Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Who can stop woman from entering agiyari ?

The hearing of the case seeking confirmation of rights to the Parsi woman, who was prevented from worshipping at the Agiyari after she married a non-Parsi, came up before a larger bench of High Court on Thursday.

While hearing the case the three judge bench asked the counsels in the case to apprise about the jurisdiction and functioning of various bodies involved in the decisions pertaining to such rights.

A bench comprising Justice Jayant Patel, Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice R M Chhaya also sought the details also asked the counsels to give details and references from the literature and the mythology of Zoroastrian religion on the issue.

The petitioner, Goolrokh Gupta had approached the high court seeking confirmation of rights to visit, pray and perform rituals at Zoroastrian shrines. The petition mentioned that a trust administering an Agiyari and a ‘Tower of Silence’ in Valsad allegedly prevented a Parsi women, married to a non-Parsi, from praying and attending a funeral at these places in 2008.

Gupta, whose parents reside in Valsad, feared that in the event of their demise, she may not be allowed by the trust to pray or perform final rites at the aforesaid places. The petition also argued that that every Zoroastrian has the right to visit and take part in rituals at the fire temple and Tower of Silence.

“Zoroastrian law does not restrict a Parsi from marrying a person from a different religion. While Parsi men married to non-Parsis are allowed to enjoy all religious rights, the women are discriminated against,’’ the petitioner argued.

The petition further pointed out that the Zoroastrian men, who are married to non-Parsi women were  allowed to visit Agiari and attend funerals at the places of rituals. However, Parsi woman who got married to a non-Parsi man, were restricted from attending or worshipping at an Agiyari and participating in funeral at Tower of Silence.

Advocate Kavina appearing on behalf of Goolrokh mentioned that the issue was significant as it was a matter of civil rights and not religious or legal rights. During his submissions, he made a reference to a few judgments of Bombay High Court  The next hearing has been scheduled on August 4.