India, Parsi Children Return To Their Roots



    MUMBAI: A decade ago, karate champion Vispi Kapadia (52) lost his five-and-a-half-year-old daughter Fareena. Seven years ago, she appeared in his dreams and asked him to do “something for children” and the annual Zochild Day was born.

    Every year, the Zoroastrian Children’s Foundation (of which Kapadia is a trustee) celebrates the Zochild Day, which brings together Parsi children from across the country. On Sunday, over 2,000 Zoroastrian kids converged at Shanmukhananda Hall, Sion, for the seventh edition of Zochild.

    The day was marked by a series of events, including a play on the arrival of the Parsis in India and the history of the Zoroastrians, as well as traditional songs and garba.

    Kids from Navsari, Surat, Baroda, Pune and Kolkata travelled to Mumbai for the event. The event was free of cost for the children, even the cost of travelling to and from Mumbai was borne by the foundation, which receives generous donations from members of the Parsi community. Philanthropist Silla Vacha donates Rs 5 lakh every year for the event.

    The kids who arrived from outstation were taken on a Mumbai darshan tour on Saturday.

    “The aim of the Zochild Day is to get children from the community to bond with each other, bringing the community closer, says Kapadia. As a karate expert, Kapadia is no stranger to pain. “But nothing is as painful as losing a child,” he says.

    “I think this is a brilliant way of getting children from the community together. This fosters camaraderie and creates a great deal of community spirit, says the headmistress of a popular Mumbai school.

    Thirteen-year-old Farnaz Patel from Surat says she loved the play and enjoyed making new friends. For twenty-year-old Khushnuma Amalsadiwala, also from Surat, the aerobics and gymnastics were the main attraction. Binaifer Contractor, a 14-year-old from Baroda, says the Mumbai darshan was fantastic.

    Mumbai-based B Bharucha says she brings her daughter for Zochild so that she gets a chance to mingle with other Parsi kids and gets to know more about the community.

    It wasn’t just children who had a blast all through Saturday. Shanmukhandanda Hall was packed with Zoroastrians of all ages, for whom Zochild was a way of connecting with their roots.
    Anahita Mukherji



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