Historic Resolution Passed By The Mobeds of Poona

by Noshir H. Dadrawalla

In the last few decades, Poona has seen a tremendous growth of industry, employment and reasonably good housing facilities. Little wonder that Poona also has the largest concentration of Parsis after Mumbai. There are three agyaris and two dokhmas.

While Poona is largely perceived as a conservative anjuman, there is also a small but powerful liberal section. Inter-marriages are fairly common among these wealthy and highly angli-cized families. Quite obviously these families are also opposed to dokmenashini and prefer to have their loved ones cremated.

With a view to arrive at a proper understanding of the various issues involved a historic meeting of the Parsi priests of Poona was held on December 5, 2002 at the Sir J.J. Agiary complex. While it was a meeting initiated and convened by the mobeds of Poona a few behdins (including this writer) were present by invitation.

The entire meeting was conducted with solemnity and decorum. While there was healthy debate on a few issues, after due deliberation the mobeds present passed the following UNANIMOUS RESOLU-TION:

"The mobed sahebs present RESOLVED that irrespective of what may have happened in the past, henceforth:

1) no mobed will perform any ceremony, whatsoever, nor any prayers whatsoever, either for the first four days or even thereafter for those who opt for burial or cremation or any other mode of disposal other than dokhmenashini, where a dokhma exists.

2) No mobed will perform any ceremony whatsoever, nor any prayers, not even a simple tandarosti prayer, for intermarried couples.

3) No mobed will perform the navjote or any initiation ceremony of a child where either the mother or father of the child is a non-Parsi.

a) Ervad Eruchshaw B. Dastoor b) Ervad Noshirwan P. Dastoor c) Ervad Gayomard A. Sinor d) Ervad Kaipashin J. Raimalwalla e) Ervad Kersi S. Karkaria f) Ervad Porus G. Sinor g) Ervad Ardaviraf Sinor"

December 5, 2002 will go down as a historic day in the annals of Parsi history where the mobeds of Poona have come together as a unified force to stamp out heterodoxy. It is hoped that the lead given by Poona will be followed by other major anjumans in India like Bangalore, Surat, Navsari, etc.

After the meeting a small delegation along with this writer met Sardar Dastur Hormazdiar Noshirwan Dastur, High Priest of the Deccan and Malva and handed over the copy of the resolution to him for record. Dasturjisaheb extended a warm and cordial reception to the delegation and read the resolution with interest. He was pleased that the various mobeds under his jurisdiction had taken the initiative to come on a common platform and discuss the various religious issues concerning the community.

Dasturji Kaikhusroo Dastur Minocher Jamasp Asa in his letter of December 10, 2002 to this writer has stated, that the Resolution of the Mobed-sahebs of Pune "is a step in the right direction". He has also expressed hope that this resolution will be given wide publicity.

A small community like the Parsis cannot afford to sacrifice its religious and ethnic identity on the altar of modernity and reforms. And since it is the clergy that can make or break a religious community, it is high time that organisations like the Council of High Priests, the Athornan Mandal, Jashan Committee, SDAC, TZT and others assert themselves and bring about a renaissance.

- Noshir H. Dadrawalla

Please Note: Population of Badaga refugees increased from 500 to 1,20,000.

Dear Traditional Zarathushtris,

A historic resolution was passed by the Mobed Sahebs of Pune on December 5, 2002 at the Sir J.J. Agyari complex, Pune.

Some people holding reformist views may be of the opinion that the Parsi race is a dying one, due to the death rate at present being higher than the birth rate. In reality the death of a race is caused by people marrying outside it's fold. If you examine the birth and death rate figures you will come to the conclusion that, may be right now the death rate is higher, a time will come when there will be an equilibrium, and after that the birth rate will be higher than the death rate.

While comparing population figures, people take into account population figures of adherents of religions. Instead of looking at the population figure of the total number of Hindus, one should considering the figures caste wise. Though Jainis are in a sense considered to be Hindus, they are a different religious community. They are made up of two main sub-divisions, Degambar and Swetambar. Their total population is 15 lacs. They have further divisions. People of one sect do not marry a person from the other sect. Population of these sects is not much but nobody there talks or thinks that their community will ever die. They are very orthodox and marry within their sub-cast. A Degambar jain is not allowed to marry a Swetambar. The same is the case with various Hindu castes.

What we Parsi and Irani Zarathostis need is the will to survive. I am giving some interesting information about a community that fled from Tippu Sultan and settled as refugees in South India. Excerpts from the book 'Ancient Hindu Refugees' written by Paul Hocking. We Parsis must learn a lesson from this.

In the sixteenth century, the Badagas (the word means northerner) fled from the Empire of Vijaynagar and came to the Nilgiri Massif as refugees. A few hundred souls at most, they found themselves among quite unwarlike tribes-the Todas, Kotas and Kurumbas- who understandingly gave them land to settle on. Thus began one of the most successful community transplants that South India has ever witnessed.

Numbering only 500 or so in 1603, the Badagas had increased to 2,200 by the time the British arrived and made the first census in 1812. Since then there has been a staggering increase and today, the Badagas occupy 370 villages and number around 120,000 people, most of them commercial farmers.

Not that they achieved their present position without a great deal of struggle and torment. There was a time, back around 1860, when it looked to them as though Badaga society was coming to an end.

The Badagas are clearly aware of how they differ from other communities in this region. Thus only people of their community have Badagu as their mother-tongue; only Badaga men and women wear the distinctive dress and carry a characteristic mark on their forehead; only Badagas live in their recognized villages which bear distinctively Badaga place-names; and only Badagas can marry Badaga women. Marriage between cross-cousins is the ideal.Though a cross-cousin is preferred, a Badaga may marry women, either

Their past is of extreme importance to them. Badagas have long maintained a fairly accurate interest in their past and in teaching the young about it.

While it is evil for a Badaga to kill people he does good in the eyes of the community and of God if he kills Kurumbas or tigers, 'since these are both murderers.'

So dear traditional Zarathushtris, let us learn a lesson from the Badaga community. Let us have the will to survive. It's good that our Mobed Sahebs will not perform Navjote of the children born of Parsi fathers and alien mothers. Let these rules be known to those who want betray our community. Those who want to go, let them go out totally. Let the number of Parsis be reduced to half, but we should put a stop to the menace of intermarriages.

A community does not die, it gets killed. It is this menace of intermarriages that will kill our community. If Badagas could increase from 500 to 1,20,000, we Parsis from our present population can increase much more. What we need is the WILL TO SURVIVE AND SUPPORT OF OUR MOBED SAHEBS.

I salute our Mobed Sahebs from Pune for the historic Resolution they have passed.

Ushta Te,

Meher T.Khurody

Indore India

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