Zoroastrian centre in Pune allows entry to people of all religions and gender
The newly opened fire temple in Kondhwa in Pune, which welcomes people of all religions and gender, hosted a navjote ceremony of two children born to a Zoroastrian mother and her Australian husband.
Article by Jyoti Shelar | The Hindu
Clad in traditional attire, men and women gathered at Asha Vahishta Zoroastrian Centre, as priests carried out the rituals for 10-year-old Cyrus Hoffmann and his 7-year-old sister, Sanaya, to welcome them into the fold of the Zoroastrian religion.
The children’s mother, Shireen Hoffmann was born a Parsi, and married Cameron, an Australian. The couple have lived in Brisbane for the last 24 years. “I am a Zoroastrian. My husband, too, has interest in my religion, and he has done a lot of research on it. We have raised our children as Zoroastrians,” said Ms. Hoffmann, 43, an interior designer.
The family had planned a private navjote ceremony for their children in Mumbai, but when they read about the new fire temple that would welcome children of Parsi women who had married outside the community, they decided to change the venue to Pune. “We didn’t even know that we were going to be the first family there to have the ceremony. But we are so glad we did,” Ms. Hoffmann said.
She said getting rid of the discrimination was extremely important, and she is glad that the centre is acting as a torch-bearer.
Children of women who marry outside the community are not welcome in fire temples. However, children of Parsi men who have married non-Parsi women don’t face such discrimination. “ Navjote ceremonies of children born to non-Parsi fathers have been carried out earlier too, in residences, open lawns, Parsi baugs and even hotels. But holding the ceremony in a religious place definitely adds value to it,” said Vispy Wadia, founder member of the Association for Revival of Zoroastrianism, under which the centre has been built.
For Ms. Hoffmann, having the ceremony in a fire temple where her entire family felt welcome, was extremely satisfying. She said, “It was a beautiful feeling.”