Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

A Glimpse of Things to Come

Architect Jimmy Mistry’s daughter’s Navjote is the setting for the Parsi community’s vast and varied cultural heritage serving as a precursor to his May festival

“The Parsi youth today have become much dissociated from their culture; I want to bring it back to them,” is the ambitious and passionate statement of architect Jimmy Mistry.

And so the Parsi Resource Centre was born.

“That was one and a half years back,” he said. “Today, I have close to 700 registered priests with me and a growing network of volunteers. This year I am also starting a Parsi Festival that will hopefully become an annual event.”

As a precursor to that event, which is slated for May, his eight-year-old daughter’s Navjote is centred on this theme.

The Jeejeebhoy Dadabhoy Agiary at Navy Nagar was the scene of chaos yesterday. The ancient city of Persepolis, Persia, is being re-created in all its glory and splendour.

“I want to show the youth Parsi culture at its best,” said Mistry. “Not the ruins they will see if they go to Iran.”

The ruins have been used as research points for the architecture of the buildings and the columns in particular. Pictures of the ruins to show the difference as well as the authenticity of the replication have been set up at strategic places.

Yesterday, to walk in through the great gates flanked by two guardian angels one would have come upon a grand scene…of chaos. The noise of hammers and supervisors yelling out instructions hits out at you; the scene is one of workers bent over planks of wood or scrambling about over sheets of fibre with cloth or grouping up to raise finished columns up to their designated spots. Jimmy Mistry was on the sets overseeing the realisation of his eight-month long research. The research has clearly been painstaking and detailed, carried out by not only a father who wants perfection at one of his daughter’s most significant ceremonies but also by a man who wants to do his utmost in reviving the ancient Persian culture for a dwindling community in Mumbai.

The madness is quite infectious; the method in the madness, almost palpable. All around amongst the hammering and the faltering, the sweating and the swearing, things were falling into place.

Images of the amesha spenta (guards of the seven Parsi creations) emerged in their true colours as the thick brushes swabbed the paint on. Chainsaws buzzed planks into shape, mirrors slid into place; the walls and arches decked up in green foliage and the dining area, in a red carpet.

Tonight guests will walk in and view a flourishing ancient Persian city in all its glory, complete with the images of King Darius, King Cyrus, carvings of Persian stories on the walls, replication of ancient columns, divans with hookahs by their sides around a pool and partake of their food, dancing and music! After strolling through a limited selection of Persian art that will be set up for display, they can take their pick from over 50 dishes, spread out in a two-storey dining area; traditional Parsi dishes on the ground floor and authentic Persian cuisine under the starry sky, looking over the ocean, is what they may expect.

The latter has been created by three Iranian chefs who have been flown in for the occasion so as to not miss out on a single flavour their heritage has left them.

“Culture embraces everything – architecture, food, music, ambience – why let anything fall short of the right standards? If something is going to be done, why not do it the best way that one can?” Mistry points out.

“If authentic Persian food is to be had, then authentic Iranian chefs would be the right ones to bring in. Our dancers are from Mumbai but they have their moves down right. Nothing is fluff here. It is a serious re-introduction to our heritage. And, yes, I thought my daughter’s Navjote would be the right occasion.”

Original article here