The second edition of the Iranshah Udvada Utsav (IUU 2017) was immaculately organised, amidst much pomp and delight, from 23rd to 25th December 2017, at the spacious Udvada Gymkhana grounds. Organised by the Foundation for Development of Udvada and supported by the Department of Tourism, Government of Gujarat and Udvada Samast Anjuman, the three day Utsav had the village come alive with beautiful lights, colourful flags, wall graffiti and a light house installation along the way. In keeping with the theme of IUU 2017, ‘Threads of Continuity’, the delegates were treated to a seamless flow of colourful streamers throughout the village that acted as a road map leading to the main location of the event. The street that adorned pictures of Zoroastrian life, clicked by renowned photographer, Shantanu Das, led to the main ground which was systematically divided into the ‘main event arena’ and the ‘dining area’, housed under two huge shamianas. There was also a separate enclosure housing about twenty-five stalls which offered various Parsi goodies including food, artefacts and handicrafts.
The IUU 2017, which was birthed thanks to PM Narendra Modi’s encouragement and support for the Parsi community, showcased the dynamic and progressive aspects of Zoroastrianism, its history, religion, entertainment, as well as traditional and modern lifestyles, through various art forms, presentations and films displayed at the main event arena. Set-up by team Wizcraft led by Viraf Sarkari, the venue accommodated over three thousand delegates with sub-sections for VIP guests, the press and delegates. To ensure that all attendees would experience the events in its fullness, large visual screens were set up at two corners as well as in the centre of the seating arrangements. Improvising on the experiences gained from IUU 2015, this year the dining area accommodated over eight hundred people at a time, with a constant flow of food served over three seatings.
Along with in-depth coverage of each day (across Pgs. 10, 11, 12, 18) of the IUU 2017 hosted by versatile comperes Maharukh Chichgar, Mahiyar Dastoor, Viraf Patel and Freishia Bomanbehram, proud Media Partner, Parsi Times brings you some of the highlights of the IUU 2017 that stood out, winning praise and patronship from thousands of attending Zoroastrians who came from across India and the world over:
Dr. Farokh Udwadia’s Speech:
One of the most popular elements of the IUU 2017 which stood out was the speech given by Dr. Farokh Udwadia which received lots of applause and a standing ovation. The dynamic Dr. Udwadia was one of the select personalities getting felicitated for his unparalleled contributions to the community, society and the world of medicine. The following are abridged excerpts from his speech given on the first and third day of the event:
“We’ve had a glorious past. But today, I feel the community today is in a state of torpor – we are standing still, not moving forward. I think one of the main reasons we haven’t progressed as well as we should have, is that we are a quarrelsome people, we are a disunited people. If we don’t stand united and have a common front, how can we progress? We need to reach out to Zoroastrians all over the world, communicate and share our problems and work collectively towards a solution. The future seems frightening. We’ve dwindled – there are four deaths to one birth. From a community, we will become a tribe and from a tribe, we will become a relic – that is what worries me immensely. We are in a state of demographic emergency. In medicine when there is an emergency, we anticipate disaster and try to prevent it, we do not await disaster and then repair it. I think we should consider this as a matter of demographic emergency and not await disaster. We can’t bluff ourselves and live in a dream world. We are on the brink of a demographic disaster. We need an apex body who will find the facts and figures of our statistics and other issues that need addressing. What we need to do is to unite the Zoroastrian communities worldwide – individuals, bodies, associations, et al – find out the extent of the problem and have this apex body work towards a solution.”
“I am a Zoroastrian and nothing to me is greater than the truth and righteousness. The whole world believes in the equality of man and woman. There is nothing in our religion that says that a man is superior to a woman. Then why should not the offspring of the Parsi female be brought up in the Zoroastrian faith? Some may say we are a patriarchal system – and maybe we are one – but doesn’t our religion say that we have to be truthful, that we have to be righteous and that we have to be just? And justice and righteousness demand that there should be equality of gender. I ask you, does any individual or group of individuals or body or association have the moral legal or ethical right to prevent another human being from practicing a faith that he wants to practice?”
