Other States

Pilgrimage or mela? Parsis split on Udvada festival

The Atash Behram fire temple in Udvada. The second Utsav to be held by the Parsis has got a big response.

The Atash Behram fire temple in Udvada. The second Utsav to be held by the Parsis has got a big response.   | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

Objection raised to music and dance at the holy place

Sleepy Udvada, in Gujarat, home to the Iranshah Atash Behram, the pre-eminent fire temple for Parsi Zoroastrians, is perking up to celebrate the Iranshah Udvada Utsav.

The event is being held for the second time; the first, in 2015, got a huge positive response from Parsis, but also criticism. This year too, a section of the tiny community are unhappy about the ‘fun and frolic’ at a holy place.

Even before the news of Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu being invited for the festival could be confirmed, a social media message was being circulated asking Parsis to write to Mr. Naidu requesting him not to attend the festival, as it shows disrespect to the fire temple. The message also mentions an email address for Mr. Naidu.

‘Sanctity defiled’

A community member from Mumbai, Aspi Deboo, says that thousands of people flocking in converts Udvada into a mela, and the sanctity of the place of pilgrimage gets defiled.

“It is the holiest place, where the king of fire is placed,” he explains, and a Parsi is expected to visit at least once in a lifetime. “I don’t think one should have a festival full of music, dance and celebrations at such a holy place.” Mr. Deboo says there are only about 50 Parsis in Udvada, most of them senior citizens living in dilapidated houses.

Another community member, Viraf Kapadia, said the 2015 festival was organised despite “enough and more” objections. “Besides the talks and heritage walks, there was plenty of dancing and music. Do you think it is right to have such an event near an important site of pilgrimage?”

But Dinshaw Tamboly, managing trustee of the Foundation for Development of Udvada, says critics notwithstanding, the Utsav will take place from December 23–25. “It will have a galaxy of eminent citizens in attendance along with rank and file of Zoroastrian community,” he said.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 2:27:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/pilgrimage-or-mela-parsis-split-on-udvada-festival/article21236193.ece

Next Story