HC refuses to stay ban on 2 Parsi priests

The Bombay Parsi Punchayet got a shot in the arm on Thursday with the Bombay high court declining to stay its ban on two priests from performing religious Zoroastrian ceremonies at Doongerwadi and two fire temples.

By Swati Deshpande / TNN

Two prominent Parsis in Mumbai Jamsheed Kanga and Homi Khushrokhan said they were taken aback by a June 2009 decision of the Punchayet to prevent “two renegade priests Framroze Mirza and Khushroo Madon’’ from performing religious ceremonies at Doongerwadi and also in two fire temples controlled by the Punchayet—Godavara Agiary in Fort and the Godrej Baug Agiary at Napean Sea Road. One of the BPP trustees Khojeste Mistree had alleged that the two priests perform “unreligious ceremonies like praying for the dead who are cremated—a practice forbidden in the community, Navjote on children of non-Parsi fathers and solemnising a marriage between a Zoroastrian and a non-Zoroastrian.’’

Justice V M Kanade, while refusing to stay the BPP decision, gave the Trust four weeks time to file its reply. Kanga’s lawyers Iqbag Chagla, Freddie De’vitre and Jimmy Avasia questioned whether the Punchayet had the power to issue such a ban on ordained priests and asked the court to stay the June resolution. The BPP has a purely administrative role to play, Chagla said.

But the Punchayet, represented by lawyers Rafiq Dada and Percy Ghandy, argued that the plea against the Punchayet was not maintainable. The request by Kanga and Khushrokhan must be dismissed as it involves religious issues that cannot be gone into by a civil court which has power to decide only on civil rights, argued Dada.

The Trust counsel denied that the BPP was just performing an administrative function. According to the Trust deed, the Punchayet also has a role to play in the religious functioning and the three premises are inextricably related to religious activities, Dada pointed out.

The BPP said it was also acting on the advice of the community’s high priests. The community, for the last 300 years, has had five high priests—who are men of high scholastic standing. But Chagla said there was no such thing as “high priest or low priest’’ . All priests were of equal standing, he said.

But the Punchayet also questioned why were these two Parsis, who were not even priests, contesting the ban. Kanga and Khushrokhan said they were the beneficiaries of the community and thus had a right to challenge the decision of the Punchayet. The BPP also said that there was a “gross delay’’ in raising the challenge.

Mirza, it turns out, was one of the candidates who lost in the 2008 elections to the Parsi Punchayet. He describes himself as a “reformist’’ Zoroastrian and performing Navjote on non-Parsi children was among his poll claims. But the 60,000-strong Mumbai Parsi community had collectively backed the majority orthodox Panel.

  • sarosh

    I guess Aza puppets & the kangaroo lost yet again..

  • Behram Dhabhar

    Today’s Jame Jamshed dated 17th Jan is so refreshing with the new Editor Shernaaz Engineer having taken over. It has two articles from Ervad Dr. Rooyintan Peer and Adil Sarkari educating the likes of Jameshed Kanga the difference between a “High Priest” and “Low priest”.

    Also the full page advertisement from AZA regarding their ZTFI achievements has been categorically stated as “Advertisement” which means they have to now blow their own trumpet after dipping their hands in their pockets. Kudos to the new Jame management and Editor. I am sure many Parsis will welcome the change

  • Anti – Dhongidox

    Firstly, why the concerned Priests themseves did not initiate litigation if their bread and butter was at stake.
    Secondly, all fire temples are under a system akin to managing agency system and called Panthakies. The Panthakies of these 2 Fire Temples would have NOT availed of services of the two priests concerned. A verbal instruction to that effect on Panthakies of two Agiaries would have been sufficient. Why Trustees wanted to show off by passing a Fatwa, unless they wanted to demonstrate that Punchayet has powers to issue religious sanctions.
    This litigation is the culmination of needless showdown thrust upon themseves by the Trustees since they do not have shell out the cost of such litigation.

  • Anti Dhongidox.

