Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Suspension of Banaji Atashbehram priest questioned amid dwindling Parsi population

Since last year, the community has been trying to stop the rapid decline in the number of Zoroastrian priests through Jiyo Parsi and Jiyo Mobed Workshop

Article by Yesha Kotak | Hindustan Times

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While there are speculations around the suspension of Ervad Merwan Nalladaru, a priest from Banaji Atash Behram, Charni Road, some members of the Parsi community have said that there will be fewer people to perform rituals in agiaries or fire temples.

“The priest in question can perform Nirangdin and Vandidad ceremonies (performed after midnight), which are considered to be the toughest ceremonies to be performed in our religion. There are very few priests in the country, who have the kind of knowledge that Ervad Merwan does,” said Rayomand Zaiwalla, lawyer. 

Nalladaru was given a suspension notice last month on the ground that he was overfeeding the Holy Varasyaji (holy bull), and has been asked to step down by the end of this month. While the trustees of the agiary were unavailable for comments, BH Antia, a trustee of the agiary, in a letter written on March 4, in a Parsi publication, called the allegations levelled by the community against the trustees ‘factually incorrect’. 

Since last year, the community has been trying to stop the rapid decline in the number of Zoroastrian priests through Jiyo Parsi and Jiyo Mobed Workshop. As part of the workshop, members of the priestly community were counselled and trained, so that they take can up a larger role in the affairs of the community. 

Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor, member of National Minorities Commission, said that the priest in the community were not given special preferences like that in other communities.

“It is a thankless job with no special benefits such as PF or medical benefits, which is why not a lot of them do not want to opt for it. Also, considering our population is anyways dwindling, we have lesser priest left,” said Dastoor.