Parsi priest and guru to many, Vada Dastoorji, passes away

Dastoorji-Peshotan-MirzaA high priest in Iranshah Atashbehram in Udvada since 12 years, 72-year-old Vada Dastoorji Peshotan Mirza lost his battle against cancer and died yesterday around noon at Jaslok Hospital. His last rites were held the same evening at Doongerwadi.

Activist Mehernosh Fitter, who worked closely with Mirza, said, “I have been at the helm of ‘Save Doongerwadi Action Committee’ and Vada Dastoorji has been a spiritual supporter. Two months ago too, he was critical but he fought back. I thought he would survive this time too. Now, I pray that his soul reaches the highest heaven.”

While Mirza was a supporter for Fitter, his memories are poignant for ex-chairman of Bombay Parsi Panchayat Dinshaw Mehta. “Dastoorji would often approach the BPP with problems of the clergy. He had great love for the clergy and his gentle wisdom translated into everyday life, guiding young people not only spiritually but also practically.” On the topic of Mirza’s successor, Mehta said, “Somebody from his family will succeed him, though I cannot say who exactly.”

Mirza’s death took Dinshaw Tamboly, chairman, World Zoroastrian Organization Trust Fund of India, back memory lane too. Tamboly said, “Vada Dastoorji was very well read and knew all the details of our religious traditions. He was one of the two high priests of the Udvada temple and I have also enjoyed my discussions with him.”

This sentiment resonates throughout the community and there is a palpable sense of loss, even from those who had not met him. Tardeo-based priest, Ervad Phiroze Navdar, said, “There is a sense of major loss. Somebody who had the answers to questions, who was highly qualified in spiritual matters is no more. Though some of us had never met him, we were following reports about his health very closely, and his shadow fell over our lives.”

Published on Mid-Day