SHERNAAZ ENGINEER's blog on the Parsi community

Friday, October 3, 2008

Calling all Parsi Voters, Your Attention Please...

D-day is here – the first of three successive ‘voting weekends’, which will bring us our ‘Super Seven’ for the brand new BPP board! By now, much murky water has flown under the bridge and the reflections we’ve been seeing of many a candidate, courtesy the conjectures made by rivals, are rather morbid.

Not surprisingly, most Parsis are incessantly asking: Who do we vote for?

There is confusion, uncertainty and apprehension. Many people are finding it difficult to pick seven straight aces from a pack comprising quite some jokers! However, it is our contention that we should desist from getting personal.
While expressing a point of view is perfectly valid, attacking another person isn’t. Everybody is entitled to follow their own path. It’s only when this jeopardises our faith that we must protest, not against the person, per se, but against the path he/she is pushing us to pursue.

Every determined Zoroastrian who stays steadfast to the faith is Ahura Mazda’s soldier – and His army can never be vanquished. Each voter today is one such soldier, and needs to value the unique gift that has been bestowed upon us through Universal Adult Franchise.

To make an unwise decision would be to let down future generations, because the wrong people within the apex body will set the wrong agenda that will undo centuries of our unique and lustrous lineage, and the standing of our community, which has to be preserved, without cutting corners.

So, who do we vote for? The answer is simple: Let us vote for those who are completely committed to preserving the faith, without any compromise. We need to vote into power people who have, time and again, defended the many pillars of Zoroastrianism, including Dokhmenashini, not merely by empty words, but by actions that have upheld its sanctity, even as they have worked toward strengthening this esteemed institution.
Yes, we need to vote for people who have not succumbed to the pressure of supporting the demand for a ‘Cremate ni Bunglee’ at Doongerwadi, because that was never the intention of the Settlors when they created a community haven for Dokhmenashini. This, however, isn’t the only issue.

We need to vote for people who are not pro-conversion, and be very wary of those who talk about ‘Parsi-panu’ rather glibly on public platforms (but are actually supporting agencies that are setting up so-called ‘Cosmopolitan agiaries’). The purity of our agiaries is paramount, and opening them up unwisely will only accelerate intermarriages and the final decimation of our fold. In olden days, even if five Parsis went to a small town in India, the wealthiest among them established an agiary, a dar-e-meher, or a dadgah in the house.
They survived in very small numbers in the remotest Indian outposts (Kanpur, Agra, Allepi, Hubli and so on), only because they were staunch. How can we, today, slight their sacrifices by suggesting that what they did was old-fashioned and we need to “move with the times” instead?

On the contrary, we need to vote for people who have worked with, and will continue to work with, and not against, the learned High Priests, whose guidance on religious matters is crucial to our community.

This humble submission is placed before you: If you have a medical problem, won’t you go to a top doctor? If your accounts are a mess, will you not take the advice of competent Chartered Accountant? If you need to build a bungalow or redo your home, won't you engage an architect/interior designer? Then why is it that on religious matters we don’t go to our learned High Priests (the best possible experts on the subject), but allow a section of the lawyer lobby to lead us into the Courts instead, where mostly non-Parsi judges (with the greatest respect to them) are expected to deliver religious interpretations of our ancient and sacred faith?

Think about it. We need to save our community from such misguided litigation and the consequences thereof. We most certainly need to vote in new Trustees who will stand firm by the faith. And not sympathise with all those who want to scratch their private itches publicly, while inflicting open wounds upon the community, expecting the courts to then embalm their aberrations!

We need to vote into the BPP Trustees who have done some service to the community, which has served our best interests, because past performance is a good judge of whether future promises will be borne – or still born.

Accelerated education for our youth, empowering them professionally, encouraging marriages within the community at an earlier age (with a focus to facilitate a two-child family, with some childcare infrastructure in the baugs), looking after the aged, and a vibrant agenda that energises the community is the need of the hour.
We need Trustees who can deliver this. And, there’s no reason why, with the community’s support, they can’t.

Carefully, thoughtfully, and with a prayer, we need to cast our votes – for progress, along with preservation. Let us have a BPP Board that will bode well for our community and our religion. All else will follow. Because if we lose our religion and Zoroastrian ethos, nothing else will matter.

PS: The picture atop this blog is of the ruins of Persepolis. The Parsis lost all they had in Persia. Will the same happen in India again, if people who aren’t committed to the faith get elected as Trustees and end up destroying our legacy… one sincerely hopes not.


Sheroo said...

Dear Shernaaz,
This is SUCH an amazing piece of ADMIRABLE writing, it truly reinforces the belief that "God always comes through"!
You have written with such genuine passion and hope for our religion and community, and expressed so eloquently and candidly what is in the minds and hearts of so many of us.
Your no-nonsense, down-to-earth analysis of the BPP election process, and your very insightful and observant comments about the truly significant responsibility on each of the voters in this BPP election is outstanding.
PLEASE, continue to share your views and inform our community members globally, with your VERY enlightening and informative writing.
You have no idea HOW INVALUABLY HELPFUL and beneficial your writings are proving to be, ESPECIALLY in the wake of all the biased and negative press that the community has hitherto had to endure.

SINCERE CONGRATULATIONS for an honest and FANTASTIC PIECE OF JOURNALISM!! May Divine strength and courage always be with you, and may you continue to be the voice of reason, integrity, and hope for the Parsi press.

Best wishes,
Sheroo Masani (

Strider said...

As a member of the youth, I find your articles really fair, un-biased and well written after the overdose of battered cliche's, empty rhetorics that were pumped into my system from reading "Bachi Karkaria's (sic) column" in Times of India (3/10/2008). It is so blatantly obvious that the Parsi Press is totally biased, unjust and partial to the Deformist Agenda that it bleeds.
Well done Shernaaz from giving us all sides of the story!

Shernaaz Engineer, Mumbai, India said...

thank you all so much, for your incredible support and for giving so much inspiration for me to carry on.