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We were in the process of storing our Christmas tree and decorations and sending off the last of our New Year email greetings when our traditionalist trio columnists entered our office and immediately flew into a rage. "Is this the Parsiana or the Christiana office?” they bellowed. We had been caught out. Our orthodox image as upholders of Parsi culture and Parsipanu was under threat.
Our immediate reaction was to placate them by offering a Christmas pudding from the stock in our marketing department reserved for non-Parsi advertisers. The trio being avid foodies as was apparent from their girth (Letap being thinner as he was the thinker in the group), we believed a sweet offering could deflect their ire. But once at Diwali when we had offered mithai to soothe their tempers after they saw divas at our doorstep and members of the editorial team lighting sparklers, they scoffed at the offering and stated they only accepted Parsi delicacies such as malido, vasanu, badam pak, bhakras and so on. (They actually ate everything but not publicly.) 
Fortunately the trio had not visited the Parsiana office during the nine days of Navratri when some of the staff wore color specified clothes for each of the days leading up to Dussehra. Nor were the three aware that several of our staff — excluding the editor who leads a sedate, physically inactive life — had booked tickets for the garba dance in the hall adjacent to Sethna Agiary and at the Eco Park at Godrej Baug which falls on Doongerwadi land. Traditionalist Parsis were opposed to both events. Alamai had threatened to immolate herself if either function was held. When told this would be disrespectful to fire she refrained and instead undertook a fast from 10 p. m. till 7 a. m. for a whole week! 
The trio was particularly upset because aside from garba being a non-Parsi dance form, menstruating women would be present on sacred grounds at both functions. But we pointed out hundreds of families live in Godrej Baug which is built on Doongerwadi land (a case had been made this was land adjacent to Doongerwadi and hence not sacrosanct). If that was the case then all the women residing in Godrej Baug would have to move out when menstruating, we noted. But the trio was having none of it. The number of women in the 10 to 50 age group would be minuscule, countered Aflatoon. There are hardly any people below 50 years of age in the community anyway, he added. They could all be accommodated in vacant Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) flats. We explained the only vacant flats were the ones either in dispute or where the occupants resided elsewhere and visited occasionally or the flats were too dilapidated to occupy.
But we decided not to labor the point. Besides it was also in our interest to safeguard the trio’s image as staunch supporters of orthodoxy as they were our leading columnists and people subscribed to our yellow sheet only to read and digest their writing. 
So we claimed that the Christmas tree and the decorations were to appease children in the vicinity who believed in Santa Claus. It was not a total lie: there are schools nearby and some students do still believe in Santa [like some adults believe in achhé din (good days) to come]. Just then our newest staff member came holding a gift wrapped packet complaining that she had specifically asked for pink colored post-it pads for Christmas but received instead blue pads. What was the company policy on returning gifts? she inquired. Alamai looked on in disbelief but we immediately interjected that she was referring to a present her daughter had received in school and not the office where we have a no-gift policy. 
Letap pointed out that in Madhya Pradesh, under the auspices of the newly elected Bharatiya Janata Party, a district education officer had passed an order on December 14, 2023 stating, "Students should have written permission from parents before they are made part of Christmas-related events.” Had the staff member given her consent? he queried. We explained Maharashtra had still to pass such an order, but when it did, Parsiana would ensure all their staff dutifully complied. 
When it comes to survival and preserving one’s image, the norms for morality can be tweaked. In one of our Parsi prayers (Yasna, forget which one) a stanza states, "When confronted with grave dangers that may impact life, limb or bank balances, the narration of  ‘alternate facts’ can and should be resorted to and will not be regarded as totally sinful.” (We became aware of this particular clause during the BPP trusteeship election campaigns when some devout candidates cited it to bolster their claims.) 
Somewhat placated and now munching on the dal ni pori we had quickly ordered their attention shifted to the New Year greetings we were emailing. What excuse did we have for this act of blasphemy? Everyone knows that the New Year is in March, July or August, not January. We blithely explained someone had hacked into our server and was sending out emails in our name wishing everyone "A Happy New Year and peace on earth.” Would we have ever sent out such a message? Are these the sentiments Parsi journalists would ever express? we queried. As they mulled over this explanation, we placed a pile of cheese sandwiches in front of them (both the cheese and the bread being from Parsi/Irani enterprises) and then quickly changed the subject. 
"Did you read our editorials and article on the recently convened priests and lay persons conclave?” we inquired. The answer was along expected lines: "We never read anything in your rag. Whatever you write has a hidden agenda (they only read their column to look for any proofing errors they could point out to us). You naapaaks (sinners) can’t be trusted.”
"But the priests themselves are saying in another 15 years the pav mahal ceremonies will die out if we don’t act now,” we pointed out. 
"You’re a real sagan no gathio (sarcastically meaning forebearer of doom),” remarked Ala, "Our community and its traditions will continue for a thousand years. Nothing can affect us.” And on that happy and positive note we brought the 2023 Gregorian Calendar year to an end. 

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Hilarious! Loved it, Jehangir.

Wishing you a very Happy New Year 2024!
- Sunnu Golwalla
- 19-Jan-2024

That made for a good chuckle !
- Zarine Kharas
- 09-Jan-2024

What a superb editorial!

The wit and wisdom intertwined effectively, entitle this piece to be captioned "The State of the Parsi Zoroastrian is Community!"

Thank you for using subtle humor to wake us up!
- Yezdyar Kaoosji
- 08-Jan-2024


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