Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Don’t Move SC Against Barred Priests, Say Some Parsis

1,150 join online petition saying Bombay Parsi Punchayet can use money to fund community activities instead of fighting another legal battle

By Sunil Baghel | DNA

An online petition gaining momentum suggests that many Parsis are against Bombay Parsi Punchayet’s (BPP) decision to approach Supreme Court against a Bombay High Court judgment, involving the ban on two community priests.

On the petition filed by former civic chief Jamsheed Kanga, businessman Homi Khushrokhan and four prominent Parsi-Zoroastrians, HC in its order on March 11 said BPP’s trust deed of 1884 did not give them power to restrain priests.

In 2009, BPP banned priests Khushru Madon and Framroze Mirza from the Towers of Silence at Malabar Hill and two BPP-managed fire temples, on three counts: for conducting Navjote ceremonies for children of women married to non-Parsis, conducting marriages where one partner was a non-Parsi, and for conducting after-death prayers for Parsis who were cremated.

BPP filed an appeal against this order in SC last week – a decision criticised by a sizeable number of Parsis in an online petition. In fact, the petition, initiated by 80-year-old Kersee Kabraji on April 5, is gaining momentum, and at last count on Thursday night was close to 1,150.

Kabraji said, “No priest would act against the community. What’s wrong if girls who marry outside the community want to retain Zoroastrianism? Why shouldn’t their children be allowed to follow Zoroastrianism? The BPP is wasting money.”

Another community member, Vispy N Wadia, said, “BPP can’t fight their case without lawyers who charge lakhs for a day’s appearance. Isn’t this a waste of money?”

The online petition says BPP spent over Rs 75 lakh for HC litigation, and that the SC case will cost over Rs 1 crore. Instead, the money could be used for higher education of the students, subsidised house rents for the needy, and financing entrepreneurs, possibly on a returnable basis.

Reacting to this development, BPP chairman Dinshaw Mehta said, “We are following the high priests’ mandate. They banned two priests and have instructed us to approach SC. I’m sure there are Parsis who will support this move."

Comments posted by online supporters:

A few prominent citizens, including Godrej Group’s chief Adi Godrej’s cousin Smita Godrej Crishna, and academic entrepreneur Dr Villoo Morawala-Patell, have supported the online petition. Here’s what some say:

Rustom K J Khambata: HC judgment is a masterpiece… Its logic fulfils the desire of Zoroastrians to practice religion without undue interference of those having no authority.

Nadir Karanjia: It’s tragic what factionalism is doing to a once great and proud people. Wake up or you will be guilty of being a leadership that squandered this communities unique advantages by infighting.

Burzis Dubash:  BPP… for once keep your political goals aside and do something constructive. Stop wasting community funds.