The legacy of contributions by our community – by Zerick Dastur

I recently visited the Prince of Wales Musuem at Kalaghoda Mumbai, a reminder of the rich cultural heritage and history in the heart of the city. The place caught the attention of the Zoroastrians of Mumbai last year, when it put up for exhibition, the “Cyrus Cylinder” which is considered to be the worlds first charter of human rights and a living manifestation of the tolerance and grandeur exhibited by the Persian Empire of which we are the descendants.

The museum is known to organize cultural programmes from time to time and is currently playing a twenty minute documentary film on the history of Mumbai city, its history, legacy and the transition from Bombay to Mumbai at the auditorium within the museum complex. The documentary depicts succinctly how Parsee Zoroastrian stalwarts and visionaries have played a significant role in forgoing the destiny of the city we today know as Mumbai. Right from the inception, the Wadias, the Tatas, the Jeejibhoys and many others have left their indelible influence on the city that is home to many of us and which has over a period of time become the financial capital of the world’s largest democracy.

The influence of Zoroastrians on the city is well depicted in the statues and buildings that line the streets of Fort in South Mumbai. The creative instinct and spirit of entrepreneurship exhibited by the our community members over a century ago has paved the way for millions today to organize their lives in a city that gives effect shape to many dreams. The Taj Mahal Hotel at Gateway of India stands resolute as a glorious reminder of Zoroastrian vision and spirit.

With the advancement in trade and commerce, came contributions in the intellectual arena. The study of law has attracted many young Zoroastrians over the years and the contribution of Zoroastrians to the field of law is significant. Mumbai has seen numerous Zoorastrian legal scholars excel in the profession and who are still remembered and quoted from time to time. A large number of law firms in Mumbai today still bear Parsee Zoroastrian names. Even today the Bombay Bar is filled with Parsee senior advocates who have made a significant impact on the legal landscape. The same can be said about professions of medicine and chartered accountancy.

The success story of our community is perhaps intertwined with the success of our nation. The story of Zoroastians in India perhaps depicts how a handful of people with the right mindset can make giant strides in virtually everything that they undertake. Today we do face challenges as a community. The dropping numbers, housing, security concerns in Udwada are a few issues which need immediate redressal. Together, we can undoubtedly overcome these obstacles and continue to tread the path of success.

The legacy of contributions by our community acts as a reminder to the members of our community today, that we are and will always will be a race of people who are winners and achievers. The Government of India has launched the Jiyo Parsee Scheme keeping in mind the welfare and the best interest of a community that is widely loved and respected by all. Perhaps the best way to sum it up was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent speech in Singapore, where he referred to the Parsee Community as sugar in a bowl of milk, a community which spread sweetness and contributes unconditionally to upliftment of the nation.


Zerick Dastur