    It was ironic to read on page 24 of Jame dtd the 17th that …….ideologies will not be published and yet the same issue contained letters preaching a sermon about “high Priests”. In any case a community paper is expected to discuss issues relating to the Community and divergence of views is a certainty. A community paper can not just reproduce articles which have appeared else where or be expected to discuss Direct Tax Code, Stock Markets, Bollywood or post homilies. If it is the intent of the Editor to project such issues to call the paper as ‘all inclusive’ then the attempt will be self defeating.Time will tell.
    Any vernacular paper depends on advertisement revenue and the price of J J is already Rs. 5/. I agree the contents are not worth the same and I too contemplate discontinuing the subscription though I may clarify that I am no admirer of earlier editorial policy of the paper.
    The feeling of the Community members can not be sacrificed at the altar of predilections of the Editor of the paper.

  • rustom jamasji

    Dhongi dox is really upset that his pet subject to belittle the high priest was academicaly refuted..Perhaps now
    Dhongi dox should write to universities to revoke Dr Kotwals, Dr Jamasasa , Dr Ramiyar Karanjia, etc Doctorate or Phds.
    Dhongi had also hinted at Dr Kotwal being invited to Universities like Cambridge, Harward, Mianz etc to WAPIZ!!!
    Somehow in his fervor Dhongi missed that Dr Kotwal worked with Prof Boyce since 1966!.and recieved his Phd that year
    Perhaps Dhongi should write or protest that Sir Harold Bailey from Cambridge gave a dinner in his honor,,before the advent of WAPIZ( again highlighting this only for Dhongi’s benefit)
    Dhongi and his cotorie also should protest at the fact that Dr Kotwals theisis was published in 1969
    Dhongi should also protest that Dr Kotwal possess and has explained n his lectures and papers are highly welcomed on Zoroastrian Manuscripts i.e Avesta, the script , Pahalvi, Pazend, Persian etc.
    Dhongi should also protest and belittle all those people who have presented old ancient manuscripts to Dr Kotwal due to his knowledge.
    But that is all done…Perhaps Dhongi and his cotorie now should promote so much disdain and belittle this man so that they can thwart attempts of Dr Kotwals to complete his Magnum Opus, which will be published shortly abroad.

    But i wonder how many of learned real scholars( oh not the gatha alone cult n self professed ratus) and universities will even respond to dhongi and his ilk…yet continue to work with this Priest who has attained his rank as Dastur and Dr and High prist..
    Whilst those who wanna belittle such people can remian high! o0n their endevaour to mock such marvelous attempts, the good work carries on…

  • Type your comment here..
    Lastly, Jamasji, I care a penny for what you think about me or my write ups. So I will not even take the trouble of replying your future trash that you may post against me.Your ‘democatic’ mindset can not permit you to disagree without being disagreable.

  • The caustic post of Rustom is not only wholly unwarranted but only goes to substantiate his intolerance for those who do not share his viewpoint. He would do well to read Letters to Editor in the current issue of Parsiana and more particularly the contents of Mumbai Mirror of 19th on the subject of Jame – that is if he is interested in broadening his horizon and bidding a good bye to his ” I am a born scholar and know everything about Religion’ attitude.
    Rustom is free to write biographies of any priests of his choice and shower praises in words available in his vocabulary, but one wonders why he has to justify his admiration by referring/seeking reference to ‘phoren’ authors. Is this not a display of servility that he needs a stamp of approval of westerners. Besides, Rustom carefully refrains from referring to Ms. Perry Jones.
    In the past, one faithful follower of Rustom had taken exception to bigoted Parsees being called Talibans/ possessing Hitler type mindset/ Fascist etc. But when your tribe tries to overwhelm those who have different and rational thinking from expressing themselves, do they expect compliments?
    If some one blindly toes whatever likes of Rustom say, then they are considered as Religious, traditional and God fearing but those who think rationally are to be dubbed as
    anti Zoroastrians as though the monopoly of faith rests with this fringe group.
    Learn to live and let live instead of provoking a bitter debate.

  • Behram Dhabhar
  • Behram Dhabhar

    Wrong ! The Vada Dasturjis meeting was held at the Framjee Cawasji hall in April, 2001. This article refers to that meeting. Noshir Dadrawala was a different man then. His views were strongly traditional and he had the support of the full orthodox group including priests.

    Today the winds of materialism have blown and Noshir is a changed man. In his heart of hearts he may still be traditional but he has to please his Masters and dance to their tune. That is the sad part of destiny.

