Nargol is set to become the first village in the country to host a Parsi festival. This will be similar to government sponsored annual fests like Tarnetar fair, Kutch festival and kite festival.
The historic village was developed by first generation immigrant Parsis who landed on the Arabian Sea coast in Valsad’s Umbergaon taluka bordering Maharashtra about 1,200 years ago.
The Nargol village panchayat – most members are from Patel, Bhandari, Machhi and Muslim communities – passed a resolution on August 13 to organize a Parsi festival every year. They have urged Gujarat government to allocate funds for this purpose.
Says Farooque Gowadia, member of Nargol Parsi Anjuman, one of the oldest Parsi associations: "It’s a great honour for the Parsi community in India and across the world. We are eagerly waiting for the state government to clear the proposal of Nargol panchayat at the earliest so that we can invite our community members to the festival."
When Parsis first landed at Port of Sanjan, they were awestruck by the beauty and serenity of the beach dotted with casurina trees on their way to the kingdom of Jadi Rana. After the leader and high priest of Parsi community, Dastoor Dhaval, convinced the king to accept them in his kingdom, immigrants set up base in Nargol.
They launched tadi, fermented juice from the palm tree, from here. At that time, most of them were involved in tadi and fodder business.
"Nargol was developed by Parsis. It has architectural marvels made by them some 600 years ago. That’s why we want the community from across the world to converge here at the Parsi festival so they can come close to their roots," says Yatin Bhandari, one of the youngest sarpanches of Nargol village.
He says Nargol still has more than 100 houses owned by Parsis and a tower of silence built in 1767. The Nargol Parsi Anjuman runs an English medium school and textile, PTC and fine arts colleges in the village. Most important village roads have been named after Parsi leaders.
Legend has it that Parsis named the village ‘Anar Gul’- flower of pomegranate. Later, it became famous by the name of Nargol among locals in Umbergaon.
More than 100 years ago, the village had more than 3,500 Parsis. Today, there are just 150 to 200 out of a population of 11,000. Most members of the community have shifted to Mumbai. But, they visit their native village twice or thrice a month.