By Dr. Shernaz Baji Avari
The Sanjan Memorial Day is celebrated in a spirit of bonhomie and ‘Parsi-panu’ reflected in the hearts of devout Zarathushtis, both young and old who throng to converge at Sanjan from Mumbai, Navsari, Surat and other nearby places to make this day a truly memorable event.
Our ancestors fled their motherland Iran precisely in 1299 to avoid religious persecution as they were devoted to the Zoroastrian faith, religion and its tenents. To preserve our unique identity and our glorious Mazdayasnie Religion, we landed on the shores of Sanjan after undergoing lots of hardships, sacrifices and pitfalls. When we landed on the shores of Sanjan, we were sheltered and welcomed by the noble King Jadi Rana and the story of the proverbial sugar-in-milk is etched in the heart and soul of every Zarathushti and will remain memorable in the annals of history. The soil of Sanjan will always remain sacred to us as we grew and flourished from this epicentre.
Let’s take merry-go-round at the festive spirit pervading here. The Sanjan Memorial Pillar also known as the ‘Stambh’ was installed on 6th August, 1917, the brain-child of Sir Jamshetjee Jeejeebhoy, 5th Baronet to immortalise the historic landing by our Parsi forefathers. The late Rohinton Davierwalla and his gracious wife Bapsy adds a personal touch to this ‘Gahambhar’ by taking keen interest and rendering selfless services.
Donations to maintain this Stambh can be sent to Bapsy Rohinton Daviervala, President, in favour of Sanjan Memorial Column Local Committee at Khan Bahadur’s Bunglow, Sanjan (WR), Tel : 396150.
As always, the Jashan Ceremony starts at 9 a.m. to invoke the blessings of Pak Dadar Ahura Mazda before the ceremonial event performed by the Vada Dasturji of Udwada – Dastur Khurshed Kekobad Dastoor followed by a ‘humbandagi’ (joint prayers by all the devout Zarathushtis who come to this hallowed grounds). Later keynote speakers give their valuable inputs highlighting the event. Our AFTERNOON DESPATCH & COURIER (founded by the late Behram Contractor popularly known as Busybee) is the only paper which takes out a special Sanjan Day Supplement completely done by myself and my husband Baji and we give hundreds of complimentary copies to devotees who clamour for more copies of this paper. Such is the impact is on the ‘humdins’ on Sanjan Day which is always celebrated in the month ‘Tir’ (November) on ‘Bahman Roj’ (day).
At this congregation which is akin to a festive ‘mela’, Parsi artefacts like frames of Lord Asho Zarathushtra, chains, pendants and other religious symbols are sold here along with beautifully embroidered sacarves, rangoli dabbas, nightwear and gowns along with Parsi favourite eatables like ‘sariyas’, ‘bhakhras’ and mint leaves to be kept in tea water for their special aroma and freshness, ‘kolmi-no-patio’ (Prawn patia), tarapori patio (made from dry Bombay Ducks) and other herbs are sold here. This is followed by a lavish free Community lunch and drinks (not hot, ofcourse!) to satiate their thirst and appetite. All credit goes to the caterers for churning a delicious meal for such a vast number of devotees.
There is an Agiary at Sanjan known as the Dasturji Kookadaru Dar-e-mehr. The foundation stone laying ceremony was performed on 22nd November 1987, by Dasturji Kekobad Dastoor and Mr. Homi Ranina Chairman, along with other Trustees of the Mazda Adarian Trust. Incidentally, no Agiary was built before 1987 in Sanjan.
As a mark of respect to our minuscule community who has enriched the Nation over hundred of years with our immense contribution in almost every field, the Western Railway has given a special permission to the Gujarat Express and Flying Ranee to halt at Sanjan Railway Station. Bus facilities are also provided by various Pari Baugs to facilitate enthusiastic devotees to visit Sanjan.
Quite close is the STAMBH, is the TIME CAPSULE. This historic event was flagged off on Roj Bahman, Mah Tir 1370 Y.Z., Monday 20th November 2000 A.D. This Time Capsule given by the house of Godrej was ceremoniously buried in the ground amidst chants of hymns and prayers and commissioned by the then Trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet. It contains replicas and miniatures of items exemplifying the heritage of the Zoroastrian Community since its landing in India 13 centuries ago.
May our community thrive, grow flourish, live and let-live not only in India but al over the world and now specifically with the JIYO PARSI SHCEME initiated by the Government of India with a budget of ₹10 crores to be used by foundations like PARZOR headed by Dr. Shernaz Cama of Delhi, for a period of 4 years. Let’s respect each other’s views amicably, however diverse they may seem to ours, live peacefully and hand down to the generations to follow, a rich heritage of our religion and culture.