Much has been said and written in the past on the subject of mixed-marriages among Parsis and the consequent damage such unions cause particularly with regard to the survival of the community and its identity.
However, another problem area that tends to get neglected or underplayed is the rather high percentage of those falling under the category, "never married". The cliched argument, "I have not yet come across the right person" or "person of my choice" does not hold much water. There are often deeper underlying reasons. These are essentially attitudinal problems. Factors that usually lead to postponement of marriage and subsequently resulting in "never married" status include:
a) lack of encouragement from parents (to marry and settle down in life).
b) possible influence of peer group (feminists, gays, etc.)
c) excessive professional drive (where marriage may seem a barrier or impediment to profossional growth)
d) extremely high academic qualifications (subsequently being unable to iind a spouse to match their "intellectual caliber");
e) extreme concern for Individual independence;
f) fear or distaste for shouldering responsibility;
g) early childhood experiences (parents being unable to get along with each other);
h) false fears or impressions about the institution of marriage;
i) economic independence "I am self-supporting, I don't need anyone to look after me" or "he/she is planning to marry me only for my wealth" syndrome);
j) introvert personality (averse to mixing socially or approach persons of the opposite gender);
k) self-centered or happy-go-merry attitude to life.
A social scientist or psychoanalyst may be able to identify many other reasons. The purpose of this article, however, is not to analyse but to recommend. The recommendation to all the young and even the "not so young" is that, marriage from the Zoroastrian point of view is a religious duty.
All Zoroastrians, from the laity to the High Priests are enjoined to marry. According to the 'Vendidad', Ahura Mazda prefers a married person to one who is single and one with children to one without any. The Pahlavi Dinkard says it is the duly of a Zoroastrian to marry at the appropriate time, desire children and continue one's lineage.
During the 'Ashirvad' ceremony the officiating priest blesses the couple, "May you enjoy the union, procreate children and have a long, united life!"
In the 'Ahmai Raescha' and 'Atash Nyaish' a devotee asks for a child which has natural intelligence and wisdom (asnaamchit frazantim).
The very word "Farzand" (child) means "to make progress after being born" ('Far' = forth, forward and 'Zan' = to be born i.e., to take forward after birth).
What or who does the chlid "take forward"? The child takes its parents forward (among other things, after the death of the parents, the child helps them in their spiritual progress through offering of prayers and rituals). The saying, "child is the father of man", has an echo in the term "Farzand", so also the Gujarati saying 'Baap Kartaa Beto Savayo', (Son is one and a quarter times the father) has the same original connotation.
In the epic battle between Rustom and Sohrab, the latter once lifts his invincible father off the ground. At that moment the Yazatas blessed Rustom saying, "How good were your deeds that you have now a son who has bettered his father! Surely your life has been worth living".
Have you given a thought to "making your life worth living" as yet? If not, do think about it and, more important, act upon it!
by Noshir H. Dadrawalla
Article published in the Jam-e-Jamshed newspaper.
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