Who would have thought that the death knell of the infamous cosmopolitan world body would be sounded in a tiny hamlet of Gujarat, Bardoli. But then Bardoli is no stranger to fame. For it was from Bardoli that Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhai Patel lead the satyagraha movement for peaceful resistance against the British, almost a hundred years ago. It seems to me that there is that something in Bardoli that inspires one to stand up for what one believes in.
How else can one explain the phenomenal success of the Community meeting organized single handedly by the Bardoli Jarthosti Anjuman, to awaken the community to the dangers of the cosmopolitan world body? This tiny Anjuman with a large heart hosted over one thousand four hundred (1400) Parsis and Iranis, on February 26th and 27th, and took upon themselves the task of creating awareness in the community about this vital matter. The silent majority of the community made their strong presence felt that day. Coming from the far corners of Gujarat they passed a Resolution (with one lone dissenter), against the Bombay Parsi Punchayet and the Federation of Parsi Zoroastrian Anjumans of India joining the cosmopolitan world body. This was after well known scholar Khojeste Mistree had taken them through a Power Point Presentation, done in Gujarati especially for the occasion, in which he analysed and dissected the Constitution of the controversial world body. The Presentation highlighted, 1) the marginalization of the BPP and the Federation of India in the world body, 2) the absence in the Constitution of the all-important Parsi/Irani identity, 3) the cosmopolitan nature of the body, as shown by the various Clauses that would make it possible for converts to gain entry and the resultant adverse impact it would have on the community in India and elsewhere, and 4) the thus far unbroken link between the Parsi/Irani identity and the Zoroastrian religion, which they are seeking to break in this proposed world body.
Resolution after Resolution passed at various public meetings has rejected the very idea of this cosmopolitan body. At a Public Meeting organized by The Parsee Voice in Bombay, on Nov. 23rd 2003, 750 Parsis/Iranis present had passed a similar Resolution against joining the world body. At the meeting of the Federation of Parsi Zoroastrian Anjumans of India at Ahmedabad, 24 of the 29 anjuman representatives present, reiterated their opposition to it and forwarded their protest to the Chairman in writing. Since then, a remarkable fifty (50) of the 69 anjumans registered with the Federation have joined the opposition to the world body. If one considers that 13 of the 69 anjumans of FPZAI are defunct, in real term numbers this amounts to 50 out of 56 anjumans opposing the world body! If after all this, BPP spokesperson, Mr. Godrej Dotivala, says to the media, "they are in the minority", then it is obvious that Mr. Dotivala is deliberately misleading the media and through it, the community. Why doesn't Mr. Dotivala supply us with some proof of the "majority" he seems to think is for the cosmopolitan world body?
Coming back to Bardoli, what can I say? The tiny anjuman stole the show and our hearts. Their organizational skills were outstanding, their hospitality overwhelming and heartwarming, and the gaam nu bhonu, tastier than any lagan nu bhonu I've tasted this season. President of the anjuman Mr. Jamshed Mohta has wonderful ideas and big dreams for the community and has the confidence and ability to carry them through. MOHTA (meaning big) saheb's very name says it all; and his magnanimous actions match his name. Secretary of Bardoli Jarthosti Anjuman, Pervez Mehta is no less dynamic and he along with the other trustees and their families, all, opened up their homes and hearts to us. Underlying all the hard work put in by the Bardoli team was their strong commitment and deep concern for the community and if our leaders and BPP trustees had been there with us, they would have seen for themselves that the good food and great hospitality, though greatly appreciated, were not the crowd pulling attractions they have been made out to be. The common cause at the Bardoli meeting was concern for the religion; and belittling those who had gathered at Bardoli, in a desperate attempt to dismiss the opposition to the world body, is not only in very bad taste, but also rather ludicrous. (Both the editor of Jame as well as BPP spokesperson Dotiwala have made snide remarks in the media, insinuating that 1200 community members had trooped to Bardoli solely for the food!!)
The support from Surat (Trustees and community members alike) was united and strong. Poona too was well represented and stands firmly behind tradition. The Trustees of Poona have in fact ratified the stand taken by them at the Federation meeting (opposing the cosmopolitan world body) by passing a Resolution emphasizing the same, at their AGM. These are leaders working with transparency and accountability, in consonance with the sentiments of their constituents; and one salutes them for that!
Guest of honour, Vada Dastur Cyrus Dastur of Surat spoke passionately for preserving tradition and quoted extensively from the Scriptures to make his point. Chief Guest, illustrious industrialist Mr. Areez P. Khambatta captivated the audience with personal and professional tips on entrepreneurship; and having taken the lead in emphasizing the need for the community to form a Parsi/Irani world body to safeguard Parsi/Irani interests, he announced a personal donation of Rupees one crore towards a traditionally constituted Parsi/Irani world body that would uphold and preserve the tenets and traditions of our Religion and would function under the guidance of a Council of High Priests. WORLD ALLIANCE OF PARSI IRANI ZARTHOSTIS (WAPIZ) would be the voice of the Parsis/Iranis in the world.
18 year-old Zarvan Patvi provided a fitting finale when he requested
the mike at the end of the Meet, to recite a few lines he had
specially composed for the occasion. "I hope this message goes to the
BPP and to all our other leaders" he said as he recited the
Na jaane din, na jaane dharam,
Na khuda no dar, na aankh maa sharam.
Nathi je-lokonaa tan per sadro, nathi je-lokonaa tan per kusti,
Evaaone laiyne vadhaarvaa chaaliya vasti.
Pasti na moole vechai jase tamaari hasti,
jo khuda ni saathe kari aavi harkat sasti.
Na bujhi chhe, na bujhse jyot maaraa Jarthosti Din ni.
Na bujhi chhe, na bujhse jyot maaraa Jarthosti Din ni; Jyaa sudhi
hamaaraa dil maa chhe aatash parasti,
Chhaiye hame Jarthosti.
The youth that came in large numbers to the meeting could teach many of us many a religious lesson.
Gujarat has said an emphatic NO to the cosmopolitan world body. Bardoli Jarthosti Anjuman (the small anjuman with the large heart), and the Parsis/Iranis of Navsari, Surat, Ahmedabad, Mt. Abu and a host of other anjumans in and around Gujarat, have stood up for what they believe in. Are our leaders listening???
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