Parsi-only Ripon Club’s plans to give full membership to women, faces protests in Mumbai | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Parsi-only Ripon Club’s plans to give full membership to women, faces protests in Mumbai

Currently, non-Zoroastrian guests, who want to eat the club’s fabled Parsi food, have to be accompanied by Parsi members

mumbai Updated: Oct 02, 2017 14:05 IST
Manoj R Nair
The 137-year-old club, which occupies two floors of a Kala Ghoda building, was set up more than a century ago, with encouragement from viceroy Lord Ripon.
The 137-year-old club, which occupies two floors of a Kala Ghoda building, was set up more than a century ago, with encouragement from viceroy Lord Ripon.(Parsiana)

Parsi-only Ripon Club’s plans to give full membership to women is being opposed by community groups, which feel that this will pave the way for non-Parsi husbands to acquire a say in the club’s affairs.

Currently, the club gives women only associate membership. Groups also worry that non-Parsi husbands will get associate membership as spouses of members are also allowed this privilege.

The 137-year-old club, which occupies two floors of a Kala Ghoda building, was set up more than a century ago, with encouragement from viceroy Lord Ripon. Non-Zoroastrian guests, who want to eat the club’s fabled Parsi food, have to be accompanied by Parsi members.

Xersis Dastoor, trustee and chairman of the club, said there were plans to give women full membership. “That is a proposal,” he said.

“We have advocated this in our magazine. We wrote on the annual general body meeting, where members committed to drafting a resolution and holding a vote before December,” said Jehangir Patel, editor of Parsiana magazine, who has supported the changes.

But, some Parsis oppose the plans. There are allegations that ‘reformist’ trustees of the club are campaigning to allow full membership to women members. The term ‘reformist’ is used to describe Parsis who favour equal religious rights for women who have married non-Parsis. The children of these women are not allowed entry into religious shrines. The reformists also support changes in traditional funeral methods.

“Once full membership is given, non-Parsi spouses of women members can independently come to Ripon Club, and entertain other non-Zoroastrian guests, thus successfully allowing the non-Parsi husbands of intermarried women to take over the club through back door entry,” said a message passed around in the community on Sunday. Those opposing the changes have been asked to write to the club.

Parsi lawyers from the Bombay high court, located next door, come to the club for their lunch and siesta. There are allegations that a leading non-zoroastrian lawyer married to a Parsi is promoting the resolution so he can independently use the club’s facilities. “We are not against any other community and respect all faiths, but Parsi institutions cannot be allowed to be taken over by non-Parsis,” said a member.

The club has around 700 members, who meet to play snooker and billiards. Membership fees are low, compared to charges at other clubs.