Pune Parsis Mark New Year with Festivities


August 20, 2010

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The city’s 8,000 strong Zoroastrian community is all set to bring in the Navroze or the Parsi New Year on Thursday with customary fervour

"The 10 days before Navroze are marked by prayers for the departed, at Agiaries in the city. The 10th day is called Pateti, which was on Wednesday," said businesswoman Persis Katpitia. "Pateti is a day of repentance for people, to reflect on their thoughts, words and deeds in the preceding year and to repent any mistakes. Thus, everyone may bring in the New Year or Navroze on a fresh and positive note."

"New Year’s Day or Navroze begins early with families offering prayers at the Agiary. Sev’ (a vermicilli preparation roasted in ghee and choc-a-bloc with dry fruits) is a favourite preparation for breakfast. It is eaten with yoghurt and enjoyed by young and old alike," said retired professional Aspi Mistry. "People decorate their homes beautifully with floral torans along their doorways. In the old days, every door in the house was decorated with torans, but these days, it’s usually just along the main door. Intricate and creative rangolis dot the floor as well, indicating the sanctity of the festival. Fish and floral motifs (rangolis) are considered especially auspicious," he said.

Calling on friends and family to offer them New Year greetings is the order of the day. Sutarfeni’, mawa’ fish (a barfi shaped like a fish) and chocolates are offered to visitors, as is falooda’ a sweet milky drink with vermicelli, flavoured with rose essence.

Lunch is an elaborate and delicious affair with various Parsi dishes jostling for space. "Sali boti a mutton and potato preparation, chicken farchas, patrani machchi’ (fish steamed in a leaf), mutton pulao and dal, kid gosh’ and sasni machchi’ a thick white gravy with pomfret are some of the favourites," said Katpitia. "Parsi cooking is unique in its flavours not very spicy, but tasty all the same."

Lagan-nu-custard’ or caramel custard is another dish, which usually features on her family’s list, said Katpitia.

For his part, chef Farshid Mullan would add dhandaal patio’ ( a yellow dal and rice dish served with fish or prawns) to the list as well. "Navroze is a day traditionally spent with family and friends, and dinners, plays and get-togethers are usually organised with much enthusiasm," he said.

48-year-old Parviz Patel is looking forward to a pleasant meal at her uncle’s place on Thursday. "Like most joyous occasions, this is something to be spent with your loved ones," she said, adding " Navroze Mubarak to all!"