Parsis offer better benefits for more priests

The dwindling number of priests within the Parsi community has set the alarm bells ringing as the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP), the community’s apex body, has introduced a first-of-its-kind financial welfare scheme to attract more members to take up the profession.

By Mugdha Variyar, Hindustan Times

Under the ‘Mobed Amelioration Scheme’, which was launched this month, the BPP

aims to provide full-time priests across the country financial support and preferential allotment in housing.

“The number of priests in the community is declining, with almost 50 priests passing away every year, and only eight or ten new priests joining fire temples annually,” said Dinshaw Mehta, president, BPP.

“They [priests] don’t earn a high wage, and their children are opting for other professions. This scheme will help give them financial support and encourage them to consider this profession for their kids.”

The scheme, however, is applicable only to full-time priests, who are attached to a particular agiary (fire temple), and full-time priests who have retired. It also looks to reach out to students in community madressas.

The scheme has received a mixed response from priests. “We have been receiving promises over the last 50 years, and none of it has materialised,” said Ervad Marzban Hathiram, head priest of a Jogeshwari agiary.

Ramiyar Karanjia, principal of the Dadar Athornon Madressa, said: “While many parents in the priest community are hesitant to send their children to a madressa, this scheme may encourage at least 40% of them to change their minds.”

  • Sohrab Kamdin

    For many many years our priests are living below the poverty line, especially in places where the Anjuman membership is small. Leaving out the Metros the smaller & medium size places are unable to pay their priests a reasonable salary & ALL Parsi priests should be taken into consideration. Small salaries will not attract priests.

  • Dear Arzan Sam Wadia
    [Writer of News Article “Parsis offer better benefits for more priests” published in Parsi Khabar.]
    Thank you very much for your article published in Parsi Khabar. I am now going to write to the BBP and Mr. Methe that we have Mobed Adil Dastor who has four children and is very poor but looks after our Ajmer Agiary very well, does all the Muktads etc. Because we have 5 or 6 good Dharamshala, Room. A lot of Parsi come from Bombay, Surat, Navsari for the Khawaja Sahib Durgah and stay with us. Good arrangements are done by the Dastoorji who earn well. That is why he is sticking.
    Three of his girls are admitted into Convent Girls School, a missionary run school, they cannot afford to pay their fees. So I try to get some scholarship for them, also some donors are helping them.
    Now my request to you is to publish a request to the Trusts for education and other Philanthropic people to help our poor Adil Dastoor and his family. Our Anjuman at Ajmer is poor. We have a total of six families with about 20 members [90% all old retired people] and it is exceeding difficult to maintain our Agiary and Dhakma for which we employ chowkidar etc.
    All the best of luck and regards.
    Sincerely yours,
    [Maj.] (Retd.) Noshir K. Marfatia]

  • jimmy hormusji

    I have read the article in Jam e Jamshed, recently, Its only on paper, for Behdins it religion, for Mobeds its Business. The Panthaki s are doing extremely well, based on their recommendation the salaries and perks of young mobeds are fixed. With the increasing greed and selfishness of Seniors, nobody wants to get into mobedi. this is quite evident from the dwindling numbers, year after year. I was at Iranshah last friday, and it was pathetic to see only two young students in Nahan.

    Its high time our Panchayat realises and have strong dikats laid down, then only will more young zorastrians will join the stream..

    In another case, Mr Aspi Mandviwala, working as a chasniwala at Iranshah temple for a decade now, was unceremoniously asked to leave. Having worked for ten years, he used to sleep at Atashbehram, be it winter, summer monsoon or any season. His wages were reduced from 7000/- to 5000/- during december 12, as a part of his job was assigned to another person, and finally last aneran roj he was showed the door.

    The article speaks of awarding pension to persons serving for a long time, but this is what a honest parsi gets. Just disgusting!!!

    regards

    Jimmy Hormusji
    Hyderabad