Navroze is yet another opportunity for fun and matchmaking
Hoshang Patel has much to cheer about this Navroze, the Parsi New Year which is being celebrated today.
The 33-year-old bachelor, who has been bride-hunting of late, is looking forward to his date today with a girl whom he met at a recent pre-Navroze bash. The evening, a platform for the Zoroastrian youngsters to interact, was organised by Zoroastrian Youth for the New Generation (ZYNG) — a Parsi-Zoroastrian youth group that hosts, among other events, speed-dating dos for the community. “I heard of these dating events last November and have attended two such evenings,” he confesses. “I am an introvert and have a limited circle of friends. Now, when it’s time to get hitched, I need to socialise beyond my circle of friends to marry within my own community.”
A community known for their enterprising ways, Zoroastrians in Mumbai have been putting this skill to use to tackle the problem of their dwindling numbers. The religion, which promotes preservation of the purity of their race, doesn’t permit inter-racial marriages. Hence, the members have arrived at an innovative solution — speed dating. “We have hosted two speed-dating events at a popular resto-bar in South Mumbai and are hoping to have another one soon,” says Viraf Hansotia, co-founder of ZYNG. Nearly, 80 people attended both the dos.
The Bombay Parsi Panchayat (BPP) launched their matrimonial arm early last year and now regularly organises events to bring the single youth together, encouraging them to marry within the faith. “BPP started this facility following the requests from youngsters,” says Zarine Havewala, one of its organisers. Within one year, the committee has developed a database of over 300 eligible youngsters. “The last Census put our population at a little over 69,000 and every Census, our numbers have been dropping by 10,000. Today, many people marry outside the community. Though a Zoroastrian male’s children out of an interracial marriage can be admitted into the faith, the reverse is not permitted,” she adds.
One of the beneficiaries of BPP’s dating initiative is Ruby Mehta. She decided to attend one of their programmes last September. It was during the dinner and dance session that she met her now boyfriend Danny Wadivala. “He had been my friend’s partner for a few games, which were organised as part of such events. But she hadn’t taken much interest in him. Incidentally, we both hit it off,” laughs the 29-year-old, who has been dating Wadivala since November.
Matchmaking, however, is not the sole purpose of these events, insist Havewala and Hansotia. “Like the Navroze party on Saturday, we also organise picnics, paintball competitions and charity shows. The purpose is to bring the youth together and help them connect with their roots. If two people who have met at our events end up together for life, it’s an added bonus,” explains Hansotia. City architect Jimmy Mistry’s Parsi Resource Group hosts similar events, including an annual bike rally that hopes to help youth interact over their shared passion for vehicles. Yazdi Tantra’s zoroastrians.net is another such online group.
Twenty-four-year-old Ruzbeh Hansotia, who is a member of many Parsi youth organisations, feels such initiatives are most welcome. “We need to remain close-knit. And these events help achieve that,” he says. Supporting such moves, Khurshed Mistree says that he has come out of his isolated existence, which he led in Parsi baugs and colonies with his fixed set of friends.
The organisations are also utilising technology to get Parsis hooked. Apart from BPP’s regular matrimonial service, where the committee shares details of possible matches with those enlisted, they have also started a Facebook group for people to interact. Its members regularly organise movie and dinner outings. “The success has been huge and now the community members from outside Mumbai too have approached us. Next month, we will be inviting them to attend one of our events to help bridge the geographical gap.”