- Jimmy Mistry
Mistry, who is a Parsi, conducted research on the history of the Empire before embarking on this endeavour. His effort yielded fruit last Friday at the Navjote, initiation of a Parsi child into the Zoroastrian religion. Mistry’s eight-year old daughters was also initiated on the same day. His ambitious and passionate statement is: «The Parsi youth today have become much dissociated from their culture; I want to bring it back to them.» And so the Parsi Resource Centre was born.
The endeavour is borne out of personal interest of Mistry, who wants to familiarise the masses with the rich Zoroastrian culture. Hence, he planned colossus sets, depicting the grandeur of the empire. It will be displayed at the Colaba Agiary, which will be attended by the country’s top shots. Mistry has personally designed all the sets. Over 2,000 guests are expected to attend the function. Even the invitations are thoughtfully designed. It is a dye-cut Susa Cups, used by the influential people during the Persians empire. A delightful array of Parsi food and Persian cuisine, to be cooked by chefs specially flown in from Iran, will add to the majestic ambience. There’ll be performances of traditional Persian dances. The acoustics have been planned not to conflict with one another allowing each area of the baug (a Zoroastrian colony) to have a unique ambience that allows the guests to experience a variety of authentic Zoroastrian, Parsi, and Persian culture.
«That was one and a half years back», Mistry said. «Today, I have close to 700 registered priests with me and a growing network of volunteers. This year I am also starting a Parsi Festival that will hopefully become an annual event.» As a precursor to that event, which is slated for May, his eight-year-old daughter’s Navjote is centred on this theme.
- Recreating Persian Empire
- Jimmy Mistry has planned colossus sets, depicting the grandeur of the empire (Photo: Time of India)
The Jeejeebhoy Dadabhoy Agiary at Navy Nagar was the scene of chaos last week. The noise of hammers and supervisors yelling out instructions hits out at you; the scene is one of workers bent over planks of wood or scrambling about over sheets of fibre with cloth or grouping up to raise finished columns up to their designated spots. The ancient city of Persepolis, Persia, is re-created in all its glory and splendour. «I want to show the youth Parsi culture at its best», said Mistry. «Not the ruins they will see if they go to Iran.» The ruins have been used as research points for the architecture of the buildings and the columns in particular. Pictures of the ruins to show the difference as well as the authenticity of the replication have been set up at strategic places.
Jimmy Mistry was on the sets overseeing the realisation of his eight-month long research. The research has clearly been painstaking and detailed, carried out by not only a father who wants perfection at one of his daughter’s most significant ceremonies but also by a man who wants to do his utmost in reviving the ancient Persian culture for a dwindling community in Bombay.
The madness is quite infectious; the method in the madness, almost palpable. All around amongst the hammering and the faltering, the sweating and the swearing, things were falling into place.
Images of the amesha spenta (guards of the seven Parsi creations) emerged in their true colours as the thick brushes swabbed the paint on. Chainsaws buzzed planks into shape, mirrors slid into place; the walls and arches decked up in green foliage and the dining area, in a red carpet.
Friday night guests walked in and viewed a flourishing ancient Persian city in all its glory, complete with the images of King Darius, King Cyrus, carvings of Persian stories on the walls, replication of ancient columns, divans with hookahs by their sides around a pool and partake of their food, dancing and music! After strolling through a limited selection of Persian art that were set up for display, they could take their pick from over 50 dishes, spread out in a two-storey dining area; traditional Parsi dishes on the ground floor and authentic Persian cuisine under the starry sky, looking over the ocean, is what they may expect. The latter has been created by three Iranian chefs who have been flown in for the occasion so as to not miss out on a single flavour their heritage has left them. The Ceremony on Friday was for select invitees, but the festival for general public will begin in May.
«Culture embraces everything — architecture, food, music, ambience — why let anything fall short of the right standards? If something is going to be done, why not do it the best way that one can?» Mistry points out.
«If authentic Persian food is to be had, then authentic Iranian chefs would be the right ones to bring in. Our dancers are from Mumbai but they have their moves down right. Nothing is fluff here. It is a serious re-introduction to our heritage. And, yes, I thought my daughter’s Navjote would be the right occasion.»
- Navjote Ceremony
- From The Religion of Asho Zarathushtra by Jimmy Nadershaw Sidhva.