The three-day Iranshah Udvada Utsav at Udvada in Gujarat, which saw a huge congregation of Parsis, concluded on Sunday in the presence of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who represented the Centre at the event.
Speaking on the occasion, Jaitley said Parsis could lead India to achieve its economic goal on the international front as they had done in the past. However, the biggest concern, of its declining population, could be resolved by deliberations within the community, he said.
An otherwise quiet town of Udvada brought together Parsis not only from India, but from across the world for Iranshah Udvada Utsav’s concluding day.
Besides Jaitley, a deafening cheer from the crowd greeted the arrival of Tata Group chairman emeritus Ratan Tata and Poonawalla group chairman Dr Cyrus S Poonawalla, the sponsor of the Utsav. Jaitley addressed about 5,000 Parsis, perhaps their largest congregation ever in the country.
“India needs more of you. How do you do it is something you need to discuss within the community,” Jaitley said.
Sharing a personal anecdote, he reminisced about a familial Parsi connection. “My aunt was a Parsi and I shared with her a very close personal, devotional relationship. For me, to follow a slightly twisted version of Gujarati is not difficult,” said Jaitley.
Talking of his Delhi University days during the Emergency, he said it was a Parsi friend who wrote letters to him when they were jailed. When he became the additional solicitor general of India, he saw a mentor in legal luminary Soli Sorabjee, then the Attorney General of India. “He was more like an ethical guru to me,” said Jaitley.
Praising Parsis for their ethical ways, he said their desire to strive for excellence makes them leaders in their respective fields. Citing the example of Ratan Tata, who was listening carefully, Jaitley credited him for expanding the Tata Group post-1990.
The crowd applauded Jaitley, and seemed in awe of Tata. The loud appreciation was acknowledged by Tata who thanked the organisers of the event.
Among the eminent Parsis in attendance were heads of Parsi Panchayets from different cities, including Mumbai.
The Bombay Parsi Panchayet’s Chairman Yazi Desai said the event had brought all the members of the Parsi Irani community together at the “Vatican” city of the Parsi Irani Zoroastrians.
“The event has brought to the forefront a small town of Udvada and hopefully the government will pay attention to the problems of this town, including security for old Parsis staying here, and most importantly the receding coastline,” Desai said.
“The Hindu King Jadi Rana gave us sanctuary in India when we fled from Iran 1,300 years ago to save our religion and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the present day avatar of King Rana as he has pledged to save Udvada,” Desai told The Indian Express.