Letters to the Editor

Re: Prayer Hall

I had emailed Mr. Dinshaw Tamboly, Chairman of the “Prayer Hall Services and Maintenance Trust” with a request to kindly respond and clarify on some prima facie irregularities I observed at the Worli Prayer Hall.

I received a 5-page response but none of the concerns were clarified to the point but vaguely justified in a generalized manner as can be evidenced in their response.

Clarifications sought were –

  1. Covid or Non Covid, this Prayer Hall trust was not formed to ‘Safe guard the interest of the reformist priest ‘as has been quoted.
  1.  Why did the Trust use the Corona excuse to hike up the rates in June 2020 to Rs 48000/ – ? Why the opportunistic attitude to fleece the community members at such times?
  1. Why is it mandatory for the family to pay Rs. 48,000 for full 4 days prayer at the hall? 
  1.  The reply mentions, “While the fees charged are agreed between the Panthaki and the family ‘ in which case why has the Trust fixed  up the amount of Rs 42000 + 6000 =48000? The Trust should not engage themselves in matters not concerning them.
  1. The Prayer hall according to the Trust is provided free. Why is the Coordinator collecting Rs 6000/- as “incidental charges” and why is the Trust the decision-maker on charges?  I quote from the response given. Quote ‘The prayer hall services & Maintenance Trust does not come into the Picture‘ Unquote.  Here the Trust is contradicting itself.
  1. I had faced this issue in 2017 as well as in 2018 and I did speak to Mr. Faramroz Mirza who informed me that the amounts are fixed by the Trust. I later called up Mr. Dinshaw Tamboly from the prayer hall requesting a receipt of the so-called incidental expenses. It was never issued.  
  1. In whose pocket is Rs 6000 going to? In the response received from Mr. Dinshaw Tamboly states and I quote ‘It is common practice to pay gratuities to staff who are helpful and it is invariably done even at Dungerwadi after utilizing their services. Although Ervad Mirza may have said that these gratuities are meant for BMC staff, the amount collected is actually also distributed amongst our Security guards, the cleaners employed at the Hall and those who help with documentation and other formalities’ unquote. Thirteen cremations took place in July 2020.  Is Mr. Dinshaw Tamboly implying that an amount of Rs 78,000 that would have been collected as gratuities were distributed as tips to all Over and above the salary the Trust pays the employees? The fact is nothing is being offered for free. It might bear investigation to find out if the salary of the staff paid for July 2020 came this Rs78000/- or such collected. Over and above this, the Trust also requests for voluntary donations to take care of the staff salaries. So put together the tips and donations, the Trust is mostly run by donors of the family and gratuities paid by families and nothing is free as stated.
  1. In 2017, a priest attending ceremony observed that the prayers recited were cut short. I was also a witness to this. The priest informed that for Rs 24,000 these are all the prayers that he can perform! The matter was also brought to the notice of the Coordinator Please do ask the priest at the prayer hall as to what prayers will be recited. The reformist priests don’t even recite full prayers which makes the ceremony a ceremony serving no purpose! I am told there are 11 reformists priests conducting ceremonies. Negotiate and use their services.  I have also heard of several complaints that the coordinator is rude and that the man needs to be put on a leash.
  2. Mr. Dinshaw Tamboly keeps comparing The Prayer Hall to Dungerwadi. Let me remind him that the BPP issues a receipt and does not force families to pay Rs 6000 compulsorily.

Finally, my question that still remains unanswered by The Prayer Hall Trust is  –  Can a person, rich or poor, use the prayer hall for free without paying the Rs 6000? and tip people individually as per their wishes.  If the charge is mandatory than remove the words ‘ Free use of prayer Hall  ‘ and issue a stamped receipt from the trust for providing service and not account the same as a donation.

By Arzan J Ghadially 

Leave a Reply