India’s biggest Parsi culture festival begins: The Iranshah Udvada Utsav 2019
The third edition of the Iranshah Udvada Utsav was off to a flying start last evening here at the Gymkhana grounds in Udvada.
The third edition of the Iranshah Udvada Utsav commenced today in the heart of Udvada, Gujarat – the religious center point for Parsi Zoroastrians across the globe. Hosted by the Foundation for Development of Udvada, sponsored by Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla, Founder and Chairman of Serum Institute of India and promoted by Gujarat Tourism, the IUU is an extravaganza showcasing the best of Parsi culture. The biennial festival will continue till Sunday, 29th December 2019.
Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor under whose watchful eye this entire event is organized welcomed the guests and all the participants. He spoke about the vision and mandate of the current Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi who wanted the Utsav to be established as a gathering for the community to participate and celebrate in. Vada Dasturji thanked Dr Cyrus Poonawalla who is the main sponsor of the IUU. He also thanked his entire organizational team led by Havovi Dastoor for the fantastic arrangements for IUU.
Vada Dasturji Dr. Firoze M. Kotwal was felicitated on the occasion of the inauguration of IUU. Vada Dasturji Kotwal spoke with passion about the eminence of Udvada and its priests over the centuries and urged our community to live by the tenets of the religion and continue to thrive.
The event was inaugurated by the Administrator of Dadra Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, Shri Praful Patel.
Ervad Ramyar Karanjia launched a beautiful book he has authored specially for children and youth, on the occasion of IUU 2019.
The highlights of Day 1 included ‘Gujarat ni Arsi Amhe Parsi’ a play by our dear friend and legendary theater personality Mr. Yazdi Karanjia and his daughter Mrs. Mahrukh Chichgar. The stage extravagance used music and dance to lace together the story of how Parsis have woven into and are integral to the spirit of Gujarat.
This was followed by a performance by Groove Garden, the band comprised of some of the most talented and famous musical personalities including India’s premium JAM master Hormuz Ragina! Amidst the cheering of the young Parsis who had gathered in large numbers from across India for the special sports matches, the band rocked the crowd with all-time favorites including soft and classic evergreen rock music.
The IUU Souvenir, a special compilation of messages from well-wishers across India, including the President of India, Hon’ble Shri Ram Nath Kovind, was released on stage along with a special Childrens’ book by Ervad Dr. Ramiyar Karanjia, the Principal of the Dadar Athornan, a School for young Parsi Priests.
The evening was also dedicated to the Parsi achievers across varied industries and categories, which included India’s first Holistic Health and Fitness and our dear friend and mentor Mickey Mehta; legendary Indian athlete and now President of the Indian Olympic Association Adille Sumariwala and popular Vlogger, Sherry Shroff.
FEZANA President Homi D. Gandhi and Vice President Arzan Sam Wadia presented the funds collected by FEZANA for the upkeep of the Iranshah to Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastur.
Once the formal part of the evening was over, the Groove Garden band made sure that the crowd had a “rocking” time dancing away.
The evening ended with a fantastic dinner served by Daruwala caterers from Surat.
It was heartening to see the droves of volunteers including a lot of young scouts and guides of the 16th East Bombay Scout Group under the sharp eye of their scouter Freddy Khapoliwala. Other scouters and rovers from the 32nd West Bombay Scout Group under Scouter Pervez Irani helped with logistical organization and support.
Activites continued from 11;30 PM onwards as dozens of folks participated in a variety of sports, all competing for grand prizes. Football, volleyaball, cricket and sepak contests saw some tough rivalries when the players were on the court but amazing cameraderie off it.
The first day of the Utsav was a great one for all the participants. The audience present was extremely appreciative of the varied and fantastic program they witnessed.
Udvada town had a festive look and the thousands who have come for the Utsav bring with them a positive vibe and energy that the town so dearly needs.
Here is a message shared by Percy Tantra who accompanied Vada Dasturji Kotwal to the Utsav
Thanks to the courtesies of my friends Philly Bhathena and Zubin Khapoliwala, I had the privilege of accompanying our High Priest Dasturji Dr. Firoze Kotwal to and from Mumbai to the Iranshah Udvada Utsav 2019 for its first day on 27th Dec.
My non partisan impressions of it are penned down as follows.
The Iranshah Utsav is definitely a congregation of more Parsis than seen for any event of Parsis/Zoroastrian anywhere in the world that I have attended. It certainly has a good standard and efforts put in and money spent on it is all very visible.
Moreover its venue is so far away from the Iranshah and well closeted with mandaps that no sound would ever reach near the Iranshah. Don’t we have music and dancing in the compounds that house our Banaji Atashbehram, Colaba and Cama Baug agiaries, then why the hue n cry for this once in 2 years event which anyway is so far from the Atashbehram premises?
The mix of crowd is also commendable, coming from all parts of western India mainly and of all age groups and a good mix of the genders too.
Keeping all prejudices aside certainly the Parsi community should commend the efforts of the organisers/sponsors and participate in future such utsavs in large numbers just for the sheer pleasure of being among so many of our own. An event like this if it were to be held in Mumbai, a large portion if not the whole of Azad Maidan would need to be rented.
– Percy Tantra