“A lot of our community members tell me “we are such a pure race ethnically”. Ladies and gentlemen, today science shows you there is no such thing as an ethnically pure race. We all, over thousands of years have mixed Persian DNA. So instead of championing and celebrating this mistaken sense of purity, I suggest you celebrate your culture, celebrate the way you live, you think, celebrate that will adhere to good thought, good words and good deeds; that you will be just and righteous. Also celebrate your humour – it’s one of the greatest assets we have!”
“We need to change – not the basic aspects of our religion or tenets of our Zoroastrian faith – these are within us and are a part of us, you cannot change that. But change is important – some of our social and cultural features were not propounded by Zarathustra – these are additions made to our religious beliefs by men, not by our Prophet and these have come down to us for generations but times are changing and change is imperative.
Ladies and gentlemen, please remember, that the history of the world is a chronicle of change, the history of science is a chronicle of change, the history of medicine is a chronicle of change, and the history of religion has also been a chronicle of change. We need to survive and to survive we need to change. I value the Zoroastrian faith and the religion more than anything else. It will be a sad if this great legacy is lost to this country and to this world. I pray to Ahura mazda that he send forth some enlightened Zarthostis who can show us the true path. Till that time I pray that our community survives and the Zoroastrian faith and religion flourishes.”
Organised on 24th December, 2017, at Iranshah Udvada Utsav 2017, the ‘Heritage Walk’ was a hit with all! Conducted by six architects / conservation students and scripted by conservation architect Jamshid Bhiwandiwalla, the walks were organised in groups of ten with an interval of thirty minutes, each. Aiming to create awareness regarding our rich heritage and culture housed within our holy Udvada, here are a few lesser known facts to add to your knowledge via the fun and enriching Heritage Walk:
Back in the olden days, our village served as the grazing ground for camels and hence it was known as ‘Oonth-wada’. With the passage of time, Parsis who settled in this land gave it the pronunciation of ‘Ud-vada’!
Did you know there are over three hundred wells in Udvada? The oldest one rests in the ‘Patel’ household.
Our ancestors considered it mandatory to have a well within the house for religious ceremonies and rituals. It is amazing to know that every well provides a constant supply and flow of sweet water inspite of its close proximity to the sea (salt water – Udvada beach).
When the fire was first brought to Udvada in 1742, it was housed in the home of the ‘Bhathelas’ for almost thirty years, until 1770.
Udvada is planned in Medieval style of architecture – with each house exhibiting a fusion of Gujarati, Portuguese and Persian workmanship.
The house of the nine priestly families are located at a distance from the Iranshah Atash Behram depending on their role in the community. For instance, the Dastoors who tended to the fire have their homes closer to the Atash Behram, while that of the Mirza’s who were always looked up to and approached by the laity for guidance, had their house further into the village.
Each bungalow has numerous partitions. The verandah was used to attend to the vendors, followed by the hall for guests and dignitaries, followed by rooms, a well, and then the kitchen that led to the back door. Udvada doesn’t have a drainage system and hence the back door would open to the back street of the village which worked as natural drains.
Since the true essence of the village lies in the heritage look of these houses, residents who renovate their houses rather than redeveloping it, will be awarded for their
Big Red Bus
On Day 2, the highly popular and much-loved, decade-old, all-Parsi band, The Big Red Bus gave a thrilling X’mas eve performance, rocking in the festive spirit, bringing the entire audience to sing, dance and sway along to their energising and spirited songs!
Lifting the spirits of the young and old alike, the Big Red Bus – comprising Hormuz Ragina and Sarfaraz Irani on lead vocals; Peshotan Kapadia on rhythm guitar, Danesh Khambata on drums; Jahangir Pandey on base guitar; Meheryar Tata on lead guitar and Kersi Gazder on piano – had Hormuz Ragina dressed as Santa Claus and entertaining all with his cheerful exuberance, along with the rest of the fabulous band members, for nearly two hours performing 20 songs, with the audience yet unwilling to let them go! Playing the perfect mix of bawa-favourite music genres including soft rock, rock and roll and classic rock, the audience was on its feet all through the eve!
