You are on page 1of 12

Contents

1. Introduction 2. About Parsis 3. Overview of Parsi law 4. Marriage of Parsi under Parsi laws 5. Divorce under Parsi law 6. Grounds of Divorce under Parsi law 7. Consequences of Divorce 8. Maintenance of Divorce under Parsi law 9. Conclusions 10. Bibliography

About Parsis
Parsi as a community has done so much for our country and are considered to be the fastest adaptors of any culture, for example, the popular culture is extremely rooted at present in many Parsis , but it did not make them forget their own culture. They have a sense of belongingness and togetherness for one another and this was the most striking thing we observed. When we started interviewing, we had only two Parsi friends who were willing to interview, but in the end we ended having eight people. They called as many people as they could and all of them loved the fact that their culture is spreading and felt proud that their culture no matter how small their community is but people still respect it .A few of them were too shy to come in front of the camera and helped us with the information .There are so many different cultures having so many magnificent customs and traditions and Parsi culture is one of them. It was quite a surprise for us when we heard that Parsis have Navjot ceremony which is so much similar like our Hindu threading ceremony. Even when they came as refuge somewhere our traditions match to theirs. They also pray to the forces of nature just like the Hindus and other religions. Initially, when we did background research on them we had a mindset that they are very introvert, did not want their culture to flourish, happy in their small community and their doors are closed to all the strangers who would want to intervene their small space. However our opinions have changed drastically. It was so charming to see that Parsis are completely opposite of what we heard from the Non-Parsis. They are lively, smiling all the time and drinking for no good reason. And is it a crime to be happy for no reason? We should to learn to be happy from them and enjoy life as it comes. We asked a few if their parents would mind if they dated a boy/girl from another religion, they said their parents would mind but if they were given a choice they wouldnt mind dating a boy/girl from another religion. They believe they have adapted Indian culture so well that it doesnt matter but as their population is so low , they did have double thoughts but open with the idea.It is so beautiful to see that such a community exists. Their belief system includes ideas about a creator god, good and evil forces, individual choice, Heaven and Hell, the Last Judgment, and eternal life. There is another interesting thing that we loved and it sounded magical, Parsi priests sit for hours in the fire temple and through their prayers fire ignites on its own. Its not just lighting fire with a match stick,it is natural fire sparks and only priests have the knowledge of it. At present the traditions are not as rigid as they were earlier, some of them follow and some abide them as well. For example, not all Parsis wear sudra and kusti ,some of them even marry outside their religion while others dont marry at all because their career is more prioritised.They werent permitted to do tattoos and piercings because it was considered to be impure but now it is a different story. They walk like gujaratis , believe in the Day of Judgement, have marriage traditions like a hindus(holding of hands), but in the end they are Indians and are proud to be one.
2|Page

Marriage of Parsi under Parsi laws and Customs


Parsi weddings are an occasion of great joy and merriment, like any other wedding. But what sets apart are the unique rituals that are associated with the wedding. Spread over a few days, a Parsi wedding entails unhindered fun and frolic for any beholder. Do we know enough about this miniscule community and their wedding rituals? Read on to know... PRE-WEDDING RITUALS Rupiya peravanu: This ritual marks the unofficial engagement when both the families of the bride and groom accept the alliance. On this day, 5-7 (but never more than 9) from the groom's side visit the bride's house. They are welcomed at the door by the bride's mother at the doorstep. The bride is presented with a gift of silver coins with other items of goodwill like coconut and sweets. Once refreshments are over, the groom's family returns back home. The bride's family now adds more silver coins to those presented by the groom's family and visits the groom to repeat the ceremony. Madavsaro: Held four days before the wedding, each of the families plant a young tree (generally a mango plant as it is considered a symbol of fertility) in a pot amidst recitation of prayers by the family priest and places it at the entrance of their respective homes. The soil in which the tree is planted is mixed with chips of three types of metals, betel nut, turmeric and dry dates. The plant is watered every morning till the eighth day after the wedding and then re-planted elsewhere. Adravanu: Adravanu refers to the formal engagement ceremony when the groom's family presents the bride a new set of clothes, accessories and jewelry. Usually, it is held at the bride's house though it is not a compulsion. The doorways of both the houses are decorated with fresh flowers and colorful rangoli. The relevance of adravanu is fire (adra means fire). It is reflected by lighting a diyo (earthen lamp) and the red color of the sari worn by the bride and the red bangles gifted to her by her in-laws. Adarni: This ritual marks the day for gift exchanging. The groom's family presents the bride with various gifts as a gesture of welcoming her into the family. The guests, including family, relatives and friends, are treated to a traditional auspicious snack of sev and dahi, boiled eggs and bananas. Supra ni reet: This is similar to the haldi ceremony of a Hindu wedding and takes place just a day before the wedding. Traditionally, four married women are handed a supra each containing betel nut and leaves, dates and a piece of coconut. The supras are exchanged among the women while traditional songs are being sung. A fifth lady sits in the middle with dry turmeric and khalbatto. Once the exchange of supras is over, all the five ladies join hands to grind the turmeric into a