  • Behram Dhabhar

    Have a look at the WAPIZ page today 22nd Jan. Iqbal Chagla will never ever dream of taking on the Parsi community. He has ended by putting his foot in his own mouth by stating that there are no High priests or Low priests in the Parsi community.

    As for Khushrokhan and Kanga, they better start saying their prayers. The community has come down heavily on them and now theyhave no place to run.

  • piloo

    WAPIZ does not represent the feelings of the entire community. as for contents to-day’s WAPIZ page it just contains photo of ‘you call me khansaheb and I call you a Saviour” What else is there to brag about in being presented shawls in this climate?
    As for ‘views’ on the Lawyers concerned, they are penned by in house team, who are renowned in this sphere.
    Reciting prayers is not restricted WAPIZ followers. Other Zoros also recite for their own betterment.
    The Trustees can not act as puppets of hereditary priests who claim to be high. That way the Monarch of England is the head of Protestant Church but does not reccomend/interfere in excommunicating members of the community.
    The actual aim behind the fatwa on the 2 priests is something else. Will be known by ALL in days to come.Then the community will realize that they were misled.

  • rustom jamasji

    We;ll Well, lets see how Dhongi n his cotorie works…

    First belittle those who have spent years of contributing towards the faith, then when academically challenged , shed tears and blame others of not respecting others vierw point…

    ironicaly Dhongi n his ilk supress the fact that there have been and are High priests in zoroastrian community was and whilst wrong notions were encouraged that there is no diff between high scholarly priests n others…this cotorie when academically challenged then blames others of suppressing other view points !!!

    But in any case…..atleast the difference is known n thru the post, Dr Kotwals examplke showed how such were belittled…

    a rustomjee should first truly know the differnce betwen a taliban and one who states facts oabout academics of a person..
    In Fact a rustomjee….the most contradictory part of this ‘taliban calling is that’ those who wanted to end dokhmenishini altogether though not being forced upon called those who wanted to continue it as taliban!!! also the taliban opresses other religions…the zoroastrians that do not want to convert others were also termed talibanistic!!! thoug in practise the taliban actually promote the oposite to those zoros who were termed talibanistic yet did not wish to convert others to our faith…

    Lastly the taliban brandish other prietss as being wrong….infact dhongi and you have worked on principles of the taliban. Since u dont want to see the difference betwen a scholarly priets and an ordinary one…malign the efforts of those who are welcomed in univerrsities abroads due to their knowledge……then when academically facts are stated….blame others to justify yoursellves…

  • rustom jamasji

    A rustomjeee..with all ure little points of vaccinations and [listening to mozart n beethoven which I enjoy…could you please state or further ure argument that Dr Kotwal who is seemed esettemed in iniversities like harward n cambridge etc shouldnt or are not worthy of High Priests..
    Ironicaly your group keeps jumping from one excuse to another whenever u guys are acdemically challenged…very similar to to the anti dokhmenishini group which termed it health hazard, blackmailed the community and then fought for a place within the premises…
    cmon guys take a stand…even if you do not think a guy who has spent his lifetime studying our ancient roots and has been sucessfull shoud be given his importance…

  • piloo

    A. Rustomjee,
    Rustom does not know the meaning of word Blackmail.Only a person or persons who have done something wrong or illegal can be blackmailed. An upright person who has done nothing wrong is incapable of being blackmailed. In short, Rustom is consciously aware that his coterie is WRONG in their interpretattion of our religion but yet they want to impose their cult.
    Lastly for benefit of likes of Rustom, yes Dakhma system is being forced, yes forced on the unwilling and the BAN on priests reciting prayers just shows the element of dictatorship/ and compusion.
    Time for discussions on this issue is long over and persons like Rustom are no authority so futile to waste our time discussing with him and his proxy ‘supporters’. Yes you are right. Live and Let Live should be the motto but those who belong to “Dals & Sena’ type upbringing can never fathom this concept.

  • rustom jamasji

    A Rustomjee….since now u have the difference between a taliban and someone who wants to preserve his/her own faith without forcing it to any one let me differentiate between what u think is a fatwa and what is not succumbing to demands of change thru blackmail

    The zoroastrians could have been said to have issued a fatwa when we force others or who dont wish to follow dokhmenishini, not when we thrive to continue / strenghten this system so that zoroastrianism continious WITHOUT enforcing Dokhmenishini on any one..

