Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Agiaries will go high-tech

‘Parsi Resource Group’ (PRG) aims to strengthen pillars of Parsi community – its Agiaries, priests and youth..

Jimmy Mistry, an architect by profession and owner of Della Tecnica, has launched ‘Parsi Resource Group’ (PRG), a charitable organisation that seeks to intensify growth of the Parsi community, by aiming at three areas – agiaries (fire temples), Mobeds (priests) and Parsi youth.

Mistry renovated the Rustom Farana Agiary in Dadar, which won him, the Urban Heritage award in 2003. “From that year onwards, I have been involved in the activities of this Agiary. There are just about 100 Agiaires in the world. I figured if I can adopt an Agiary, there are many prominent Parsis in the world who can afford to do so too. So, over the past two years, I spoke to many people of my plan and finally I started the ‘Adopt the Agiary Programme’,” said Mistry.

In this ‘Adopt an Agiary Programme’, a survey of each of the Agiaries will be carried out. The number of priests, the number of prayers conducted, the number of Parsi people staying in the area and of those, the number of people coming to pray as well as the overall monthly expenditure involving salaries of the priests and renovation of the structure, will be noted in a report of each Agiary.

This report will be sent to an interested donor for analysis and to be studied. While the trustees will continue to manage the Agiary and its funds, the PRG will monitor and interface between the Agiary and the donor.

For the youth, the PRG will seek help from its high-profile members and contacts, to secure good job openings or higher education as the case of the youngsters may be. Lectures, seminars and youth conventions, based on education and career planning will also be held for the benefit of youth.

The PRG has also planned a Student Adoption Scheme, in which a donor can provide free education lodging, and boarding facilities to students in India and abroad. The PRG also aims at raising the standard and status of the priests, along with providing them medical insurance facilities. “Right now, the salaries of the full-time priests are just about Rs. 8000. This salary is not sufficient to support a family, so a lot of priests practise other professions and are hesitant to take up the vocation on a full-time basis,” said Mistry. The first phase of this project, will have a detailed survey conducted on the 300 practising priests. This survey will include information such as which Agiary the priests are attached to, their family status, educational background and so on. “From the survey, a select number of priests will be selected to be groomed to act as PROs of the faith. “We will educate them on different subjects, such as networking and socio-economics. We plan to provide each Agiary with a computer, and have created a software that translates English into Gujarati, so that the network between the priests and the Agiaries improves,” said Mistry. The above goals are planned to be completed by 2007. This organisation will function as an independent entity. “We are not on anybody’s side. The Bombay Parsi Panchayat, will continue to do its work. We will not be substituting the BPP, but will contribute our bit on the side,” said Mistry, clarifying his stand.   Original Article