Mrs. Dhun Bagli, the owner of Delhi Parsi Anjuman interviewed by Yastika Sahrawat (2017)

About the intern: Yastika Sahrawat is a content writer based in Delhi and is currently pursuing History Honours from Hansraj College. She had the passion for writing from the school itself combined with the knowledge of History and Culture.
Her project ‘Parsi’s Of Delhi’ was her first choice because of her interest in intangible cultural heritage, eagerness to meet new people, to explore the untouched beauty of places and for her sense of adventure. 
When she started interning with Anand Foundation she got an opportunity to go ahead with all her ideas and execute her dreams into reality. This opportunity not only helped her with the project but also opened a wide window for her to explore a new dimension of society

Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest religion of the world this project is mainly concerned with the experiences of PARSI’S living in Delhi. It throws light on their day to day life and experiences. This project is mainly based on the interviews done by the author with the individuals. This report also tends to draw a difference between Parsi’s living in Delhi and Parsi’s living in Mumbai. 
This report also tends to highlight the amazing things one can do in Delhi. It also consist of people talking about their delicacies and presenting their favourite dishes and culture. Interviews consist of people talking about the history of Zoroaster and the emergence of Zoroastrianism and how Parsi’s came to India and settled down. 
People talk about their personal experiences as well. By this we can gauge insight into lives of Paris People. Further, this report also highlights images and visits to the places associated with the Paris people. This holds the main significance and throws light into their lives. 

“We are men and women from many lands, representing a rich variety of cultures”. There are many religions that are practiced on the grounds of India and all of them are well recognized. But there are some cultures whose practices and people are so different from what we see in our day to day life. We often tend to ignore the cultures which dwell in corners of our society. But our ignorance towards them never hinders to their prosperity. How many Parsi’s do you come across everyday? How much do you know or even bother to know about their existence? How much have we really known about them? Why should we know them? Theses are some very basic questions we don’t have an answer to. 
Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest religions of the world and its history is twice than that of Christianity* Parsi’s or ‘Persians’ first came to our land in AD 936 to seek a land of religious freedom away from oppression's created by Islamic societies. Parsi’s have now become one of the largest communities of Zoroastrians. 
It has become important to study about their existence since they are vanishing day by day. Their religion is dying out slowly. They are integral part of our economy and has contributed in large numbers since the ancient times. Understanding their culture and to know about their experiences is few things we can do to know and store this beautiful culture into our hearts and minds. 

The story of Mrs. Dhun Bagli as interviewed by Yastika Sahrawat

So as soon as I reached the Delhi Paris Anjuman I could feel the peace and harmony of that place. Very soon I was able to meet Mrs Bagli, the owner of DPA. When I saw her she was asleep probably taking her afternoon nap. She looked at peace. She was wearing these white traditional Paris dress with a badge which is a  symbol of Zoroastrianism. The symbol is meant to protect from all the evil and is also a sign of knowledge. I started with interview with basic questions about the DPA. “It was established in 1950 by my husband and I  got married to him in 1959. The Anjuman was started with only 12 rooms open only to Paris couples at that time. Now, there are 44 rooms and with the expansion of the Anjuman we started to allow non Paris couples to stay with us as well but there was condition that one of them still had to be a Parsi.” “But with time, this restriction also faded. But even now, we don’t let couples who come without any recommendation from Parsi to come and stay with us. Later, in 1960s we also established the FIRE TEMPLE ( the holy place of worship for Parsis ) which is even now only open to Parsi’s. And, even now this place is only restricted to Parsi’s. I lost my husband in 1979 and after that I and my son (on her left) have been looking after this empire.” 

What is the peak time when people come and stay with you? I asked. “mostly in vacations, people are mostly on their way to somewhere else and at their stop in Delhi they prefer staying at Anjuman. We have some regular people here.”

How was your journey and experience living in Delhi?How does people treat you? “even though we are in minority we have always been a very respected community.
“All the people around be it Muslims, Christians, Punjabi's have always respected us and have treated us with respect. I have never felt alienated or have been ill treated by any of people around. Even people looking for tenants gets happy when they get to know that a Paris is renting their home, that is the amount of respect we have I society.” And on other hand she is a really interactive person and is really happy with the way Delhi has always treated them. 
I always saw their way of cremating their beloved as inappropriate. Since, I would never want scavengers to eat my flesh when I am dead. I always thought it was insulting. So with a little hesitation I asked her why is it so that after the rituals you people allow scavengers to eat your flesh.. why is it so different? On my question of the way of their cremation she simply replied “we don’t really believe in burying a body or burning/cremating it the way Hindus do. We don’t want this body to be WASTED when it can feed hungry animals. This way a part of you is helping some creature who might have not had food from god knows how many hours as well as you will stay alive somewhere in somebody’s body. Why to waste yourself while you can feed yourself to someone needy? and this way even after you are dead, you are still helping someone and not letting someone be hungry.” 
After this my perception of Parsi’s saying goodbye to people changed forever. I was astonished to see things from their perspective and more astonished to see how easily we form perceptions about a certain practice of certain community without even trying to understand their ideas. 
On my question to why don’t you go out and take a stroll outside Anjuman… she smiled and replied “this is my little empire, me and my husband have built it and I am content and happy to be here, I am at peace when I am here and this place makes me happy.”
She went on to praise her son and daughter in law of how well they manage Anjuman and how brave and happy they are.
All I could feel there was happiness and calm which is somewhere missing in the ‘mad rush, commotion and all the hustle bustle of our daily lives. There was indeed some positive energy in DPA and this experience I can never forget.
She gave me a book as a token of love and the contact number Vice president of Anjuman Mrs Ava Khullar.

Contact - yastika1231@gmail.com

Interns

  1. Ananya Tiwari
    School/College : LSR, Delhi University
    Duration of the Project : 14-03-2017 to 25-04-2017
    Research Project : Read more

  2. Yastika Sahrawat
    School/College : Hansraj College, Delhi University
    Duration of the Project : 06-02-2017 to 18-03-2017
    Research Project : Zoroastrianism in DelhiWeekl Read more

  3. Excellent Hansda
    School/College : IIT Roorkee
    Duration of the Project : 02-12-2016 to 13-01-2017
    Research Project : Gardens of Read more

  4. Ashwarya Samkaria
    School/College : Delhi University
    Duration of the Project : 03-10-2016 to 13-01-2017
    Research Project : Odissi in DelhiRead more

  5. Tarini Singh
    School/College : Hansraj College, Delhi University
    Duration of the Project : 22-08-2016 to 02-10-2016
    Research Project : Vasant Kunj Read more

  6. Sachi Shukla
    School/College : National Institute of Fashion Technology
    Duration of the Project : 23-05-2016 to 17-07-2016
    Research Project : Motifs Read more

  7. Gargi Chanda
    School/College : National Institute of Fashion Technology
    Duration of the Project : 23-05-2016 to 17-07-2016
    Research Project : Maati: Pott Read more

  8. Aakansha Malia
    School/College : Miranda House, Delhi University
    Duration of the Project : 23-05-2016 to 03-07-2016
    Research Project : Excava Read more

  9. Manisha Chaudhary
    School/College : Miranda House, Delhi University
    Duration of the Project : 23-05-2016 to 03-07-2016
    Research Project : The Li Read more

  10. Renu Deshwal
    School/College : Daulat Ram College, Delhi University
    Duration of the Project : 25-01-2016 to 06-03-2016
    Research Project : Phoolw Read more

  11. Sakshi Singh
    School/College : Miranda House, Delhi University
    Duration of the Project : 11-01-2016 to 26-02-2016
    Research Project : Bird w Read more

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