An evening of banter, food and immersive learning with the Bawajis of Kolkata


March 13, 2024

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Own the Past, a city group of history and heritage enthusiasts, are hosting a curated evening of diving into the legacy of Kolkata’s Parsi community with Bawa Bhonu & Gupshup

Article by Jaismita Alexander | The Telegraph India


On Sunday, March 17 at Kolkata’s Olpadwala Hall on Chowringhee Road, a curated evening titled Bawa Bhonu & Gupshup will take a deep dive into the legacy of Kolkata’s Parsi community

Bawa Bhonu & Gupshup — sounds like a fun tagline, doesn’t it? That’s the name for an upcoming event on Sunday, March 17 at Kolkata’s Olpadwala Hall on Chowringhee Road. Own the Past, a group of history and heritage enthusiasts in the city are organising the immersive event to revive conversation around the history and legacy of the Parsi community in Kolkata. The event promises engaging gupshup with Bawajis, as members of the Parsi community are often referred to colloquially, along with some great bhonu or food.

Run by Vibha Mitra, a versatile entrepreneur dealing with textiles and now heritage, Own the Past is a gurukul vertical in her OPUS Foundation Trust, which focuses on immersive learning about history. As part of the group, Mitra devotes her time, skills and resources to the appreciation of the intangible and tangible heritage of Kolkata. With the curated evening of Bawa Bhonu & Gupshup, she wants to bring to focus the small but iconic Kolkata Parsi community.


Vibha Mitra of Own the Past

Books, ‘Bawas’, ‘bhonu’ and more

The informative segment of the evening will see philanthropist, sportswoman and author Prochy N. Mehta engaging in a conversation with Yezdi Karai about her book Who is a Parsi? Mehta’s book busts the common myths about the community, their origins and their presence in India. Speaking to My Kolkata about the event, she said, “I am very excited to be a part of this. Vibha is doing a great job in reviving the history of the Parsis in Kolkata. It will be a great evening where people will know about the culture and traditions of the community. Besides the conversation, there will be the all-time favourite dhansak. So it is both bhonu and gupshup with the Bawajis.”


Prochy N. Mehta with her book ‘Who is a Parsi?’

As Mehta mentioned, a Parsi event is incomplete without bhonu and a special menu has been curated with popular Parsi favourites including mutton dhansak, sali ma marghi or sali boti, and more. The catered meal will be curated by Khurshid Vatcha, who is a teacher by profession but known in the Parsi community for her food, and serves up the culinary legacy of her family on special occasions within the Kolkata community. A traditional Persian Haft-seen table, which is usually laid out for Navroze, will be set up by Sanam Karai.


The vening will also feature delicious Parsi fare including the popular mutton dhansak

The event also promises a healthy dose of laughter and this gupshup part of the evening will be anchored by Cyrus Madan and Noomi Mehta, two stalwarts of the community in Kolkata, who are sure to add the humorous note tickling everyone’s funny bone with anecdotes.

“Our initiative is to rekindle a conversation on the legacy of the Parsi community in Kolkata,” said Mitra inviting Kolkatans to the event. “The event will talk about traditions, food, and culture, and be an immersive experience for the people of Kolkata. We are hoping people will have a good time. This is the first time we are doing something of this sort with the Parsi community and we plan to do more.”