Save Parsi site from extinction
By Noshirwan Mistry
May 22, 2003
Zarathushti Cultural Foundation (WZCF) is an organisation which
is trying to help conserve Parsi history before it is completely
lost. We are very anxious that the furture generations of Parsis
and Indians remember us and our achievements in this adopted land
of the Praia--India.
Amongst our many activities, we are working on the
preservation and conservation or the Bahrot caves, situated about12 km
from Sanjan, where our sacred Iran Shah (the first Holy Fire to
be consecrated in India at Sanjan) to safety from the attack of
the Tughlak generals at the end of the 14th century >>>
The caves are in a very bad shape and need repair
and maintenance. Zoroastrian groups go up a very diffilcult path
to offer their reverence and perform jashan ceremonies throughout
the year.We have prevailed on the Government of India to declare
the cavea a protected monument, to prevent further deterioration.
We have now to work towards its preservation and maintenance,
so that this very important event in our history is not forgotten,
but will remain as a permanent heritage of India.We need financial
help to allow us tocontinue working on this project.
We appeal to all those interested in keeping alive
the Parsi heritage to generously donate to this cause. We are also
working in Sanjan with the Indian Archeological Society on
sites to find out positive facts about the arrival of Parsis
So far there was no concrete evidence to show that
we settled here. Last season we excavated a trench there and
have found substantial evidence that the Zoraostrians from Persia
did indeed settle here.
We have found pottery, glass ware, coins dating back
to the Sassanian period in Iran (the last Zoroastrian
dynasty). It proves the thesis of historians that the Iranian Zoaroastrians
had close trading connections wlith the Gujerat coast, and
that Sanjan was a well known and prosperous port with whom
the Iranians had close connections.
This was the reason for the Parsis to seek
refuge there and also why they received such a warm welcome. They
did not com to Sanjan as total strangers, but were familiar
with each others language and customs.
These findings now add substance to Dastur Boman's
Kisse-i-Sanjan and proves the report to be historically correct.
We are starting another leg of the excavation this month and
we are sure we will find sdubstantial material to add to our
knowledge of Parsi
For this work we need substantial financial help.
A great deal of infrastructure has to be
provided, such as housing the workers, payments, travelling , designing,
analysing the findings, dating correctly and many other allied
We are also thinking of putting up a museum nearby
to exhibit our finding so that they
will become a permannet record of Parsi history. We appeal to you
to contrribute as much as you can-big or small to help keep
the Parsi Heritage and History alive.
Sanjan ranks among the earliest settlements of the Zoroastrians
who fled from Iran in the 7th - 8th centuries A.D. Zoroastrians
settled and prospered here till the end of the 14th century when
it was invaded by Alafkhan, a general of Mahmud Tughlaq in 1393.
What proof have we of all this except the Kisse-i-Sanjan?
The WZCF team with the Archaeological Survey of India is attempting
to unravel facts of our past.
Excavations carried out recently have re vealed that
Sanjan was a thriving urban port having close trade connections
with Iran and the Persian Gulf area. The pottery and glassware are
distinctly of Sassanian origin.
This proves the historical premise that traders from
coastal Gujarat and Iran were
familiar with each other and therefore the Zoroastrians fleeing
Iran chose to land on the Gujarat coast and for the same reason
we re made welcome.
Further excavations will be carried out to unearth
more evidence about the Zoroastrians. There is a proposal to set
up an archaeological museum of Parsi heritage at Sanjan.
Excavated material at Sanjan
The Zoroastrians after the attack on Sanjan by Alaf Khan took the
sacred Iranshah, the first fire to be consecrated in India to the
nearby caves on Bahrot hills. They stayed there for twelve years
protecting the fire in most adverse conditions after which it was
sheltered at Bansda.
Today the Iranshah is safely enshrined at Udwada.
The Bahrot caves are sacred to the Zoroastrians and they often flock
there to pay re ve rence, perform Jashans, etc. Today the caves
are in a precarious condition and in some places show signs of disintegration.
Cracks and fissures are apparent everywhere. There
is an urgent need to conserve the caves for posterity without delay
or else this sacred heritage will be lost forever. There is no proper
pathway to the caves and devout Zooastrians have to struggle through
6 km of forest to reach them.
An exhaustive survey of the caves and its precincts
has been completed by conservation experts to enable us to take-up
concrete conservation measures. A plan for a proper pathway has
been pre p a red to enable the devotees to have comfortable access
upto the caves. The WZCF there f o re requests your generous help
to complete these two projects.
Parsis desperately need to preserve the richness
of their cultural identity and history for future generations. This
is precisely why the World Zarthushti Cultural Foundation was established
Other activities of the WZCF are documenting Parsi
history, preserving Avesta - Pahlavi manuscripts, re-printing valuable
books, conducting Gujarati classes, holding Kusti weaving classes,
preservation of Zarthusti devotional songs, etc.
The total cost in rupees approximately amounts to:
1) Sanjan excavations 2002-2003......... 04 Lakhs
2) Proposed Archaeological Museum at Sanjan......... 20 Lakhs
3) Conservation of the caves......... 05 Lakhs
4) Proposed 6 km Pathway and maintenance......... 25 Lakhs
TOTAL......... 54 Lakhs
We have applied to the Government for permission
to receive foreign donations. All donations are exempted under section
80-G of the Income Tax Act, 1961 (in India). We are grateful for
any financial assistance you can provide for our projects. As you
know sponsorship is crucial for the preservation of our heritage
At present donations can be sent to:
The World Zoroastrian Organisation Trust
Shanti Building 5th floor
6 Banaji St reet
Mumbai 400 001
Dr. Homi Dhalla
Mr. Nadir Modi
Mr. Dinshaw Tamboly
Dr. Mani Kamerkar
Mr. Kurush Dalal
Ms. Meher Mistry
Mr. Kurush Dalal
Mr. Pankaj Joshi
Mr. Noshirwan Mistry
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