Parsi-Zoroastrian fest shows a community’s cultural spectacle

Parsi-Zoroastrian fest shows a community’s cultural spectacle

By BHUMIKA POPLI | | 26 March, 2016
(L-R) Iranian Choir-2nd April 2016 & Udvada, A Photographic Exhibition by Shantanu Das.

There is something about Parsi-Zoroastrian community that pulls you towards itself. Be it their participation in the culture of India or simply their peace loving attitude. Parsis are small in numbers but their contribution remains quite large in the Indian society.

Mahatma Gandhi acknowledged the significance of Parsi- Zoroastrian community in India. He said, “I am proud of my country, India, for having produced the splendid Zoroastrian stock, in numbers beneath contempt, but in charity and philanthropy, perhaps unequalled, certainly unsurpassed.”

To celebrate the multicultural ethos of the Parsi-Zoroastrian community, Ministry of Minority Affairs will host a cultural spectacle under their scheme Hamari Dharahor. The cultural panorama of programmes called The Everlasting Flame International Programme is to be held from 19 March to 27 May under Ministry of Culture and Parzor Foundation at various places in New Delhi.

Noteworthy contributions have been made by Parsis in the country. They brought famous Parsi cuisine, Dhan sakh, Falloda, machii no saas are to name a few varieties of food from the community. Homai Vayrawallah, a Parsi was the first woman photojournalist in India. Sam Manekshaw was the first Army officer who was promoted to the rank of Field Marshal. Where Tatas gave India its first steel industry, Zubin Mehta gave the world the perfect Western music. One also cannot forget Dr. Dadabhoy Naoroji - a Parsi who was the first elected member of the British Parliament in 1892. The Parsi Embroidery patterns are famous as well. The aesthetic sense of Parsis is quite good.

Dr Shernaz Cama, Director of Parzor Foundation says, “Hamari Dharohar will bring alive the multicultural Heritage of India. The Ministry of Minority Affairs has chosen its smallest micro-minority to initiate the programme. We are proud to present a Bronze-Age civilization that has survived in an unbroken line of tradition absorbing the best from East and West, creating a unique Heritage of Humanity.”

The Parzor Foundation facilitates social and scientific research with special focus on Parsi culture, working with institutions and universities across the globe. Its aim is to create awareness about Zoroastrian culture.

“Hamari Dharohar will bring alive the multicultural Heritage of India. The Ministry of Minority Affairs has chosen its smallest micro-minority to initiate the programme. We are proud to present a Bronze-Age civilization that has survived in an unbroken line of tradition absorbing the best from East and West, creating a unique Heritage of Humanity.”

Here’s a look at the programmes to be held in the Capital.

My Family and Other Parsis: Photographic Exhibition by Sooni Taraporevala between 29 April– 8 May at India International Centre. Sooni has carefully captured the everyday lifestyle of the esoteric Parsis.  The photographs speak unabatedly of the charming persona of the Parsis, their eloquent and warm disposition to one another and their passion for life. Sooni has photographed people as they go about their daily lives, successfully narrating emotions of her subjects as they make conversation, attend family functions, at home or in the streets of Mumbai — a city which is considered a Parsi bastion.

Udvada: A Photographic Exhibition by Shantanu Das will be held at India International Centre from 14 April - 20 April.  Udvada, the historic ground for the Parsi community in India is known worldwide for its significance to the Parsi clan’s growth, housing the Atash Behram (from Middle Persian Atash Warharan for “Victorious Fire”, the highest grade of ritual fire of the Zoroastrians) in the fire temple located here. Udvada has a unique culture, a serenity and simplicity that are worth a watch.

Puppet Theatre Performance by Dadi Pudumjee and the Ishara Puppet Theatre Trust:  Based on Zoroastrian religious scripts and teachings, the universe is shown as a battle field between good and evil in this electrifying puppetry performance, with far reaching consequences for humanity, depending on which side they choose.

Fashion Show by Ashdeen Lilaowala & Wendell Rodricks: The Scent of The Orient - For this show, Designer Ashdeen  Z. Lilaowala hopes to create a cinematic journey in which magnificent examples of Parsi Gara Embroidery explore the long history of interaction between the Parsis of India and China.

The Gireban Collection: Goan designer Wendell Rodricks brings to Parzor the Gireban Collection based on the Zoroastrian pocket of good deeds, also called the Kisse-e-kerfeh, in the Sadra vestment worn by Parsis.

Iranian Choir with traditional Instruments from Tehran on April 2 at India International Centre: Basha Ensemble, a choir from Tehran will perform traditional folk songs of local seasonal celebrations and Navroze in traditional Iranian costumes.

The Looking Glass, Stained Glass Workshop by Katayun Saklat from 3 April – 10 April at IGNCA: Katayun Saklat, the renowned Stained Glass Artist from Kolkata will hold his workshop for the first time in Delhi. The workshop includes an introduction to the basic principles of design as well as the craft of making of stained glass.

Behram-ni-Sasu (Behram’s Mother in Law ), a Gujarati Parsi Natak by Yazdi Karanjia troupe of Surat on 30 April, India Habitat Centre: Behram-ni-Sasu is a hilarious play directed by Yazdi Karanjia, an octogenarian Surti and one of the doyens of Parsi theatre in Gujarat.  The play takes the audience directly in the middle of a Parsi household as actors present relationships and societal issues in trademark Parsi Gujarati style.

Lec-Dem on the Teke Ceremony and Puppets from Azerbaijan by Poupak Azimpour Tabrizi on 6 May at India International Centre: Spring is a symbol of life and regeneration in many civilizations and cultures. Teke is the name of a puppet which announces the coming of spring.  The real aspect in the meaning of ‘teke’ summons up a background of allegorical associations surrounding the beginnings of the showings of the whirling teke.

The programme will conclude on 27 May with a valedictory address by the eminent author Amitav Ghosh.

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