On Tuesday, over 700 members of the Parsi community gathered at the Sanjan Sthamb (memorial) in Sanjan to commemorate Sanjan Day. The day saw several people from Mumbai besides those from other parts of India. There was particular excitement in the community as many got to go there after the COVID-induced break of two years.
“It was a good day and a good event we had. Many were happy to meet each other as it was also like a community get-together. There were motivational talks, prayed for the future of our community and worshipped the memorial. Different priests conducted prayer services and they had come from different villages. We also had a vegetarian feast,” said Shahrookh Bharucha who was happy about his visit to Sanjan after two years.
“It is at Sanjan where the good king gave us asylum of sorts. It is wonderful what India has given us. It has been so hospitable to us and accepted us. It has let us practice our faith with our rules, which we could not in Persia for which we fled. This is what we come and commemorate. It was nice to be there. We were very happy,” said Anahita Desai, trustee of Bombay Parsi Punchayet which owns the space where the Sthamb stands.
Parsis arrived in India in the eighth century and first landed in Diu where they stayed for nearly two decades before moving to Sanjan. Sanjan is also an important landmark because the Iranshah – the holiest fire temple – first stayed there for nearly 700 years before moving to other places. The pilgrimage, however, started over 100 years ago when the Sthamb was erected.
Talking about the arrangement of celebrations, Bapsy Daviervala, president of Sanjan Memorial Column Local Committee that organises celebrations in Sanjan, said, “My husband had started organising it so that people remember we had come down and stayed here. We wanted future generations to know about our history and remember the good king who gave us refuge and allowed us to practice our religion. To be grateful to him as he allowed us to settle, practice religion freely and prosper. It is also a day when people from different parts meet. They come to Sanjan and intermingle.”