navjotes or religious initiation of children born to Parsi women married to non-Zoroastrians. The priests were also accused of breaking tradition by conducting the after-death ceremonies of Zoroastrians who opted for non-traditional funerals. The issue is being heard in court.

Anahita Desai of World Alliance of Parsi-Irani Zarthoshtis, a group representing orthodox views said, “While I cannot comment on the resolution, Parsis in India have traditional views on the issue. Even at the BPP polls, every candidate has to project orthodox views… This shows the community wants to go with the old rules.”

Reformist groups like the Association for Revival of Zoroastrianism (ARZ) welcomed the Karachi resolution. “It is a right step in the direction to achieve the Zoroastrian motto of equality,’ said Vispy Wadia of ARZ.

Byram Avari, chairman of the KPATF was not available for comment. But in a reply to a letter published in Mumbai-based community magazine Parsiana, he said while Karachi’s Parsis were not consulted for their views, the resolution did not evoke any protests from community members or priests.

According to Sunnu Golwalla, a Karachi resident, the community generally had a liberal attitude to the issue of rights to women married to non-Zoroastrians.

“Personally, I am conservative and do not welcome the resolution. But, I think the average Parsi in Karachi is open-minded. They want Parsi women married outside the community to have the right to initiate their children to the religion,” said Golwalla.

But Golwalla said she was doubtful priests in Karachi will agree to do Navjotes of children with a non-Zoroastrian father.

  • Zerxes Dordi.

    The Court ruling in essence is that B.P.P. is a Trust meant to administer Funds and Properties. The Deed of Trust does not bestow powers on B.P.P.to meddle in Religious Affairs. So the theme of this article, particularly its Headline is way off the mark and irrelevant. 
    My question is are the various Fire Temples not having individual Trustees? If say Trustees of one Fire Temple officially declare that they will follow the Karachi Parsees, who is B.P.P. to question them? Yes the action of the concerned Agiary Trustees should not run contrary to provisions of its own Trust Deed. If their action runs contrary to provisions of Trust Deed they will become a centre of needless and avoidable controversy.though it is is a fact that at the time of making the Trust Deed, the settlor would never have imagined the current demographic decline.
    My next question is how is one to decide that all those who enter Fire Temples are products of both Parsee parents? Is there extant check on who enters the precincts of Fire Temples.
    My last remark is with reference to formation of Council of High Priests and what is their reaction to Karachi precedent. The High Priests should give their interpretation not overlooking their own past acts in this matter so that one does not have to depend on what Vispy Wadia or Anahita Desai consider right or wrong.

  • Zerxes Dordi.

    The Court ruling in essence is that B.P.P. is a Trust meant to administer Funds and Properties. The Deed of Trust does not bestow powers on B.P.P.to meddle in Religious Affairs. So the theme of this article, particularly its Headline is way off the mark and irrelevant. 
    My question is are the various Fire Temples not having individual Trustees? If say Trustees of one Fire Temple officially declare that they will follow the Karachi Parsees, who is B.P.P. to question them? Yes the action of the concerned Agiary Trustees should not run contrary to provisions of its own Trust Deed. If their action runs contrary to provisions of Trust Deed they will become a centre of needless and avoidable controversy.though it is is a fact that at the time of making the Trust Deed, the settlor would never have imagined the current demographic decline.
    My next question is how is one to decide that all those who enter Fire Temples are products of both Parsee parents? Is there extant check on who enters the precincts of Fire Temples.
    My last remark is with reference to formation of Council of High Priests and what is their reaction to Karachi precedent. The High Priests should give their interpretation not overlooking their own past acts in this matter so that one does not have to depend on what Vispy Wadia or Anahita Desai consider right or wrong.

  • Zerxes Dordi.

    The Court ruling in essence is that B.P.P. is a Trust meant to administer Funds and Properties. The Deed of Trust does not bestow powers on B.P.P.to meddle in Religious Affairs. So the theme of this article, particularly its Headline is way off the mark and irrelevant. 
    My question is are the various Fire Temples not having individual Trustees? If say Trustees of one Fire Temple officially declare that they will follow the Karachi Parsees, who is B.P.P. to question them? Yes the action of the concerned Agiary Trustees should not run contrary to provisions of its own Trust Deed. If their action runs contrary to provisions of Trust Deed they will become a centre of needless and avoidable controversy.though it is is a fact that at the time of making the Trust Deed, the settlor would never have imagined the current demographic decline.
    My next question is how is one to decide that all those who enter Fire Temples are products of both Parsee parents? Is there extant check on who enters the precincts of Fire Temples.
    My last remark is with reference to formation of Council of High Priests and what is their reaction to Karachi precedent. The High Priests should give their interpretation not overlooking their own past acts in this matter so that one does not have to depend on what Vispy Wadia or Anahita Desai consider right or wrong.

  • Siloo Kapadia

    “The Karachi Parsi Anjuman Trust Fund, the counterpart of the Bombay
    Parsi Punchayet (BPP), passed a resolution saying if one marital partner
    is a practising Zoroastrian, children of such marriages can be
    initiated into the religion”

    Deekras, this is because the Karachi Parsi community is all but becoming extinct and even this is too little too late.  However this is excellent learning material for the Mumbai Parsi community.  If you don’t change your ways then what is happening in Pakistan will happen in Mumbai and elsewhere in India.

    “But Golwalla said she was doubtful priests in Karachi will agree to do Navjotes of children with a non-Zoroastrian father.”

    Well, if the Karachi priests want to see the community survive after 20 years then they had better.  They don’t have too many choices.  Time is running out.

  • Siloo Kapadia

    “The Karachi Parsi Anjuman Trust Fund, the counterpart of the Bombay
    Parsi Punchayet (BPP), passed a resolution saying if one marital partner
    is a practising Zoroastrian, children of such marriages can be
    initiated into the religion”

    Deekras, this is because the Karachi Parsi community is all but becoming extinct and even this is too little too late.  However this is excellent learning material for the Mumbai Parsi community.  If you don’t change your ways then what is happening in Pakistan will happen in Mumbai and elsewhere in India.

    “But Golwalla said she was doubtful priests in Karachi will agree to do Navjotes of children with a non-Zoroastrian father.”

    Well, if the Karachi priests want to see the community survive after 20 years then they had better.  They don’t have too many choices.  Time is running out.

  • Nozer

    The dominant religion in Karachi is Islam. The majority of marriages outside the community takes place with Muslims. The constitution and laws of Pakistan requires a non muslim female marrying a Muslim man to convert to Islam. There is no ‘special marriages act” in Pakistan. Since the lady who marries out converts to Islam this does not apply to them.
    The question to be asked here is how many have actually availed of this or rather how many women married out have actually had the kids Navjote performed.

  • Nozer

    The dominant religion in Karachi is Islam. The majority of marriages outside the community takes place with Muslims. The constitution and laws of Pakistan requires a non muslim female marrying a Muslim man to convert to Islam. There is no ‘special marriages act” in Pakistan. Since the lady who marries out converts to Islam this does not apply to them.
    The question to be asked here is how many have actually availed of this or rather how many women married out have actually had the kids Navjote performed.

  • Phiroze

    Thank you Nozer for making a very valid point. The question is would a muslim man ever allow his children to follow any other faith besides Islam in Pakistan?????

  • Phiroze

    Thank you Nozer for making a very valid point. The question is would a muslim man ever allow his children to follow any other faith besides Islam in Pakistan?????