Little Sali Boti And Lots Of Kissi Kotti

In a couple of days, we will bring in our New Year (one of them anyways!) and Zoroastrians everywhere will celebrate…. And not just because the day marks the Persian New Year or because it is the vernal equinox. Of course, these are fine and notably worthy reasons to celebrate indeed. But we all know it’s all really about the ‘Fun, Faloodas, Farchas and Frolic!’ We celebrate not just because of our ancient connection with Iran, and the fact that it is supposed to be king Jamshed’s birthday, but also because, as we Zarthostis say, “It’s a day of majja-masti along with sukhar and kasti!” Truth is – us bawajis need no legitimate reason to celebrate!

On this day, we turn a blind eye on our sugar levels and calories. We consume time-bomb ticking cholesterol treats and drink every label and blend. It really matters not if it’s Black, Red, Blue or Green. We care not if it’s a GlenLivet, GlenMorangie or a GlenFiddich. We’re not particularly discerning with that bottle, whether its 10 years or 12, and 18 certainly a charm, for both our Whiskeys and our women… with one becoming mellower on the tongue with age, while the other only more tart (secretly wishing it were the other way around)!

And since Navroze is neither the time nor place to discuss these proclivities, we raise our glasses and our spirits only to honour the age-tested tenets of our beliefs, ‘Eat! Drink! Make Merry!’… Good thoughts, good words and good deeds will all naturally follow thereafter.

 Even as the Festival of Spring is upon us, not much has really changed over the past couple of years. While the world is reeling with new variants and the booster viability, us Parsis are jolly complacent as our astute government deigned to give us preference with the vaccines again: ‘60 and above’, well that’s anyways the section covering the majority population of Parsis! Our very own B D Petit Parsee General Hospital has been welcoming the volumes of our brethren and kin, over the past few months, thanks to which we are now boostered and buoyant – all well in time for the Navroze festivities!

While we ruminate on the fact that the celebrations may be a bit low-key again, we’re definitely not going to let it dampen the spirit of celebrations. So, there won’t be the usual entertainment in gusto but there will be ample gatherings of family and friends around the table, spreading the warmth and joy of spring. You will still be entertained with the subtle wit and charm of a particular friend while being regaled with the wisdom and affection of another. A friend’s wife will make sure you don’t miss out on your favorite dishes, while another will send you those boxes of Suterfeni or that syrupy juicy Jalebis to kick start the day… We may change the way we celebrate, but we will never cease to celebrate any occasion, any day.

For our Zarathusti brethren every single day is reason to eat, drink and be merry. Yes, but gone are the days when every pretty Parsi girl decked up in adorable frocks and pleated skirts, with matching scarves and embroidered little handbags, for their morning rounds of the fire temples, while the men folk felt the day called for the right of wearing open-work-jam-tart jewels, pinned on the lapels of coats and such. The white and the dapper sharpness of the Dagli, perfectly accentuating the entire ethos of Navroze. Nowadays, we have an array of dress-ups, but a notable number prefer the faded-blue denims over all else… perhaps symbolic of the times we live in, where most of the glitz and glamour is long fading into a blue of acceptance.

Back in the days, people entertained royally, horsed themselves well, gave dances and dinners fit for any royalty. There was a certain kind of power in these celebrations that made them a thing of envy and joy. This was the season before take-outs were popular and Swiggy and Zomato did not exist. You went to restaurants, you went to places where a veritable feast was created to please all the senses. You met, you courted, you danced, you celebrated the season of spring and joy, creating moving pictures and memories of being huddled in rooms full of uncles and aunts and distant and near relatives.

It was a time when picture frames were hardly wide enough to fit an entire clan in their frames. Spy an old album with magical pictures of past celebrations and you will enter an era where refinement was a joy, and elegance – a byproduct of that generation. You took precedence of the way things were done, you gave credit to the right things. You addressed that gorgeously dressed woman next to you with more nervousness and hesitation than you thought possible, after the formal introductions were made. Navroze was the time of meet-ups, where the community came out in force to enjoy themselves and each other.

It was a glorious time of enchantment and magic, a truly glorious era of finery and breeding. And yes, back then, there was a hell of a lot more ‘sali-boti’ and all the joys of the fearless ‘kissi-kotti’!

Veera Shroff Sanjana
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