British Asia News Network
London, April 1: The 113th Jamsheedi NoRuz, or the Zoroastrian New Year was celebrated in a grand, but comfortable, setting by the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe (ZTFE) at the Zoroastrian Centre, in Harrow on the 21st March 2019.NoRuz marks the beginning of the spring and the first day of the first month in the Iranian calendar, called the Farvardin. It usually occurs on the 21st March, depending on the day of the vernal equinox. The families get together to observe the rituals across many Middle Eastern countries, and among the Parsi community in India.At the ZTFE NoRuz, the evening started with a Jashan (thanksgiving) ritual followed by a traditional Parsi meal.
Jashan – The thanksgiving ceremony
Malcolm M Deboo, the President of the ZTFE, the oldest Asian faith-based voluntary organisation in the UK having been established in 1861, welcomed the guests and made positive announcements about the upcoming projects of ZTFE. He presented a token of appreciation to the distinguished guests present at the occasion.
Pics: Raj Bakhrania
The auspicious event was well attended by nearly 200 guests including the Trustees and Managing Committee of ZTFE, members from the Parsi diaspora, officers from the Royal Armed Forces and MET Police, Imam Sayed Razawi, and other distinguished guests.Also in attendance were Warrant Officer Ashok Kumar Chauhan, MBE of the British Army, who is also the Council Member of the Memorial Gates at Constitution Hill.The Royal Air Force were represented by Squadron Leader Cyrus Pocha, Squadron Leader Amir Khan, Warrant Officer Balbir Singh Flora MBE, and Sergeant Shiv Chand.The distinguished guests included Sarosh Zaiwalla, the founder of Zaiwalla & Co – the oldest Indian origin law firm in the City of London, and Jehangir Sarosh OBE, European Council of Religious Leaders (ECRL).From the corporates, there was Ramandeep Singh, Senior Operations Manager at VFS Global UK, accompanied by Mr Harry Dhinoja.Purnima Raval, a former PC, was also at the celebration. She was one of the first Asian women graduates in the Metropolitan Police and served many years protecting the Houses of Parliament.
The strong history of leadershipMalcolm in his speech said: “The first time was in 1906, under the Presidentship of Dadabhai Naoroji. That occasion was not only historical for our Zoarastrian community, but it was historical for the Indian as well as the British communlity. Shortly before 1906, the then Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, had said that India will never gain independence – they all go to others festivals. And if you see the picture, there are people of different faiths at the celebrations including British and leaders of the Indian National Congress at the Café Royal in Regents Street. We continue to keep up the same spirit.” The Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe (ZTFE) have been celebrating the ancient Iranian Zoroastrian New Year festival of Jamsheedi NoRuz on the spring equinox, the 21st falling on March annually, for the last 113 years.
Jamsheedi NoRuz Banquet held at the Cafe Royal, Regents Street, on 21st March 1906.Seated on the top table is our then president Dr Dadabhai Naoroji, first Asian MP elected, first Asian Liberal elected to the UK Parliament, Vice President Sir Manacherjee Merwanjee Bhownaggree second Asian MP and first elected Asian Conservative, Allan Octavian Hume, founder of the Indian National Congress INC, was the Guest of Honour and other VIP guests and founders of the INC were present at the top table. Copyrite: ZTFE
Zoroastrian leaders in the Armed Forces and businesses
The Zoroastrian community has been legendary in their contributions towards the armed forces in India, and now in the UK. The community boasts of having the best and pioneering officers who held key positions in the British Indian Armed Forces, a tradition that carried on after India gained its independence. ZTFE’s patron, Lord Karan F Bilimoria CBE DL, is the son of senior Army personnel in India and is the Chairman of the Memorial Gates Council in the UK. Lord Bilimoria has recently been commissioned as Honouree Group Captain by the Royal Air Force, in February.
He was unable to attend the event but send a note for the members which was read out by the Secretary of ZTFE, Rohinton Munshi. In the speech, he wished all a happy and prosperous New Year and apologised for being unable to make it to the event as they were in Eton, celebrating their son, Josh’s 18th birthday.
“Today is also the birthday of my dear great grandmother Lily Mama. Who lived in Ahmedabad and who I adored and visited on my holidays back from England as a student while she was alive. We have named our younger daughter Lily after her.
“The 21st of March is a far more appropriate day to celebrate New Year, the first day of Spring compared with the 1st of January in the middle of Winter!
“New year is a time not only to celebrate but to look forward to the coming year. This year, our New Year has fallen on the midst of the most turbulent time I have witnessed in our country’s political history, with the official Brexit date just eight days away (from the date of the event) and everything still completely up in the air. I am hopeful that we will have a sensible outcome in due course.
“It is during times of crisis that we are experiencing now that the essence of our Zoroastrian faith comes to the fore helping us to always approach every challenge with the right values and principles. For Zoroastrians, it is always better to fail doing the right thing rather than succeed doing the wrong thing. It is these values and principles of our tiny community that have enabled us to excel globally, continually punching well above our weight and leading to people globally respecting our community and, most importantly, respecting us for our integrity.
“Once again, I wish you all a very happy New Year. Jamsheedi NoRuz Mubarak.
In his speech, Squadron Leader Cyrus Pocha spoke about the contributions of the community in the Armed Forces, in India as well as in the UK. Describing briefly what their engagement team does here he said: “It is an absolute pleasure and honour for me to stand up and speak on this occasion. What we do as teams working across the country in the Armed Forces and the Police, we go to under-represented schools and charities to tell them what the forces are about and do some myth-busting. There are over 50 roles that we can offer, there are all sorts of things you can do in the services and lead a good lifestyle.”
The ZFTA Secretary Rohinton F Munshi also read a message from the PM Theresa May:
I would like to wish all Zoroastrians in the United Kingdom and abroad a blessed Nowruz.
The Zoroastrian community has done so much to help make the UK a strong and vibrant country. As we look ahead to this New Year, I know that your commitment to ensuring good deeds lead to a good future will serve all well. I hope that you all have a very happy and prosperous new year.
The Parsi community in India are followers of Iranian prophet Zoroaster and migrated to India to avoid religious persecution by the Muslims. They came to India by sea and settled in the ports of Gujarat, Karachi, Mumbai, and some in Bangaluru. The community developed a flair for commerce under the British rule, educated their women, and were leaders in the forefront of major businesses and industries, in the Armed Forces, and the bureaucracy.
Superb write-up about the zoroastrian community in the uk during Nowruz celebrations with superb comments by Theresa May & Lord Bilimoria.