Saturday April 23, 2022 will forever be a red letter day in the annals of the Parsi Irani Zarathushti community in India, and all over the world. It was on this day that the Empowering Mobeds Trust held their first function after officially forming the Trust per government guidelines.
It has been a long road upto this point, but it’s only the begining of what is really a fantastic and much needed initiative. Completely volunteer driven, the Mobeds and Behdins who are part of Empowering Mobeds Trust bring their professional expertise and religious knowledge to help groom and truly “empower” the next generation of Mobeds.
Over the centuries, our Mobeds have been the Keepers of the Flame. In their success is the success and continuity of our faith. In enabling them to do they need to do in service of the religion, we all secure the future of our ancient religion, faith and culture.
Parsi Khabar wishes the best to Empowering Mobeds Trust and all those involved.
Below is the text of the address given by our dear friend and mentor Dinshaw Tamboly at the function.
On behalf of my colleagues I extend to you all a very warm welcome at the inaugural function of Empowering Mobeds Trust which was duly registered in March 2022 with the Charity Commissioner at Mumbai.
a) The inspiration to establish Empowering Mobeds was that of my dear friend and colleague Binaifer Sahukar. It was her commitment and dedication that inspired all of us who believed in elevating the standing and condition of Mobedi as a profession.
We began on a cautious note in 2017 by forming an informal group called Empowering Mobeds. Our initial efforts were to hold bi annual training programs for full time practising Mobeds which were conducted by professionals from different fields such as ‘mental health’, Information Technology, corporate sector and of course scholar Priests.
We also held annual offsite programs at Sanjan.
During the two years of the Pandemic we had digital training every Thursday on different modules of psychotherapy and allied fields like music and art therapy and pastoral counselling. Our team conducted activity based bhantar classes on Zoom for an entire year. Some of our behdin- mobed initiatives have been with organizations like HPY, XYZ and Return to Roots with activities which included football matches and heritage walks.
During the pandemic, financial aid was given and support groups came together for therapeutic dialogues to facilitate emotional healing.
In the wake of an unfortunate fire accident that happened in 2019, a young Mobed from Surat was severely burnt whilst participating in a religious ceremony, WZO Trust’s received funds from Zoroastrian Charity Funds of Hong Kong, Canton & Macao from which we arranged free distribution of fire-retardant Jamas, gloves and padan to our Mobed Sahebs.
Let me now share with you my perception about the need for having a Trust such as Empowering Mobeds Trust.
b) Though having been born and bred at Mumbai my family roots are at Navsari, I recall that during my youth whenever we visited there, the respect that our Mobeds received from a satisfied laity left a lasting impression on my mind.
I vividly recall that whenever any important family related matter was to be discussed, my grandmother who lived at Navsari would invite our family
Panthaky, late revered Er. Cawas Ravji to be present along with her four sons. Such was the respect that our Mobeds had earned. Such was the esteem in which Mobeds were held, that a family moved with the Panthaky if he were to change the Agiary from where he was functioning.
Our connections with the Ravji family still continue over the decades, our connections now being with Dasturji Keki Ravji Meherjirana.
c) Coming to the present times, the relationship between Mobeds and laity has not been as was a few decades earlier.
It remains a fact that no community can survive without a strong religious foundation. At the same time no religion can survive without an enlightened clergy. The success and survival of our Zoroastrian community is undoubtedly directly linked to our religion and our Mobed’s.
We in Empowering Mobeds recognised that looking to present and the future spiritual needs of the community, what was necessary, was the development of an educated, intelligent, knowledgeable and articulate class of Mobeds. It was very essential to not only to encourage our young Athornans to embrace Mobedi as a full-time profession by making it economically viable, but also to inculcate in them the essential requisites required on how to interact with the laity, gradually shaping them to fit into the role of spiritual pastors who could be looked up to take on leadership roles besides being spiritual guides.
We propose to begin our activities with a pilot programme of identifying priests who show a commitment to practicing Modebi either part time or full time.
The intent is to train them in the following 5 core areas through Senior Priests as well as professionals in disciplines such as ‘mental health’, Information Technology, corporate sector, counsellors etc.
Rituals – How to conduct them and the Meaning
Prayers – Relevance, Pronunciation and Meaning
Presentation Skills – Grooming, Tone of voice, Decision making
Soft Skills – Confidence, Problem solving, Teamwork, Leadership
Connecting with Laity – Interpersonal skills, Being relatable
The main objective is to build a bridge between the community and our faith. With Mobeds who know their prayers and understand the rituals they can evolve into leaders who would connect with community members facing challenging times, by counselling them through prayers and a deeper connect with our faith.
d) We feel blessed that Mrs. Pearl & Mr. Hafeez Contractor, Eminent Architects and Philanthropists, are considering extending support. They have supported a number of causes such as donating munificent amounts to our various AtashBehrams, as well as of extending financial support to elderly Mobeds and their widows.
The couple do not have only our sincere gratitude and respect but also the genuine blessings of the hundreds they have helped.
Thank you all very much for attending in such large numbers. It is such a pleasure to see in the audience so many of our ‘Men in White’. We look forward to continuing support from our community.