Though it has been more than 13 centuries since the first Parsis landed on the shores of Gujarat seeking asylum from persecution, this ‘homecoming’ is still celebrated by the community with a fervour that belies concerns of their dwindling numbers and greying demographics.
On Sunday evening, 200-odd Parsis of the 700 that call NCR home, gathered at the Mengusi Parsi Dharamshala near ITO in a function that celebrates the pivotal moment in the community’s history.
“Navroze is celebrated on March 21, a date designated by the United Nations, and is the actual Parsi New Year. This celebration, which is usually around the second week of August — depending on whether it is a leap year — marks our arrival in India and the establishment of Sanjan in Gujarat, the first Zoroastrian community in the country,” Dadi Mistry, patron and former president of the Delhi Parsi Anjuman said.
The guest of honour for the evening was Najma Heptulla, Minister for Minority Affairs, whose regard for both the Parsis and their food date back to when she used to live in Mumbai. She was welcomed in the traditional Parsi way — with garlands and the tossing of an eedu (egg) for good luck.
Speaking of eggs, the evening’s repast was prepared by Dhun Dariaus Bugli, whose family has been managing the Dharamshala and its culinary bastion, Parsi Anjuman, for more than six decades.
“We will be serving traditional dishes such as mutton pulao, dhansak and patra ni machchi (fish steamed in banana leaf) as well as some options for vegetarians”, Bugli said. For dessert, there was Parsi kulfi.
On one corner of the hall were a few tables arrayed with purses, shawls and other accessories embellished with Parsi motifs.
“There is a lot of symbolism in Zoroastrianism, with every flower representing an angel with different flowers for each day of the week.
We want to keep this craft alive by using traditional motifs in everyday items,” Debpriya Das of the Parzoz Foundation, which was retailing the crafts, said.
Jurist Fali S Nariman was honoured at the function.