Matrimony: The Great Parsi Pursuit

An enterprising 55-year-old bachelor claiming to have almost made it to the portals of the Forbes list of billionaires was reluctantly but firmly refused entry to an exclusive party last Saturday. So were pushy parents and wannabe in-laws eager to gatecrash the meet.

By Mahafreed Irani for TNN

The unlikely bouncers were hoary-headed and fragile but iron-willed pillars of the Zoroastrian community who’d arranged the get-together: a speed dating event special only for Zoroastrian eligibles from ages 18 to 40.

The soporific environs of Khareghat Colony at Hughes Road were suddenly charged with exuberance when 96 singles descended upon the party, organised by the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP), which has turned determined match-maker to counter the dwindling population of the Zoroastrian community. The 2001 census figures pointed to 69,600 Parsis in India; a recent research paper predicts that by 2051, there will be only 34,000. Little wonder then that BPP proposes to have a meet a month and has crossed its fingers that they will culminate in a few happily-married-ever-after stories.

With the old ways of making matches through word of mouth by the kaajwali bai (matchmaker) almost redundant, organiser and BPP trustee Arnavaz Mistry says it was singles who wanted the BPP to organise more community meets. And the response, she adds, has been “unprecedented’’ with 91 singles attending the first meet in February and 96 the second one. At Saturday’s show, however, one gender outnumbered the other by far; there were 60 male participants to the 36 female ones.

As the show took off, perennially favourite party games with appropriate innovations helped break the ice and let the singles mingle. The Queen of Sheeba suddenly showed a bias for significantly Zoroastrian items, with an Asho Farohar pendant, a kusti (holy thread worn around the waist) and a gent’s sadra (muslin shirt of religious significance) on her requests list. One team gained extra points when an eager beaver swiftly disrobed and proffered his sadra to the team members to gain winning points. His initiative was heartily applauded and an onlooker wondered why others were reluctant to follow in this Salman Khan’s footsteps.

As the group games progressed, bashful youngsters were seen conversing and getting to know each other. “If you look closely, you’ll notice that the guys are actually more shy than the girls,’’ said Zarin Havewala, one of the organisers. But some were pretty determined. Yazdi Naval Manek, 38, said he had been trying to find a suitable match for seven years. “Earlier the BPP would send registered letters with details about prospective brides. But that method was very slow and didn’t really help me,’’ says the resident of Byculla’s Jer Baug, who then tried to chat up a group of giggling girls from Godrej Baug. Their dilemma was apparent. “I’m 29, unmarried and Parsi. There are too few boys, too much pressure,’’ lamented a girl.

A young man came forward to speak up before the crowd, “I’m looking for a girl with both sense and sensibility. The bank balance doesn’t matter and since I’m going to go top of the hill soon, I think it’s time to get a life partner. Let’s appreciate the efforts of the BPP by making efforts ourselves,’’ he said. Colaba residents and friends Vaspan Chichgar and Khushroo Tata wanted to “connect positively’’ with the girls and strike up a friendship that would hopefully blossom into marriage. “It’s better to be friends, get to know the person before jumping into marriage,’’ says Chichgar, pointing out that the community has a high divorce rate which needs to be controlled. “I want to increase the Parsi progeny and give back to the community,’’ he adds nobly. Well, here’s one speed dating event that combines this kind of magnanimity with some good old self-interest.

  • Keki Guard

    Hi,
    Certainly a very good initiative by the Parsee Panchyat, but at the same time the panchyat also needs to monitor and ensure that this does not turn up in ruining the life of the boy or the girl.

    The BPP should be very stickt in case of divorce where the couple should be deprived of the facilities provided.

    In my opinion the Parents should also be given some guidenance and understanding, they should be made aware of the right age of marriage.

    I really appreciate the efforts of BPP, they have brought the Horse to the water now to drink or not is the descision of the horse.

  • Burjor Bharucha

    The BPP specially Trustee Arnavaz Mistry needs to be applauded for this wonderful idea which would help young girls and boys to meet and get to know each other. This common platform which I understand will be held once every month needs to be made more informal and friendly. Regular feed back from the participants on how the event could be made more enjoyable and to a great extent informal would go a long way in creating a harmonious atmosphere where both the girls and boys would loosen up and develope friendly ties which would gradually blossom into matrimonial relationships.

    There is also the need for those singles above the age of 40 to have similar meets. These meets could be held separately on a different date. I am sure there are quite a number of such zoroastrians who have missed the matrimonial bus earlier and are on the look out for a life companion and this platform could be right venue of getting them together.

    Hope you agree Ms. Arnavaz Mistry>

  • Burjor Bharucha

    The BPP specially Trustee Arnavaz Mistry needs to be applauded for this wonderful idea which would help young girls and boys to meet and get to know each other. This common platform which I understand will be held once every month needs to be made more informal and friendly. Regular feed back from the participants on how the event could be made more enjoyable and to a great extent informal would go a long way in creating a harmonious atmosphere where both the girls and boys would loosen up and develope friendly ties which would gradually blossom into matrimonial relationships.

    There is also the need for those singles above the age of 40 to have similar meets. Right now this group is debarred from one meant only those below the age of 40, and rightly so. However, these meets for the above 40s could be held separately on a different date and I am sure there would be quite a number of such zoroastrians who have missed the matrimonial bus earlier and are on the look out for a life companion to share their remaining years for which this platform could be ideal venue of getting them together.

    Do you agree Ms. Arnavaz Mistry?

  • Siloo Kapadia

    This is an excellent idea. We can also have inter-faith meetings sponsored by the community as well so we can learn about others and have them learn about us.

  • Diana Bharucha

    Although one must applaud theBPP and especially the efforts of Arnavaz Mistry , let’s hope it’s not just too little too late … we need a Arnavaz Mistry in each and every Parsi Anjuman !!
    Many many such tireless efforts have to be made. Let this be a wonderful beginning .

  • dr arnavaz m havewala

    i am really happy about this matrimonial meetings.
    all our kids say that there is no time to socialise and mingle..what with punishing studies and bad working hours.
    i solidly support this and am happy to see my family members’ involvement.
    hope many marriages are made..not in heaven…but in these meetings.

  • Name (required)

    Hey Mahafreed Irani,

    Really a good write yup, also the read this in the ToI,
    it was really good to see you there taking notes and then
    coming out with a beautiful article like this one.

  • Aarnosh

    G8 Work,,, Really happy for this,, But please keep it rolling for ever,,,,,