Save the Parsi Gate, Marine Drive, Mumbai

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                                            Ahimsa Paramo Dharma

                             Save the Parsi Gate, Marine Drive, Mumbai

Ahimsa forms the basis of Dharma. Conservation of five elements of nature for infrastructural growth is the key to sustained progress.

The Mumbai Coastal Road Project planned by the Brihan-Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in December 2011 needs to respect the Marine Ecology in intertidal areas and the religious place of worship used to venerate water.

Waters are defined as Mothers who nourish those who have need.

Jal hi jeevan hai.

Ganga ma keeps Bharat alive.  Narmada ma keeps Gujarat alive.

Arabian Sea keeps Maharashtra alive.

                 II Om, Samudravasne devi paravatstanmandale,

          Vishnupatni namastubhyam padasparsha skhamaswa me II

Translated as, “When the mixing of the sea and the mountain took place during the Samudra Manthan in mid sea (to end  evil on earth), the wife of Lord Vishnu (Laxmi Mata) arose from mid sea  We hereby bow at her lotus feet to wash our sins away.”

Every religion worships water as a fundamental nourishing and cleansing element in nature.

In the Zoroastrian religion, Asha means righteousness and purity. Neglecting or abusing the environment is analogous to surrendering to evil. Water is considered as an integral and integrating element in the good creation of Ahura Mazda that brings about wholeness and continuity of life leading to a state of completion called Frashokerati or Moksh which is the ultimate goal.that brings about wholeness and continuity of life leading to a state of completion called Frashokerati or Moksh which is the ultimate goal.  

Water is worshipped along with Avan Yazad who is the  angel presiding over water. Avan Nu Parab – which is Avan Yazad’s birthday, is celebrated according to the Zoroastrian calendar on Avan mahino (month) and Avan Roj (day) each year during Spring. Zoroastrians of Mumbai have been paying their respect to Avan Yazad for more than a century at the Parsi Gate located at Marine Drive and Bhikha Behram well at Churchgate especially on Avan Roj every month and the entire Avan mahino.

The over century old Parsi Gate has been in existence since the pre-independence before Marine Drive was built by Pallonji Mistry and philanthropist Bhagojisheth Keer in 1915 on Kennedy Road. The Parsi Gate, that has a pair of pillars of rock from Malad stone were carved with Zoroastrian motifs, was built with stone steps between them to provide access to the beach now called Chotta Chowpatty where all Mumbaikars could offer their prayers and offerings to the sea.  Hindus particularly use this safe access constructed to immerse the offerings on Poornima   and ashes from the Chandanwadi crematorium at Marine Lines.

The Parsi Gate has been identified as a religious place of worship in the EIA Report of 2016 of the Mumbai Coastal Road Project which the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has  decided to remove and relocate the same to the new site about 1km away which constitutes change or alteration as defined under Section 2(b) of The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 (which is an Act to prohibit conversion of any place of worship and to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August, 1947).

Furthermore, all buildings, monuments located at Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road are designated as Marine Drive Precinct under Regulation 67 of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966. The Parsi Gate is also part of Marine Drive Waterfront which is separately listed as Grade IIA under serial number 23 in the Supplement to existing Heritage list (DCR-67) dated 31st July 2012.

By definition law, the Parsi Gate, a designated Heritage Grade IIA structure is defined as to “deserves intelligent conservation” and any is “external changes subject to scrutiny”. The definition further states, “care would be taken to ensure the conservation of all special aspects for which it is included in Heritage Regulations for Greater Bombay 1995.”

Here, the BMC is not intending to bring about any “external changes”, restoration, repair, renovation, reconstruction, redecoration, reformation, transformation, overhaul, or renewal  to the Parsi Gate but on the contrary blatantly are set out to literally destroy the existing structure by uprooting it from its present location where it has stood for over hundred years. The BMC has shown an outright disregard of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, which does not permit uprooting, deracinating, moving, relocating, digging up, ripping up, pulling up, pulling apart buildings, structures, monuments, statues, which possess special architectural or aesthetical merit, cultural or historical value and serve as local landmarks, contributing to the image and identity of Mumbai.

 The Parsi Gate is indeed the work of master craftsmen, whose labor of love has withstood the vastitude of the Arabian Sea, as admired by anyone who has stood at The Parsi Gate. Any permission to the “external changes” have to be secured by the Planning Authority in consultation with the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee.

In the case of the monument Parsi Gate, the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation has NOT received a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee during the Planning Stage of the Coastal Road Project from 2011 till date.

As a place of worship for over a century, the Parsi Gate is charged with divine energies from the cosmic temple of Mumbai’s biosphere which brings in balanced growth and  prosperity to Mumbai with the blessings of Laxmi Mata and Avan Yazad to whom offerings are made regularly. These divine vibrations from chanting of prayers to the water element and its deities cannot be disturbed by piling machines thereby desecrating the sanctity of this place of worship and safe access to the sea.

We humbly request the Hon. Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Hon. Commissioner of BMC to halt and replan the Mumbai Coastal Road by conserving the Parsi Gate at the same location with access to the sea for worship and offerings.

Sincerely,

Concerned Citizens of Mumbai