Parvez Damania. Image courtesy: BCCL
As Mumbai's Parsi aristocracy gathered in full gara gear for the highprofile Jeejeebhoy wedding on Tuesday, an equally swish crowd rolled into the Tao Gallery in Beemers, Bentleys and Benzes to the opening of a photographic presentation of Zoroastrianism's most sacred spot in India. It being the ebullient Parvez Damania's guest list, it was very much Mumbai society's A List: Nawaz Singhania, Dolly Goenka, Raji and her Apparao, Pooja Bedi, Rusi Soonawala, Keki Turel, and a clutch of international guests from the consular and corporate world. Earlier in the evening, Trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet had put in an appearance.
A straw poll resulted in the expected result; barely 0.01 per cent of the fragrant mwah-mwah crowd had heard of Udvada, the subject of the exhibition, which houses the oldest sacred fire which was lit when the storm-tossed community first landed on the shores of Gujarat 1,000 years ago, and has been burning uninterrupted ever since.
We would not be surprised if a good number of the gallery crowd may still be blissfully unaware of this ancient place of pilgrimage after the show since openings are always about rubbing shoulders, posing for the cameras, nibbling delicately on canapés and air kissing, rather than viewing with any degree of attention what's hanging on the walls... which is a pity because Shantanu Das's sensitive eye has captured many layers: the sanctity, the serenity, the celebration, and the gentle decay of a fading town battered by age and erosion.
Still Parvez Damania, looking splendid in his ceremonial Parsi dagli with wife Roshni in a newly embroidered red traditional sari, must be complimented for this larger window into a fiercely insular world.
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