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The decreasing number of Parsis in India and their concerns

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Parsi ghazal singer, Penaz Masani Image source: penazmasani.com

New Delhi : There is something highly moving when a woman, whose people face extinction, sings of unrequited love. Love, not just for a mortal beloved but also of the mystic kind as in ghazal singing, that is a male dominated art. Take a bow, Penaz Masani, the Parsi queen of ghazal.

“There are only 70,000 of us Parsis left in India,” Masani, the only Parsi who sings ghazals and a Padma Shri awardee, told IANS in an interview, during a visit for the minority affairs ministry-hosted “The Everlasting Flame International Programme” to celebrate Zoroastrian culture and the Parsis in India.

“It was a once-in-a lifetime experience to meet all the Parsis I know in Mumbai, whyo had gathered here in Parliament House and later on the lawns of Lutyens’ Delhi,” she said.

As part of the celebrations, a two-month long exhibition titled “The Everlasting Flame: Zoroastrianism in History and Imagination”, that started across three venues in the capital on March 19, depicts the earliest days of Zoroastrianism to its emergence as the foremost religion of imperial Iran, followed by the 10th century maritime journey of Zoroastrians fleeing religious persecution to India, where they came to be known as the Parsis. As for the rest, the Parsi contribution to their new homeland, both in material and cultural terms, is history.

The minority affairs ministry, along with the Delhi-based Parzor Foundation, launched the Jiyo Parsi scheme in 2013 to stem the community’s decline in numbers. Jiyo Parsi has to show 30 babies born since the scheme began, with another dozen expected, and around 50 couples undergoing fertility treatment. However, a campaign that adopted slogans like “Be Responsible. Don’t Use A Condom Tonight” also raised hackles within the community of those who objected to such urging to procreate.

“The factors that have brought Parsis to this pass are late marriages, not marrying at all, decline of fertility, emigration and marrying outside the community,” Masani said.

There has been ferment within at the rigid adherence to tradition in not recognizing the offspring of Parsi women who marry outside the community. With the Mumbai Parsis recording 175 births as against 735 deaths in 2013, and intermarriages climbing to 38 percent, a Parsi former advocate-general of Maharashtra raised a furore recently when he argued that Zoroastrianism being a universal religion, Parsi women married outside the faith and their children should be permitted to enter the community’s places of worship “if they have been initiated into the faith through a navjote ceremony.”

On the other hand, the Bombay Parsi Panchayat has waged a long, legal battle to debar three priests who presided over rituals involving intermarried couples.

Masani is unique as a Parsi who has embraced the ghazal form of Urdu poetry, a genre that is heavily influenced by Islamic mysticism. To be the first to take up ghazal in a community where to be cultured also means to cultivate an ear for Western classical music, with the great Zubin Mehta as a role model, Masani is indebted to her late father, who was a Hindustani classical singer in the court of Sayaji Rao Gaekwad of Baroda in the 1930s.

With her good looks and fantastic voice Masani emerged on the scene in the 1980s at a time when ghazal as live performance was becoming popular among the urban middle class.

Ghazal poetry, which is imbued with Sufi love for the divine, had already entered popular consciousness through Bombay cinema, beginning with the playback singing of Begum Akhtar, poetry of the likes of the incomparable Faiz Ahmad Faiz and others like Sahir Ludhianvi, Jan Nissar Akhtar, Hasrat Jaipuri, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Shakeel Badauni, Anand Bakshi and Shailendra, all of whom have penned memorable film songs. Masani herself has sung in over 50 films.

“Because I appeared on stage at a time when only male singers were singing ghazals for the masses that I got this image of a rock star,” Masani said alluding to the late Jagjit Singh, who was the first to use the guitar in ghazals and, along with exponents like Mehdi Hassan, Pankaj Udhaas and Ghulam Ali, did much to popularize the genre post the 1970s.

“Classing me as a pop stylist of ghazal is, however, not correct because I am faithful to the classical form that I have been trained in,” she adds.

As she walked past Delhi’s Lodi monuments like a priestess of love, Masani described how in Iran, as a way of reversing the decline in Zoroastrian population after the 1979 revolution, they have revived the ancient practice of ordaining female priests, an idea opposed by Indian Parsis.

“I think the terrible conflicts we see around us based on religious identity wouldn’t happen if we had women leading the institutions,” Masani said, recalling the priestesses of ancient Greece and Rome, without forgetting the “devdasis” in the indigeneous tradition.

Among India’s religions, Sikhism, emerging as a synthesis of Hinduism and Islam, does not have priests, which were abolished by Guru Gobind Singh. Due to the faith’s belief in complete equality, women can take part in any religious function, perform any Sikh ceremony or lead the congregation in prayer. A Sikh woman has the right to become a Granthi, Ragi, and one of the Panj Piare (five beloved), and both men and women are considered capable of reaching the highest levels of spirituality.

