January 12, 2015 7:17 am
Mandorlo in Fiore (Almond Blossom Festival) is an annual spring festival held since 1934 in spring (the period of the blossoming of the almond trees) in Agrigento, Sicily (Italy).
At the 74th edition of the festival, Ms Mahtab Irani from Parzor Foundation represented India to present the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Navroze.
The festival divided into two sections, Tangible and Intangible Heritage were celebrated through the course of 10 days. Navroze, Intangible Heritage was celebrated in the Palacio Congress, Agrigento city on 4 occasions.
The UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Gala Show was held on Tuesday, 5 March 2019. Displaying the table for the first time, the audience consisted of people from across the world – participating country delegations, local residents, officials from UNESCO. It was heartening to know that several local Italian residents not only had heard of Zoroastrianism and Prophet Zarathustra, but had tasted several of the Iranian sweets laid on the table and recognized the table’s roots from Iran. Audience interacting at the table were also taken through the ‘looking into the mirror’ ritual.
On Wednesday, 6 March 2019, Parzor also joined the India delegation for the White Night of UNESCO Heritage Parade. Delegations from every country walk with lit candles through the city square, stressing unity despite cultural differences. Daily footfall of the table often crossed close to 100 people, reaching a maximum of 200 persons.
Navroze was added to the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009, when Parzor represented India for the candidature file and won the First Multi-National Candidature award for India. Since then, every year, Parzor has been participating in events to showcase one of India’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Navroze, both within the country and around the world, such as done this year. Today, over a dozen countries have been added to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity for Navroze, since they have actively revived this original Central Asian tradition.
Concluding the 74th Mandorlo in Fiore, Agrigento, Italy one thing that we take back is that most country participations were by youth groups. This only goes to show that increasingly our youth is the key to carrying forward our cultural heritage. Parzor stresses that the key to the flourishment of intangible cultural heritage lies in getting our youth involved. Parzor has been proud to have kept this bronze age practice flourishing and continues to put all efforts and attempts towards it.
Dr. Shernaz Cama, Executive Director, Parzor Foundation received the award for excellence in NGO sector for Parzor from the Delhi Minorities Commission on 17 December 2018.
United Nations Day is celebrated on 24th October. This year the theme was Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH). Parzor Foundation was proud to be presenting the Navroze Table as one of the 13 elements on UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) list.
The table was beautifully laid out by Mrs Farida Variava and Mrs Villie Aria. Guests coming to the table were oriented to the tradition of the table and the symbolism attached to the Haft Seen (7s).
In an effort to ensure posterity of one of the most important festivals of the Zoroastrian community in India, Parzor Foundation has been successful in winning India its participation in the Multinational Candidature of Navroze in the Representative List of The Intangible Culture of Humanity.
Dhanjishaw & Manijeh Ghamir Charitable Trust and Parsi Youth League of Ahmedabad in association with Jiyo Parsi & Federation of Zoroastrian Youth Associations (FOZYA) will be organizing a Matrimonial Meet in Ahmedabad on 27th & 28th October 2018.
Free Registration for Ladies; Rs. 500 for Men
Last Date for Registration: 5 October 2018
Event and Accommodation at 3 Star Hotel in Central Ahmedabad
What else can you expect >> two days packed of fun, frolic, games, dance, interactive sessions, and counseling.
For further details you may contact: Mr. Aspy Bharucha: +91 98240 25279 or Mrs. Kaity Daruwalla: +91 99099 51509
The Jiyo Parsi Scheme was conceived in response to the urgent demographic crisis that the Parsi community currently faces. From a population of 114,890 in 1941, the community numbers have dwindled to 57,264 as per the 2011 Indian population Census. A study by researchers based at Harvard in 2011 concluded that the reason for this precipitous decline was an abysmally low total fertility rate (TFR) of 0.89 children per couple on average in the community (Shroff and Castro, Demographic Research, 25(17), 545-564, 2011). Intermarriage and other factors were negligible when discussing the population decline, the low TFR being by far the most significant culprit.
There are various causes, both medical and sociological, that are to blame for the low TFR. Due to a penchant for late marriage, women in the community often suffer from infertility related medical problems.
