Karachi Zarathusti Bannu Mandal: Centre celebrates 100 years of serving Zoroastrians of Karachi


June 5, 2012

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After a hundred years of philanthropic activities, the Karachi Zoroastrian Bannu Mandal (KZBM) is celebrating its centenary anniversary throughout 2012. This historic moment will be marked with colourful, varied and vibrant festivals as well as other events.

By Frayan Doctor


As a part of the festivities, a two-day exhibition was organised on June 2 and June 3 to showcase the talent of Zarathusi women in arts and crafts. One person that really caught the eye of most people at the event was Kainaz Irani, a young, skilled woman, who showcased her mastery in making bracelets, necklaces and earrings out of simple, bright-coloured pearl, seed, red-crystal and rice beads as well as buttons. It is a hobby she has actively and passionately pursued, turning it into a small and simple business which she runs from her home. She adequately manages to balance her university life and studies with her passion for creating fashionable jewellery, which is offered at a nominal price.

There were also hand-made necklaces and bracelets to view and purchase. The beautiful, colourful and intricate patterns designed on the hand-made items highlighted the talent these women possess. The hand-made crafts are available on sale at any time one wants to buy them.

The Zoroastrian community, comprising of Parsis and Iranians, is one of several ethnic communities that reside in the mega-city of Karachi. Having played a prominent role in the development of the metropolis before partition, the elite class of the Zoroastrian community has left behind a legacy which makes each and every Parsi and Iranian in Karachi to dream of a better and stable future. KZBM is one of the core pillars of this philanthropic work.

Known as the Parsi Colony where KZBM is situated in Saddar, opposite the Holy Family Hospital. This community centre was founded in 1912 by the Parsi aristocratic families of the time, with the view of financially and morally supporting those of its people who did not earn enough income to provide for the whole family.

KZBM is a welfare organisation that has always looked after the community. It provides funding for the needy Zoroastrian families for high school and university education and start a business. The Mandal, as it is affectionately known, has championed charity work by also providing free meals at least twice a week to the Parsi General Hospital, a medical institution that serves as an old peoples’ home too, taking care of elderly and sick Zoroastrians whose families live abroad.

The motto of the KZBM, Seva (Serve) and Sakhavat (Charity) has been at the core of its success since it was founded, and till today it has never side-tracked. It has rehabilitated, educated and provided for numerous Zoroastrian families, which has resulted in a 100% literacy rate in the community, ensured that every family has three meals a day, a roof over their heads and the chance to achieve a bright and successful future. The celebrations to mark the anniversary began with a Jashan in November 2011, which is a special one-hour prayer offered for a happier and healthier future. A sit-down dinner at the Karachi Parsi Institute followed, where the audience was treated to a slide-show movie of KZBM’s achievements in uplifting the community for the past 100 years. Women dressed up in the traditional Garaa and Kor (embroidered border) saris, and men dressed up in Daglees (long, white coats) and Fetas (hats), enjoying the famous and mouth-watering Dhandaar (rice with yellow lentils and prawn curry) and potatoes with mutton, and Parsi custard for dessert.

The celebrations will continue through 2012.  The KZBM has lined up a multitude of events, with a live stage play, followed by dinner, and a free of charge dinner party for the whole community being some of the events.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2012.