Of myths, legends and fabled Parsi gems


March 29, 2006

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Bombay | Books | Heritage

SHAPURBAUG: A retired school teacher is trying to cull out fables and legends about the Parsis in a bid to retrace the path trodden by the community and record people’s lives for posterity.

Article by Supriya Thanawala | DNA India

“The Parsi community cannot simply be allowed to forget its culture,” says Ratti Wadia, former principal of Queen Mary’s school, herself a Parsi born and brought up at Shapurbaug near Opera House.

“Earlier, mothers sat with children and narrated tales,” she says. “But in this age of urbanisation, working women do not have the inclination to spend time with their children.”

“I feel this gap needs to be filled. There isn’t a single book which compiles all the myths and legends about the Parsis. This is what I’m trying to do,” Wadia explains. “I am re-writing these mythologies in my own way, so that a child can enjoy the simple narrative.”

Wadia’s roots are entrenched in the city. “What I am writing cannot be termed as history, but the legends we grew up with. I think these tell us about what it means to be a Parsi, through what our traditions are,” she states.

“I have chosen the ones relevant to children and adults. This has some of the most important lessons that today’s generation can learn.”

Wadia, whose inspiration was Principal B R Shelton while she studied at St Mary’s, always loved to write long letters. “My letters were extremely long. And Shelton told me after I retire, I must write a novel,” she says.

“I want the title to be as simple as the book. It could be something like ‘Myths and Legends of the Parsis’ or ‘Zoroastrians of Iran’.”

Wadia is also compiling a book called ‘Memoirs of a Teacher’, which would include the heart-warming letters she has received from her students during her career as a teacher as well as a collection of essays and short stories on Shakespeare, her greatest passion.

Supriya Thanawala Thursday, September 22, 2005 00:40 IST DNA