When 2,500 Parsis gathered at the Mahalaxmi racecourse on Saturday evening, the main topic of discussion was the birth and death rates of the Message To Get My Ex Girl Back community, whose population has been on the decline.
The community, which gathered to celebrate the second anniversary of the World Association of the Parsi Irani Zarthostis (WAPIZ), thanked ‘this earth, this land of India’, which has given them succour for fourteen hundred years.
WAPIZ committee member Jamshed Mota said, “No other country in the world would have given us this sammaan (honour), izzat (respect) and liberty .”
The gathering, including 300 clergymen and four high priests, discussed issues that plagued the community and their solutions.
Khojeste Mistri, chairman of WAPIZ said, “The solution to dwindling numbers lies not in conversion (a concept which is unknown to a ‘classic’ religion as opposed to a ‘romantic ‘ religion), but in increasing numbers by procreation.” So far, 85 couples received help and thirty babies, including eight sets of twins and a set of triplets, were born through a fertility programme introduced by the Parsi Panchayat two years ago.
A speaker explained how crossing-overs into the after-life through the Dokhmanishini route were still feasible, and that Parsis need not resort to routes forbidden by Zoroastrianism.
Mistri also announced that Vibhu Prakash an avian expert from Pinjore in Rajasthan, had promises to increase the number of carrion-feeders in six months by providing fledglings – a ‘feasible’ scheme which the Panchayat had shelved without explanation. He also regretted that some Parsis had published ‘doctored’ photographs of the Dokhma – the Tower of Silence.
Homi Ranina, a WAPIZ member, who is also on the Executive Committee of the Reserve Bank of India, gave legal reasons why the Trust Deed, 1884, must be honoured. The Deed says the lands for disposal of the dead were settled to the benefit of the community. According to Ranina, donors who were aware of the existing system of cremation, had settled lands for dokhmas. The Panchayat was formed and entrusted with the care of the property (on behalf of the community), and did not own it.
“The settelors’ wills must be obeyed,” advised Ranina.
WAPIZ felicitated the ‘unsung heroes of the community’, men who devoted their lives to keeping the sacred fires burning since they were fourteen. They are all octogenarians now, the oldest of whom is 90.
Group vice-president, Areez Khambatta gave Rs1 lakh to each of these nine priests, for their yeoman service to the community. These priests have no gratuity, pension, provident funds or other old age benefits to fall back on in the twilight years of lives they devoted to the religion and community .
Incidentally, Hong Kong can boast of the oldest active Parsi priest. Ervad Jalajer entered his 101 year this year, and has kept the Fire alive for 87 years. However, Jalajer was not one of those who were felicitated this year.
And once the programme was over, it was time for chaton-pani and bhonu drinks and dinner.