“Nothing gives us more joy than seeing people dancing and singing and having fun – we perform for the crowd. The IUU, especially Havovi and Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor have always supported us and the hospitality and warmth offered by the organising committee goes way beyond any other professional show we have done. Performing for a Parsi crowd in Udvada is special and gives us an additional rush because we relate better. I must mention that it was great to see a large number of youth participating in the Utsav, as compared to the last IUU.”
One of the main attractions of the IUU 2017 was the Stall area where over 25 stalls were put up offering the visitors Parsi delights including food, artefacts, handicrafts, gift items, and more. Parsi Times caught up with a few stall owners who were very with the event and the constant stream of people visiting and buying a range of the wares including Iranian dry fruits, religious and decorative articles which showcased our culture, gara-based fabrics and clothes, and Parsi foods.
Rohinton Rivetna representing FEZANA said, “It’s been a memorable and excellent Utsav. Many of our books were bought by visitors from our stall. I look forward to a bigger and better 2019 Utsav.”
The talented artist Farokh Mojia of ‘Divine Arts’ said, “The function was good – I am happy to see the Zoroastrians putting in so much effort to bring everyone together!” Zubin Amroliwala said, “It was a wonderful function, we had a great time and good business too, with the grace of Pak Iranshah!”
Hidden Heroes of IUU 2017
Iranshah Udvada Utsav 2017 was a huge success thanks to the efforts of the FDU and support of the Gujarat Tourism and Udvada Samast Anjuman. It is also the participation of many individuals that put in unending hours of effort and energy which finally culminates into the grand success that was the IUU 2017. Parsi Times cheers a few such silent workers and hidden heroes, who’s contributions were behind the scenes for the most part, but kept the show going smoothly:
- Dinshaw Tamboly
- Havovi Dastoor
- Hoshaang Gotla
- Jamshid Bhiwandiwalla
- Tina Patel
- Natasha Dubash
- Rukshana Dastoor
- Zubin Khapoliwala
- Areez Patel
- Freddy Khapoliwala
- Huzan Forbes
- 71st East Bombay Zoroastrian Guides Group
- 16th East Bombay Zoroastrian Scouts Group
- 32nd West Bombay Pioneer Scouts
- Team Wizcraft
- All volunteers and supporters
Day 1 (23rd December) Coverage
The second edition of Iranshah Udvada Utsav commenced on 23rd December, 2017, at 3:40pm with a jasan ceremony performed by 14 priests and led by Er. Pirojshah Sidhva, followed by a Maachi consecrated by Er. Amavand Katila at the Pak Iranshah Atash Behram. Over two thousand five hundred Zoroastrians gathered at the main event area for the grand function, which was ably compered by the bubbly and vivacious Maharukh Chichgar. The gathering stood to pay their respects to our motherland, followed by a Humbandagi. The day’s proceedings were presided over by Guests of Honour – Minister of Minority Affairs, Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, accompanied by Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Vijay Rupani, Member of Parliament (Valsad), Dr. K C Patel, Jain representative on the National Minorities Commission (NMC), Shri Sunilbhai Singhi and District Collector of Valsad, Shri CR Kharsan, who were felicitated by Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor and Dinshaw Tamboly, who are the vital pillars of the IUU 2017 as also the leading figures
of the FDU.
Welcoming the gathering to the first day of IUU 2017, Vada Dasturji Khurshed thanked the sponsors and all the delegates who attended the IUU in large numbers, thus making the Utsav a great success.
Addressing the gathering, Shri Mukhtar Naqvi saluted Parsi stalwarts who have contributed to India and highlighted how the Ministry is exploring ways to strengthen the Parsi community and culture – Jiyo Parsi being one such initiative. He added that the Central and Gujarat Governments will put together their efforts to support and ensure that the Parsi community summits even greater heights of glory. The newly re-elected CM of Gujarat, Vijay Rupani, expressed happiness on witnessing such a large number of Parsis from India and around the world gather at the event and went on to quote instances from our celebrated past. Having made reference to the famous ‘sugar in milk’ story, he concluded stating, “With the blessings of Iranshah, I hope to start my second term with good thoughts, good words and good deeds— the mantra that the Parsis go by!”
