Rebel Parsis ready with agiary plan

A group of reformists acquires land at Malad to build a fire temple that will be open to even spouses of community members married outside the fold

It could be an event quite unprecedented in the 3000-year-old history of the Zoroastrian religion. A group of reformists in the community, called the Association for Revival of Zoroastrianism (ARZ), are planning to set up an agiary or fire temple that will be open to spouses of community members married outside the fold.

The move is likely to create a storm in the community which bars entry at fire temples to non-Parsis, including non-Parsi women married to Parsis and children of Parsi women married outside the community.

In August 2005, the group had converted a Colaba apartment into a prayer hall more liberal in allowing people to attend religious ceremonies. The hall also offered navjote or initiation ceremonies for children of Parsi women married outside the community. Currently, navjote is allowed only if both parents are Parsis or if the father is from the community. Non-Parsi women married into the community, however, are not allowed to convert, though their children can be initiated into the faith.

The new fire temple will come up on the Malad-Goregaon stretch of the Western Express Highway near the Nirlon colony, one of the newest Parsi community housing estates. The donor of the land is a business family from the community. The final deeds for the property are in the process of being signed, an ARZ trustee said. The announcement about the construction of the fire temple will be made at a function on February 10 at Talyarkhan Hall where Zoroastrian scholar Dina McIntyre will deliver a lecture on ‘Zoroastrianism: A Universal Religion’. Construction is expected to start once the final deeds are completed.

Solicitor and columnist Berjis Desai, who advocates the reformist point of view, said that consecration of a fire temple was a long and elaborate process. “There is a difference between a prayer hall and an agiary, the consecration of which is difficult. However, an attempt will be made to go as close as we can to the setting up of a full-fledged agiary,” he said. Kerssie Wadia, a chartered accountant and ARZ trustee, said, “All
Zoroastrians, including converts, will be allowed into the fire temple. However, this should not give the signal that we are into
conversions,” said Wadia.

The group feels that admitting the spouses and children of Parsis who have married outside the community is the only way to save their faith and bolster their declining numbers. It is estimated that one in three Parsis now marry outside the community.

The announcement for the construction of the new agiary is expected to create another furore in the community after the controversy over photographs of decomposing bodies at the Towers of Silence that were circulated by Lamington Road resident Dhun Baria.

However, Desai said that he did not expect much opposition from orthodox members. “When we said earlier that fire temples should be opened to non-Parsi spouses, we were told that we could set up our own fire temple for that purpose,” Desai added. The Association of Inter-married Zoroastrians, a group largely comprising Parsi women married outside the community, is supporting the ARZ initiative.

Originally posted in Mumbai Mirror

  • RUSTOM JAMASJI

    Agiaries were the ONLY safe place of worship that were not harmed during Bombay Riots since the majority knew we are non converting race and the fact that other than Parsi’s no other community members were present.
    I think those who want to rudderlessly change Zoroastrianism without political hind or forsight, without having a pulse on current affairs and with a closed mind of just changing for the sake of changing will not only prove themselves dangerous to Zoroastrianism but to all the community members.Instead of having a body like the Vatican that flexis its muscles when Christianity and Catholics are in danger, we have bodies that fight our existence.

    Imaging an agiary with 10000 intermarried Zoroastrians. This automatically takes the figure to 20,000 people including 10000 spouses of different faiths that have a say in the agiary matters. It would be naive to think that Christian, Muslim, Hindu spouses of the zoroastrians are going to give up their beliefs even the ones that are banal to Zoroastrianism. The offsprings of these intermarried are naturally not going to differentiate between, our yasna ceremony and yagna of hindu parent, our gah/ boi ceremony with that of the namaaz and with time, we will have an agiary that enjoys idol worship,christian rituals and or any other non zoroastrian rites depending on the majority of the devotees.

    With a gap of a generation, the forth comming Zoroastrian will think that Zoroastrianism is what is practised , a fusion , a cult of everything and anything even that ,that Zoroaster himself preached against.

    In a world where Islam , promotes itself thru Quaran T.V , Christianity thru their God network and Hindu’s thru their Jagaran chanells , we have our leaders aiding the process of fusing ourslves even further and creating controversies that instead of enlightening a Zoroastrian child as to what he is , confusing him even more.
    The Spartans defeated the Mighty Persians due to a traitor, Now who needs a traitor when wisdom and forsight ceases to prevail.
    As far as, ‘Sai Baba, Cross, and all entering the Zoroastrian agiary, the excuse of’ AME SU THAIU, BADHU SAME CHE ‘ ALREADY PREVAILS.

  • Rhoda

    very good thoughts ! thank you all for such noble work.

  • Cherag

    I Would just like to know, If a parsi man marries a non-parsi women, suposing being a brahmin, and the non-parsi women has began eating fish, chicken and egg, just for her husband, and is also ready to get converted into a parsi and follow all the ritual as per Zoroastrianism, but still the parsi community does not except them and then they say that the community is diminishing, IT WILL! and this will lead to non existence of parsis but will only exist in HISTORY books….OK Forget that, My Question is , Now that girl cannot eat non-veg and go back to her community as brahmins would also not except that too, so after she dies, which after death rituals will she be dealing in, can she be taken to the tower of silence of parsis or is there any other organisation for this as well.

    If Any one can pls answer my question, giving me sensible answers, not like, “that is her problem and she has to deal with it.” but a good solution that every non-parsi person can do. pls email me to my email addr above….
    thanking you.