August 12, 2015 6:35 pm
The Ministry of Minority Affairs in collaboration with UNESCO Parzor Foundation, has approved curation of three travelling iconic Exhibitions, ‘The Everlasting Flame’ along with academic and cultural programmes of international magnitude, to be held from March to May, 2016. Dr. Najma Heptulla, the Union Minister of Minority Affairs stated that the iconic exhibitions will be funded by the Government of India to show-case the civilization and culture of the Parsis. The exhibition will bring alive Parsi heritage so that all Indians can understand and be proud of India as the world’s finest exemplar of unity in diversity ,she elaborated. The Finance Minister has also announced support to the “Everlasting Flame” in the Union Budget 2015-16, keeping Government’s commitment to preserve rich heritage of minority communities of India, she said.
Dr. Heptulla said that This will be the first ambitious project of the Government under the new scheme “Hamari Dharohar”, to preserve the rich heritage of the Parsi minority community. The three exhibitions will be organized at the National Museum, National Gallery of Modern Arts and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, New Delhi. An estimated Rs. 14 Crore will be spent by the Government of India. She has expressed satisfaction on the progress at the national and international levels to make this festival of the Parsi-Zoroastrians an event for the world to remember. The inauguration of the Programme is scheduled for 19th March, 2016 at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi.
In this regard, on 14th July 2015, a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ has been signed by Mr. Sanjiv Mittal, Director General, National Museum and Prof. Paul Webley, Director, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (SOAS).
Professor Webley stated that ‘‘SOAS is tremendously proud to be working with the Ministry of Minority Affairs, National Museum, Delhi and Parzor to mount its first ever exhibition outside of the United Kingdom. This is taking place in SOAS’s Centenary year (SOAS received its Royal Charter in 1916) and in India (from which part of the impetus to found SOAS came, and with which we have been involved throughout our history) is the icing on the cake”.
Professor Nirmala Rao, Pro-Director, SOAS reiterates that ‘‘ The Exhibition represents so much of what we do in terms of teaching, research and outreach and gives us the chance to showcase Zoroastrianism – its history, culture and the Zoroastrian communities of Iran, India and the wider diaspora. The exhibition, the first of its kind, will also help to consolidate existing partnerships with academic institutions and organizations in India, as well as forge new ones for the future’’.
‘The Everlasting Flame – Zoroastrianism in History and Imagination’, will be curated by Sarah Stewart, Firoza Punthakey Mistree, Ursula Sims-Williams, Almut Hintze, Pheroza Godrej and Dr. Shernaz Cama. It will trace Zoroastrian culture in ten stories with objects loaned from the British Library, the British Museum and world-renowned collections from Russia, Uzbekistan, Iran as well as the CSMVS, Mumbai, the TATA Archives, Pune and the Alpaiwalla Museum, Mumbai. British Library will also be conducting an Iron-Gall Ink Conservation Workshop at the National Museum sharing the technological advances greatly needed to protect India’s immense manuscript collections.
The second exhibition namely, ‘Across Oceans and Flowing Silks from Canton to Bombay 18th-20th Centuries, will be curated by Dr. Pheroza Godrej and Ms. Firoza Punthakey Mistree, and held at the National Gallery of Modern Arts (NGMA), New Delhi. This will showcase Parsi trading encounters in China, their consequent alliance with the British East India Company and the material culture which developed from their trading forays.
The third exhibition ‘Threads of Continuity’ will be curated by Shernaz Cama, Dadi Pudimjee and Ashdeen Z. Lilaowala, and held at Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi. It will portray the philosophy and ideals of Zoroastrianism in practice today affirming both tangible and intangible cultural heritage and the need to preserve it. It will complete the panorama of Zoroastrianism from its roots in the philosophy of the Indo-Aryans to the present day post-modern diaspora. This exhibition highlights the promising collaboration of UNESCO Parzor with Google Culture Institute. Through the technological expertise of Google, the exhibition seeks to showcase the natural elements of Central Asia which created Zoroastrian philosophy, and its ecological way of life.
The exhibitions will be accompanied by several Outreach Programmes including an International Academic Conference to be held jointly with the Ministry of Minority Affairs, the National Museum and UNESCO Parzor.