As the evening gaining momentum, the eminent members on the dais collectively released the ‘Iranshah Udvada Utsav 2017’ souvenir along with your very own ‘Parsi Times IUU 2017 Special Issue’ honouring the media partnership with Parsi Times, since the inception of the Utsav in 2015.
This was followed by the viewing of the Ministry of Minority Affairs funded ‘Jiyo Parsi’ film titled, ‘Not Just Milk and sugar’. Directed by National Award winner for her 2015 documentary “Qissa-e Parsi”, Divya Cowasji, the film starring Boman Irani and Rustom Tirandaz explained the nuances of Zoroastrianism along with the significance of our various customs and traditions, portrayed brilliantly as a warm and enriching conversation, as a grandfather putting his grandson to sleep at night. The lucid film traced our complex past as refugees and how Zarathustra was the first one to speak about the rights of plants, animals, water and various other elements of life.
Next, the spirited host of NDTV Good Times, Freishia Bomanbehram took over as the compere for the rest of the evening, commencing with the girls of Bai Avabai Petit Girls High School performing a series of monajats, under the title, ‘A Journey of Devotion’. After observing silence in memory of Late Er. Pallonji Dastur and Er. Jehanbux Bhada, the Utsav marked a tribute to Late Vada Dasturji Dr. Peshotan Hormuzdyar Mirza – our community’s highly accomplished scholar and priest, as well as the eighth family amongst the nine families of Udvada. A short film was screened as a tribute to his life, his faith and how he lived the tenets of Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds, even during his most difficult times. His wife, Mahrukh was felicitated by Vada Dasturji Khurshed.
The Nine Families of Udvada consisting of Andhyarujina, Unwalla, Bhadha, Katila, Dastoor, Bhaijina, Patel, Mirza, Sidhwa constitute the core foundation of our most pious place and have the privilege of performing the boi ritual at Iranshah in turn each quarter. The members of these nine families were felicitated by Vada Dasturji Khurshed who also paid tribute to the departed souls of these prestigious families.
In keeping with the religious and cultural element of the evening, a film showcased the difficulties faced by our forefathers on Iranian soil, the hazards and obstacles faced by Dasturji Naryosang Dhaval and his followers during their exodus to India, refuge being granted to them by King Jadi Rana at Sanjan, their constant search for refuge from Sanjan to the Bahrot caves, to Vansda, to Navsari and how their indomitable faith in Ahura Mazda enabled them to finally consecrate Shreeji Pak Iranshah at Udvada on 28th October, 1742.
A dazzling fashion show by ace designer, Ashdeen Lilaowala presented ‘The Daughters of Mashyoi’, joined by the Shiamak Davar troupe that highlighted a metamorphic butterfly dance, followed by Ashdeen’s creations that celebrated identity, the eternal fire burning within us all and the unique bond between mother and daughter. Finally the bridal collection showcased a mixture of legendary Parsi garas with a little twist. Ashdeen’s commendable efforts to revive and modernize Parsi art were highly appreciated by all. Speaking to Parsi Times, Ashdeen said, “This show celebrates the spirit of Parsi women who have always been independent. It even talks about their journey in different parts and it is this beautiful journey that we celebrate with my designs.”
The girls of Bai Avabai Petit school took to the stage yet again with a splendid ‘Iranshah no Garbo’ performance, which received great applause. This was followed by a presentation made by Firoz Pestonji, the organizer of the 11th World Zoroastrian Congress 2018 to be held in Perth from 1st to 4th June, 2018, titled ‘Together Towards Tomorrow’. The Congress will provide a global platform for Zoroastrians, which caters effectively to both aspects – business networking as well as holidaying with family, all at affordable prices. “We wish to promote global business opportunities for Zoroastrians, with a special focus on promoting entrepreneurship and youth leadership. The prime objective is to bring Zoroastrians together globally on a common and mutually beneficial platform, so that in the long run we all will be able to achieve newer heights and do justice to the legacy of industriousness and greatness that our ancestors were known for,” said Firoz K Pestonji to Parsi Times, which will also be the Media Partner for the 11th World Zoroastrian Congress.
