Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

In Tihar, Kobad Ghandy traces his Parsi roots

As a communist ideologue, Kobad Ghandy rarely showed any interest in Parsi community issues. But in Delhi’s Tihar jail, where he has been imprisoned for nearly two years, Ghandy is reading about the origins of Zoroastrianism.

By Manoj Nair | DNA India

In a recent letter to the community magazine, Parsiana, Ghandy said he has been reading articles tracing the history of Zoroastrianism. Ghandy said he has been following community issues highlighted by the magazine, like the ban on priests accused of unorthodox views on marriages and funerals, the Russian convert who wants to train as a Zoroastrian priest and the controversy over Rohinton Mistry’s book.

Ghandy’s new-found interest in his community’s affairs started when Parsiana wrote an article about him when he was arrested in September 2009 for his alleged involvement in the Maoist insurgency. “Ghandy read it and wrote to us. We sent him a complementary copy of the magazine,” said Parsiana’s editor Jehangir Patel.

Since then, Ghandy has been getting issues of the magazine. After reading them, Ghandy passes them on the library at the jail which has a large centre of the Indira Gandhi National Open University.

In his letter, which was published in the magazine, Ghandy described the response to Anna Hazare’s anti-graft campaign, activist Binayak Sen’s release and the Supreme Court’s stand, led by Chief Justice S H Kapadia, against “the powers-that-be” as developments that his late wife and co-activist Anuradha would have been happy about.

“It is sad Anuradha is not around to witness the cry for justice from so many varied quarters, as in her times there was much indifference, where even the judiciary bowed before money and power. In those days, the cry for justice was a voice in the wilderness; today it is a rising crescendo. Anyhow, every year, the Anuradha Memorial Lecture (held this year on January 14) adds its small contribution in this rising wave of justice,” he wrote.

“But injustice too continues for the bulk of our people, 80% of whom live on a mere Rs20 per day, and the likes of us who voice their agony,” he added.