Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Udwada & Daman

Living in a multicultural society as we do here in India gives us a wonderful opportunity to observe a great variety of lifestyles. It is fascinating to see how people of diverse religions celebrate their festivals, conduct ceremonies and take part in religious services, or even how they approach their place of worship.

Article by Aban Bana | Bombay Samachar

Take the Tibetan Buddhists, for example. When they go on a pilgrimage many of them, instead of walking, prostrate themselves flat on the ground every few steps and that over the entire stretch, mostly in very cold and hilly terrain! I have seen that myself. Or certain Catholic pilgrims when approaching their holiest shrine walk on their knees, even climbing the stairs in this manner. I have seen this too.

Now I am not trying to imply that we Parsis should do all this, we are not even expected to. But is it necessary to be driven in one’s car right up to the gates of our Holy Pak Iranshah Fire Temple in Udwada, especially when one is young and able-bodied, and then to instruct the driver to keep the motor running so that the car remains cool while one is inside the Fire Temple, thereafter speeding away, oblivious to the pollution left behind, and in the process almost running over some poor pilgrims on foot? In order to protect our Iranshah Fire Temple from crumbling through pollution, there should be a ban on cars in the vicinity of the Fire Temple altogether, except in certain difficult situations.

It is becoming altogether increasingly difficult to negotiate the streets of Udwada Gam. The local young men seem to be in an awful hurry and race their motorbikes at full speed, breaking all possible traffic rules! I have even seen a twelve year old riding his brother’s motorbike with full approval of his parents! In the absence of any authority in the village, there seems to be only one solution to this perennial problem. Speedbrakers! And the sooner they are installed, the better.

Another problem which seems to be getting worse with time is the beach of Udwada. Just when one thinks it can’t get any filthier, one is in for a surprise. It can! But let us look at the bright side to this situation. Udwada Gam may soon enter the Guinness Book of Records as having the world’s filthiest beach. Udwada is such a pleasant and prosperous village; if only the Gram Panchayat could take better care of it, how lovely would it look!

Now for something quite different. The political party Shiv Sena, ably managed by three generations of the Thackeray family based in Mumbai, also has its presence in southern Gujarat. The Valsad Jilla (district) Pramukh (chief) is a Zoroastrian called Shahin Jamshed Mehershahi (Irani), who runs the Parsi Dharamshala next to Udwada railway station. This is a good move; Parsi/Irani presence in local as well as national politics should be encouraged.

From Udwada we move to Daman. The Daman Agiary has a full time dastoorji, but no full time assistant to clean and maintain the Agiary. No doubt some helpful young local Parsis/Iranis do visit the Agiary at regular intervals and work hard to clean the place but in the absence of a permanent assistant our dastoorji, who is not very young and walks with a stick, has to take care of the entire place on his own. The Agiary trust doesn’t have sufficient funds for a permanent worker to help out the dastoorji to maintain the Agiary. It would be most welcome if some Parsis/Iranis could make a generous contribution, or better still, pledge a certain amount on a regular basis in the form of a monthly salary. If you are interested in contributing to this noble cause, please get in touch with Mr. Oliaji of Duke Hotel, Devka, Daman 396 210, Tel. No. 0260-2254251/2251292 in order to keep our Daman Agiary fire burning.

Aban Bana