Have they been barred from entering the temple?

A notice at a fire temple prohibiting inter-married Parsi-Zoroastrian women from bringing their children has them wondering whether their religious rights are at stake

All fire temples in the city have a board outside announcing that only Parsis can enter them. But a fire temple at Marine Lines has added another notice prohibiting Parsi women married to non-Zoroastrians from bringing their children to worship.

By Manoj Nair / DNA

Though trustees of the fire temple said that the notice is an old one, some of the people who read the notice were confused by the message. “The law is very clear — women who are married outside the community can enter the fire temple if she continues to practice her old faith,” said a trustee of the fire temple.

But when reports about the notice went around the community recently, Parsi women married outside the community wondered whether they were being barred from the temple. A member of the Association of Inter-Married Zoroastrians (AIMZ), a group largely representing Parsi women married outside the community, consulted a lawyer to find out what this meant.

“I have been visiting the temple and have never faced a problem. But I have not been to the temple this year and wondered whether I would be barred henceforth,” she said. She was comforted by her lawyer who said that the notice probably restricted women married to non-Zoroastrians from only taking their children into the fire temple.

In Mumbai, there has been no restriction on women from entering a fire temple even if they are married to non-Zoroastrians, provided they have not changed their religion. “If a woman is married under the Special Marriage Act, it was assumed that she continued to practice her religion and she could not be stopped from using religious and other community facilities provided to Zoroastrians. It was a settled issue,” said a member of AIMZ. “We cannot go to the court for everything.”

But the notice outside the Marine Lines temple have left many inter-married women wondering whether they will have to approach the courts in the future to enforce their religious rights.

In some small towns, women have sought justice from the courts.

Goolrukh Gupta, a Napeansea Road resident, has filed a petition in the Gujarat high court after her friend married to a Hindu businessman was stopped from entering a fire temple at Valsad during her mother’s funeral.

“In 2003, when her father died, she was allowed to join the prayers because the trustees who managed the temple were liberal about such things. But last year, when her mother died, my friend was made to sit in the verandah when her mother died. The new trustees had a different view on the issue,” said Gupta whose home town is Valsad. Her petition is being heard by the court.

  • Dorab.

    Let persons like Asspee who believe that I have a fake ID, do the job of gatekeeping outside Agiaries and verify the credentials of those females entering fire temples by asking them to show their sudreh kasti. It sure will be interesting encounters and I promise Asspee that if he intimates me in advance, I will be there to videograph is ‘efforts’, its a promise.

  • kunwalla

    Dump the sinking ship.

    If God resided in temples, it would not have doors.

    An empty elephant stable guarded by ants? ha!

    “If there is a God, atheism must seem to Him as less of an insult than religion.” Edmond de Goncourt

  • Zarathushtra Zarthosti

    Can please the trustees of this paticular Agyari clarify whether it allows the Wadia family whose Navjote where perfomed by Vada Dastur Firoze Kotwal to pray there. If they are not visiting the said Agyari, still will the prohibit them from entering. A direct answer YES or NO no running around in circles, please.

    KHSHNAOTHRE AHURAHE MAZDAO

  • phiroze

    There is nothing confusing about the notice. It is very clear and precise. What is the need to consult a lawyer about it.

  • Rathestar

    In New Delhi Fire Temple nobody cares who is entering. Thats my personal experience.
    In Mumbai too, if one is found performing Kusti, then no one questions unless there is personal knowledge and personal scores to settle. Am told that daughter of a BPP sitting Trustee who is married to a gentleman from another faith enters a Dadar PC Fire Temple fairly frequently.
    Go to any Fort area Fire Temple and one does not find even a Mobed to verfy if the entrant is wearing sudreh Kasti. That being the state of affairs, the question of stopping an interfaith married Parsee lady is remote in cities. Such things happen in moffusil areas.
    Moreover, the Fire Temples are governed by individual Trust Deeds which DO NOT SAY THAT A PERSON MARRIED TO A NON PARSEE CAN BE DENIED ENTRY.

    What should worry all the religious minded is the scarcity of devotees in most Fire Temples and this problem needs to be addressed first. Fire Temples iught to be surrounded by buildings meant for Parsees. Unfortunately the self styled ‘preservers & protectors’ are responsible for depriving the Holy Fires of devotees and claim this as an achievement by creating hurdles in the way of developing the property.
    Contrast the attendance in Fire Temples like Patel Agiary in Andheri, Karani Agiary in Colaba with Dadysett Atashbehrams. Who’s responsible for poor attendance in this Atashbehram?. Will Ahura Mazda forgive these DEEN DUSHMANS for this sacrilege by pushing for heritage status but not ensuring flow of money to such deserted consecrated Fire Temples. Time alone will tell.but then that will be too late for it is too late already.

  • Barak Aga

    27 years ago, when I was in a boarding school in Panchgani, a Roman Catholic classmate of ours was taken right inside the fire temple in Panchgani by a few Zoroastrian students, during a month-end break.

