On the 2nd November, 2016, news broke out that the Navjote ceremony of Dadi Mistry’s grandson was declared ‘Null and void’ by the members of the Parsi community. The issue raised was of that the father of the child in question was a non-Parsi. The members angered by this controversial initiation, wrote to Yazdi Desai, chairman of the Federation of Parsi Zoroastrian Anjumans of India, to consider this illegitimate inclusion.
In the Parsi community, children born out of a wedlock between a Parsi man and a Non-Parsi woman are welcomed into the Parsi community and are consequentially allowed to enter the Fire Temple. Sadly, this is not the case where a Parsi mother had opted to wed a Non-Parsi. Her children are not entitled to undergo a ‘valid’ Navjote. Navjote, is a religious ceremony in the Zoroastrian community initiating Parsi children into the religion.
It is claimed by the protestors, that those who funded the Fire Temple would not have willed for such an illegitimate inclusion into the community, enraged by the fact that this practice has been in form since quite some time violating their customs. They brush off the contention of Prophet Zarasthura being a convert, by asserting the minimalistic presence of other religions at the time. They believe this faulty decision would haunt the members in approval of such a practice.
This discrimination is one among many in the Parsi sect. The women have now put their foot down and are contesting the existence of such norms. Apart from a violation of the Discrimination clause, it also assists in undermining the population of this minority community. It essentially limits the choice of male partners for the female Parsis, restricting them to their community. This has discouraged many a Parsi women from marriage, lest they get proposed by their cousins.
Relying upon how this initiation would be void, merely on the fact of historical precedence of customs would be ruinous. Customs must hold a dynamic characteristic. There have been a number of instances wherein customs have been altered or abolished with time. The practice of Dowry being a classic example in India. A static idea would result in the under development of the community at large, which is undesired.
The outcome of this controversy is yet to be declared. Hopefully, this proves to be another stepping stone to the goal of securing equality between the sexes.