Thursday 7 October 2010
By Ashutosh Shukla
After being barred from entering the Tower of Silence for conducting the Navjotes of children born of mixed parentage, “renegade” Zoroastrian priest Khushroo Madon has approached the community to gather support for his cause.
The priest has sent emails to both Parsis and people outside the community, explaining that he is “not irreligious” and has also refuted “allegations” against him by six dasturs (priests), the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) and the World Alliance of Parsi Irani Zoroastrians (WAPIZ), saying he has been converting people to Zoroastrianism for money.
Madon’s fight with the BPP started in June 2009 when he and another priest were barred from the Tower of Silence and two fire temples run by the BPP. The charges were they had conducted Navjotes of children from mixed marriages and prayers for those opting for non-traditional funerals.
Madon recently was also in news for the initiation services of a Russian in Sanjan, Gujarat, which was disrupted by a group of community members led by a BPP trustee. His case is being fought in the Bombay high court, with some prominent Parsis backing him.
In his mail, the priest has attached a letter that describes the liberal teachings of the prophet and founder of the religion, Zarathustra. The letter goes on to defend the much debated Navjotes done by the priest for people from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Russia. The letter states that the ceremony only helped citizens in these countries to follow the Zoroastrian religion, which they had abandoned after Arab invasions and the communist regime.
The letter requests community members to post their views to various Parsi publications, BPP, WAPIZ along with a copy marked to him. «I have done this so that I can make my stand clear», said Madon.
WAPIZ, which has orthodox views on conversions, rubbished the priest’s claim. «Nobody can claim that they were oppressed for a thousand years and now want to come back to their old religion. There is no logic of getting them back as their identity and psyche has merged with another religion», said Armiaty Desai, one of the administrators at WAPIZ.