Homajee Ni Baaj, Remembering a Parsi saint

By Kayomarsh P. Mehta

Dae Mah & Govad Roj by Shenshahi calendar, is commemorated in memory of a saintly person, Homa Jamshed Zahia. Here is an article narrating the background and significance of the day.

With best wishes for an enlightened community,

Kayomarsh P. Mehta
Metropolitan Chicago
Chair, Religion Education, FEZANA

Homajee Ni BaaJ

Dae mah, Govad roj


  1. The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Parsees by J. J. Modi
  2. Zarathushtrian Saints by Noshir H. Dadrawala
  3. Handy Booklet on Zoroastrianism by Captain Dara E. Driver
  4. Asho Naro Ni Aaarsi by Jayantilal A. Shah

Dae Mah Govad Roj is the death anniversary of a pious and saintly (Asho) person, Homa Jamshed Zaahiaa. The day is popularly remembered in his memory as Homajee Ni Baaj. It is commemorated as a religious day in testimony to a life of absolute righteousness and truth.

Homa, the son of Jamshed was a weaver in Bharuch, a strong Parsee enclave in Gujarat, India. His father Jamshed Zaahiaa was a poet and a prominent citizen of Bharuch. An Agiyari in Palia Street in Nanpura District of Surat is named after Jamshed Zaahiaa. Homa was a victim of the unfortunate Kabiseh controversy which divided the community very bitterly and violently, around the middle of the 18th century.

Around that time, when the Parsees of India established contact with the Zarathushtis of Iran, they discovered that the Iranians followed a calendar that was one month ahead of theirs.

According to the Zarathushtrian tradition, instead of adding a day for the leap year once every four years, the practice was to add a Kabiseh - a full month of 30 days was added once every 120 years. The Parsees after their arrival in India, appear to have added the extra month sometime during the 12th century, whereas the Iranian Zarathushtis forgot to do so, probably due to the troubled times they were going through in Iran. This caused the difference of one month between the two groups.

In 1745, a section of the Zarathushti community in Gujarat changed over their calendar and put it one month ahead, so as to confirm to what it was in Iran. They called themselves Kadimis or followers of the ancient practice. Those who did not adopt the change called themselves the Shenshahis or those who followed the "Royal" traditional calendar.

This caused a severe rift in the Zarathushti community in India. For many years, marriage between the members of the two sects did not take place and often, bouts of violence were taken to the streets.

The controversy flared up rather seriously in Bharuch in 1782. A Kadimi lady who was pregnant falsely accused a pious an innocent Shehenshahi gentleman by the name of Homa Jamshed for kicking her and causing her to have a miscarriage.

Homa was first brought to trial before the Nawab of Bharuch and then to Bombay before the British court. Homa pleaded his innocence but incensed by the Kabisseh controversy, a member of a Wadia family gave a false testimony as a witness against Homa. Based on the witness' false accusation, Homa was sentenced to death. He was hanged to death at the corner of Bazaargate in Fort, Bombay, on Mah Dae, Roj Govad 1152 Y.Z., 1783 A.D..

Before he was hanged, he declared that he was innocent of the charge brought against him and that his sentence was not just. He is said to have declared, that the person who had leveled the false witness testimony against him would be found dead on the fourth day (Chahrum) after his death. He also said that all those who will remember him for his straight forwardness and honesty will receive his blessings.

Reportedly, the person who gave the false witness testimony against Homa was found dead in his house on the Chahrum day of the martyr's death. To this day, devout Parsees observe Dae Mah Govad Roj as a solemn occasion for remembering this martyr of the tragic Kabiseh controversy.

In a sense, Homaji is the patron Saint of all those who are meek, gentle, falsely accused and/or generally harassed. In our Aafringaan prayers, his honorable name is mentioned as Behdin Homa Behdin Jamshed in the litany of names of pious persons. His remembrance inspires me and serves as a reminder to reaffirm to lead my life in an honest, truthful and righteous manner.

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