Reply to Mid-Day's Yellow Journalism: By Ervad Adil J. Govadia


The Midday Newspaper

Kimi Dangor,
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CC:, Jame Jamshed; Bombay Parsi Punchayet

Subject: Ire in the temple

Over the past few years, the proponents of intermarriage always seem to haul-up in their fishing nets certain red-herrings. One such example under reference is Kimi Dangor's article "Ire in the Temple" that appeared in Sunday Mid-Day of 30/3/2003. Let us attempt to de-bone some of these red-herrings:

1. The first red herring is the claim that Zarathushtrian population will increase if all progenies of mixed marriages, of either sexes, are admitted in the religious fold. It is ultra nonsense!

First, let us accept with an open mind that Intermarriage is a religious, and not a sociological, issue. It does impact the race socially, but it certainly is not a social issue! This is an issue that is addressed and ruled upon in the Zarathushtrian religious texts in a religious context. There are at least half-a-dozen injunctions (proscriptions and prescriptions) in the sacred Zarathushtrian religious texts enjoining marriage exclusively within the Mazdayasni- Zarathushtri fold, for both women and men equally. Therefore, Intermarriages in no way can it be recognized or ratified in the eyes of the Zarathushtrian Religion as it is understood as a religious sacrament and not just a civil contract.

We have several examples from history to suggest the contrary: like the Incas of South America or the Aborigines of Australia or the Red Indians of North America or the Birale tribe from Africa or Santhals of Madhya Pradesh and many more such lost tribes of the world where a similar aggressive stance and pattern was adopted by the white man in destroying the culture and customs of indigenous and ancient race! In fact, there are many other communities of the world, including the Jews, who are making vigorous efforts to arrest the decline of their stock by discouraging intermingling of races.

2. Second red herring is the alternative notion of removing the discrimination by also inducting the children of intermarried Parsi women. Let me admit that, in first place, this male-gender discrimination is an utter disgrace! And to top it, one dares to add insult to injury by suggesting that children of intermarried Parsi women must also be inducted in the Parsi fold. Certainly, two wrongs cannot make a right!

As one must know, this most blatant male-chauvinism aberration is but a recent innovation, a century old, subtly and deviously infiltrated into the community by vested interests after the controversial 1908 "The Parsi Panchayet Case". However, prior to 1908, for several centuries beyond count, the Parsi community had unitedly, dutifully and equitably implemented the Zarathushtrian Religion's law prohibiting mixed marriages for both men and women alike.

When intermarriages themselves, contracted by Parsi men or women, are neither recognizable nor performable in the sight of the Zarathushtrian Religion, can there be any question of the progenies of Parsi women having any rights to the Zarathushtrian Religion? Therefore, the real issue is not whether or not the progenies of intermarried Parsi women should be inducted into the Religion, but whether the progenies of intermarried Parsi men have any rights to it at all. Obviously, the only rightful way to restore genuine equality and erase the blot of gender discrimination is by calling a halt to the impropriety of inducting the mixed progeny of Parsi men as well. Therefore, keeping in conformity with the religious mandates, the Zarathushtrian High Priests vide their latest Resolutions have only re-emphasized the religious fact, thereby making an attempt to remove the blot of artificial discrimination created in recent past.

3. The final red herring is the claim that Race and Religion are mutually exclusive and independent of each other and therefore conversion should be allowed and must be the order of the day.

To dichotomize the Parsi Race and the Zarathushtrian Religion is absurd, erroneous and totally false. Any attempt to do so will only result in a kind of racial genocide. It is perilous to even discuss one without the other. Two millennia of tumultuous Zarathushtrian history has proved that both, the Parsi Race and the Zarathushtrian Religion, have always sustained each other, complimented one another and resurrected itself from each other's internal strengths! Therefore, to be a Zarathushtrian, it is not merely professing this particular religion; it also means belonging to a historic group of people, the Parsi Race, who have the tempered and unique qualities of tolerance, honesty, cleanliness and adaptability developed in the laboratory of over two millennia.

In the light of the Resolutions passed by the High Priests, the community should rise up to demand from the community leaders, the BPP Trustees, various institutions like the Athornan Mandal, the Jashan Committee etc and from their respective Agiary Trusts and Anjumans to properly discharge their religious duties and drill some sorely needed discipline into those priests who flagrantly flout our Religious Laws by performing improper Navjotes for mixed offspring.

Concluding Remarks:

Taking the law into one's own hands is a recipe for disaster. When inter-faith marriage by either sex is classified as a sin in the Zarathushtrian doctrine, can such unions ever be performed, ratified or recognized by the Zarathushtrian Religion? When mixed marriages themselves are expressly and explicitly excluded from the ambit of the Zarathushtrian Religion, can the progeny of such unions ever have any rights to the Zarathushtrian Religion?

It is vitally important that in these dark days of doubt, denigration and defiance, all Parsis try and understand that prohibiting inter- faith marriages is not an invention of the High Priests. It is a matter of Zarathushtrian Religious Law and rests on nothing less than the direct authority of the sacred Zarathushtrian scriptural and religious texts themselves.

Intermarriage portends the death of the Parsi Race. Every Parsi man, woman and child is aware of the consequences of violating it. Accept it or reject it, the choice is theirs. But challenging it will only result in splitting the community. As responsible journalists of a responsible Newspaper you are best advised to please refrain from forcing your misconceptions onto the Parsi community and the Zarathushtrian religion by indulging in yellow-journalism!

- Ervad Adil J. Govadia.

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