Liberal Parsis take on the orthodox

The Parsi community is set for a showdown with liberals taking on the orthodox, demanding that non-Parsis who have married into the community — and their children — be allowed to convert to the faith.

With a population of 69,000 according to the 2001 census, the community is the country’s fastest dwindling minority group. This is mostly because children of Parsis married to non-Parsis are not allowed to practise Zoroastrianism. Groups like the Association of Inter-Married Zoroastrians (AIMZ) and Association for Revival of Zoroastrianism (ARZ) are out to change that.

“Injustice is meted out to inter-married Parsi couples,” said Kersi Wadia, co-founder of ARZ. “But the scriptures do not say anything like this. They say the religion is universal.”

The associations have organised a talk on the true essence of Zoroastrianism by Chicago-based Zoroastrian high priest Dasturji Dr Kersey Antia at YB Chavan Auditorium on Saturday. Antia had performed the navjote (initiation ceremony) of an American, Joseph Peterson, who converted to Zoroastrianism after reading the religious scriptures in the 1980s.

“The idea is to enlighten people on what the gathas (religious texts) are about,” said AIMZ vice chairman Smita Crishna. “It will highlight the teachings of Zarathustra.”

The associations maintain they are not out to hurt anybody’s sentiments or personal interpretations of the religion. But they are concerned that ostracising women who marry non-Parsis and their children will contribute to the community’s failing strength.

“All we are saying is let them follow the religion,” said Wadia. “If we throw one person out of a fire temple, we throw an entire generation out. In 30 to 40 years, we will reach a point of no return.”

ARZ is taking other steps to ensure inter-married Parsis can practise Zoroastrianism freely. “We don’t want to flout any rules. We are in the process of setting up a separate temple for them,” said Wadia. “It is likely to come up in Goregaon in the next two years.”

Original article here

  • Eruch Sarkari

    Hi Shirin,

    It seems these days that every one wants to play GOD.

    How does what Kersi Antia
    did make things right for our religion ,frankly I find religious conversion in any form repulsive, if you are not happy with the religion of your birth , then you are better of as a non beleiver,Pattersons reading of our scriptures doesn’t and will not ever make him a true Zoroastrian .

    He will always be remembered as a wanna be Zoroastrian ,,and there will Iam sure in future be more like him.

    As for our dwindling numbers the issue is not ,I beleive about bringing Children of inter marriages into our faith ,but of making our own ,true beleivers and proud followers to keep this beautifull religion alive .

    And frankly I don’t think Liberals by their varied practice ,will be in any position to do so, moreso children brought up in the West or in the western way of thinking.

    Liberals by nature dont follow any beliefs or ideals for very long ,and few years down the road will advocate other changes to suit them ,so I would say to them go ahead form your own reilgion and beleifs as you see it today,open up new churches and or temples ,take in all the converts you can get but please please leave my Zoroastrian religion alone.

  • Its High Time That The Parsees try to live with the changing world.
    The Parsees are Mordern in outlook but they are still not that mordern when it comes to religion.
    There is nothing wrong in Marrying outside the fold, but it helps the community to grow & also it helps in giving birth to a very healthy child.
    Most of the cildern born to Parsees couples are not that healthy & most of them are not in sound mind.
    If we want the Parsees to increase their Populations than i think it is the best way to get into a wedlock with intercaste marriages, in this way the childern born will be healthy & with a very sound mind.
    I appeal to the so called Narrow minded Parsees & their so called Decent Trustees to allow the Childern born out of inter caste marriages be taken into the Parsees fold & see from the progressive point of view that the community which is on the brink of geting collaspe & a time will come when there will be a parsee family in the world museaum with a saying that “Once a upon Time there was a Race called The Mad Parsees.”
    I do hope that the trustees see the writing on the walls & try to Accept those Childern born out of inter caste marriages into the Parsees Fold.
    Hope that the so called Larened Parsees comes out of dep slumber & Accept the fact that there is no Harm in marrying outside the fold.
    One more thing i would like to advise the so called learned parsees that if you go to look deep into the Parsees History than you will come out of deep slumber It si written in the History that Our parsee kings were having wives from the Different Faiths & their childern born out of the non Parsees wives were also Accepted into the Parsees fold, then why this Discrimination to the Childern born out of inter faith marriages.
    Ronnie Patel (Muscat).