Thus the principal goal of the Jiyo Parsi Scheme is to provide financial aid, when required, for infertility treatment and counselling for Parsi couples. This is of course purely voluntary; it is when members of the community suffer from such conditions that they approach the Jiyo Parsi team, who provide necessary counselling. They choose their own Registered and reputed doctors for their treatment. When financial assistance is required, this is provided on a needs basis, generously sponsored by the Ministry of Minority Affairs of the Government of India, under whose aegis the Scheme runs. This has shown promising results, with numerous cases of couples who had previously faced these medical issues, and a corresponding strain on their finances, now being able to conceive and give birth to children. We have recently crossed the 108 baby mark in 3 years of running the programme, which is significant, an around 18% rise per year, when considering, that on average, only about 200 babies are born annually in the Parsi community in India.
In addition to the medical treatment, which forms the bulk of the funding within the Scheme, there is a Social Advocacy programme that has recently seen the launch of a second phase of advertisements. These Ads specifically target the Parsi community, and encourage them to settle into married life at a younger age than the present average. These Ads sometimes make for difficult viewing, but that is because they tell hard truths, when (and only when) viewed in their correct context within the Parsi community. It is hoped that through this Social Advocacy, Parsis will marry at an earlier age, which will help boost the TFR.
Thus both aspects of Jiyo Parsi, the medical and the sociological, are being run specifically to target an increase in the TFR of the Parsi community, in order to stem or at least slow its population decline. As mentioned at the beginning, demographic research has shown that an increase in TFR is the only solution available for this purpose. There has been some criticism of the nature of the Campaign, and against its principle of preserving the ethnicity of one particular community. However, this community has been an integral thread in the fabric of India, whose presence has certainly enriched and contributed to the country’s success. It is an ancient civilization, stretching back over 3,000 years in an unbroken line, whose demise would be a major loss to world culture. We believe it is also true that to preserve a culture, the most successful way is to ensure the survival of its practitioners. It is our aim to do our utmost to ensure the survival of this culture, which we believe is only possible by targeting the population decline.
There has been criticism from some quarters regarding the un availability of this Scheme to Parsi women who have married men from outside the Parsi community. We would like to clarify that this is because we are following the legal definition of Parsi-Zoroastrian in the Indian context. The Parsis have maintained a patriarchal system of ethnicity, for which there is now even genetic evidence (Chaubey et al, Genome Biology, 18:110, 2017.). Jiyo Parsi is a Government of India Scheme, and hence is bound to follow the legal definition of Parsi-Zoroastrian.
The issue of intermarried women is a debate for the entire community to decide and act upon, it is beyond the remit of the Jiyo Parsi Scheme or its team to change this definition. It is worth noting however, that the Shroff 2011 demographics paper specifically states, “Results show that, given current fertility, acceptance of children of intermarried women would have a negligible impact on stemming the population decline, which is driven chiefly by extremely low fertility”. We therefore again reiterate that our focus is and must remain on improving the TFR, and not on ethnicity debates that are for the rest of the community to decide.
There has also been criticism that only women are being ‘regressively’ focused upon. In actual fact 7 of the 12 Ads feature men as Fathers and in other family circumstances. Therefore in truth, there is equal attention drawn to the issues facing both men and women – in hard fact the Ads cover the entire community. Our request is to see all 12 Ads in their correct perspective.
In summary, the Jiyo Parsi Scheme exists primarily to provide funding, on a needs basis, to Parsi couples who wish to have a family and require treatment. We also hope that our Advocacy campaign will encourage younger members of our community to embrace the joys of parenthood. If community members who are critical of this approach have any better, constructive ideas, WITHIN OUR REMIT, to stem our decline, we encourage them to get in touch with JIYO PARSI (www.jiyoparsi.org, or on our Face Book Page) with their suggestions . It is hoped that this multipronged approach will help mitigate our population decline, enabling the survival of our ancient Parsi Zoroastrian culture and civilization, of which we are justly proud.
Very proud to share Parsiana’s 21 March cover story on Dr. Shernaz Cama, Director, UNESCO Parzor. The keystone to Parzor, Dr. Cama, has worked to preserve the Indian and Parsi heritage and identity. Impeccably talented, Dr Cama remains an inspiration for all of us to help keep the flame alive.