Wishing each other ‘Sal Mubarak,’ the city’s Parsi community celebrated the Navroze or the Parsi New Year on Friday. Warm family gatherings, a visit to the fire temple or agiary, Parsi delicacies like ‘ravo’ and ‘pulav’ play a very important role in the New Year celebrations. ‘Navroze,’ a Persian word, literally means ‘New Day.’
The rituals on the big day were marked by morning and evening prayers at the fire temple with offerings made to the Fire God. "We offer sandalwood or teak wood to our God Ahura Mazda, which is represented by the fire in the agiary, followed by special thanksgiving and appraisal prayers. We will be offering prayers on Saturday morning as well," said Rumy Mehta, secretary of Poona Parsi Panchayat Trust.
The day provides special bonding among families and the community as a whole. "Families get-togethers and outings are big on Navroze. With a rising number Parsis in the city, such bonding is happening in a big way. We had a play organised at the Nehru memorial hall on Pateti on Thursday evening," said Amy Kotwal, wife of Keki Kotwal, head priest at SR Patel Daremeher, the oldest agiary in the city, dating back 165 years, located in Nana Peth. With around 10,000 Parsis dwelling in the city, the festivities have a unique vigour. "With a number of Parsi colonies coming up in the city, the number of Parsis has increased from 7,000 to around 10,000 in the last decade. This has provided much vigour to our festivities and celebrations.
Even the Parsi youth are taken renewed interest in our religious celebrations," added Mehta. Navroze is incomplete without a lavish spread of special delicacies like ‘pulav,’ ‘patra-nu-machchi,’ ‘lagan-nucustard,’ ‘dhansak’ and Parsi colostyle ‘jalebis.’ "A lot of Parsis prefer placing pre-orders of Navroze special dishes and then take them home for family gatherings," said restaurateur Darius Dorabjee, who will be serving a la carte menu comprising ‘dhansak,’ ‘patra-numachchi,’ ‘sali chicken,’ ‘sali gosht,’ lagan-nu-custard,’ mutton cutlets and ‘kebabs,’ at his restaurant in Pune Camp till Sunday. The fish is an auspicious dish, he said.
"Parsis look forward to enjoying a hearty Navroze meal of steamed pomfrets dressed in green chutney and packed in banana leaves. Sweetmeats in any Parsi home on the occasion are Parsi-style ‘suttar-feni’ and ‘jalebi’ that are low on sugar and oil," said Dorabjee, who offers dishes cooked on a charcoal pit. Pateti precedes Navroze. "Navroze is preceded by Muktad, or the last ten days of the previous year. It is believed that during this ten-day festival, the spirits (farohars) of the dead visit their near and dear ones," said Mehta.