A few years ago whenever I told family and friends about my decision to move back from New Zealand to India I was met with expressions of incredulousness. The only question being, ‘But Why’?
I would be lying if I said that their reactions didn’t scare me. Was I making the right decision? Should I really leave my lovely job and go to a country where 14 hour days are the norm? But then, all the best decisions in life are the hardest. And, as #BawiMummy says, when you have your faith then everything works out okay.
And it did. But the one thing that really helped me through the journey was not just moving back but really returning back to my roots. Learning more about the Parsis and our way of life – albeit mainly through eating a lot of food rather than visiting a lot of agiaries – helped me anchor myself and for lack of better cliche, helped me find myself and what I am passionate about.
I wouldn’t say it is difficult being a Parsi for those that grow up outside India but it does play its role. Ofcourse you’re going to want a three teir wedding cake if you’ve never tasted Godiwala’s Patra ni Machchi before and choosing a ‘sojo Parsi chokra’ out of the grand total of 5 (that’s how much choice I had in NZ) is inevitably going to make you question the golden rule of about marrying outside the faith.
Ofcourse, not everyone needs to move countries to return to their roots (to be honest, we really don’t need that kind of reverse migration). But after managing Bawi Bride for almost two years and spreading the love of Parsi food to more than 500 happy tummies I am a convert for a program that helps us young bawa’s and bawi’s learn more about our history and culture – like the fact that before KFC came the Chicken na Farcha.
Which is why I am super excited to be a part of the Zoroastrian Return to Roots Program that returns to India in March 2015.
Return to Roots is a youth-initiated program designed to strengthen community identity amongst Zoroastrian youth (since there are so few of us, we consider you ‘youth’ until you turn 35!) the world over. The idea of a Zoroastrian Return to Roots Program was born out of the increasing disconnect between those Zoroastrians in the diaspora with their ancestral communities in Iran and India. It is a unique means of fostering community links and identity by taking small groups of youth on trips to explore their religious, social and cultural heritage.
Return to Roots participants will tour historic and cultural Zoroastrian significant sites in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Gujarat, with world-renowned experts and local guides explaining the cultural and economic significance of the places being visited. When reading their website, some of the trips that excited me the most were a visit to Sethna Farms in Delhi, a walk around my very own Dadar Parsi colony, visits to Nargol (where my Mamaiji is from), Sanjan and Daman – hopefully for some Boi and Toddy and of course a walking tour of Parsi Bombay. I am happy to share that I will also be hosting all the guests for a Navroz table at my home with some lip smacking bhonu to follow!
If this still doesn’t tempt you to join, then do check out their website for the full itinerary. Applications are open until February 15th and even for Parsis who live in India – it is definitely worth checking out. As for me, Bawi Bride will be a media partner for the program’s activities in Mumbai (and hopefully Gujarat) so stay tuned for lots of cultural (you know I really just mean food) updates.