August 20th is the first day of the Parsi New Year. A time of happiness and rejoicing for all members of the small Parsi community, of which I am a part.
This is one of my favorite days of the years. Memories of this day right through childhood included visits to the fire temple, wearing “new” clothes, receiving monetary gfts from grandparents, eating great food and going to parsi plays or “nataks” in the evening and to dinner thereafter.
Living in a Parsi colony meant that everyone did the same and it was a “jalsa”. It was one day where you would see the whole Parsi community out in full force, in every theater or playhouse in town. Every restaurant would have whole families of Parsis chattering away, drinking, eating, and greeting all and sundry around even if they did not know them.
It did not matter that there would be rain or shine, we would be out in force.
Over the last few years, being in NYC, away from family, on this particular day, sucks. There is something beautiful and inherent in celebrating festivals with family, that can never be substituted. There is a Zoroastrian Association here in NYC and they do hold a function in the evening, but its not the same.
This email from a fellow Parsi in Australia, sums it up beautifully…(ps…some of the terms contextual to parsis and bombay) …
Rejoice, it is Papeti and Navroze
This is the day to go out and have fun, eat and make merry.
This is the day when the RTI staff will be working overtime:
Putlamai will head the dar ni pori team, Dolly Patel will roll out the patrel,
Coomi Mevawalla will bake the kumas, Soli Botawalla will add the sali to the boti,
Bhikhamai Bhamgara will fry the bhakras and Ketayun Kateli the cutlace.
This is the day when no Parsi worth his name will go to work. Soli Solicitor will only drop into his office to give his staff mava ni boi from N. Lookmanji & Sons. As will Dinsu Dalal at the stock exchange to bring Mahim no halwa from Joshi Budhakaka.
Dr. Bumla, at 79 will not open his dispensary, but will be at the Grant Road market to buy chhamnas for his unmarried sister Alamai (aged 82) to fry.
Just to add, Dara Daruwalla will be giving Rs. 5/ off on every bottle bought from his liquor shop opposite the Cama baug.
Percy Pochkhanawalla, Tehmul Topkhanawalla, Jimmy Gymkhanawalla and Darab Darukhanawalla will be at the Ripon Club reminiscing about how they all lost out on well-endowed Moti Motafaram 40 years ago.
The culture vultures (the real ones are extinct) will all start getting dressed after their chai and batasa like Behramshaw Behra, who will go to Sam Kerawala’s natak, Kavasji Kana who has tickets for My Fair Lady at Novelty cinema and Limjibhai Langra who will dance at the Parsi Gymkhana to the tune of the new Parsi rock band, Nusly and his nusesals.
The PVM gymkhana will be full of osteoporotic women in their finery and men with toothpicks trying to pick leftover botas from their dentures swaying to the accordion of Jangoo Seervai.
This will also be a day to call friends and relatives wherever they maybe. Gayomarz Ghyara has already heard from all his 11 siblings as has Banubai Baria from her 12 cousins.
This is the day when Gaimai Gimi will ask her grandchildren in Toronto not to eat beef and Dariush Bugli will dress in a dugli in Montreal.
Kelly Kharas, Myrna Moos, Nelly Noble, Tania Tata and Grace Gazdar will also meet up in London for a Queen Mary’s school reunion.
So fellow Parsis, have a blast and a good laugh!