Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe celebrates 109th Parsi New Year

Monday 31st August 2015 12:18 EDT

On Tuesday 18th August 2015, the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe (ZTFE), the oldest Indian/Asian religious voluntary organisation in the UK, celebrated the 109th Shahenshai Navroze (Parsi New Year) in London with pomp and splendour. On this auspicious occasion, the Chief Guest was His Excellency Mr Ranjan Mathai, High Commissioner for India, accompanied with his wife, Mrs Gita Mathai. Dr David Landsman OBE, Executive Director of Tata Ltd and former British Ambassador to Greece and Albania, accompanied with his wife Catherine Landsman of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, also joined the ZTFE in their 109th Navroze celebrations.

His Excellency Mr Ranjan Mathai and his wife, Mrs Gita Mathai, were traditionally welcomed to the Zoroastrian Centre by Parsi Zoroastrian women dressed in their finest gara and kor silk saris. After the achoo michoo ceremony was performed at the entrance, Mr and Mrs Mathai were garlanded with fresh flowers and requested to enter the Zoroastrian Centre with their right foot first.

ZTFE President Mr Malcolm M Deboo then introduced Mr and Mrs Mathai to the Trustees, Managing Committee, former Presidents and other senior members of the Zoroastrian community. Following the tour of the Grade II* Heritage Listed Art Deco Zoroastrian Centre, Mr and Mrs Mathai and Dr and Mrs Lansman were shown photographs of the first Navroze celebrations in London, held in 1906 at the famous Criterion Restaurant, London. The photograph included the then ZTFE President, Dr Dadabhai Naoroji (1st Indian MP), Sir Mancherjee Meherwanjee Bhowanaggree KCIE (2nd Indian MP), Madam Bhikaiji Cama who later that year unveiled the first Indian flag at the Socialist Congress in Stuttgart, Germany, and the young Mohandas K Gandhi, dressed in while tie and black dinner jacket, together with his wife Kasturba.

Following the drinks reception, Mr and Mrs Mathai and Dr and Mrs Lansman joined the Zoroastrian Community in the Zartoshty Brothers Hall for the four course Navroze celebratory meal.

In his welcome speech, the ZTFE President Malcolm M Deboo, said that the Zoroastrian community is always loyal to whichever country they reside, whether it is the UK, USA, Canada. He thanked the Government of India for sponsoring to the tune of INRs 15 crores (approximately £1.5 million) for The Everlasting Flame Exhibition Programme in New Delhi from March till May 2016. He added that that it was because of the members and well-wishers of the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe, donating the initial £100,000 to SOAS in 2013, to core fund ‘The Everlasting Flame: Zoroastrianism in History and Imagination’, the exhibition may not have lifted off. He thanked all of those who in 2013 had the foresight to donate to SOAS for mounting the first exhibition on Zoroastrianism in the West.

ZTFE Patron Lord Karan F Bilimoria CBE DL said, “We have been proud of our achievements in every field imaginable...This is what makes the Parsi community special and this is what led Mahatma Gandhi to say about the Parsi community: “in numbers, beyond contempt; in contribution, beyond compare”.

“I am looking forward very much to the exhibitions next year and the wonderful news that Indian government has decided to sponsor, to the tune of nearly one and a half million pounds, three exhibitions on the Zoroastrian Parsis, including the very successful ‘The Everlasting Flame: Zoroastrianism in History and Imagination’ exhibition, which was exhibited at the Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), here in London. This, along with two other exhibitions, will be in Delhi from March 19th onwards and this has been spearheaded by my cousin Dr Shernaz Cama of Shri Ram College New Delhi, So, all in all, lots to look forward to and most importantly I wish you all Navroze Mubarak and a very happy and prosperous New Year.”

His Excellency Ranjan Mathai, High Commissioner for India said, “The legacy of the Parsi contribution to India is too large to be recounted...

“The greatest achievement of course that the Parsis are known as India’s greatest philanthropist with a reputation caring and sharing! We are all hopeful the “JiyoParsi” programme of the Ministry for Minorities Affairs will succeed. You would be happy to know that an important exhibition “The Everlasting Flame: Zoroastrianism in History and Imagination” will be held at the National Museum of India, New Delhi, with official patronage very soon.

“Here in the UK, you have carved out an important place for yourself in the hearts of British society, from Dadabhai Naoroji to Freddie Mercury to the Tatas.

“I look forward to welcoming you also during Prime Minister’s visit to UK. There will be a large community gathering during the visit.

“On this happy occasion let us now recall with pride the achievements of the Zoroastrians in the past – started in Iran and flourished in India, and in fact everywhere else around the world. And let us work together for the bright new future. Saal Mubarak. Jai Hind.”

Photo credit: Raj D Bakrania, Prmediapix

comments powered by Disqus

to the free, weekly Asian Voice email newsletter