3|Page

paste mixed with milk. The paste is then applied to the groom and the bride at their respective places. Nahan: Nahan is the last of the pre-wedding ritual which takes place just before the bride and the groom start getting ready for the wedding. This is done for the purification of the body and soul wherein they are bathed amidst recital of prayers and making them drink the taro and eat a few pomegranate leaves. A popular belief runs that after nahan, the bride and the groom cannot touch any person outside their family or caste. Following this, the bride dresses up in the madhavate, an ornate wedding sari gifted to her by her parents while the groom dons the traditional Parsi dagli and pheta (black cap). WEDDING RITUALS Achumichu: A Parsi lagan takes place at a baug or at an agiary, the fire temple. The most auspicious time for a Parsi wedding is immediately after sunset or very early in the morning. A stage is set for the ceremony. Before the couple steps onto the stage, a ritual called achumichu is performed with the groom first. The bride's mother, taking a tray of raw egg, betel nut, rice, coconut, kharekh and water, begins the ceremony. She takes the coconut and circles it around the groom's head seven times before breaking it on the floor to his right. This is repeated with every other item except the water, which is thrown on either side. Following this, the bride comes forth and the groom's mother performs the same ritual with her. Ara antar: In this ceremony, the couple is made to sit facing each other but separated by a cloth so that they cannot see each other. Both the bride and groom are then given rice. With a length of thread, the priests circle the couple on opposite sides of the cloth seven times. As soon as the seventh round ends, the couple showers each other with the rice from over the cloth. It is believed that whoever throws the rice first will dominate the other. Chero bandhvanu: The couple now sits beside each other with the seven strands of thread binding them. The witnesses also are seated with them. Diyos or lighted lamps are placed on the tables on either side. Priests begin an hour-long ceremony of prayers and showering of rice and rose petals. At the end of the ceremony, the couple exchanges the wedding rings. The priests wish the newlyweds the var and bairi, and bring them fire from the agiary so that they can pay their homage. Haath borvanu: Once the main ceremony is over, the fun rituals begin. The bride's sister begins by extracting money from the groom. He is made to put his hand into a glass of water, which he cannot remove until he pays up. Pag dhovanu: The fun continues. The groom is now threatened with milk on his shoes, unless of course he pays his sister-in-law.

4|Page

Chero chorvanu: The seven strands of thread that bind the couple are finally removed by the bride's sister. This is again done only on the payment of some amount of money. Finally, the wedding ceremony concludes with the couple paying a visit to the fire temple. POST-WEDDING RITUALS Reception: Parsi weddings are known for their enormous receptions. Sumptuous food, freeflowing drinks and lively music make it a grand experience for all. The traditional dinner is a lavish four-course meal comprising delicious Parsi bhonu like sarya (crisps), gajar mevanu achaar-roti (carrot pickle and chapati), patra ni macchi (steamed fish), salli murgi (chicken with potato crisps), lagan nu custard, pulao-dal and ice cream. Finally, the newlywed couple is being escorted home by the bride's family where the groom's mother welcomes them with achumichu being performed for a blissful life ahead.

