A Parsi woman married to a non-Parsi has sought the Gujarat High Court’s intervention to avail the fundamental right to worship and to access the religious places of Parsis she was denied by her community after her marriage.
The Public Interest Litigation (PIL), perhaps the first of its kind, was admitted in Ahmedabad Thursday. The petition was filed by Goolrokh Adi Contractor, now Goolrokh Mahipal Gupta, resident of Valsad, who married a non-Parsi in 1991.
Following her marriage, she was denied entry to the Parsi religious temple, Agiyari, as well stopped from participation in Parsi rituals.
She approached the court Thursday seeking directions to the authorities of the Fire Temple in Mota Pariwad in Valsad and to other members of community to allow her in the Agiyari.
The respondents claimed that as per Parsi tradition, Parsi women married to non-Parsis are barred from entering religious places such as Agiyari and the Tower of Silence, the place for last rites of Parsi Zoroastrians. These women were also restricted from attending and performing certain rituals.
Goolrokh feared that the trustees of the Agiyari, which belongs to Valsad Parsi Anjuman Trust, would deny her entry even when her elderly parents die and would restrain her from performing their last rites.
According to the petition, Goolrokh continuously practiced Zoroastrian religion both before and after her marriage and has not changed her religion to Hindu. She contended that being an Indian citizen, barring her to follow her religion and to stop her from enjoying privileges of the religion were violations of the rights given by the Constitution of India.
She added that there was no scripture or text book denying Parsi women their rights to worship and practice the religion after marriage to a non-Parsi.
Earlier, the case was put before a single judge but he thought it to be of public interest and preferred it to be referred to a division bench. The next hearing of the case is scheduled on April 20.