The last Bhuj Parsi passes away


April 24, 2010

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Heritage | History | News

Roadaben Sorabji Botwala spent her whole life in Bhuj

Bhuj, the district headquarters of Kutch, which once boasted of a large population of Parsis is sad at the death last weekend of the last surviving member of the Zoroastrian community. Seventy-eight year old Roadaben Sorabji Botwala, who spent her whole life here, and who also looked after Parsi agiari as the single living member of the community had her last rites as per Parsi tradition performed by her relatives who rushed here from Mumbai. The agiari building in the camp area built in 1904 for members of the community which had come here for liquor trade and to serve in the administration of princely state of Kutch has no local Parsi keeper now.

Though Parsis came to Kutch in 1812 following a legendary Scotish British political agent Mac Murdo whose residential bungalow at Anjar has been preserved as an archaeological monument because of its having unique Kamagari art paintings. Their first recorded population was 40 which went up to the highest of 68 in 1921 with the largest number of 52 living in Bhuj. There was an unusual migrant family among them. The family belonged to Dadabhai Naoroji, the grand old man of India’s freedom movement.

Dadabhai had close personal relations with the royalty of Kutch and since he went to England at a young age and became a member of the British Parliament and at the same time he fought for home-rule, he shifted his only son Ardeshar from Mumbai to Kutch for safety reasons. Ardeshar settled in the port town of Mandvi with his wife Virbai. The couple had eight children. The Dadabhai family was so close to the royal family that the members of Kutch royalty addressed Ardeshar and Virbai as ‘Mama’ and ‘Masi’. The princely state gave them a bunglow in Bhuj to live. The Ardeshar children studied in the Alfred High school here and went to Mumbai and England for higher studies. Ardeshar’s eldest daughter, Maherbanu, after getting medical degree from England, settled down in Kutch to serve local people.


  1. Bapsi Sidhwa

    May be in 2150 the headlines will read….”The last Parsi on earth passes away”

  2. Fali K. Madon

    Very sad that now there are no Parsees left in Bhuj. Hope some Parsees who are retired atleast will come and live in Bhuj.

  3. Vyara

    Is this what happens if we go by the rule book of the traditionalist, count down has finally started, first is bhuj, now which place is next, bombay?
    The last parsi vanishes.

  4. Homiyar Bilimoria

    During the period 1967/1973 I used to visit Bhuj and Mandvi regularly on office work and after so many years, I distinctly remember the Bhuj agiari, as also meeting a couple of Parsis there. In recent years, I had read about the late Rodaben looking after the agiari with devotion single handedly. In her passing, Bhuj has lost the last link in the history of Parsis in Kutch. May her soul rest in eternal peace.

    Now the question is, what will happen to the agiari at Bhuj? Which trust is looking after this agiari and steps are being taken to ensure proper upkeep? I would strongly recommend that the agiari be shifted to a location where Parsis can use it for prayers and it is maintained properly. Will the BPP look into this?

    During my travels in 60’s I had to change the trains at Surendranagar Jn, where I remember a Parsi lady running a Tea Stall. This Tea Stall was very popular because the tea sold by this Parsi lady was different and tasty compared to the usual lousy tea one used to get at railway stations. I wonder if that lady is still alive and if there are any Parsis left in Surendranagar?

  5. hutokshi hector bhaisa

    So who will be incharge of this bhuj parsi fire temple.

  6. hutokshi hector bhaisa

    Rodaben Sorabji botwala may her soul rest in eternal peace.

    Parsi community should do something to save their community children should marry inside their community and even think of at the most having three children and parsi panchayat should help them.

    And time will come our parsee community will finish and shall remain like dinosaur.

  7. farzana

    Hutokshi, as the saying goes-

    “If you dam a river it stagnates.”

  8. Keki Engineer

    It is sad to hear about the demise of the last remaining representative of the Parsi community in Bhuj, Rodaben Sorabji Btwala. May her soul rest in eternal peace and may she be gratefully remembered for taking care of the Agiary in Bhuj. How brave she must have been in the discharge of this onerous task.

    Ahura Mazda has preserved and protected our community through the milleniums of time. He will continue to do so. To think otherwise is to show lack of faith in our Creator and His future plans for us.

    I have no dbout that somehow or the other, Parsis will survive and continue to be the lanterns of good thoughts, good words and good deeds.

  9. Siloo Kapadia

    Bapsi Deekree,

    You are absolutely right on the money!!!! This is just a sign of things to come if the bawaji bullies get their way and continue to keep the religion tihglty sealed to any new members.

    BTW, love your books!


    I am too sad to hear about Rodabens demise and now no parsi left in bhuj.May God give lot of peace to devine soul of rodaben.being a native of sinogra which is five kilometer from anjar and 55 kilometer from bhuj.
    as kutch is my janmbhumi i salute Rodaben for a brave heart that she live alon and not left the bhuj till last.i am very sad that no parsi left in kutch.indeed we miss such a kind hearted soul parsi people.
    once again i express my heartfelt condolences to brave hearted lady Rodaben.
    broken hearted parsi wellwisher.

  11. Zarathustra Zarthosti

    Dear hutokshi hector bhaisa Somebody will be in charge of the fire temple but is there fire to serve if Roadaben Sorabji Botwala was last parsi i don’t think she was giving five times ne boi so well let anyone be incharge of the ruins what does it matter. Correct isn’t it.

  12. harsh gandhi family

    Type your comment here… i think parsis are great people on earth,specially toindia,we all love them they high educated,well manners, if they dont bring their population to indian nation then they re in trouble.pls my advise to all indian they are very good people they need support without them we ,re nothing we can learn lot in fromthem they are super power of india pls give them right and response to bring india on top history has been there always will parsis past works in india un forgatable we all knows. i must say to my god we need them in society they have done fantastic works in india and they will to contniues,thanks parsis,god bless