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 do 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, Punjabis 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 gave me the contact number Vice president of Anjuman Mrs Ava Khullar.