Hijacking of Religion
An article in today’s Indian Express speaks about a new universal temple of worship for Zoroastrians, not necessarily Parsis.
This is as close as it gets to the bastardization of religion and the hijacking of culture for personal needs and gains.
For centuries the words Parsis and Zoroastrians were synonymous. But apparently not so. Zoroastrians that fled Islamic persecution in Persia and settled in India became the Parsis. Besides bringing their religion, they also brought their culture and ethnicity. Over the centuries, a lot of that ethnicity mixed with Indian traditions and became a unique mix, different from what it was in ancient Persia, but at the same time not totally Indian.
TImes have changed and the issues facing us Parsis today are manifold. But the solution to those issues is not to disband what has been our culture and ethnicity for 1400 years.
As society changes, people move on and do their own thing. I am of the firm belief that if someone disagrees with tradition and customs and religion, they have a right to go forth and do their own bidding. But that does not mean that they destroy what has been.
The article has some factual errors, especially regarding the dates when Parsis landed on the shores of India.
I rest my case……but only for now !!
ps….the Wadias mentioned in the article bear no relation to me whatsoever…thank God for that.
Read the article…
On Prophet’s birthday, new fire temple shakes 500 years of exclusivity
In a Colaba flat, a ‘universal agiary’ is thrown open to all faiths by reformist Parsis. This is no fire temple, only a cult movement: Traditionalists
Farah Baria Mumbai, August 25:
As far as birthday celebrations go, the event was pretty irreverent, but the timing couldn’t be better.
On Khordad Sal, Prophet Zarathustra’s birthday, a group of Parsis quietly inaugurated a new ‘‘universal agiary’’ or Fire Temple in a Colaba apartment.
It was for the first time in the community’s history a temple was thrown open to non-Parsis.
Almost a hundred people, both Parsis and non-Parsis, turned up for the agiary’s jashan and the humbandagi—traditional prayers recited strictly for and by Parsis.
And supporting the move were script writer Sooni Taraporevala and Smita Godrej Crishna, sister of industrialist Jamshyd Godrej.
The “blasphemous” move has shaken over 500 years of self-imposed ethnic exclusivity.
Zoroastrian emigres from Persia who arrived here over six centuries ago, the Parsi community has always been fiercely opposed to cultural integration, preferring to preserve its ‘‘racial purity’’ by prohibiting mixed marriages.
The prophet encouraged conversion, but Parsi women who marry outside the fold are pariahs, debarred from fire temples, from converting their families.
But dwindling numbers—the census recorded 69,601 at last count—have prompted progressive Parsis to adopt a more practical approach, says Kerssie Wadia, a trustee of the radical Association for Revival of Zoroastrianism (ARZ), which spearheaded the universal agiary.
‘‘While the Parsi race could die out in a few decades, we cannot allow our great religion to do the same,’’ says his brother Vispy, also an ARZ trustee.
The solution: Admit non-Parsi spouses and children of community members into the clan. Already, half a dozen Parsi priests have started offering clandestine ritual services at Navjots, marriages and funerals for a sizeable number of ostracised clients.
Now the Wadias hope the new agiary will voice the unspoken aspirations of 40 per cent of Parsis who married outside the clan.
The brothers—both businessmen—insist their movement has no personal agenda: All six trustees of the ARZ are married to true-blue Parsis. ‘‘Its a welcome and long overdue event’’ says Jehangir Patel, ‘‘reformist’’ editor of Parsiana, the community’s moderate journal.
Crishna, a founder member of the Association of Intermarried Zoroastrians (AIMZ), says: ‘‘Zarathustra wanted his devotees to spread his gospel to the four corners of the Earth. Now, at last, our religion will be followed as the prophet preached.’’
Predictably, not everyone is happy. ‘‘To begin with, the term fire-temple is a misnomer for what can, at best, only be a prayer hall,’’ says Zoroastrian scholar Khojeste Mistree.
He explains that an agiary can only be consecrated by the highest echelons of the clergy, after three weeks of rituals. ‘‘Needless to say, a group of renegade priests officiating in a cult movement certainly don’t qualify.’’
‘‘Our race has always been synonymous with our religion,’’ argues Adi Doctor, editor of the right-wing Parsi Voice. ‘‘Unfortunately, our so-called liberals want to have their cake and eat it too.’’