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Miniscule Parsi community celebrates ‘Navroz’

IANS | Mumbai |

The miniscule Parsi community, accounting to about 68,000 worldwide, on Thursday celebrated the Parsi New Year or ‘Navroz’ here with religious fervor, traditional pomp and feasting.

The day started with an early morning bath and prayers, purifying the homes by burning incense, and donning traditional outfits specially prepared for the occasion.

“Then we had the traditional breakfast of ‘Sev-Ravo-Sweet curds’ with the whole family greeting each other,” said fitness consultant Arnaaz R. Irani, living in the sprawling Dadar Parsi Colony.

Later, the families drove or walked down to the nearest agiary or the holy Fire Temple and offered prayers, hugged each other wishing ‘Navroz Mubarak’ and exchanged sweets.

This was followed by a special lunch with the menu comprising delicious red fish patia, salli-marghi, salli-boti, yellow-dal rice, Parsi style chicken and mutton biryanis, washed down with a variety of beverages and topped off by a selection of custards, sweetmeats, ice-creams and cakes, Irani said.

The Navroz-eve celebrations on Wednesday comprised partying by the youngsters in the community and late visits to the agiary to pray for the departed souls, ending the 10 days ritual of remembering the ancestors.

Post-lunch, it will be again outings or hosting friends, relatives and people from other communities dropping in to greet them on Navroz.

Major Parsi colonies in Mumbai like Cusrow Baug, Malcolm Baug, Dadar Parsi Colony, Rustom Baug, Navroz Baug, Godrej Baug, Wadia Baug, Khareghat Colonies, Bharucha Baug, Dhunbaiwadi, Gamadia Colony, NC Baug and Khan Estate, and other old settlements witnessed a festive atmosphere with homes decorated and lit up with fairy lights.

“The evenings are mostly a centuries old tradition of going to the theatres to watch a Gujarati play. This year, there are at least six new ones opening for Navroz in Mumbai,” Irani said.

However, she rued that the younger generations give a “thumbs down” to plays and prefer to catch the latest Hollywood or Bollywood blockbusters or go to waterparks and amusement resorts.

Numbering barely around 68,000 in the world, the Parsi community features in Unesco’s list of endangered communities and special efforts are being made both within the community and outside made to increase their numbers and save from possible extinction.

Navroz was celebrated in other parts like Pune, and in Gujarat’s Udwada, Surat, Vapi, the Union Territory of Daman where sizeable members of the tiny community are settled.

Maharashtra Governor CV Rao and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis greeted the Parsis on the occasion of Navroz and lauded them for their immense contributions to the country despite their small numbers.