5|Page

Divorce under Parsi law


As per Section 31 of the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 if a husband or wife shall have been continually absent from his or her wife or husband for the space of seven years, and shall not have been heard of as being alive within that time by those persons who would have naturally heard of him or her, had he or she been alive, the marriage of such husband or wife may, at the instance of either party thereto, be dissolved.

6|Page

Grounds of divorce under Parsi law


The grounds of divorce of Parsis under the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 are as follows; According to section 32 of the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936, enumerates Grounds for divorce and the ground mentioned in Section 32 are following: the marriage has not been consummated within one year after its solemnization owing to the wilful refusal of the defendant to consummate it; the defendant at the time of the marriage was of unsound mind and has been habitually so up to the date of the suit Provided that divorce shall not be granted on this ground, unless the plaintiff

(1) was ignorant of the fact at the time of the marriage, and (2) has filed the suit within three years form the date of the marriage; the defendant has been incurably of unsound mind for a -period of two years or upwards immediately preceding the filing of the suit or has been suffering continuously or intermittently from mental disorder of such kind and to such an extent that the plaintiff cannot reasonably be expected to live with the defendant.

Explanation-In this clause,(a) the expression "mental disorder" means mental illness, arrested or incomplete development of mind, psychopathic disorder or any other disorder or disability of mind and includes schizophrenia, (b) the expression "psychopathic disorder" means a persistent disorder or disability of mind (whether or not including sub-normality of intelligence) which results in abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct on the part of the defendant, and whether or not it requires or is susceptible to medical treatment;

the defendant was at the time of marriage pregnant by some person other than the plaintiff: Provided that divorce shall not be granted on this ground, unless:

(1) the plaintiff was at the time of the marriage ignorant of the fact alleged, (2) the suit has been filed within two years of the date of marriage, and (3) marital intercourse has not taken place after the plaintiff came to know of the fact;
7|Page

the defendant has since the marriage committed adultery or fornication or bigamy or rape or an unnatural offence: Provided that divorce shall not be granted on this ground, if the suit has been filed more than two years after the plaintiff came to know of the fact; the defendant has since the solemnization of the marriage treated the plaintiff with cruelty or has behaved in such a way as to render it in the judgement of the Court improper to compel the plaintiff to live with the defendant: Provided that in every suit for divorce on this ground it shall be in the discretion of the Court whether it should grant a decree for divorce or for judicial separation only; the defendant has since the marriage voluntarily caused grievous hurt to the plaintiff or has infected the plaintiff with venereal disease or, where the defendant is the husband, has compelled the wife to submit herself to prostitution; Provided that divorce shall not be granted on this ground, if the suit has been filed more than two years (i) after the infliction of the grievous hurt, or (ii) after the plaintiff came to know of the infection, or (iii) after the last act of compulsory prostitution. the defendant is undergoing a sentence of imprisonment for seven years or more for an offence as defined in the Indian Penal Code: Provided that divorce shall not be granted on this ground, unless the defendant has prior to the filing of the suit undergone at least one years imprisonment out of the said period; the defendant has deserted the plaintiff for at least two years; an order has been passed against the defendant by a Magistrate awarding separate maintenance to the plaintiff, and the parties have not had Marital intercourse for one year or more since such decree or order; the defendant has ceased to be a Parsi by conversion to another religion: Provided that divorce shall not be granted on this ground if the suit has been filed more than two years after the plaintiff came to know of the fact.