The day concluded with a fabulous tribute to Freddie Mercury by ‘Maryellen and All-Stars’- a talented and renowned troupe of international performers, that had nine year old Jeda, and Parsi vocalists Shazneen Arethna and Rushaad Dastur, perform breath-taking renditions of Queen’s all-time famous songs including ‘Radio Gaga’ and ‘I Want To Break Free’, followed by the choir singing along to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. The attendees departed later after a great dinner catered by Feny and Nozer Daruwalla’s ‘A-1 Parsi Food’, the Surat-based caterer of the IUU 2017, who had all the bawajis raving about the yummy meals!
Day 2 (24rd December) Coverage
Day-2 was loaded with events across a morning and evening session. The morning started with the exciting Heritage Walk and Treasure Hunt that witnessed over two hundred participants taking to the streets of Udvada, attempting to decode fifteen witty clues. Organised by the Xtremely Young Zoroastrian (XYZ) Foundation, the treasure hunt had forty teams of five members each, trying to grab the top three prizes worth Rs. 20,000/-, Rs. 15,000/- and Rs.10,000/-, respectively. Speaking to Parsi Times, XYZ’s Hoshaang Gotla said, “The whole idea of this is to have people real-life experience of the sights and sounds of Udvada.”
The morning session of the second day of IUU 2017 commenced with compere Mahiyar Dastoor expressing gratitude to the sponsors of the Utsav, viz The Gujarat Tourism Board, Shapoorji Pallonji Group, the House of Tatas, the House of Godrej, Zoroastrian Co-operative Bank Ltd., Rolta, Rustomjee Group, Bank of Baroda and HDFC. The proceedings commenced with a Humbandagi followed by a vital panel discussion on ‘How To Make Our Zoroastrian Religion Relevant to Modern Times.’ The brilliant panelists included
Er. Dr. Ramiyar Karanjia, Dr. Shernaz Cama, Malcolm Deboo and Ketayun Kapadia, with Zarine Commissariat as the moderator, who explained that the Latin word for religion is ‘Religare’, which means ‘to bind,’ and further extolled the achievements of the panellists. Conducted in a question-answer format, when Er. Dr. Ramiyar Karanjia was asked whether a religion gets outdated even after thousands of years, he opined that religion is a set of ethics, practices, philosophy and spirituality which, like truth and development of the soul, are eternally relevant. Ketayun Kapadia explained how FEZANA involved the youth of North America in making Zoroastrian religion relevant to modern times, noting even at the Utsav, the youth lead from the front via the ‘Return To Roots’ program. Dr. Shernaz Cama, as an educator, emphasised that the biggest issues today is ‘environmental crisis’ and as the holistic Bronze Age religion which deemed man as caretaker of nature, we should be ‘Soldiers of Nature’ too. “A holistic balance of religion and nature is essential,” she said. Malcolm Deboo detailed ZTFE activities highlighting the Senior Citizens’ Club and a Youth Association for Young Zoroastrians, which has empowered the generation with a range of their own activities. The panel discussion concluded with Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor and wife, Havovi felicitating the panellists and the moderator.
The event proceeded for a heartening speech by Yazdi Karanjia. The accomplished thespian of Parsi drama and educator, Yazdi Karanjia with his theme titled ‘Zindagi Toh Pyaar Ka Saagar Hai’, spoke of how Prophet Zarathushtra was born smiling – making it our religious right to always smile and be cheerful. He shared numerous thought provoking insights into marriage, maternal love and humanity in a humorous vein. He concluded laying emphases on how humanity is the first religion, to a standing ovation, as Vada Dasturji Khurshed proceeded to felicitate him.
Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary from Iran presented a detailed description of the Zarthushti marriage ceremony as celebrated in Iran. He clarified that one must always be faithful to the religion and its teachings, have post demise ceremonies of deceased relatives performed, preserve the ecosystem, to be kind to animals, to remember God and be benevolent. He was felicitated by Vada Dasturji Khurshed for his pearls of wisdom. In keeping with religious ambience, a member of the Dastoor family – one among the nine families of Udvada – Er. Soli Dastur from USA presented slides showcasing the origin of the Afarganyu in India. He also elucidated the importance and relevance of ringing the bells in our fire temples, post which he was felicitated.
Next, Vada Dasturji Khushed launch the book ‘Valiant Parsis In War And Peace,’ authored by Marzban Giara, showcasing Parsi officers in the police and armed forces. This was followed by Er. Soli Dastur and Er. Tehmtan Mirza showcasing a presentation about the North American Mobeds Council (NAMC), which is known to create exemplary priests.
This was followed by the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America (FEZANA) presentation showing how it plays the role of a coordinator between 26 Zoroastrian associations and 14 coordinating bodies in USA and Canada. With over 25,000 members and 26 Committees working together towards the mission of FEZANA, current President, Homi Gandhi and Vice President, Arzan Sam Wadia addressed the gathering about the its working and its role, with a video encompassing all the activities that FEZANA has been undertaking for 40 years. Five of the 8 past presidents attended IUU in full support of the Utsav.
The Ministry of Minorities Affair, ParZor and BPP funded Jiyo Parsi program was presented by Katy Gandevia and Pearly Mistry who spoke about the activities undertaken by Jiyo Parsi including counselling sessions, seminars, medical/financial assistance, in the past 3 years, highlighting that Ministry of Minority Affairs has allotted more funds and revised the income levels in its second phase. The senior citizen honorarium support initiative that creates intergenerational support systems, guarantees that a senior citizen who cares for community children will get Rs 3000 per month per child. Pearl Mistry concluded the presentation on an optimistic note stating, “Increasing our population may seem impossible but where there is a will there is a way.” Lunch followed.
The evening commenced with Minister of Textile, Information and Broadcast, Smt. Smriti Irani inaugurating the Udvada Gam Gate at 4:30pm. Unveiling her pet project along with Vada Dasturji Khurshed and the collector of Udvada, Smt. Irani cut the ribbon and declared the new gate as one of Udvada’s tourist attractions in the future. Designed by architect Jamshid Bhiwandiwalla, the two gates are 60 feet high and 15 feet wide. Speaking to Parsi Times, Jamshid said, “The Persian gate is inspired from the town houses, the most revered fire temple, Iranshah, and a metaphorical last king of Iran; the gate is a homage to the same.”
The evening session commenced with the National Anthem, followed by host Maharukh Chichgar introducing Mani Rao from Chicago who entertained the audience as well as the dignitaries on the dais with wonderful renditions of Monajats, some of which were her own. Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor welcomed the gathering once again, followed by a heartfelt speech by Padma Bhushan awardee, Dr. Farokh Udwadia (details on Pg. 8).
Addressing the gathering, Smt. Smriti Irani said, “Never before in the history of mankind has a community been persecuted, forced to leave their home behind, sailed to another country and called it its own; and in 1300 glorious years, contributed immensely to a resilient democracy that is writing its own destiny. Today it is a celebration of that very Zoroastrian community. My heartiest congratulations to Vada Dasturji Khurshed for succeeding in bringing Zoroastrians together from across the world for the Iranshah Udvada Utsav, specially the youngsters of the Return to Roots program, who must talk about their experiences through blogs and medium”.
She further added, “Under the Adarsh Gram Yojana I had the opportunity of adopting Udvada, but in turn Udvada adopted me to serve them and create a model village with CCTV cameras, WiFi and a Primary Health Clinic”. To ensure this, a corpus of Rs. 8.4 crore has been granted to Udvada.
