THE BANGALORE PARSEE ZOROASTRIAN ANJUMAN
Our fore-fathers, who migrated to India to preserve their religious identity landed in Sanjan (a small town on the South-West coast of present Gujarath) in the year 716 A.D. Since that day our Zoroastrian Community spread out and had made the area surrounding that small town their home. Since Bombay is hardly 100 miles from this small town, you now find a majority of the Zoroastrians, especially Parsees, settled down in Bombay. The pioneering and adventurous spirit of our fore-fathers was not lacking in our present day Parsees for they in turn migrated to various parts of our country to seek their fortune. These new pioneers also carried their religion with them to these new places and as the number of their community increased in a place, they formed an Association, or as what we call an “Anjuman”, to look after their Social and Religious interests in that particular community.
Such a need to establish an Anjuman in Bangalore was felt by the Parsee Zoroastrians in the first quarter of this Century, when in the year 1922, after 2 or 3 preliminary meetings, they inaugurated the Bangalore Parsee Zoroastrian Anjuman. Even though the first recorded settlement of the Parsees in Bangalore was in 1880, it took nearly 42 years for the Parsee Zoroastrian population to increase sufficiently to fill this long felt need. The newly established Anjuman then took over the management of the then existing “Ararmgah” which had been in existence since 1892, when on the death of Seth Muncherji Dosabhoy Cama, the Parsee residents of Bangalore obtained a plot of land from the Mysore State Government to bury their dead community members.
Ever since then, as more and more assets were added, the responsibilities of the Anjuman also increased. Gradually the local community also felt the need of a Fire Temple and a Tower of Silence. Thus in the year 1924-25, Late Seth Dinshaw Cawasji came forward with a donation to the Anjuman to build a “Daremeher” for Bangalore Zoroastrians. Well-known personalities who took a leading part in this project were Late Seth Meherwanji Maneckji, Late Seth Nusserwanii Mirza, Late Seth Kaikhushroo Belgaumvala and Late Seth Rustomji and Nusserwanji Boyce. A year later the Anjuman built a community Hall for religious ceremonies at the “Aramgah” at a cost of Rs.5,000/- and which amount was donated to the Anjuman by the Late Bai Pirojbai Fakirji Chaina, for this specific purpose.
As more properties were added to the Anjuman's management, the Anjuman felt the need to have a Trust Deed with its relevant Rules, Regulations and Bye-Laws. After studying the Trust Deeds and Rules of other similar Anjuman organizations, a Trust Deed was registered in August 1931, according to which, the Anjuman elected a Board of Trustees to manage the affairs of the Anjuman.
Subsequently as the Zoroastrian population of Bangalore increased, structures like the Lady Jehangir Kothari Memorial Hall, the Tower of Silence, the B.J. Ente Dharmashala and the Kothari Hall Annexe were added to the assets of the Anjuman.
The Lady Jehangir Kothari Memorial Hall was built by the Late Sir Jehangir Kothari of Karachi, during his visit to Bangalore in 1932, and presented to the Anjuman. This Hall has been leased out to the Bangalore Zoroastrian Association to conduct their social and sports activities, and is also used by the members of the Anjuman to celebrate the Navjote and Wedding ceremonies.
In 1937, the Zoroastrian population of Bangalore increased to 300 from 125 in 1925. The Anjuman, as the population was increasing progressively, resolved to have a Tower of Silence to dispose off the dead Zoroastrians. For this purpose the Anjuman purchased a 15 acre plot near Hebbal, about 10 kilometers from our Agiary, on the Bellary Road. On this plot, the Tower of Silence and other relevant structures like a Prayer Hall Residence Hall and a well were built in 1940 at the cost of Rs.80,000/-. This work was completed with the very able assistance and guidance of our elders like the Late Sir Hormusji Adenwalla, Late Seth Dinshaw Cawasji and Late Panthaki Saheb Erward Pestonjee Unwalla.
By this time, the only useful and needed asset that the Anjuman had not provided in Bangalore was a Dharmashala. This need was fulfilled when in 1957 Late Seth Burjorji Entee expressed his desire to the Anjuman to donate a Dharmashala. He bought a very big bungalow on Benson Road at a cost of Rs.50,000/- and handed it over to the Anjuman to be used as a Dharmashala. The Anjuman in turn spent an additional Rs.11,000/- to add 3 more rooms. This Dharmashala is well patronised by visiting Parsees who come to Bangalore for a holiday or for business.
The Anjuman also manages the Palia Block, built in the Agiary Compound by Mr. Pheroze E. Palia in the memory of his father Late Seth Edulji Palia at cost of Rs.6,000/-. This building is rented out to a commercial establishment, and the rent derived from it is utilized for the Agiary Maintenance Fund.
The other notable effort of the Anjuman was the construction of a block of flats in 1967 for the middle income group Zoroastrian, families, who were finding it difficult to get suitable living accommodation at reasonable rents. This building was built at a cost of Rs.2,25,000/-, collected, by the Anjuman from various benevolent Zoroastrians and the Bombay Parsee Panchayat. Out of this total amount of Rs.2,25,000/-, Rs.45,000/- was in the form of donations, Rs.25,000/- as interest-free loans from individual Zoroastrians. For this, the Anjuman is ever grateful to these people for their timely aid. A notable feature of this project was that it was entirely carried out by Parsee Zoroastrians who were either old residents of Bangalore or had recently settled down in Bangalore. The Architects were M/s. Saher & Ghadiali, who offered free service to the Anjuman; the Civil contractors were M/s. J. K. Panthaki & Co., the Electric contractor was Mr. Dinshaw Irani of Flash Electric Works and Mr. Homi Rustomji of M/s. Plato Engineering Co., looked after the plumbing and sanitation contract. This project could not have been possible, but for the untiring efforts of the President of our Anjuman, Mr. Behramshaw S. Sidhwa and our Panthaki Saheb, Erward Nadirshaw P. Unwalla, who took the initial lead in formulating this project.
Recently our Anjuman has also instituted an Education Fund to encourage the younger generation in their pursuit of education. This fund was started with an initial donation of Rs.5,000/- from Seth Behramshaw Sidwa and has been subsequently swelled with generous donations of the other individual members of our Anjuman and well wishers. Annual prizes are awarded to outstanding students of schools and colleges from the interest derived from this fund.