Parsi New Year
Saal Mubaarak Bawaji !!
Here... for the Recipe of Dhansak
the 21st of August this year falls the Parsee New Year. The
whole team of Indias- Best.Com greets all the Parsees "Saal
Mubarak" and wishes them all a very prosperous New Year.
What are Parsees like? Why do they cover
their head and not allow non-Parsees to enter their fire temple?
What is the secret ?
The secret of being a Parsee is....Well,
there's no secret! They are just like that only! Known for
their direct approach and bang-bang nature; they are like
all normal Indians are. Since their ancestors had migrated
from Persia or Iran, they are distinct in appearance. You
could easily mistake a Parsee for a European!
people' and 'with a hilarious sense of humour' are the two
phrases, which I got to hear from more than a dozen people
when describing what a 'Parsee-bawa' meant to them. Known
as the most generous, well-mannered, and jolly people who
enjoy life to it's fullest", says Kiran Roy.
Parsees are European in their tastes but
speak Gujarati and English. Their houses are spick and span,
with beautiful flowery curtains adorning every window and
door, the furniture is mainly wooden and antique British in
quality. Every Parsee inevitably owns a piano. Music, food
and the occasional drink make for all occasions; New Year
or not! Parsees are known to live the longest lives. Anyone
born a Parsee lives at least twenty years more than a non-Parsee!
Though women generally outlive their male counterparts!
preserve their culture, Parsees prefer to marry only within
their caste. Their population being a bare minimum, they end
up marrying their first cousins or far off relatives.
My paternal grand-aunt is a Parsee lady,
my best friend at school too was a Parsee and also my first
crush. Well, I would definitely miss them if they got extinct!
But knowing their temperament, few would worry of the extinction
of their race!
Jokes apart, let's find out how
R Bharucha, a Parsee gentleman other than being a well-known
author and editor of an international emag. plans to spend
his New Year:
"On Pateti - which is the last day of
the previous year, we are supposed to dwell on the wrongs
or sins we may have committed the previous year, and atone
for them. The next day is New Year and like all religious,
ritualistic Parsees do, I too shall - ' pehle Petoba and then
Vithoba ' - that is, have my breakfast first and then go to
pray! With my family of wife and my two little angels, all
dressed in new clothes, we shall visit the Agiari closest
to our home. We are expecting guests at home for lunch and
also plan to visit a few of our close relatives and friends
during the course of the day.
It's not much of a celebration now, but in
the earlier days, a typical Parsee would decorate his home
with roses, marygolds, lilies and sunflowers. Spray rose water
generously, burn incense sticks and burn sandalwood powder
on live coals kept in a censor and decorate the front porch
of the home in a very Hindu-like way, with designs of white
chalk powder. Donations and gifts to the not so well-to-do-families
is still in practice though. Wearing new 'Sadra' and 'Kasti'
is also a part of the festive ritual.
For us Parsees, food and drink plays a very
important part in our lives- festival or not! Parsee cuisine
is a delicious blend of western and Indian cooking. Meals
consist of traditional Parsee dishes, including dhansak with
brown rice, pulao dal, sali boti, and patra-ni-machchi. The
evenings are reserved for the theatre or a movie or an outing
with the family. The day ends with good food and drink. This
is how a Parsee would celebrate New Years day - say till a
decade back. The people and the pallets have varied with the
times. Today going to a restaurant in the evenings is more
On popular demand, we have for our readers,
a traditional Parsee recipe
of Dhan Sak.
Guarantee: You could win the heart of any
Parsee by cooking this right and serving it with the most
important ingredient - Love.
- Kamakshi Vyas