Everyday Parsi: The Tombstone Edition


August 15, 2020

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On the last Gatha at the end of this Muktad period, I would like to share an #everydayParsi story of a different kind.

While the last few authors have all shared their memories of muktad as “Everday Parsis” like you and me, today we remember the Everyday Parsis of yore who have passed away, some nearly two centuries ago. They lay in rest in faraway Parsi cemeteries. Their graves are not only a marker of their final resting place, but also a testament to the pioneerng Parsi spirit of our ancestors which took them to these far off lands. Over the last 10 days I have posted a series of pictures on my facebook and instagram feeds. Read on…

“…..Over the next 10 muktad days I will share some photographs of tombstones from Parsi cemeteries the world over that I have had a chance to visit.

The first one is from the very small cemetery in Macau. This is the oldest of the three in the region. The tombstone you see is of Cursetjee Sapoorjee Banajee originally of Bombay who passed away on February 27, 1840, nearly two centuries ago. I remember thinking to myself as I took this photograph….what was this man’s story. How did he arrive here and later pass away. And in wondernment I said an Ashem Vohu and a Yatha Ahu Vairyo for his departed ruvan.



Today we pay our respects to Hormusji Pestonji Jacus who died in Amritsar on August 8th 1890 and was laid to rest in the Lahore Parsi Cemetery. In Pre-Partition India Lahore and Amritsar were twin cities separated by an hour’s drive. And Amritsar had a sizeable Parsi presence too.
Lahore’s Parsi Cemetery also called Gulbaug is a large sprawling cemetery surrounded by the typical urban chaos that one finds in most cities today. When it was established more than a century and a half ago, it was on the outskirts of the city.



The tombstone of Byramjee Dinshwji Dhunna Patelna is in the gorgeous Hong Kong Parsi Cemetery. The boy died at a very young age, probably from an illness on September 10th, 1858. I think this is the oldest tombstone in the Hong Kong Cemetery. I was lucky to visit it with my dear friend and head priest of Hong Kong Anjuman, Dasturji Homyar.



Today we visit the tombstone of Pirojshah Rustomji Daruwalla, who lies at peace in Gulbaug, the Lahore Parsi Cemetery. The headstone is beautifully ornate. What is interesting on the headstone is that his name is just mentioned as P. Rustomji in English while in Gujarati it is fully spelt out, including his last name.
Pirojshah died on 28th November 1933 and was buried in Lahore, Pakistan. Garothman Behest to his Ruvan.



This tomb monument has an interesting twist. Pestonjee Cawasjee Darabsha Sethna who founded the firm Cawasjee Pallanjee & Co. of China passed away on August 18, 1842. However this monument was erected by his descendants, decades later on July 31st, 1919. Wonder what took so long. This also was one of the most recent ones in the Macau Parsi Cemetery before it stopped being used.



Today we pay respects to the grave of Bai Cursedbai Bhicajee Kmaras who lies in the Lahore Parsi cemetery having passed away in November 27, 1897.



Today we seek the blessings of Tehmina Peshotan Bhandara who passed away on January 6, 1995 and lies at rest in Gulbaug the Lahore Parsi Cemetery.



An interesting tombstone in the Hong Kong Parsi Cemetery wretched in the memory of Jamasji Byramjee Colah who died at sea on a a sailing vessel off the coast of Macau, on the night of 31st May, 1875.



The oldest tombstone in the Macau Parsi Cemetery I could find was that of Cursetjee Framjee. A “Native of Bombay” as is inscribed on the stone, he passed away on March 17th, 1829…nearly two centuries ago.



And the last in the series is the tomb of one of the greatest Parsis of Hong Kong… Hormusjee Naorojee Mody. The founder of many a Hong Kong public institution include the HK University, etc. He lays in rest at the beautiful Hong Kong Parsi Cemetery in Happy Valley.