From: The Parsee Voice
Date: Sun, Dec 20, 2015 at 7:18 PM
Subject: TheParseeVoice Iranshah Udvada Utsav - Misplaced priorities
Wide publicity is being given to the Iranshah Udvada Utsav scheduled from December 25 to 27, with community members looking forward to participating with great zeal in the various programmes. The much publicized presence of the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi has however turned out to be a damp squib with him opting out, sending his deputy instead.
An 'utsav' means a festival, a celebration. So what is this 'celebration' for? Even if, for argument's sake, it is granted that this exercise is undertaken for showcasing Parsee glory, could a more sensible venue not be selected other than Udvada, where hardly 50 Parsees still reside. The majority reside in Mumbai, so what better venue than Mumbai!
Udvada, which is home to Iranshah, the spiritual king of the community, is a small idyllic village, known for its serene surroundings; a perfect place for a Holy Fire to perform His appointed functions in Nature. Holy Iranshah is a living, throbbing, vibrant entity having an aura and magnetic circuits (Kash). He receives the divine blessings of the Ameshaspands and the Yazads and passes them on to His devotees. He also transmits the divine vibrations of the Manthravani recited by devotees to the spiritual realms. He radiates divine energy over long distances. He is a Ratheshtar (a warrior) of Dadaar Ahura Mazda in the fight against evil forces which attempt to overpower all creation. He is the Lord of our destiny, who has guided the destiny of this community for over 1300 years. His blessings have seen the community safely throughout its existence in India. Parsees have prospered solely because of His spiritual prowess. Hence, we owe a great debt of gratitude to this Holy Padshah Saheb.
But that idyllic place is about to be swarmed by over 2500 people in a span of three days! To add to this melee, we have government dignitaries and their entourage comprising security personnel also descending on this place! And how will this tiny village deal with this sudden influx of people? What about the availability of basic amenities like water, sanitation facilities, power supply? The VIPs and who's-who of the community will be well taken care of but what about the hoi polloi? Has any thought been given to whether the locals will appreciate invasion of their space and facilities? And what about the aftermath- who's going to clean up the place post this 'circus'?
More importantly, has anyone bothered about the tremendous spiritual load that will be unleashed on the holy entity, Pak Iranshah? There will be serpentine queues to pay respects to Him? Will all be appropriately attired and physically cleansed? Will people even get a chance to perform the fundamental Padiyab-Kushti ritual out of fear of losing their place in a queue? Will it not give an opportunity to non-Parsees to sneak in unnoticed? What about the tremendous efforts that Iranshah's mobed sahebs take to keep their Bareshnoom (Nahn) intact? Will it not be a further stress on them? After all not all lady guests are going to be in a ritually pure state and while they may not venture into the Atashbehram precincts, they are definitely going to intermingle with the others who will in turn carry the spiritual pollution into the Atashbehram. Is it justified to defile His status and cause desecration of the sanctity of a peaceful village where He rests, quietly going about his work, all in the name of 'Utsav', which is nothing but a way to achieve the dream of a misguided few of turning Udvada into a Heritage cum Tourist attraction.
Vide their letter dated 19th September 2004, six High Priests (barring Dastur Khurshed Dastoor) had despatched a letter of protest signed jointly and addressed to Mr. P. K. Lehri, Chief Secretary, Government of Gujarat, calling for an immediate halt to the cultural-heritage-tourism agenda proposed for Udvada and seeking co-operation in allowing Udvada to remain a quiet, serene and holy place of pilgrimage for our community. The following extract from that letter is pertinent to note:
"As you may be aware, Udvada is the sacred, spiritual citadel of the Parsee community because therein is enthroned the Holy Fire, "Iranshah Atashbehram", the fountainhead of the community's spiritual strength, survival and progress in India through the centuries. Thus it is the sacred duty of all Parsees to ensure that no harm befalls the Holy Fire or its immediate environs, which have to be maintained with sanctity and care. Promoting Udvada as a cultural-heritage-tourist centre, will result in the very opposite."
Sadly, these words of wisdom have been conveniently ignored.
For more than a year, homes of Parsees are being burgled. They continue to be targeted week after week yet not a single crime has been solved, not a single criminal brought to book! Word has it that the purported criminals were nabbed but are out again and moving around with impunity; cocking a snook at the powers-that-be! Yet we find cause to celebrate? Why are our priorities so badly misplaced? How can any right-thinking Parsee join in such a programme which is a cruel mockery of the prevailing tragic situation? Seems more like an Utsav of misplaced priorities!
The programme even boasts of 2 DJ nights. Imagine, loud music (noise?) playing to the gallery, late into the night with the youngsters frenziedly performing what may charitably be called 'dance'. If the sacred talismanic kashes (circuits) and the serene minoi vibrations encircling Pak Iranshah less than a kilometre away are disturbed or damaged by high decible loudspeakers, blaring away in the silence of the night, so much the worse for Him. But who cares? After all, we are regaling the community for a good cause!
Dear humdeens, our Holy Iranshah has been in existence for over 1300 years thanks to the tremendous efforts and sacrifices of our forefathers. Let us not wipe out their hard work by sheer callousness. Iranshah is a spiritual heritage we MUST pass on to future generations of Parsees. It would be a grave sin if we failed in this duty and Nature would never forgive us for the same.
So, dear humdeems, please look inwards and ask yourself honestly whether you are contributing to a noble cause by such participation lest you wake up too late to mourn what you thought was a grand celebration!. After all, writing off a thousand rupees is a small price to pay for preserving the only Pav Mahal built on Pak Iranshah.
H. M. Mistry
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