Colaba agiary cancels navjote for two kids of non-Parsi father after backlash
A week after news of the proposed navjote or religious initiation of two children born to a non-Parsi father, sparked a debate in the Parsi-Zoroastrian community, the Jeejeebhoy Dadabhoy Agiary at Colaba, where the ceremony was scheduled to take place, denied it was hosting the function.
This came days after the decorator had confirmed that an event was scheduled there on Saturday. An invite for the navjote was shared on social media. In it, the family of the siblings, had invited community members for a “celebration of navjote” at the agiary in Colaba on Saturday.
HT’s calls to the trustees of the agiary and family went unanswered. However, sources confirmed that the navjote ceremony took place at the family’s home instead. Traditionally, a child with a Zoroastrian father and non-Parsi-Zoroastrian mother is accepted into the faith.
The issue has divided the community, with one section stating the children cannot be initiated into the faith because their father is of a different faith. On the other hand, reformist groups have called the older practice discriminatory towards women.
Last week, several members of the community sent letters and notices to the Colaba agiary accusing them of promoting ‘religious conversion’ by providing a community space for the initiation ceremony of these children.
“After we sent letters to the trustees, we were informed the navjote ceremony will not take place at the agiary,” said Hanoz Mistry, community activist.
Yezdi Hodiwalla, a resident of Bandra, sent a notice to the trustees last week claiming the navjote would violate the trust deed.
“The proposed action of conducting the navjote in an agiary is against Zoroastrian religion as practised in India, and would be a blatant breach of trust, amounting to removal of the trustees,” said Hodiwalla.
This is not the first reported instance in the city of a navjote for a child with a non-Parsi father. Around 10 years ago, Roshni Maloo’s children’s navjote took place in Bandra, despite their father being non-Zoroastrian. The event was opposed within the community and police had to caution the opposing Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) trustees for disturbing the peace.
In 2018, the fire temple at Kondhwa in Pune had hosted a navjote for two children born to a Zoroastrian mother and her Australian husband. “ Earlier, only children of Parsi fathers were accepted into the fold, but even children of Parsi mothers are now being initiated, which is a welcome sign because it is the mother who inculcates values onto her child,” said Kerssie Wadia, trustee of Association of Revival of Zoroastrianism.