Credits: Agenicies

  • “I” want to have a wider reach for all my Parsi people. “I” too want a equaling of all that is Zoroastrianism in nature. A tree in a field is a tree in a field. A tree in the woods is a tree in the woods. Regardless of the nature of other trees or life. There is no reason to restrict the nature of Man to any form of restriction of Diversity. As long as a Tree is a Tree. Woman are free to be as Men have been. It’s fruit shall not change. in any way. Women are equal and the same as men. Utilize them. This is my decision. It Is “I”

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  • “I” want to have a wider reach for all my Parsi people. “I” too want a equaling of all that is Zoroastrianism in nature. A tree in a field is a tree in a field. A tree in the woods is a tree in the woods. Regardless of the nature of other trees or life. There is no reason to restrict the nature of Man to any form of restriction of Diversity. As long as a Tree is a Tree. Woman are free to be as Men have been. It’s fruit shall not change. in any way. Women are equal and the same as men. Utilize them. This is my decision. It Is “I”

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Adobe Photoshop on iPad Provides New Opportunities to Youngsters in India

Adobe has also made it possible to import photos directly from your SD card or USB drive into the iOS version of Lightroom

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Although Adobe Photoshop on iPad was completely done in the US, the incremental syncing part was achieved in India. IANS

Thirty years and still going strong, Adobe Photoshop remains the most loved design tool for creators and professional designers. Now, iPad lovers in India are thrilled to try their hands on the software tool and let their imaginations fly.

Photoshop on iPad allows young users to craft composites with fingers and retouch images with Apple Pencil. Your PSDs will remain the same, whether you’re working on desktop or iPad.

Adobe Photoshop that arrived on iPads globally in November brings core compositing and retouching workflows to iPad.

For the millennials, this is a great opportunity to become a creative pro as Photoshop on iPad is an intuitive, more accessible entry point to the Adobe tool for new users.

It features full PSD (Photoshop document files) interoperability, a touch-based user interface (UI), Cloud document access, and the power to work on real-world, multi-layered creations.

“We’re excited to push the frontiers of creativity to make everyone more productive and express their creative vision — not only seasoned professionals, but also the next generation of designers, photographers, filmmakers and illustrators,” Scott Belsky, Chief Product Officer and Executive Vice President, Creative Cloud, Adobe, told the gathering at the recently-concluded Adobe Max conference in Los Angeles.

Adobe
Thirty years and still going strong, Adobe Photoshop remains the most loved design tool for creators and professional designers. Now, iPad lovers in India are thrilled to try their hands on the software tool and let their imaginations fly. Pixabay

Open up full-size PSDs on your desktop or iPad and store them in the cloud – no conversion necessary.

You get the same fidelity, power, and performance no matter what device you’re working on, even when you’re designing with thousands of layers.

“Use quick gestures and touch shortcuts to make edits directly on your canvas and speed up your workflow. With context-aware user interface (UI), you display only the core tools and panes you need, so you can focus on your canvas, not the clutter,” says Adobe.

Next up is Adobe Illustrator which is slated to arrive on iPad next year. The teams at Adobe’s Noida R&D centre and Apple’s Cupertino-based headquarters in the US are busy finalizing and preparing for the final release of the much-anticipated product.

“We are already doing complete R&D for Illustrator and InDesign. The upcoming Illustrator on iPad, which has received rave reviews, is entirely being done at our Noida R&D centre,” Shanmugh Natarajan, MD and VP of Product at Adobe India, told IANS recently.

The company has previewed Adobe Illustrator’s future with a reimagined touch-based app that brings the precision and versatility of the desktop experience to iPad.

Although Adobe Photoshop on iPad was completely done in the US, the incremental syncing part was achieved in India.

Adobe has also made it possible to import photos directly from your SD card or USB drive into the iOS version of Lightroom. Previously, users had to import images to their camera roll, then copy them over into Lightroom’s library.

Adobe
Adobe Photoshop on iPad allows young users to craft composites with fingers and retouch images with Apple Pencil. Your PSDs will remain the same, whether you’re working on desktop or iPad. Pixabay

Here are the plans for Indian lovers who want Adobe experience on their iPads. The “Photography (20GB)” plan with Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, and Photoshop is available for Rs 676 a month (excluding GST). If you purchase this plan by January 31, you get Photoshop on iPad for free.

In the “Adobe Photoshop Single App” plan, get Photoshop on desktop and iPad as part of Creative Cloud for Rs 1,420.

ALSO READ: Use of Information Technology Can Save Police Personnel from Death in Line of Duty

For the “All Apps” plan, get Photoshop on desktop and iPad, plus the entire collection of creative apps for Rs 3,585.

Students and teachers can save over 60 per cent on the entire collection of Creative Cloud apps for just Rs 1,353. (IANS)