    The Catholic student was of mixed – Caucasian-Indian parentage, and had Caucasian features. (Gori Chaamri)

    He was given a ‘sudreh’, a ‘kusti’ and a prayer cap, and was asked to copy what the others were doing.

    He offered wood to the fire, and got his tour of a “Parsi” fire temple.

    In Iran, non-Zoroastrians enter fire temples with video cameras. Guided tours of fire temples are conducted.

    Very strange that in Iran, which is claimed to be the seat of Zoroastrianism no one dare stop a non-Zoroastrian from entering a Fire Temple, whereas in India, this practice is followed.

  • Siloo Kapadia

    @Phiroze: You are a racist and xenophobe, Regardless of what is written onthe sign, if it goes against current laws then YES, people can sue.
    @Barak Aga: That is the way it SHOULD be. Religion is faith in God and how you practice your faith. Race, nationality, and ethnic considerations should have nothing to do with it.
    @Kunwalla: I agree. Boycott this agiary and stop all donations to them. Perhaps even have the guts to demonstrate outside?

  • CONTRA-DHONGI

    Siloomai,
    I am told that this Fire Temple actually advertises its services in press. Nothing can be more shameful than this. And this Fire Temple survives on ‘income’ out of sale of Well water to water Tankers,
    24 X 7. God knows what money accrues to the Trust. An RTI Application is needed to obtain Trust Deed of this Fire Temple for it is belief amongs those conversant with elements of law that Well water was incidental for performance of religious rites and trustees would be breaching the provisions of Trust Deed by selling well water.
    So Siloomai, the end of such institutions, set up by our ancestors is very near owing to scatterbrains occupying an office a few metres form this Fire Temples.

  • Rohinton Bhathena

    Let us not commit the mistakes our forefathers made. No self respecting person likes to be told that he is an out cast. He goes and builds his own temple. The last time we gave birth to Islam because Zoratrianism was a Court Religion. Today it is claimed that it belongs to Parsis only. Look at your own self. We are called Be-Din;”Sans Religion”. The Portugese word is “Deres”.
    My Aunt, an Ostin called us “Muo Dero chhe” if me missed out on prayer time.
    It is time for a Dera Temple for true Zarathostis seeking salvation from the Parsi taliban.

  • Rathestar

    Very true and candid, Rohinton.
    But why go for a separate Fire Temple.? Are there not enough persons (non Parsees ) working as Kamgars for cleaning utensils and sweeping premises within our existing Fire Temples.?

  • Rathestar

    MERELY ADORNING SUDRA & KUSTI IS NOT ENOUGH ACCORDING TO “STAUNCH STALWARTS OF OUR RELIGION” BUT THEY TURN A NELSON’S EYE ON THOSE PERFORMING MENIAL DUTIES IN OUR FIRE TEMPLES.

  • Barak Aga

    The Indian Constitution in a way mirrors the Zoroastrian faith.

    Just as the Zoroastrian faith says, “it is open to all”, the Indian Constitution too states that “India is open to all faiths”.

    Consider for a minute, what if the Indian Constitution was framed by someone with the mindset of the psuedo-orthodox, or the WAPIZ?

    What if the Indian constitution stated that :

    1) this country will be known as “Hindustan”.
    2) Entry in this country is restricted to “Hindus” only.
    3) Non-Hindus will be known as “Parjat”, and cannot enter Hindustan.
    4) The presence of a non-Hindu in Hindustan will be considered polluting.

    Where would the ‘Bawajis’ be?

  • Barak Aga

    According to the warped reasoning of the WAPIZ and the 6 High Priests, Prophet Zarathustra would not be allowed entry in to a “Parsi”, Fire Temple, as neither Zarathustra’s mother, nor his father were Zoroastrians, and as such Zarathustra was not born of both Zoroastrian parents.

    The Zoroastrian Gods :
    Ahura ———> Sanskrit (Rig Vedic) Asura. Hindu
    Mazda ———-> Sanskrit word “Medha” Hindu
    Anahita ———> Armenian divinity Armenian
    Asho Farohar —> Believed to be the Assyrian God of the sky “Anu” Arab.

    Hindu / Rig Vedic, Armenians and Arabs as Gods are acceptable and are welcome in Fire Temples.

    When “Parsis” pray to Armenians and Arabs, why can’t they permit their own women married to non-Zoroastrians in to Fire Temples?

  • Zubin Mahernosh Darbari

    Take TATA, Godrej, Wadia & others with their wealth, infrastructure & would leave an more poorer India with monopoly in most of things

  • Zubin Mahernosh Darbari

    It’s Zend language, if U translate Gujarati into hindi, it will be awkward. Different language & according to sanskrit translation, our gods are demons. LOL

  • Zubin Mahernosh Darbari

    Zorastrians can convert, Parsis can’t coz they gave a promise. They are one of the two Zoroastrian communities.