    Your idea infact coincides with the refugees in Britain , France etc that now want the indegenious laws to change to suit their religious laws and if its not done then’ again on ure lines claim a fatwa against then has been isssed against them’

    Infact if a fatwa was issued it was by the ones who wanted to end dokhmenishini system since they did nt like it . Blackmail of health hazard terminated in then demanding a place for them in the precinct.! When that was not met again the health bogey was resurfaced. Then the very existence of Dakhmenishini system in zoroastrianism was questioned as if the saviours of zoroastrianism were fools and this neo cult have cracked the case.

    When this was refuted by scholars( oh not the gatha alone self professed scholar and now self professed Ratu/}, andn the comunity was highlighted on the wys n hows of the system and when the community understood its importance, then the ones who claim so much and tear jerk and act like martyrs brought up other issues and a propoganda machinery was put in place to deride the system.

    Since this did not work, then scholarly priests were personally attacked. Damnd they were if they spoke and damned they were if they didnt.

    People in the reformist group and their puppets like dhongi and his ilk spared no chance to malign them and if the high priests were not infalible like god him|herself then they were maligned on every aspect. In short if their shit stank…hang them!

    Since majority of zoroastrians saw the importance that zoroastrianism or any thing else can only be passed on or followed and continued if it is…. practised, many wanted to work towards the systems whilst some now have gone as far as segmenting Zoroastrianism from Parsism!!….without even thinking that those they are maligning were responsible for svaing zoroastrianism from extinguishing….and starting the practise of zoroastruianism in india and thus built dakhmas and fire temples and other systems.

    We are just merely following it and some are thirsting to end it from inside. Sure you can misrepresent this by stating that a fatwa is issued by the zoroastrians so that they can continue their faith…dont forget to add..’without forcing it on to others..’

    If you think protecting ones identity, culture and roots and taking steps to ensure its continuation is fatwa, please really get the meaning right….tomorrow you may call the laws of any country. state or community which is in fact thrust upon you more than the principles of zoroastrianism as fatwas since you cannot get your way of change the law…..Hindusimchristianity/ islam/ buddshism/Jainism/ sikhism )etc all follow their respected principles and thus have their rights and wrongs according to the philosophy followed, you can cry on roof tops that each of this has issued you a fatwa since the follow their philosophy and not change or be blackmailed by your or others personall view points.

    Interestingly your fatwa calling goes hand in hand with those people who really do not respect the wishes of an agiary or the followers of zoroastrianism.
    They nullified pleas by trustees and others for not getting their devis or snake badges in fire temples ( snake according to zoroastrianism is seen as a miscreation), care too hoots of thee sentiments of people or for the principles of zoroastrianism….and also if told to follow the rules claim that fatwas are issued against them..!!

    Infact the mullah who claims that the world belongs to his god also claims that the brits, americans etc have issued fatwas since they do not succumb to islamic laws…..

    I guess you guys if theres a billion population in the world each can claim that a fatwa has been passed unto him if his demands are not met. Ironically nor you or anybody had been forced or coerced to follow zoroastrian principles , why are you coercing us to change Zoroastrian principles? .
    Why dont you start your own religion, call it a rustomnjee ism if you like….we wont blackmail you nor put false claim of you issuing fatwas….

  • What a perverted logic and classic hypocrisy. The priests are coerced and prevented from reciting sacraments for the deceased since the concerned person did not want the mortal remains to rot and you ask with devilish innocence ‘where did we compel’? You outwit even
    Joseph Goebbels. When those who take sadistic delight in depriving prayers for the departed have themselves to answer the Almighty as and when their time comes, one can be sure that Ahura Mazda will take into consideration their ‘innocent’ action and ‘reward ‘ them appropriately. The law of Manashi, Gavashni & Kunashni spares none.

  • a.rustomjee.

    By dodging the specific issues raised by me in my blog of 25th instant, you have established beyond reasonable doubt that you yourself run away from intellectual challenge. If you are a man of substance and caliber then you would not have dodged the points of my earlier blog. You stand exposed as a person devoid of sensible debate. You are at liberty to pat your own back. I will not enter into a senseless exchange of posts. I repeat, will definitely not attend your future posts beotherwise I too will be labelled by others as a crank desirous of reading my name appear on this portal.

