Letters To The Editor

Support Pours In For Ervad Zarrir Bhandara

Since the day the Behram Roj Jashan took place last week in the Atash Kadeh of the Zoroastrian Association of California Center (ZAC), Ervad Zarrir Bhandara has received several offensive posts calling him a ‘renegade priest’ who is only after fame and fortune.  Nothing is further from the truth.  I am writing this to clear the name of this dedicated priest, whom I consider to be a true Zarthoshti.

I have personally known Ervad Zarrir for over 30 years since he has been in California.  He is a “pakka” Mobed unlike many of us “kachcha” Mobeds who came to this country.  Unlike most of us, Zarrir had served as a practicing Mobed in India for many years prior and is fully conversant with all the intricacies of inner and outer rituals.

He maintains a holy fire in his home day and night on which he performs the Bui every day.  Before the ZAC Atash Kadeh was built, he held the Jashans and Muktad prayers at his home for the community, ably assisted by his son Zerkxis, whom he has trained to become a Navar-Maratab.  Zerkxis is currently undergoing training in Avesta and Pahelvi under the tutelage of Ervad Dr. Ramiyar Karanjia.

Since the Atash Kadeh was built some five years back, Er. Zarrir and Zerkxis are serving as full time Mobeds performing the Bui ceremonies and Jashans at all Parabhs, Ghambars, Muktads, etc.  They perform the prayers with utmost devotion, which is much appreciated by the congregation.  In addition, all 4-day funerary prayers are also performed by the duo.  The community is eager to participate and follow all our rules for attending prayers.  Contrary to some criticisms, I have not observed non-Zoroastrians participating in the prayers, although there may have been some isolated instances.

Both – Zarrir and Zerkxis – offer their services completely voluntarily so claims about doing all this for money are completely bogus.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic started and with everything switching to Zoom, Zarrir has utilized this platform for the Jashan prayers for the benefit of co-religionists worldwide, who are unable to attend our prayer houses in person.  Zarrir’s contention is that since we are talking about outer rituals only, this should be quite acceptable.  After all, we have been having Jashans in India in open spaces where non-Zoroastrians are invariably present.

In conclusion, I have the highest regard for both Ervad Zarrir and Ervad Zerkxis.  Their dedication toward serving their community and their kind, respectful and mild-mannered behavior towards everyone has endeared both father and son to our community.  I wish them a long life filled with happiness.

By Ervad Jal Birdy,
The Traditional Mazdayasni Zoroastrian Anjuman (TMZA)
California, USA. 


Renegade? Really???

The past several months have tested us in unimaginable ways.  We have discovered the power of a community coming together and ascending to even greater heights.  The challenges in front of us force us to confront our greatest differences and rely on our collective strength so we don’t have to walk the path alone.  It’s a chaotic and wrenching time we are experiencing filled with fury and abiding sadness. We are stuck on our ships in the doldrums of the pandemic, marking the passage of time with meals that have taken on an unrelenting sameness: a breakfast, a lunch, a dinner, – repeat.

A heartfelt and sincere thanks to Zarrir & Zerkxis for their help and assistance during these “new normal” times. Despite all that is happening around us, their stewardship has helped define our ability to endure and overcome obstacles in order to forge a path to a better future.  During these unpredictable times, they have stoically shepherded our Zoroastrian community in California and abroad, to use every lesson we have learned to create an impact through courage, integrity, empathy and initiative.

All of us are looked upon as a person of infinite dignity. Everything they do and every decision they make is motivated by their deep love and respect for everyone in our community and our desire that each of us feels authentic, belonging to our community. Both are brilliant leaders of faith, character, courage and creativity, and uniquely equipped to bring hope and light to our community in need. This is a high and honorable calling, and I am grateful to each of them as they guide us with unwavering excellence. Their services, their caring for our community, have always been offered of their own volition and dispensed respectfully and freely with a smile. Given our aging diaspora, having access to different Jashans and communal prayers over zoom was a brilliant god-send and use of technology.

Hardly sounds like ‘renegade’ – does it?

We’re exhausted. We’re exhausted by so much: anxiety, grief, employment worries, childcare issues, food insecurity, general uneasiness about the state of the world.  A year and a half into this global pandemic, you’d think there would be a near universal celebration with the arrival of multiple vaccines. The vaccine is HERE, hope is REAL, and yet we still feel like Sisyphus pushing our silly little rocks up silly little hills. The young have lost the old. We have coped with sudden pain and immeasurable sorrow and for the bereaved, they are trapped in their grief.  For quite a few of us, this grief is achingly fresh.  Zarrir & Zerkxis have been front and center during these times to help and respect and comfort our community.

Hardly sounds like ‘renegade’ – does it?

We are held upright by an unshakable faith and sacred love. This love lived in the dreams of our Zoroastrian ancestors who continued to carry fistfuls of joy despite the weight of their involuntary burdens. This sacred love is love for self and community. This love is unconditional. This love has transcended time. This love is authored, held together, and freely given through the noble efforts of Zarrir & Zerkxis. Their service to our community is nothing short of phenomenal and a model to be used by other states and communities.

Hardly sounds like ‘renegade’ – does it?

We are all thankful and proud of their assistance and humbled by their service to our community.

By Murzi H. Kerawalla



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