Section 32A provides additional ground for divorce where there is Non-resumption of cohabitation or restitution of conjugal rights within one year in pursuance of a decree: (i) there has been no resumption of cohabitation as between the parties to the marriage for a period of one year or upwards after the passing of a decree for judicial separation in a proceeding to which they were parties; or there has been no restitution of conjugal rights as between the parties to the marriage for a period of one year or upwards after the passing of a decree for restitution of conjugal rights in a proceeding to which they were parties.
8|Page

(ii)

But No decree for divorce shall be granted under sub-section (1): if the plaintiff has failed or neglected to comply with an order for maintenance passed against him under Section 40 of this Act or Section 488 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 or Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

9|Page

Consequences of Divorce
Economic. There is great disparity between the economic ramifications of divorce between men and women. Men remain relatively unaffected while women, especially those with children, have difficulty "providing food, clothing and shelter for themselves and their children." The government in urban areas usually provides some form of public assistance to single mothers, but this service is not fully taken advantage of because most do not know of its existence. Often a woman is not able to rely on her family for support because many parents "feel they have discharged their obligations to a daughter by arranging her marriage and providing a dowry." Dowries are not returned after a divorce. Also, due to the social stigma of divorce, women find it difficult to remarry and usually attempt to establish an independent household Social. While India feels that one should have the right to divorce, it is still a highly stigmatizing action. Women are looked upon more harshly than men in this regard. There continue to be segments of Indian society that feel divorce is never an option, regardless of how abusive or adulterous the husband may be which adds to the greater disapproval for women. A divorced woman often will return to her family, but may not be wholeheartedly welcomed. She puts, especially if she has children, an economic burden on her family and is often given lowly household tasks to perform. There is also the risk that a divorced woman's presence would ward off possible marriages for other daughters within the household. Unavoidably, the overall status of the family and household are lowered by having a divorcee living with amongst them. A woman's class and caste are a major factor in her acceptance back into society. Women from higher classes tend to have an easier time than middle or lower class women in returning to the social order after a divorce. An exception to this model is the extreme bottom of the society who have experienced little rebuff from peers after a divorce. This results from their already atypical status in society.

10 | P a g e

Maintenance of Divorce under Parsi law


Parsi can claim maintenance from the spouse through criminal proceedings or/ and civil proceedings. Interested parties may pursue both criminal and civil proceedings, simultaneously as there is no legal bar to it. In the criminal proceedings the religion of the parties doesn't matter at all unlike the civil proceedings. If the Husband refuses to pay maintenance, wife can inform the court that the Husband is refusing to pay maintenance even after the order of the court. The court can then sentence the Husband to imprisonment unless he agrees to pay. The Husband can be detained in the jail so long as he does not pay. The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936 recognizes the right of wife to maintenance-both alimony pendente lite and permanent alimony. The maximum amount that can be decreed by court as alimony during the time a matrimonial suit is pending in court, is onefifth of the husband's net income. In fixing the quantum as permanent maintenance, the court will determine what is just, bearing in mind the ability of husband to pay, wife's own assets and conduct of the parties. The order will remain in force as long as wife remains chaste and unmarried.

S.40. Permanent alimony and maintenance (1) Any Court exercising jurisdiction under this Act may, at the time of passing any decree or at any time subsequent thereto, on an application made to it for the purpose by either the wife or the husband, order that the defendant shall pay to the plaintiff for her or his maintenance and support, such gross sum or such monthly or periodical sum, for a term not exceeding the life of the plaintiff as having regard to the defendant?s own income and other property, if any, the income and other property of the plaintiff, the conduct of the parties and other circumstances of the case, it may seem to the Court to be just, and any such payment may be secured, if necessary, by a charge on the movable or immovable property of the defendant. (2) The Court if it is satisfied that there is change in the circumstances of either party at any time after it has made an order under sub-section (1), it may, at the instance of either party, vary, modify or rescind any such order in such manner as the Court may deem just. (3) The Court if it is satisfied that the partly in whose favour, an order has been made under this section has remarried or, if such party is the wife, that she has not remained chaste, or, if such party is the husband, that he had sexual intercourse with any woman outside wedlock, it may, at the instance of the other party, vary, modify or rescind any such order in such manner as the Court may deem just.

11 | P a g e

12 | P a g e