Mumbai Parsi Panchayat election heats up

With the new challengers unveiling their panel, the war for elections to the Bombay Parsi Panchayat is already heating up.

For a community which believes in maja ni life this crowd of Parsis was pretty serious. The occasion: The unveiling of new panel of reformists to contest elections to the Bombay Parsi Panchayat – a body which presides over community's affairs.

The who's who of Mumbai's prominent Parsis were all here at this South Mumbai gathering. Clearly no one seems to be taking the panchyat polls in October lightly.

Legal eagles, corporate honchos, big bankers and accomplished doctors form the panel being put up by the Adult Franchise for Progress group a group that's taking on the conservatives.

People like Ervad Nadir Mo

di, a senior advocate, Noshir Dadrewal, CEO, Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy, Byram Jeejeebhoy, Chairperson, Jeejeebhoy Trust, Maneck Engineer, Senior VP, Godrej & Boyce, Dr Ketanyu Dinshaw, Head, Tata Memorial Hospital, Keki Mistry – MD, HDFC and Sohrab Dastur, Senior Tax Advocate graced the occasion.

With only 40,000 Parsis in Mumbai, clearly every vote counts. No surprise then that even the reformists take care to watch just how much they attack their rivals.

Then there are voices in the community uncomfortable with this tug of war.

They may be one of the smallest communities in India but the Paris have always wielded a lot of influence.

Original article here.

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  • siloo Kapadia

    Yes, these elections are very seriously watched. I am so sick and tired of the older, conservative “junglees” that have a grip on the religion, telling everyone that what they say and what has been practiced for years is “the law”. They have no idea of what real Zoroastrianism is about. Their rituals are almost entirely taken from Hinduism, yet they keep repeating their mantra of “no converts, vulture culture, and drink cow piss.”

    Certainly this is not the religion that our holy prophet had taught. After all, where do they think the first Zarathusthis came from? Walmart? And why is cow piss so important in the navjote?

    We need religious REFORM, and as long as these dinosaurs are in charge of things the community will only shrink. Thank God for the Wadias and other like-minded people. NOW IS THE TIME. We must get rid of their grip on the community and on the religion once and for all. If they like, we can allow them some funds and send them on their way. That’s right, out with the old baggage.

    Hooray for the AFP! Away with all the conservative rubbish! Our community and religions must move on!

  • DJ

    I think your brain needs reforming.

    Lets open the floodgates and allow everyone in that way our already convoluted religion gets even further watered down by external influence.

    So you think you know better what Zoroastrianism is all about, better than our high priests? Who made you the authority? Its people like you who have no faith in our religious tenets that is dragging our community down the drain. I think its the reformists that need to get packing.

  • siloo Kapadia

    But who made you or them the authority? The community is DYING. Soon there will be few if any left in India. And why shouldn’t people who really want to belive be denied entrance?

    If India had felt that way about us when the few priests made it to their shores from Persia, there would be no Parsis.

    Yes, let us have reform. And all you dinosaurs, go your own way. That is fine.

  • Roopy

    Siloo,

    It would be greatly appreciated if you could express your opinions without all of the unecessary name calling.

    I believe you may be confusing religion with culture. Many Parsi traditions and rituals have been derived from Hinduism, this is true. However, I cannot think of one Zoroastrian ceremony that is taken from another religion.

    You also mentioned, “They have no idea of what real Zoroastrianism is about.”

    Do you? If so, please enlighten us.

  • Bennie

    Siloo,

    It is very evident from your post that you have absolutely no knowledge or respect for the basics or our religion. At least do your homework before you choose a side. Your ignorance is what is hurting our community and the beliefs of our youth. It is absolutely PATHETIC when people such as you talk random reformist crap without the knowledge on what you are trying to reform. With your lack of knowledge, you spew this crap and question the faith. Go get enlightened woman! I wonder how old you are – there are some kids who know why we do what we do much better than you.

    We, the youth, have answers to all your pathetic and ignorant comments. And no maam, we are not dinosaurs, WE JUST KNOW OUR RELIGION WAY BETTER THAN YOU.

  • Roopy

    One more thing, Siloo: I resent your generalization of “conservative Zarthushtis” as dinosaurs. I am only 24, after all.

    What is it exactly that you wish to see happen to the Zoroastrian religion? What exactly is it that we should be moving on to? Is it truly a solution? Will Zoroastrianism really be better off with this new reform that you demand so much?

  • DJ

    Siloo,

    What we have been practicing for years is indeed the law. It maintained us against all odds and has been shakeout-tested over millennia. If we are indeed dying its only because reformists and ignorant individuals are messing with perfection (our religion the way it is). The only reason why people want change right now is because they are lazy, ignorant, or both when it comes to following our rules, and NOT because they are open-minded. Accepting the religion for what it is (different from others) takes a much more open mind. The reformists want change for purely selfish reasons, to suit their lifestyle, and frankly don’t know anything about the religion, our establishments, or our community’s accomplishments to date. You better believe they would sell our prime dhokma real estate to developers in a heartbeat while lining their pockets if elected. The only transparency you are going to gain is having the ability to watch as the money flows in to their pockets and community land diminishes.

