Mumbai News: Parsi Weekly Newspaper Faces Legal Action By Lawyer In SoBo Over Proposal To Sell Fire Temples For Charity

Mumbai News: Parsi Weekly Newspaper Faces Legal Action By Lawyer In SoBo Over Proposal To Sell Fire Temples For Charity

A committee headed by the high priest of the Udwada shrine, the community’s holiest, could be created to oversee the plan and decide how the funds from the sale should be used, the article read.

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Friday, April 26, 2024, 10:58 AM IST
article-image
Representative Image |

A Parsi newspaper has been served a legal notice by a lawyer from south Mumbai for suggesting that the dwindling community should sell off some of its 48 fire temples in Mumbai for Rs 200 crore and use it for charity. The idea has angered several co-religionists, some of whom have accused the publication of hurting their religious sentiments. 

The ‘Parsi Junction’ weekly, which is associated with Dinshaw Mehta, a former chairman of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP), argued in a full-page editorial on Sunday that the community’s numbers in the city have declined by 60% from its peak of nearly one lakh a century ago, with a similar decline in the number of mobeds, or priests. The BPP is the community’s largest trust. 

The article stated that there are 10 fire temples in Mumbai’s Fort and Dhobi Talao areas, from where 80% of the historic Parsi population has shifted out. Since the holy fires in the temples are eternal and cannot be extinguished, it was suggested that they should be shifted to vacant rooms in other shrines. A committee headed by the high priest of the Udwada shrine, the community’s holiest, could be created to oversee the plan and decide how the funds from the sale should be used, the article added.

Debate Over The Future Of Parsi Fire Temples

The suggestion has, as predicted by the author of the article, caused a storm. As per advocate Khusro Zaiwala’s legal notice to the newspaper, the publication has violated section 295a of the Indian Penal Code by hurting the community’s religious sentiments. “On the face of it, the suggestion is blasphemous. All the fires in these temples are at least a century old, some even 300 years old. The Parsi population has been migrating abroad, but there is no logic in saying that the fire temples should be closed,” said Zaiwala. 

Dinshaw Mehta said he is ready to publish a rejoinder to the article if the community came up with an alternate way to maintain the fire temples. “Selling off some of the temples is the practical solution. If community members do not want to do so, they should put their hands in their pockets to maintain them,” said Mehta. 

However, others felt that funds are not a problem. “Every fire temple has funds kept for its maintenance. Why should we sell off our temples?” asked Bhaktawar Vatcha, a Grant Road resident. 

Declining Footfalls At Fire Temples Amidst Aging Population And Migration

Dr Viraf Kapadia, a resident of Godrej Baug, said that, except for a couple of fire temples that are managed by the Punchayet, the others are managed by different trusts. “The people who built the fire temples created a corpora to maintain them. The corpora has been invested in agricultural land and stocks to provide a steady income for the upkeep. Moreover, there are donations. Who are they to suggest the sale of the fire temples?”

Community members have reported a decline in footfalls at fire temples as the population ages, declines and migrates. The problem has affected shrines in towns that once had a thriving Parsi population. When fire temples are planned to be closed, the concern is what to do with the holy fire – which forms the centre of worship. The fires, which are consecrated with special rituals, are perpetual and cannot be extinguished. The practice has been to shift the fires from a defunct fire temple to a functioning one. 

RECENT STORIES

The role of the USSC Is Seen As Key For Or Avancing US Interests Between Palestine And Israe

The role of the USSC Is Seen As Key For Or Avancing US Interests Between Palestine And Israe

₹263 Crore I-T Refund Fraud Case: Benami Assets In Names Of Friends Of IPS Officer’s Arrested...

₹263 Crore I-T Refund Fraud Case: Benami Assets In Names Of Friends Of IPS Officer’s Arrested...

Mumbai: BMC Seeks Firm To Operate Pothole Tracking System Amid Incomplete Road Concretisation Ahead...

Mumbai: BMC Seeks Firm To Operate Pothole Tracking System Amid Incomplete Road Concretisation Ahead...

NAINA Illegal Hoardings: Owners Undertake To Pull Down Hoardings And Seek Fresh Permission From...

NAINA Illegal Hoardings: Owners Undertake To Pull Down Hoardings And Seek Fresh Permission From...

Bombay HC Allows Woman To Undergo MTP At Sassoon Hospital

Bombay HC Allows Woman To Undergo MTP At Sassoon Hospital