Sunday 15 October 2006
Source: Afternoon Dispatch & Courier.
This october 3 was a very memorable day for Dr. Kaikhusroo Dastur Minocherji Jamasp Asa, as he completed 50 years of being a Parsi high priest. Dr. Jamasp Asa was installed as the high priest in the Anjumanna Atash Behram (fire temple), which is located at Lamington Road. And since October 3, 1956, he has spent 50 years doing his appointed duty quietly and religiously over here. Jamasp Asa comes from a long line of priests, his great grandfather — Dr. Jamaspji. M. Jamasp Asa having consecrated the 109-year-old Anjumanna Atash Behram.
Incidentally, Jamasp Asa is the first priest in Mumbai to have completed 50 years of being a Vada Dasturji (high priest). Last evening, dressed in a white traditional robe worn by priests, Jamasp Asa was felicitated for this achievement at a function held by the World Association of Parsi Irani Zoroastrians (WAPIZ).
«I am, of course, very glad to complete 50 years», said Jamasp Asa, declining to elaborate further, as he does not like publicity.
Other than being a high priest, Jamasp Asa held the position as Honorary Professor of Iranian studies at St. Xavier’s college, for three decades. «But the interest in Iranian studies is dying. There is hardly anybody who opts for this course», said Jamasp Asa, disappointed at this fact. The decrease in interest, he said, is because there is no publicity of this course. «When I was doing my undergraduate and graduate studies in Avestan and Pahlavi at the St. Xavier’s College, there used to be so much publicity. Just before the courses started, there were announcements, as to where they are being taught. Now, so many people do not even know that they are being taught in Mumbai», regretted Jamasp Asa, who also obtained a Doctorate in 1966 in Philosophy.
Talking about the present generation of priests, Jamasp Asa said that the numbers are reducing. «There are very few priests in the present generation. But this is because, the community is reducing, and not because youngsters are not opting to becoming priests», said the soft spoken Vada Dasturji.
Jamasp Asa believes in following traditional customs and practices. However, media shy, he refuses to have any propaganda for the Zoroastrian community.
To make sure that the community survives, Jamasp Asa advocates the need to adhere to traditional beliefs and practices. «Without the practices of rituals and without encouraging the right religious education, the Parsi Irani community will not be able to play a positive and proactive role in society and in the modern world», said Jamasp Asa.
On an ending note, Jamasp Asa said, «I pray to God that 50 years from now, there will be somebody who completes 50 years of being a High Priest.»