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Petition against holding Parsee Zoroastrian Utsav in Udvada

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Petition against holding Parsee Zoroastrian Utsav in Udvada
18th January 2016

The Prime Minister of India
Prime Minister's Office, South Block, Raisina Hill, New Delhi-110 011.

Respected Shri Narendra Modiji,

Subject: Iranshah Udvada Utsav

At the outset, we wish to thank you for the admiration and affection showered by you on the Parsee Zoroastrian community of India as also the support provided to the community by the Central and State Governments, especially in improving the infrastructure in Udvada, the place where Holy Iranshah Atash Behram is currently enthroned.
While we truly appreciate your sentiments in trying to showcase Udvada as a unique place symbolising traditions of tolerance, harmony and progress in India, we, the traditional members of the community, are gravely concerned about the Utsav recently held in Udvada and the decision to hold it there every two years.

Holy Iranshah is a living, spiritually vibrant entity, thanks to the powerful consecration ceremonies performed at the time of His installation. Magnetic circuits surround Him to prevent entry of spiritual and physical pollution. He functions like a receiving and transmitting station for the divine blessings of the Almighty. He is a warrior of the Almighty in the fight against evil forces which attempt to overpower all creation. This spiritual prowess has been nurtured and sustained over the centuries thanks to the various ceremonies which the priests tending to him perform every day and which require spiritual, mental and physical piety of the highest order. The serene and isolated location of Udvada and Iranshah, away from the hustle and bustle of normal city life and the pollution - physical and spiritual, associated with it, provides Iranshah the much needed spiritual seclusion, necessary for maintaining His sanctity and well-being. The priests tending to Him day and night are able to maintain their personal piety thanks to this seclusion and tranquillity that Udvada offers as a location.

The laity who seek His blessings are also required to observe strict discipline and present themselves before Him, reasonably free of spiritual and physical pollution.

Unfortunately, the Utsav has severely ravaged the very foundation of Holy Iranshah’s well-being and survival by compromising the seclusion and serenity of Udvada. In their hurry to pay their respects and then attend the other festivities, many attendees would not even have performed the minimum ablution and rituals necessary before presenting themselves before holy Iranshah. An influx of over 2500 persons during the Utsav would have naturally brought with it huge amounts of spiritual and physical pollution, which has been deposited at His doorstep. One shudders to think of the negative effect on Holy Iranshah’s sanctity of this sudden and voluminous onslaught of pollution, the karmic obligations of which will definitely visit the community in general and the organisers in particular! 

Thanks to huge crowd, even the priests tending to Him, who are required to observe strict spiritual seclusion, had a real tough time while going to and from their houses to the Fire Temple for performing their required daily rituals.

To add to all this, the Utsav even boasted of two nights of DJ music, karaoke and a dance programme by indecently clad youngsters in close proximity to the Fire Temple premises! Would such a sacrilegious act be permitted, say in Mathura and Kashi or Mecca and Medina or Tirupati temple?? By doing this, the organisers have shown open disrespect and lack of consideration for Iranshah’s sanctity!

To add insult to injury, Mr. Darius Khambata, ex-Attorney General of Maharashtra used the Utsav as a platform to promote his pet topic of Conversion, which the organisers were well aware of. He even went further to advocate entry into our holy Fire Temples to all those who had been initiated into the Zoroastrian faith with a Navjote ceremony, which is nothing but conversion by the back door. As the world at large is aware, Zoroastrianism forbids Conversion. Worse still, instead of stopping him, one of the key organisers of the Utsav, High Priest of Udvada, Dastur Khurshed K. Dastoor, felicitated Mr. Khambata and reportedly silenced those who objected to this speech. This clearly shows that the organisers of the Utsav were actually pushing an agenda of religious reforms, using the Utsav as a convenient platform. It was only when the community vociferously objected to this in print and on social media that Mr. Khambata backtracked as a face-saving exercise.

All of this has grievously hurt the religious sentiments of a large majority of the traditional members of the Zoroastrian community.

Subsequently, in an open letter to the community, the High Priests have averred that remarks made by Mr. Khambata “… at the religious and spiritual hub of Zoroastrianism to a wide audience was both disrespectful and frankly inflammatory.” They have also cautioned against Conversion and mixed marriages which would lead to diluting our Zoroastrian identity.

Sir, we are highly appreciative of your efforts to improve infrastructure in Udvada and support the same. We are also not against attempts to showcase the community’s track record of progress and harmony in India in the last millennium. However, holding of this Utsav in Udvada is damaging the sanctity of Holy Iranshah! This is amply clear from the absence of the other High Priests, including the other senior High Priest of Udvada, from any of the festivities and activities for all 3 days.

Since you have the expressed high regard for Holy Iranshah, we beseech you to intercede and ensure Iranshah’s sanctity by instructing the organisers to hold future Utsavs at a location OTHER THAN UDVADA and thus prevent further spiritual damage to our holy entity, Iranshah!

May Holy Iranshah guide your footsteps all through life!

Yours sincerely,
Concerned Traditional Parsee Zoroastrians


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