Parsi-zoroas­trian sem­i­nary con­tin­ues its 100-year-old prac­tice of train­ing priests

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTMETRO - Ye­sha Ko­tak

MUM­BAI: What started as a re­li­gious train­ing course for Zoroas­trian stu­dents in a bun­ga­low at Parel in 1919 to­day con­tin­ues to im­part ed­u­ca­tion to youths look­ing to be­come priests at its 100-year-old sem­i­nary at Five Gar­dens, Dadar.

The Dadar Athor­nan In­sti­tute hosted its cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tions last week as it con­tin­ues to im­part re­li­gious ed­u­ca­tion at a time when the Zoroas­trian com­mu­nity is try­ing to stop the rapid de­cline in the num­ber of priests.

It is also the only in­sti­tute in the world which trains the priestly class in the Parsi com­mu­nity.

Since 2017, the Jiyo Parsi and Jiyo Mobed work­shops have been con­ducted through which mem­bers of the priestly class are coun­selled and trained so that they take can take up larger roles in the com­mu­nity.

“The in­sti­tute came up around the time when the Parsi pop­u­la­tion in vil­lages in Gu­jarat was very high and most of the priests were set­tled there,” said Rami­yar Karan­jia, prin­ci­pal of the in­sti­tute.

“It be­came im­por­tant to have a place to ed­u­cate the chil­dren from the priest com­mu­nity,” he said.

Karan­jia adds that though the av­er­age num­ber of stu­dents in the madrasa has been around 30, there was a time in the early 80s when spe­cial ar­range­ments were made and 40 stu­dents were ac­com­mo­dated there.

“There was an­other Athor­nan in­sti­tute at Andheri,

which be­came non-func­tional so stu­dents from there had to be ac­com­mo­dated here,” he said.

Karan­jia rec­ol­lects a time when around 90 stu­dents were be­ing schooled at both the in­sti­tutes, how­ever, he be­lieves the num­bers have now gone down be­cause fam­i­lies have fewer chil­dren and would not like to send them away.

Apart from learn­ing about scrip­tures, the stu­dents at this in­sti­tute at­tend a reg­u­lar school and have a de­tailed timetable for home­work, tu­itions, and play, all of which is pro­vided to them free of cost.

“I be­lieve we are learn­ing a lot more here as com­pared to our peers back home be­cause it is a dis­ci­plined priestly life that we live here, which is ex­pected of us later,” said Shya­mak San­jan, a Class 7 stu­dent of Dadar Parsee Youths Assem­bly High School who at­tends the madrasa.

KU­NAL PATIL/HT PHOTO

Stu­dent in a ses­sion at the Dadar Athor­nan In­sti­tute.

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