“This venture was initially started by two residents of the Gamadia Girls Hostel. On visiting the Agiaries, they felt that their contribution towards the maintenance of our holy places could prove to be useful. They approached WAPIZ for guidance to help them get started and help them with basic cleaning amenities,” said Anahita Desai, who spearheads the project. Eventually, a small group of Zarthostis started getting together yearly and would help clean the Doongerwadi and a few other Agiaries.
This drive starting regaining momentum this January, when another spirited group of Zoroastrians volunteered to clean Sir JJ Agiary in Navsari. Mahernoz Jiwasa, one of the volunteers and coordinators, said, “We were a group of ten to fifteen people, mostly residents of Navsari, who decided to come forward and do a good job for our Agiary.” These noble initiatives are executed in keeping with certain protocols, wherein when they are approached by an Agiary to help in its cleaning, a WhatsApp message is sent out requesting for a certain number of volunteers, depending on the size of the Agiary.
“After figuring out the number of volunteers required for the cleaning of the Agiary, we send the message out. We finalise the volunteers based on the early response,” said Mahernoz, a Behdin Pasban himself. “Mrs. Desai is very supportive when it comes to our initiatives. The logistics as well as traveling expenses, breakfast and lunch requirements of the volunteers are looked after by her (WAPIZ) and the sometimes the Agiary itself. Most of the Agiaries that have come forward seeking assistance, are stationed out of Bombay and hence we support our motivated volunteers by taking care of the traveling, food and stay as this is a tiring job,” added Mahernoz.
The main motive behind keeping the group open to new volunteers, is to encourage our Parsi youth to step in and help maintain our places of worship. “When young Parsis offer to clean up the Agiary, it creates a genuine sense of religious fulfilment and sentimental attachment to our religious places,” reasons Mahernoz. Currently, five Agiaries are in the process of being cleaned, including the Mazagaon Agiary, Sachinwalla Dar-E-Meher in Vasai, and the Jamshedji Mistry Dar-E-Meher at Ilav, Bharuch District.