After a solemn ten days dedicated to praying for the souls of the departed, the Parsi community celebrated Navroz or new year with faith and fervour on Friday. In the run-up to the festival, veteran cricketer and former India captain Nari Contractor spread cheer among the aspiring players of Parsi Gymkhana by distributing cricket kits to 23 members.
Developer Boman Irani, who sponsored the largesse, said he hoped to revive the glory that the community had once brought to the sport.
Parsi Baugs across the city also witnessed a fair amount of ceremony. Gulshan Deboo of the illustrious family that owned India’s first chain of laundries, Leach & Weborny, admits that over the years, festivities have diminished somewhat owing to the cosmopolitan culture of Mumbai. "Still, the community makes it a point to visit the agiary or atashbehram this day. The devout visit agiaries during the 10 days that precede Navroz, for this is the time when we pray for the souls of the dead. Pateti, the last day of the year, which was observed on Thursday, is a time for atonement," she says.
After the solemnity and prayer of the night, the feasting begins. Irani and his wife, actor Perizaad Zorabian, could not take much time off work but had planned a "nice dinner" at the end of the day. Families that have migrated from the Baugs or whose children have flown the nest recall the lavish meals including fish and meat preparations, followed by a Gujarati play that once characterized Navroz. Deboo’s residential colony of Shapur Baug in Girgaum did not organize a community celebration although clusters of friends did get together. "It differs from Baug to Baug. I think it is the small towns with a sizeable Parsi population, Jamshedpur where I belong for instance, that perhaps manage to preserve the closeness," she says.