Kolkata Parsi Zoroastrians file petition in high court against Snoop Dogg video


June 27, 2015

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The Parsi Zoroastrian community in Kolkata is up in arms against a video uploaded on YouTube that they feel is blasphemous and shows disrespect to the ‘Faravahar’, a symbol held sacred by them. Darayas Jamshed Bapooji, president of the Parsi Zoroastrian Association of Kolkata has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in Calcutta high court through advocate Phiroze Edulji against the music video starring Amitis Moghaddam and Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr, popularly known as Snoop Dogg and YouTube.

The Faravahar comprises a winged disk – the three layers of feathers represent the three pillars of the Zoroastrian faith – good words, good thoughts and good deeds. The ring represents eternity. It has two streamers, representing the duality of good and evil on the left and right respectively. The head of a man, facing left – representing Prophet Zoroaster – depicts the choice to live a morally upright life.

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“Not only does the video feature stripper poles and skimpily clad women smoking hookah in front of the Faravahar but also stars Snoop Dogg sitting on a throne underneath it. The respondents were well aware of the Faravahar and the religious sentiments that the Parsi Zoroastrians attach with it as Amitis Moghaddam is of Iranian decedent. Amitis Moghaddam was born in Mashad, Iran but is now based in Atlanta, US. Ironically, Amitis Moghaddam has been named after the princess who married the great Parsi Zoroastrian King “Cyrus the Great”. Yet intentionally they produced and published the said video with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging and insulting the religious feelings of the Parsi Zoroastrian community. The said video is insensitive towards the religious beliefs of one of the oldest monotheistic religions in the world,” Edulji has submitted in the petition.

According to the petitioner, semi-clad girls dance on Persian carpets smoking water pipes while Moghaddam sits on a throne, caressing her Persian cat. “I am feeling hot”, she says in a Persian accent. The table in front is covered in Iranian cashmere and behind her hangs a large Faravahar, the religious symbol of the Zoroastrianism. All this has been submitted in the petition.

“The wrong use of religious and sacred symbols and iconography hurts, insults and outrages the religious sentiments and beliefs of Parsi Zoroastrians. The lyrics of the song have nothing to do with Zoroastrianism. The Faravahar should be revered and respected as the Christian cross, Allah, the Star of David and Om, the religious symbols of all religions. All over the world, people respect religious symbols. The Faravahar, a sacred symbol for the Parsi Zoroastrians, does not belong to this song,” the petitioner states.

The respondents include the Government of West Bengal and The Government of India as well as two companies associated with the video. The petitioner has prayed to the court for an order, directing the concerned authorities to ban the video and take necessary steps to protect the religious rights of a ‘microscopic’ minority community such as the Parsi Zoroastrians.