Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Is it time for an international Zarathushti referendum?

For the last 50 years, at the least, a debate is raging within our Community, between The orthodox and the reformist lobbies, leading to nowhere.

By B.T. DASTUR / The Bombay Samachar

Zoroastrianism, Reforms & Referendum

The bad blood between the two lobbies reached its peak at the time of the last BPP Elections in 2009, when one particular Trustee was illegitimately maligned for reasons known to the writer (s).

The orthodox element thinks that they have the sole right to mandate about religious practices and rituals. That lobby includes some learned and some semi-learned Dasturs, and others who are totally illiterate in our scriptures, but feign to have a profound knowledge of our religious lore and practices.

As it stands today, Wapiz claims that it is a mouthpiece of the Community, because two of its Trustees were elected to the BPPs Board for 2009. Nothing is farther from the truth.

The reformist lobby is numerically larger, more balanced but, certainly, less or little organized. Therefor, the orthodox tom-tom is believed to be the voice of the majority.

I think that a time has come when an International Referendum needs to be held on some basic, burning issues which face our great but shrinking Community. In such a Referendum, we have to take into account the major concentrations of Parsis in the U.S., Canada and Britain-apart from Iran and Pakistan.

We should also take into account the views of microscopic sections of our Community in Singapore, Hong kong, Australia and New Zealand.

In order that a fair Referendum is held, there should be representatives from India, the U.S., Canada and Britain, and one Regional representative each from East Asia and Australia/New Zealand. It can be conducted under the auspices of BPP/WZO/FEZANA & ZTFE.

The issues to be focused on, very seriously, should be:-

* The status of out-married Parsi women and children and bring them on par with that of out-married Parsi men.

* To resolve the absurd situation of post-funerary rights being not performed for the first 4 days, after a Parsi is dead, as the family has chosen to consign him/her to a different mode of disposal (from the 5th day onwards the ceremonies are performed. How absurd!)

* The BPP must be compelled to lift its unwarranted ban on the priests who perform ceremonies of those consigned to a place other than Towers of Silence, and for those who marry out.

Nowhere in our scriptures it suggests that men can marry out and women cannot. It is a bogey created by the Davar-Beamon judgement, which is in an urgent need to be upturned.

I trust that your columnists will come out with other practicable suggestions to undertake this Referendum.