A showcase of everyday life, style and culture of Parsis

The philosophy, life and cultural influences of the Parsis in India, whose Zoroastrianism faith is considered among the world’s oldest religions dating back around 3,500 years in Central Asia, is now being showcased in a special exhibit here.

The showcase ‘Threads of Continuity: Zoroastrianism Life and Culture,’ inaugurated by Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts here last evening puts the spotlight on the micro minority community in the country with Parsi life in Gujarat and the Deccan displayed in detail.

Wishing the community on Navroz, a New Year festival that marks thanksgiving and celebration of nature, Heptulla thanked them for making her an “honorary Parsi.” She also used the occasion to highlight the steps taken by her ministry for the cause of all the minority communities in India.

Meanwhile, the exhibition, curated by Shernaz Cama, Dadi Pudumjee, Ashdeen Lilaowala and Kritika Mudgal, attempts to explain Zoroastrian philosophy, whose essence is a sacred thread that signifies a continuity linking all creation.

“The whole concept of ethical belief of humility with excellence spoken in the Bronze Age by a great soul Zarathpustra. He raised several questions in his songs about why good people suffer, how is that there is evil in this world and what does one do to make others happy,” Shernaz Cama, director of Parzor Foundation, a Delhi-based community organisation mandated by Unesco to preserve Parsi-Zoroastrian heritage said.

“Such existential questions trouble us even today and we keep seeking answers to them. This exhibition and two month long programme will help us understand the answers to these questions,” Cama said.

The exhibition is part of ‘Everlasting Flame International Programme,’ organised by Minority Affairs Ministry under their Hamari Dharohar (Our Heritage) a collaboration with Culture Ministry and the Parzor Foundation which is set to continue here till May 27.

Among the exhibits on display are rare artefacts and manuscripts from institutions, individuals and museums from across the world including Iran, Russia and Uzbekistan besides installations and video recordings representing the practices of the faith.

Fine shawls with exquisite embroideries and adaptations of various lifestyle rituals like the use of vermilion for auspicious occasions can be seen in the show.

The Parsi-Zoroastrians are less than 0.01 per cent of the population in India.
Ali Jannati, former diplomat Minister of Islamic Culture

and Guidance of Iran, among the guests at the inauguration talked about the over 1000 year-old ties between Iran and India and commended the Parsis for “preserving the culture of their forefathers and safeguarding the ties between India and Iran.”

Stating that the culture of peace harmony and friendship propagated by people of India and Iran is under severe threat and was being “consciously weakened” by activities of violent extremists.

“For this reason the popularisation of this culture by upholding human and other values of two great civilizations must continue with great intensity,” Jannati said.

Pune-based industrialist Cyrus Poonawalla, who sponsored the exhibition thanked the Modi government which he said went “out of their way to encourage the festival.”

A scintillating performance titled ‘Elemental Divine’ by contemporary dancer and choreographer Astad Deboo beginning with chants from ‘The Avesta,’ the religious book of Zoroastrians that contains a collection of sacred texts marked last evening’s opening.

A feast of traditional Parsi dishes was also spread out in the famous ‘Lagan-nu-Bhonu’ at the event

Published on Business Standard

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