  • rustom jamasji

    A rustomjee , I have not dodged yours or any one elses question to me on any post…I think as hitler said, lie big ones so that people tend to believe it , your group precisely follows that point….propoganda against what u dont like, thrive to end what you dislike, and lastly tear jerk…
    My post were clear on showing you the difference between talibanistic/fatwa behaviour and yours mixing it with protecting ones faith without enforcuing it on any one..

    Your post of alegations goes hand in hand with your groups behaviour. Jump from topic to topic,excuse to excuse whenever academically challenged.Just as you have alledged that i do not take scholarship on foreging land in account. Your allegation is so ridicoulous and highlights your fervour in closing you eyes to what you do not like and to portray false propoganda.
    My post on Dr Kotwals scholarship mainly showcases his scholarship in foreign lands and foreign universities!!!

    About getting exposed , I have bothing to hide and thus do not need to take shelter in posts of a group or a cotorie that seems to actually comment vigourously against any post of any one that doesnt suit your ilk..even that seems quite apparent

    In any case since you did not have the vision to read the answers on my post though being apparently clear, let me spell it out for you….

    As far as mix breeds working in the agiary….it goes on to prove what i have always pointed out…the less respect we give the priests and the workers in the agiaries, the less important the job seems and the less one wants to work towards it….in any case a very significant effort wa staken by youngsters just a month back to clean the agiaries and there are many a groups of zoroastrians working to clean agiaries and dakhmas..

    We can once again undo the wrong changes made in the last 2 decades or work on lines of you and carry on making detrimental changes since you and ure likes take shelter in mistakes to make other ones or suit yourselves insetad of correcting and strenghtening weak systems..

    The question of scholarship…once again you play the role of your group very well..belittle whom you do not like and when academically countered tear jerk….in anycase the sudden rank of high priest to Antia in itself shows your groups thirst to malign Dr Kotwal and efforts of those scholarly priests who for more than 2 dcades were high priests and had no oposition nor did any one think of bestowing the ‘high’ on Antia till ofcourse your groups agenda was not met by the Dr Kotwal /Jamasasa etc…

    Your groups hypocracy again stands out when dhongis ire against defending the high priest in Jame was spelt out and you guys defended that role of Dhongis…whilst try and highlight people who suit your agenda as high priest..

    I have made myself clear on othe posts that to convert ot not is not the main issue( for me) but to change Zoroastrianism to suit individuals. If you want to convert atleast convert on lines on what the saviours of zoroastrianism passed zoroastrianism as , not as what you as an individual and armchair philosophy that follows it
    Ironically all those whom you state , want to convert but also want to change , what they want others to convert to!!!!

    Some time back Dhongi had questioned and asked for proofs from texts, when quoted( except page no), he went on post after post as if his answer was not met and took shelter in your groups acumalating their posts together…there wa one rational but religious who even claimed there was no cotton dueing zarathushras time, yet went back when pointed out proof of cotton 7000 years ago!!!He even was ignorant of archelological advances in the persian culture n thought dakhmas were built since we didnt have tools….I give these examples not to go back but as they serve me and others examples of your groups excellence in armchair philosophy and denying whats not liked by you….something on lines of Ahmedijan who denies the jewish Holocaust.

    I do hope we have reprive from your ‘taliban ‘ calling and fatwa!

  • Anti-Dhongidox.

    ..READERS ARE ADVISED TO READ ON THE WEB “tenets.zoroastrianism.com/TheHistoryofJameJamshedFumblingtobeReborn.pdf, Particularly page 7 which represent the views of a High Priest.”

  • Mickie Sorabjee

    Religion is a personal belief. With so much heated discussion on this board about our religious practices, here is an interesting take on the subject by our first Prime Minister of independent India:
    “The spectacle of what is called religion, or at any rate organised religion, in India and elsewhere has filled me with horror, and I have frequently condemned it and wished to make a clean sweep of it. Almost always, it seems to stand for blind belief and reaction, dogma and bigotry, superstition and exploitation, and the preservation of vested interests.”
    –Jawaharlal Nehru, statesman (1889-1964)