Debate on Navjote ceremony in Delhi

All Parsi children go through Navjote ceremony as it is considered as formal initiation into the religion

Even as the debate of rights of children from Parsi mother to non-Parsi father and Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is being debated in the community, a case of a Navjote ceremony on a boy born to Parsi mother from a non-Parsi father has come up and some members of the community are opposing it. Such demand has also angered others in the community.

The Navjote ceremony of the grandson of former chairman of Delhi Parsi Anjuman (DPA) and member of the National Commission for Minorities, Dadi Mistry is being opposed by some because Mistry’s daughter is married to a non-Parsi. Navjote ceremony was done on his Dad’s grandson Chaitanya Kersi Jaikaria.

All Parsi children go through Navjote ceremony as it is considered as formal initiation into the religion. The ceremony was performed in Delhi by priests, Ervad Khusroo Madon and Noshir Dastoor as per a news report ‘A Navjote in Delhi’ in Parsiana magazine, a community magazine in Mumbai.

Based on that news item, a member of the community has written to Yazdi Desai, chairman of the Federation of Parsi Zoroastrian Anjumans of India, an umbrella body of almost all Anjumans statin that it be declared “null and void”. Nariman Mody, community member who is said to have distributed his letter wrote to Desai, “Please treat this matter seriously as it is for the survival of the Parsi Community and Zoroastrian religion.”

When asked why he had raised the issue, Mody said, “This is our custom and it is being practiced since so many years. Someday, they will bring someone else too, which is wrong. They (Desai) should take up the matter in the federation.”

When asked about the arguments that Prophet Zarathustra too converted, Mody claimed, “There was no other religion that time. This will haunt them even in court of law. They cannot allow just anyone in fire temple. People who donated money for fire temples did not want that.”

Viraf Kapadia, another community member who supported Mody’s views said that the issue for Parsis has been settled before independence when inducting into religion cases had come up and it was banned.

When contacted, Dadi Mistry and his family refused to comment. Desai said, “As per our tradition, Navjote ceremony of a child who belongs to a Parsi mother and non-Parsi father cannot happen. If a priest does it, what can we do? It is a personal choice of the person. We cannot interfere besides publicly condemning it. We will be raising the issue in the next meeting. But beyond a point nothing much can happen because it was a personal thing.”

Vispy Wadia, trustee of Association of Revival of Zoroastrianism, a reformist group in the community, said, “Such Navjote’s happen everywhere including Surat, and Ahmedabad. Women are getting their children into the community and in the fire temples. It is the mother who gives culture and not the father who goes out to work. It is not new and who are these people to decide illegal. Some four or five people cannot decide what is null and void. The matter as such is settled in the court when the court said that they cannot ban more priests who conducted Navjote.”

“There are many people who get initiated into Zoroastrianism. No one can become a Parsi by Navjote ceremony. Parsi is born of a Parsi father. And this is not the first one I have done. Every year I do eight to 10 such Navjotes and no one says anything,” said Khushro Madon, the priest who was part of Navjote ceremony.

Published on DNA

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