Parsi community to teach their fold how to make the sacred cord

Anxious to preserve a dying art of their diminishing community, the Bombay Parsi Punchayat is promoting kustiweaving classes for those in their fold; 67-year old Dolly Mistry’s sessions have been advertised by the Punchayat in the latest issue of the Parsi newspaper Jam-e-Jamshed.

By Sayali Karkare | Mumbai Mirror

The sudreh, a vest, and the sacred cord kusti, are symbols of the Zoroastrian faith and a must for every devout Parsi.

Mistry grew up in Navsari, Gujarat, where she learnt the art at school. She will be holding the classes at her own home in Navroze Baugh. "Back then, Kusti-making as a subject was taught in school, the same way children are taught needle-work today," she said. After her marriage in 1967, Mistry moved to Mumbai where she continued to weave kustis.

Religious prescriptions require the kusti to be made entirely by hand, and because of the timeconsuming nature of weaving process, there are fewer and fewer kusti-makers around. And, far from what dwindling community numbers would suggest, the demand for kustis is actually quite robust. "I first came to Dolly when I was 45 years old," says 66 year old Bakhtawar Tarapore, one of Mistry’s students. "Learning to weave the kusti is a very tedious task. You have to really want to learn how to do it,"she said.

It is mostly practised by women although there are also a few men in the city who weave the cord. Noshir Mistry, a marine engineer, is a male kustiweaver who picked up the art from his mother. "It takes about 100 hours to learn how to weave a kusti. Even if you work 8 hours a day in a month you will only be able to produce about 5-6 Kustis. A kusti can sell for anywhere between Rs. 1,000 and Rs 1,500," he said.