    You are extremely contradictory and every sentence leads me to believe that you are unaware of why we do the things we do. How on earth can ‘entirely all our rituals be taken from hinduism’ and at the same time spout ‘No converts, Vulture culture, and drink cow piss” when Hindus do NONE of these things.

    The policy of not converting and intermarrying was in effect long before we came to India. There are passages in the Nasks which filter down into the Vanidad regarding this. The Nasks were revealed to Zarathustra and therefore is indeed what Zarthustra preached. If that is too ambiguous for you, take into consideration that all of our modern day (1800’s-present) saints who had proven spiritual capability, all reinforced these tenets. How can a normal human being reform a religion? Are any of these reformists spiritually inclined whatsoever? In fact some of them are quite the opposite. Also it’s a known fact that besides India, Irani-Zarthusti’s fled to all parts of the world after the Muslim conquest. Where are they today? Assimilated into the melting pot that was their new homeland. That is what is going to become of us should we decide to reform. If a Parsi like you doesn’t know so much about our religion what chance does an outsider have?

    Using vultures to dispose of the dead. Stop and think about it for a second. At first, you may say ‘eww’ .. but then when you really think about it, is there any more sanitary more ecologically sound way of disposing of dead bodies? Burying would come in a distant second, as it pollutes the earth. Cremation is HIGHLY restricted as we revere fire as the son of God and wouldn’t dream of desecrating the holy Atash with a dead body. Yet the reformists want to build a crematorium on the Dokhma grounds. If we did bury our dead our forefathers would be spinning in their graves that such incompetence is even being considered by our community.

    And now on to your ‘cow piss.’ The fact that you called it that shows just how truly ignorant you are. Taro is taken from a bull first of all, and not just any bull. The Varasya is a pure white bull with not a single dark hair. Its urine is then taken and put through the VERY elaborate Nirangdin ceremony to produce Nirang. This Nirang has been scientifically proven to be devoid of any bacteria (for years on end might I add) against a control sample taken from a farm bull with no prayers. Thereafter transformed by these prayers and blessings, it becomes an agent of purification and that is why it is used in all of our ceremonies. It internally purifies us before our navjote and wedding ceremonies.

    Your last sentence shows arrogance of the highest degree. If it was not for the conservative doctrine, fervently preserving the shreds that remain of our religion, we would have nothing left today. If it wasn’t for the Priests and dedicated Behdins who tended to our sacred Atash in caves, memorized volumes of religious texts, and held onto every shred of spirituality so that they could hand it down to the future generations, if it was not for them, none of us would exist today. So please, keep your money, we aren’t going anywhere. We are proud, strong, and dedicated to uphold the traditional beliefs of our religion bar none. It’s the reformists who have recently come to fruition that need to get packing and go their own way. All of our land, trusts, and places of worship were built on conservative laurels. If you don’t like that, build your own religion and stop the usual reformist lethargy by encroaching on ours.

    Finally Siloo, like Roopy and Bennie, I am no dinosaur. Im young, 25, and trust me when I say that there are more of us than you think. If you don’t already, try praying in front of the divo with all your heart on a regular basis. The truth will reveal itself to you.

  • 96

    The only thing becoming transparent thanks to these forums are peoples political ideologies and the divides they create which are only futher exacerbating the problems our community is suffering from.

    They are current contemporary problems which are not easily solvable yet aligning ones self to either political paradigm only creates group think.

    IT IS TIME FOR CHANGE – but not for a new faction to come in and whitewash the global Zoro community. The change must incorporate real solution to the debilitating problems whilst not relinquishing what it means to be Zoroastrian. If this religion is to survive we need communication, understanding and coorporation from both ends of this political spectrum – for there is much to be learnt from every Zoroastrian no matter how learned they are. You guys are competing like its a dick measuring contest over who knows more about the religion.

    Please people – this is not a shit fight. This is the future of a religion hundreds of thousands of people love. Unity is the way forward – not bickering and dividing.

    All the best and God bless.
    -Rayomand

  • Delnavaz

    Hi DJ,
    I loved the way you have explained some of our basic but extremely important rituals. When I read Siloo’s comments, I was so appalled that I did not even know where to start trying to educate someone who is so ignorant and arrogant at the sametime. You have made me feel much better. Jame was once such a great paper. However, unfortunately today it has become the mouthpiece for the so called reformists, spewing venom on anyone who dares to contradict their views and ideas. Unfortunately ‘Orthodoxy’ has become a shameful word for the Parsis. I am proud of every aspect of my religion…. traditions, rituals and all. Siloo, I really hope someday you realize your mistake, make amends and change your ways. Hopefully it will not be too late.
    Thanks,
    Delnavaz