Happy 108th Birthday To Menie Maiji – World’s Oldest Living Parsi!

Razvin Namdarian

When you enter her home, you see a frail, tiny lady curled up in bed, but spend some time with her and you realise that this diminutive body holds a large heart and more than a century’s worth of experience. At a majestic 108 years, Menie Kaikhushroo Bhagat is the oldest living Parsi in the world!

Born on the 16th February, 1916, Menie Maiji (as she is fondly called) has seen it all – the birth of nations, world wars and even two pandemics! She spent most of her life in Jhansi, Madhya Pradesh, where her father – Bejonji Pestonji – worked as an engine driver for the railways. Her mother, Goolbai, looked after the home and their ten children, of whom Menie was the fifth. “All my brothers and sisters are no more,” she shares with a sigh.

Menie got married at age 20 and raised five children in Jhansi – Jimmy Bhaga, Hanita Wadia, Minoo Bhagat, Zerin Dick (Mumbai) and Rosy Rustomji (USA). Unfortunately, Jimmy and Hanita are no more. Three generations of Menie Maiji’s family have lived and worked in Jhansi, until they later decided to move to Mumbai. “There were almost 300 Parsis in Jhansi, my son-in-law, Rony and I would organise get-togethers and Jashans and I would cook for everyone who attended,” she reminisces. PT had earlier covered Menie Maiji’s 104th birthday, amidst much bonhomie and love, with family and friends unanimously proclaiming her as the ‘Jhansi ki Raani’!

She moved to Mumbai after her husband passed away and today lives in a flat in Bharucha Baug, lovingly cared for by her daughter – Zerin residing in the same building and her niece, Dolly Merchant. Menie Maiji has seen her family grow and flourish – she is a proud grandma to ten grandchildren (Roshni Tantra (deceased), Dinaz Bhamgara, Dimple Bhagat, Neville Dick, Farhad Dick, Goolnaz Debara, Kurush Bhagat, Firdoz Wadia, Aastad Wadia and Arnaz Rustomji) and a super proud great-grandmother to another ten great-grandchildren!

“I’m ever grateful to my grandsons who take care of all my needs,” she says humbly. Her children, who live abroad, visit her whenever they get the chance, like her loving daughter Rosy, who travels from the US each year to celebrate her birthday and spend a month with her.

While age may have dimmed her vision and affected her hearing, Menie Maiji’s memory is razor sharp! “She remembers everyone’s date and roj birthdays,” Zerin informs us. We are delighted to share that at 108, she suffers no ailments and only takeneeds vitamin supplements and the occasional pill for vertigo (touch wood!!). She manages all her daily tasks herself and moves about with the help of a walker – she is blessed indeed! “I even have my own teeth,” she proudly boasts, albeit, only twelve of them!

Her favourite meal is Dhansak and when we remind her that she can’t have that on her birthday, she’s quick to say, “But I can have mori dar with chamna (pomfret),” another favourite, ever since she moved to Mumbai as pomfret was not available in Jhansi.

When asked about the secret of her longevity and advice for the younger generations, she shares, “There is no secret really – just do everything in moderation, be contented in what you have, always have faith in Ahura Mazda, and stay united!”

As she enters her 109th orbit, on behalf of the community, Parsi Times wishes her continued good health and happiness always, with her loving family.

[Special thanks to Rosy’s friend – Mr. Viraf Commissariat, for bringing to our attention about a Parsi lady named Dina Sethna from Karachi who was 107 at the time of her demise in March 2023, which makes Menie Bhagat, the oldest living Parsi at age 108, in February 2024.]

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