Here on, Viraf Patel compered the event that proceeded to felicitate Diana Marfatia for her contribution in the field of education, along with top ranker Farzan Bharucha and Husrav Sadri for outstanding performance in ICSE and HSC, Vispi Kharadi for outstanding performance in martial arts and Delnaz Jokhi for advanced achievement in the field of academics. This was followed by a presentation on Rustom- E- Sohrab – a play by the MEJMT Dharmagyan class. Written and directed by Mithoo Jesia and Er. Ramiyar Karanjia, the play that traced the famous Parsi epic of Rustom -E-Sohrab in its full glory with brilliant sound effects and props. Speaking to Parsi Times, Mithoo Jesia said, “I wanted to do something that the community can identify and connect with. Every year I question myself as to what can I do to please Iranshah. Last time I did Tapo-E-Iranshah and this year I decided to do Rustom-E-Sohrab so that the Parsis know about their rich cultural heritage. These are the kind of forefathers that we come from and we should be proud to be Parsis.”
Next was one of the most awaited performances of the day with The Big Red Bus Band, that had the audience jumping over the barricades and dancing away to a total of twenty evergreen English songs of all times. The audience simply couldn’t get enough of the fabulous performance by the band with Hormuz Ragina dressed as Santa Claus! (details on Pg. 9).
Day 3 (25rd December) Coverage
Christmas Day, 25th December, 2017, was the grand culmination of the Iranshah Udvada Utsav 2017. Seated early, the audience eagerly awaited the Chief Guest of the day, Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu to grace the finale. Commencing with the National Anthem, a brilliantly enacted play titled ‘Parsi Lustre On Indian Soil’ was presented by Mithoo Jesia. An audio visual accompanied actors personifying legendary Parsis including luminaries Dasturji Neryosung Dhaval, who persuaded King Jadi Rana to allow us to stay in India; Er. Dr. Jivanji Modi, who put Zoroastrianism on the world map; Dr. Dadabhai Naoroji; Sir Phirozeshah Mehta; Madam Bhikaiji Cama; Jamshedji Nusserwanji Tata; JRD Tata; Field Marshal Sam Maneckshaw; and Nani Palkhiwalla.
Following a welcome speech by Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor, the illustrious dignitaries on the dais welcomed and felicitated Dr. Farokh Udwadia who spoke briefly encapsulating his earlier speech and adding further words of wisdom. Unfortunately the title sponsor and Guest of Honour to also be felicitated, Mr. Pallonji Shapoorji was unable to make it due to his failing health.
Next, Chief Guest of IUU 2017, Vice-President Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu was requested to come to the fore and was felicitated by Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor before addressing the audience. He thanked Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor for the honour of being invited as the Chief Guest. He acknowledged and respected Zoroastrianism as being the oldest religions and one of the most ancient cultures of the world. Inspite of the strict protocol and security measures which would have him driven to the venue, Naidu decided to get a feel of the beautiful village and chose to walk through it to get a first-hand experience of the sights and the people he greeted on the way to the podium.
In his speech he rendered how a lot of Parsi greats had been instrumental in inspiring him to achieve success – he named Nani Palkhiwala, Soli Sorabji, Fali Nariman and Ratan Tata, saying he was privileged to meet them too. He also spoke highly of doctors Rustom Soonawala and Lakdawala who he credited for having treated him and his family effectively. “I was told by Hon’ble PM Shri Narendra Modi that as a VP I must surely visit the lovely Udvada village and I am truly so delighted and privileged to have got a personal experience of being present at Udvada for the Utsav. This experience is now embedded in my memory forever!”
“I have extremely high regard for all Parsis – Parsis have done India very proud in virtually every field of commercial, civic and social endeavour. Parsis stand for harmony and progress. I would like to repeat Mahatma Gandhi’s quote here about the wonderful Parsi race: “In numbers Parsis are beneath contempt, but in contribution, beyond compare” and in progress and charity, our Parsis are unequalled and unsurpassed!” he concluded.
Following a vote of thanks by Hoshaang Gotla, the gathering then proceeded towards the dining area for the magnificent gambhar, marking the conclusion of the fabulous and highly successful Iranshah Udvada Utsav 2017.