Wanted! Young Parsis to maintain agiyari

When the Parsi agiyari in Sayajigunj recently celebrated its 90 years of existence, the entire building was cleaned and lit up by the community members.

While many admired the spic and span agiyari, few knew that the fire temple management is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain and clean the huge building.
The trustees have even begun looking for young Parsi volunteers to clean up and maintain the agiyari every weekend.

“Only Parsi community members are allowed in the agiyari premises. So we cannot hire non-Parsis to maintain and clean the building.

Keeping the premises clean is now a major challenge for us as we don’t have enough young Parsi volunteers,” said Nikitin Contractor, one of the trustees in the agiyari.

Established in 1923, the agiyari was built by Nikitin’s great grandfather Pastonji Contractor at a cost of Rs one lakh and it is spread over nearly 3,000 sq feet. Pastonji’s father Faramji was the main contractor of the erstwhile state of Baroda and he had decided that the agiyari should be managed and financed only by the family members.

“The agiyari has big rooms, tall ceilings, antique furniture, paintings and statues. It is a tiring job to clean up entire premises. We do have a team of 20 volunteers who do the cleaning every weekend but most of them are ageing. The city is home to nearly 250 Parsi families but we are not able to get more youngsters as many of them have left the city for better opportunities,” Nikitin told TOI.

The trustees are now trying to motivate the youngsters to join the as volunteers. “There is a team of Parsi volunteers in Mumbai that cleans up agiyari across the country but we haven’t invited them yet,” Nikitin added.

Published on Times of India