Is Karachi step a Game Changer for Indian Parsis?

It has recently been reported that two years ago, Pakistan’s top Zoroastrian trust explicitly declared that children with at least one Parsi parent can enter the faith. This means that even children of Parsi women who have married outside the community are eligible.

By Pronoti Datta | TNN

The Karachi Parsi Anjuman Trust Fund (KPATF) also allows the funerary rites of Parsis who were cremated to be performed on its premises. The practice of cremation is considered antithetical to the religion. "The basic criteria is that if the mother has not changed her religion and continues to be a practicing Zoroastrian, her children should have the right to be Zoroastrians," says Byram Avari, the KPATF president, in an email interview.

This is a contentious issue in India. The Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP), the largest Parsi trust in the country, disapproves of allowing children of mixed parentage into the community. However while children of Parsi men and non-Parsi women are routinely inducted into the faith, kids of Parsi women married outside the community are infrequently initiated. Dinshaw Mehta, chairman of the BPP says, "The high priests are categorical that if either party is non Zoroastrian then the child’s navjote (initiation ceremony) cannot be done. We follow that."

On the other hand, liberal Parsis have praised the KPARF’s decision. "It’s a good step and it should be emulated by anjumans in India as well," says Jehangir Patel, editor of community magazine Parsiana, which broke the news. "Women have equal rights."

Vispy Wadia, founder of the liberal organisation Association for Revival of Zoroastrianism (ARZ), helps conduct navjotes for the offspring of mixed couples. He believes that trusts in India will be compelled to take a similar step if they want to save the community from extinction. There are less than 70,000 Parsis in India.

Roshni Maloo, a Parsi businesswoman whose husband is Catholic, is keeping her fingers crossed in the hope that Indian trusts will one day make a similar move. Last year, the navjote of Maloo’s two children was conducted under police protection as a group of orthodox Parsis threatened to disrupt it. Patel believes that many Parsis will be relieved if trusts pass such a resolution. Kids with a Parsi parent, he says, are often distressed that they can’t enter fire temples or participate in religious ceremonies. "A religion should bring family together not separate them," he says.

  • Rustomkr

    Makes eminent sense. Kudos to their foresight.
    Rustomjee

  • Rustomkr

    Makes eminent sense. Kudos to their foresight.
    Rustomjee

  • Robin Shukla

    The status of a Parsi woman who weds outside the community is an extremely sensitive issue and needs to be sorted out from within the community itself, without reference to the stands taken, legal or otherwise, by other religious denominations. 

    However, what surfaces before the non-Parsi world at large is that, in the current context, the rulings or edicts passed by priests and commented upon by those who matter in the Parsi community, seem to be skewed against only the woman marrying outside the community.

    The rule makers should satisfactorily explain on what basis a Parsi gentleman with a spouse from outside the community remains a Parsi with his children of mixed parentage being permitted into the agiary, while a Parsi woman with a non-Parsi spouse and her children are denied such access. This current bias cannot be supported by any genetic yardstick, hence it is important that this disparity be addressed by Parsi thinkers and opinion leaders.  

    India,like the rest of the world, looks up to the Parsi community as one that is very progressive, generous of spirit, thought and wealth, free of biases and prejudices. I am sure that a solution will come from within the community after due intellectual deliberation.

    Religious principles or dogma should protect the Parsi woman, not isolate her. Please remember she is a daughter of the community just as every male is treated (or favoured) as a son.

    Sincerest wishes to a people I love and admire.

    Robin Shukla
    Deputy News Editor
    Afternoon Despatch & Courier 
        

  • Robin Shukla

    The status of a Parsi woman who weds outside the community is an extremely sensitive issue and needs to be sorted out from within the community itself, without reference to the stands taken, legal or otherwise, by other religious denominations. 

    However, what surfaces before the non-Parsi world at large is that, in the current context, the rulings or edicts passed by priests and commented upon by those who matter in the Parsi community, seem to be skewed against only the woman marrying outside the community.

    The rule makers should satisfactorily explain on what basis a Parsi gentleman with a spouse from outside the community remains a Parsi with his children of mixed parentage being permitted into the agiary, while a Parsi woman with a non-Parsi spouse and her children are denied such access. This current bias cannot be supported by any genetic yardstick, hence it is important that this disparity be addressed by Parsi thinkers and opinion leaders.  

    India,like the rest of the world, looks up to the Parsi community as one that is very progressive, generous of spirit, thought and wealth, free of biases and prejudices. I am sure that a solution will come from within the community after due intellectual deliberation.

    Religious principles or dogma should protect the Parsi woman, not isolate her. Please remember she is a daughter of the community just as every male is treated (or favoured) as a son.

    Sincerest wishes to a people I love and admire.

    Robin Shukla
    Deputy News Editor
    Afternoon Despatch & Courier 
        

  • Robin Shukla

    Dear Sirs,

    I posted a very well-meaning comment today as an outsider. What happened? Please do tell. 

    Robin Shukla

  • Robin Shukla

    Dear Sirs,

    I posted a very well-meaning comment today as an outsider. What happened? Please do tell. 

    Robin Shukla

  • Phiroze

    Can anyone say why this resolution needed to be adopted and give the result of the resolution ie what happened since the resolution was adopted.

  • Phiroze

    Can anyone say why this resolution needed to be adopted and give the result of the resolution ie what happened since the resolution was adopted.