Monday, February 8, 2016

TheParseeVoice Open response to communication of Udvada Samast Anjuman

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: The Parsee Voice
Date: Sun, Feb 7, 2016 at 9:22 PM
Subject: TheParseeVoice Open response to communication of Udvada Samast Anjuman

The Committee Members

Udvada Samast Anjuman


We are greatly pained to read your sanctimonious and patronising response which appeared in Jame Jamshed of 31st January. You have completely sidetracked the main issue of concern to the traditional members of the community, that of safeguarding the sanctity of Iranshah, which was badly jeopardised during the recent so-called 'Utsav'.


While you pompously proclaim that the Udvada Samast Anjuman is the caretaker of Iranshah, the recent actions of some of the Anjuman leadership in holding the Iranshah Udvada Utsav at great spiritual cost to Holy Iranshah, is a clear pointer in the opposite direction. The speech of Darius Khambata, which found a willing supporter in Udvada's High Priest, Dastur Khurshed Dastoor, proved to be the proverbial last straw which broke the camel's back! All this happened with full support of your leader and you have the audacity to claim that the general community of Parsi/Irani Zarthoshtis, the beneficiaries of Iranshah, have no say in the matter!!


You contend that Darius Khambata expressed his personal opinion, and that your Anjuman and Dastur Khurshed are not in agreement. If you were not in agreement, why was he invited in the first place to speak at the Utsav? His views on this topic are well known, he having already voiced them at the last World Zoroastrian Congress. What are his scholastic credentials on religion that made you invite him as a speaker instead of other real scholars of the religion?  Further, the Utsav organisers also went a step further and felicitated him. When some of the attendees protested, your Dastur Khurshed silenced them. And then you expect the community to believe that Dastur Khurshed does not support these views of Mr. Khambata?? All we can say is: Tell it to the marines!


You further state that neither your Anjuman nor your Dasturjis have ever encouraged conversion or mixed marriages in any form whatsoever. In this regard, we invite your attention to the interview given by Dastur Khurshed to Nergish Sunavala of Times of India on December 27, 2015 after this unfortunate speech of Khambata and also the interview given by Dastur Khurshed to Bachi Karkaria of Times of India on December 20, 2015. Please also read the interview given by Dastur Khurshed on May 28, 2010 in Ontario, published in the 2010, Fall September issue of FEZANA Journal. Even a person with limited IQ will understand the religious leanings of Dastur Khurshed! It was only when the community expressed its indignation and he was cornered, that Dastur Khurshed lent his signature to the joint letter / statement issued by all the other High Priests in which they spoke out against conversions and intermarriage. It seems hypocritical to us that on one hand Dastur Khurshed sides with the reformist lobby, and then portrays himself to be a traditionalist when there is a furore.


As regards the absence of the other High Priests from the Utsav, we have it from reliable sources that some of the High Priests did not even get an invitation from you. While we are aware that Dasturji Meherjirana is in poor health, that still does not preclude you from inviting him, especially since your Dastur Khurshed was graciously invited to, and attended the celebrations of the Navsari Atashbehram. That is the correct protocol which should have been followed, especially when it is well established that the Meherjirana Gaadi is the oldest and senior-most position in the community for the last 450 years. Further, we are aware that Dastur Peshotan Mirza, the other High Priest of Udvada, was present in the morning on one of the Utsav days in Udvada, but yet he chose not to attend a single function. That speaks a lot for the so-called unanimity of your decision on the contents of this communication.


Insiders have informed us that about 2500 tickets had been sold for the Utsav. So your stated claim of 4000 attendees is grossly exaggerated!


You also claim that Udvada Samast Anjuman does not interfere with any other Anjumans / Associations. Then how come Dastur Khurshed dabbles in matters which are under the jurisdiction of Dasturji K. M. JamaspAsa in Mumbai? His involvement in the Lalbaug Wadia Agiary issue, his being Chairman of the Athornan Mandal in Mumbai and his involvement with the construction of an 'Agiary' in Navi Mumbai are clear cases of this infringement of jurisdiction.


Instead of being issue-based, you have stooped to the level of launching personal attacks against those who have had the guts to speak out against your wrong-doings, including hitting below the belt on personal issues. By speaking out against the Utsav, Er. Yezdi Unvala has done a service to the community and so have Er. Marzban Hathiram and BPP Chairman and WAPIZ trustee, Yazdi Desai. Does it behove your Anjuman to indulge in such despicable tactics? You also need to realise that those living in glass houses should not throw stones!


You seem to be quick to jump to the rescue of the FDU, which has been around since over a decade. Pray tell us what great achievements it has accomplished in this time? We have been hearing about the proposed wall to prevent the sea from eroding the beach and properties since the last decade. The security of the residents is a huge concern, with a spate of robberies occurring in the recent past and with no police presence worth mentioning. The roads were also done up just before the Utsav, most probably to impress the VIP entourage. The residents have already approached the administration with concerns about likely flooding at their doorsteps during the next monsoon due to the raising of the levels of the main road in comparison to the side roads. All that we see on the ground is the isolated, so-called Zoroastrian Information Centre, which hardly attracts any footfalls! If you recall, this is the same FDU against which 'The Parsee Voice' was regularly cautioning you since a decade, but you took no heed.


As regards the 200 acres of land in Udvada which was proposed to be developed in the near vicinity of Iranshah, we are reliably informed that a deal has been struck with the developer and the Anjuman. Why is there a deafening silence from the powers-that-be in Udvada, and no attempt has yet been made to apprise the community about the current status? 


We also take umbrage on your mention of pressure groups with 'holier than thou' mind-sets seeking to misguide the community since they are well known to have a personal animus against Dastur Khurshed. It may be worth highlighting that we have only spoken about the issues-at-hand and have not indulged in 'Ad Hominem'. You may well be surprised to note that quite a few individuals from the so-called 'pressure groups' pray regularly to Dadar Ahura Mazda that the veil of spiritual darkness that clouds the thinking and actions of quite a few unfortunate brethren of our noble community, be torn apart at the earliest. We wish peace and all-round progress for our small community which can best be assured by safeguarding the age old customs, traditions and canon laws of the religion.


Irrespective of whether you choose to respond to us or not, please understand that the community at large has seen through the veneer of traditionalism that the Utsav organisers, especially Dastur Khurshed claim to have. His actions, conduct and demeanour are not befitting the high position he holds. We are also surprised that the response which the committee has sent has been drafted without taking the Anjuman into confidence, without holding any meeting, and with the surprising state of the Secretary being in and out of hospital for the last month and the Assistant Secretary having resigned under controversial circumstances more than a month ago. What a show of unanimity! Your marking your communication to known heterodox publications like Parsiana, FEZANA Journal and Hamazor also raises quite a few questions.


Instead of digging in your heels and being stubborn, please appreciate that our only purpose is to safeguard the sanctity of Holy Iranshah and preserve His environs. The Utsav has only negatives on this score and no one can deny that. As concerned members of the Parsi community, we urge you to stop future Utsavs from being held in Udvada and safeguard Iranshah's sanctity. If the Udvada Samast Anjuman chooses to bury its head in the sand like an ostrich and does nothing at this juncture to prevent further harm, it goes without saying that the community as a whole will have to face negative spiritual consequences.


We hope that wiser counsel will prevail.


Hanoz M. Mistry

Ms. Rita F. Doctor

Ervad Bahadur Sanjana

Ervad Behram Dhabhar

Kaizad F. Kerawalla

Khushnood Viccaji

Jimmy Tavadia

Yazdi P. Munsif

Ervad Aspi K. Rao

Ms. Kashmira A. Rao

Mehernosh Zaveri


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