225th Birth Anniversary of Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy


July 16, 2008

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Parsis from all over the city gathered to celebrate the 225th birth anniversary of the first baronet

His initials are JJ. At 22, Jehangir Jejeebhoy is not just another law student. He has an ancestral connection with the Sir JJ Group of Hospitals, the Sir JJ flyover, the Sir JJ School of Arts, and Mahim Causeway. Yes, he is the great, great, great, great, great grandson of Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy, the first baronet.

On his forefather’s 225th birth anniversary, Jehangir was in awe. “It is not only a privilege, but I regard it as a duty to continue the philanthropy,” he says. He sounds focused and talks about how he aims to help senior citizens in Mumbai soon.

Anniversary prayers echoed at the HP Wadia Atash Behram, Dhobi Talao, on Tuesday as Zoroastrian high priests from Navsari, Surat, and Udwada gathered for the jashan ceremony. Jehangir’s father, Rustomjee, who handles the JJ trust and the JJ institute, spoke of how he could have been engaged in other lucrative professions but chose not to. “Social entrepreneurship is a trend that is picking up and I want to pass on the legacy to the generations to come,” he said. He goes on to quote his forefather, saying, “If you are not poor enough to receive charity, you are good enough to give it.”

At the meeting, there were Parsis from all over the city, most of whom couldn’t stop talking of “apro Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy”. They told stories of how Jejeebhoy was adventurous. Though he was not born into wealth, Jejeebhoy moved to Calcutta and undertook several voyages to China, where he traded in cotton and opium. On one of his voyages, he was captured by the French, who were trying to establish their own colonies in Southeast Asia, but escaped and came back to continue his trade.

“Did you know he built the Mahim Causeway too?” says Marzban Giara. “And did you know that there are 10 statues of Jejeebhoy (around India)?”
Aloo Pavri, an ex-student of the Sir JJ Institute, can’t stop praising the great man. “I studied there and just like me, thousands are taking the benefits of good education today,” she says. With five schools in Mumbai and 11 spread across Gujarat, the JJ Benevolent Institute aims to impart education for the poor. “You get immense satisfaction when you realise that most students in these schools are first-generation learners,” says Mahrukh Kharas, secretary of the JJ Benevolent Institute.