The History of Foundation for Development of Udvada (FDU)
Established on September 22, 2003, purely on the initiative of the Prime Minister, Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi, the Foundation for Development of Udvada (FDU) has a very vibrant history!
In January 2002, during his stint as Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Modi was present at the ‘Foundation Stone’ laying ceremony of the Institute of Hotel Management at Ahmedabad, with erstwhile Hon’ble Minister (Tourism & Culture), Government of India, Shri Jagmohan. At the function, he graciously acknowledged the positive role played by the Parsi community in nation building, ever since our arrival from Persia, over 1,300 years ago.
He mentioned how Udvada was of the highest sanctity for our community with the holy fire – Iranshah – perpetually maintained. He appreciated how Parsis had abided always by the code of conduct which preserved their identity without offending the sensitivities of any other community. Speaking on how Udvada today showcases the glorious history of the Parsi community, he suggested to the erstwhile Hon’ble Minister of Tourism and Culture, to project Udvada as a place of harmony, religious tolerance and opportunities provided to a miniscule community to realise their full potential. He then requested renowned hotelier, (now Late) Jehangir Cama, who was present at the function with wife Mehru, to proceed in the direction of setting up suitable infrastructure of converting these thoughts into reality.
A proposal was thereafter submitted to the Government of India for providing certain basic facilities, which would enable the State of Gujarat to project Udvada as a unique place in our country symbolising traditions of tolerance, harmony and progress through partnership with the Parsi community. The GoI accepted this proposal and released a grant-in-aid amount of Rs. 97.27 lakhs to the Government of Gujarat, which has also allocated Rs. 24.32 lakhs for the project, making a total of Rs. 121.59 lakhs.
As per the recommendations of the Government of Gujarat, the project would encompass the following:
Establish a Museum and Cultural Centre at Udvada.
Establish a Heritage Walk at Udvada.
Organise an annual festival of Parsis at Udvada, where Parsis from all parts of the world could congregate.
Organise a tourist circuit of the places where the holy fire – Iranshah – was lodged prior to installation at Udvada.
After discussions with various members of the Parsi community, it was decided to establish and register a Foundation to be managed by reputed Parsis and a nominee of the Gujarat Government, who would undertake responsibility of directing and executing the project. FDU was thus established as a result of the above-mentioned initiatives.
The Genesis Of Iranshah Udvada Utsav (IUU):
In June 2014, just a couple of weeks after assuming office as Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi invited Dasturji Khurshed, Homai Engineer, late Jehangir Cama and me, (as all of us were connected with FDU) to meet him and provide an overview of the strategic plan to develop Udvada as a pilgrim centre being undertaken by UADA (Udvada Area Development Authority), set up by the Gujarat Government.
At the time, he reiterated how our community’s contribution towards nation building was without parallel and how Udvada showcased the glorious 1,300-year-old history of the Parsi community. Yet again he voiced his keen desire to project Udvada as a place of harmony, religious tolerance and opportunities, reminding us to organize the first ever festival at Udvada, for Parsis from the world over, could congregate. Thus was born the Iranshah Udvada Utsav (IUU) for worldwide community members to come together in celebration. He also recommended that we plan the Utsav regularly, in December, as many Indians residing overseas visit our country at that time of the year.
Honouring the wishes of our visionary and dynamic Prime Minister, Foundation for Development of Udvada and the Udvada Samast Anjuman, along with a group of dedicated volunteers, has together brought this project to fruition.
IUU – 2019 is the chapter of the earlier held IUU in 2015 and 2017.
A galaxy of eminent Parsis attended IUU – 2015, when Shri Ratan Tata, the leading present-day icon of our community, was felicitated, on December 27, 2015. Noted philanthropist, Dr. Cyrus S. Poonawalla, Chairman, Serum Institute of India, graciously agreed to sponsor IUU – 2015 in memory of his loving wife, Late Villoo C. Poonawalla. Late Cabinet Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley, graced the occasion with his presence when Ratan Tata was felicitated.
IUU – 2017 was celebrated with equal enthusiasm and passion, with Shri Vijaybhai Rupani, Chief Minister – Gujarat State, and Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi – Minister for Minority Affairs, GoI, inaugurating the event. Eminent physician, Dr. Farokh Udwadia was felicitated by H. E. Venkaih Naidu. IUU – 2017 was sponsored by Shapoorji Pallonji & Co. Pvt. Ltd and Gujarat Tourism. Union Minister, Hon’ble Mrs. Smriti Irani, has attended both the earlier editions of IUU and has confirmed her participation for IUU – 2019 as well. She has been a friend, philosopher, guide and an ardent supporter of all our activities, for which we are very honoured.
Trustees, volunteers, well wishers and supporters of FDU are all very grateful for the support and trust reposed in us by Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi. All Parsi Irani Zoroastrians can take legitimate pride in the fact that Iranshah Udvada Utsav is illustrative of the acknowledgement by our nation’s leader, of the contributions made towards nation building by our miniscule community, adhering in letter and in spirit, to the pledge of loyalty, our revered ancestors made when seeking sanctuary on Indian soil, 1,389 years