Tribute To Prof. Havewalla On Persian Day

A rich tribute was also paid in honour of the great Persian academic – late Professor Sabr Jamsheed Havewalla, on ‘Persian Language Day’, which was celebrated on 14th May, 2024, at the Iran Culture House, in the capital – New Delhi. Organized ably by the Institute of Indo-Persian Studies, in collaboration with the Persian Research Centre, the event also commemorated the legendary poet – Ferdowsi, with a few renditions of his famous quotes and stories about his life and his works. Other significant topics discussed included the importance of cross-culture studies and understanding, via language and literature.

Dignitaries on the stage included well known academicians from India and Iran. A number of eminent celebrity academicians, who were once students and/or influenced by Prof.  Havewalla, paid fond tributes to her life, which she dedicated to making outstanding contributions to Delhi’s Persian academic society.

Born (21st February, 1941) and raised in Mumbai, Prof. Havewalla graduated from St. Xaviers College in 1963, studying Persian as a subject. She went on to pursue higher Persian studies at Tehran University’s Faculty of Literature, for two years and received her Ph.D on Relations of Indian Parsees with Iran, in 1965. In 1971, she joined as Assistant Professor of Persian, at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Centre of Afro-Asian Languages, where she taught Persian for over three decades. She developed the Persian syllabus, introducing the study of modern Persian literature. A linguist, she translated numerous modern Persian short stories into Hindi and compiled a Persian-Gujrati Dictionary.

Prof. Havewalla was known for her compassion as a teacher, always caring for her colleagues and students. She retired in 2005 and returned to Mumbai, living on her own in a Parsi colony. She passed away due to cardiac failure, on 6th August, 2020, leaving behind a sister, a nephew and a number of students and colleagues in grief, alongside a rich legacy that will be cherished forever, by current and future generations.

Speaking on behalf of Dr. Shernaz Cama and the PARZOR Foundation, Marazban Zaiwala, representing the Delhi Parsi Anjuman (DPA), shared his respects and fond remembrance of Prof.  Havewalla, emphasizing on her crucial contributions as a member of the DPA. In addition to being a great teacher and a passionate advocate of the Persian language, she would take the time to teach the Shahnameh stories, at the Farohar Children’s Classes for over a year. Her popularity and presence were greatly missed by Delhi’s Zoroastrian community when she left to return to Mumbai, upon her retirement.

The speeches were appreciated by H.E. Iraj Elahi (Ambassador, The Islamic Republic of Iran) and others attending the program. The Parsi contingent representing the Zoroastrian community included Kersi Deboo – Kersi K Deboo, Vice Chairman of National Commission for Minority; Dr. Khurshid Tuli, Nargish Modi, Nowroz Behramfram and Ruzbeh Umrigar – Project Support Coordinator – South Gujarat, PARZOR Foundation and member of the INTACH Governing Council (Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage) as also Co-convenor for INTACH Navsari Chapter.

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