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Jal Phiroj Clubwala Dar-e-Meher

For over a hundred years there was no official priest or place of worship in the community, the first priest being appointed only in 1906. When Master Jal, the young son of the philanthropist Phiroj M Clubwala died, the grieving family donated a Fire Temple in his memory. This fire temple in Royapuram, the Jal Phiroj Clubwala Dar-e-Meher, whose 111th anniversary we recently celebrated, was designed by Hormusji Nowroji, who was the President of the Anjuman for over 40 years. The consecration of this temple on August 7th, 1910, was covered in a detailed article in ‘The Mail’.

Within our  graceful and elegant 111 year old Dar-e-Meher complex is an old priest’s quarters of equal vintage, now covered by a wall with a colourful mural of a priest before the fire. In 1992, a beautiful new residential complex was built for our Priest’s comfort.

We celebrated the 111th Salgireh of our Dar-e-Meher during Covid  lockdown, with an online Jashan for the community, and a beautiful glass bead toran for every family, as a memento of the event.

The Dar-e-Meher complex is currently undergoing extensive renovations under the watchful eye of Darius Bahadurji, Firdause Jila and Ardeshir Dastur.

The Jal Phiroj Clubwala Dar-e-Meher was consecrated on 7th August 1910 (Roj Mahrespand, Mah Bahman, 1279 Y.Z.) However, the idea for establishing a place of worship for the Zarthostis of Madras was in existence as early as the year 1887 when the members of the Madras Parsi Panchayat (later to be called the Madras Parsi Zarthosti Anjuman) started what was known as a Mobed Fund and collected monthly subscriptions towards this.

The first great impetus to have a Fire Temple in Madras came in 1896 from Sir D.M. Petit who, in response to an appeal by the Parsis of Madras, generously donated Rs.3,600. Mr. Sorabji Framji, the President, also contributed Rs. 1000. A plot of land, South west of our Anjuman Bagh was purchased wherein to consecrate an Atash Dadgah. This did not materialise as the plot was only 50 yards from our Aramgah. Efforts were made to secure another suitable plot, but with little success.

On the death of Jal, son of Mr. Phiroj Muncherji Clubwala, in 1906, the Clubwala family were much grieved as they could not perform the necessary religious ceremonies in Madras. Mr. Phiroj Mancherji Clubwala, realising similar difficulties felt by other Zarthostis, donated a sum of Rs. 2000 for services of a Mobed at Rs. 40 per month. Ervad Dosabhai Pavri was appointed the first Mobed.

Mr Phiroj Mancherji Clubwala also requested the Anjuman to establish an Atash Adran in the near future, for which the Anjuman should start collecting funds. Accordingly a Special Committee of six members Messrs. Hormusji Nowroji, Phiroj Muncherji Clubwala, Ardeshir Framji Bhamgara, Meherwanji Jamshedji Amalsad, Ruttonji Meherjibhai Patel and Behramji Ruttonji Karani was formed. The Anjuman resolved to augment the Mobed Fund by steadily crediting to it a half of the monthly subscription collected from members.

The Anjuman received a very great incentive when in 1907 Mr Phiroj Mancherji Clubwala offered to provide a building on the Main Road (West Mada Church Street) Royapuram, for an Agiary, fully equipped, on condition that the Anjuman collect a minimum of Rs. 30,000 for its maintenance. Immediately a fresh Committee consisting of Messrs. Hormusji Nowroji, Phiroj Mancherji Clubwala, Behramji Karani, Gustadji N Reporter, Ruttonji Patel, Edulji Rustomji Bava Adam and Sorab Dossabhoy Grant was formed to collect funds. It was also resolved that the names of donors of Rs. 1000 and above should be inscribed on a marble slab to be fixed in the Agiary premises.

The Anjuman also agreed to enter into a Deed with Mr Phiroj Mancherji Clubwala. According to the Terms, Mr Clubwala agreed to vest the ownership of the Agiary to the Anjuman and agreed to name the Agiary (Atash Adran) Jal Phiroj Clubwala Dar-e-Meher. The entire management of the Dar-e-Maher was to be entrusted to 5 Trustees namely (1) Mr Phiroj Mancherji Clubwala (and after-him his legal heir), (2) One Nominee of Mr Clubwala (or of his legal heir, (3) The President of the Madras Parsi Zarthosti Anjuman (who should also be the Chairman) and (4) & (5) two members of the Anjuman nominated by the Anjuman. The Dar-e-Meher should be under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction (Panthak) of the High Priest of Poona, Deccan.

On 9-2-1909 the foundation stone of the Agiary was laid by Mr. Hormusji Nowroji, President of the Anjuman. Mr Nowroji, a civil engineer by profession, designed the building and supervised its construction. The building was ready by the middle of 1910. The foundation stone bears the following inscription:

"The sacred building was designed by and constructed under the personal supervision of Hormusji Nowroji Esq. B.C.E., A.M. Inst. C.E., President, Madras Parsi Anjuman who laid this foundation stone on the 6th  February 1909."

In addition to the Dar-e-Meher premises, Mr Phiroj Mancherji Clubwala also gifted to the Anjuman a residential block in the Agiary compound for the residence of the Priests of the Agiary.

In April 1910 Ervad Dosabhai Pavri, who had been our mobed for four years retired and Ervad Hormasji Adarji Gai was engaged as mobed. On the consecration of the Agiary on 7-8-1910, mobed Gai became the first Panthaki of our Dar-e-Meher. He continued to be in service till March 1913. The Anjuman was very sorry to lose mobed Gai as he had rendered valuable services as Panthaki of the Agiary.

The consecration of the Dar-e-Meher on 7th August 1910 (Roj Mahrespand, Mah Amardad, Y.Z. 1275) was a grand affair. The temple was decorated in jasmine flowers. There was a procession round the temple led by three priests carrying swords. Sirdar Dastoor Kaikobad Adarbad Nosherwan, the High Priest of the Deccan, conducted the Jashan ceremonies, assisted by five other priests. Later there was a function in the agiary compound where, thanks to the presence of the Parsee Theatrical Company of Bombay, a record number of Parsis were present. Innumerable presentations took place. A breakfast followed and the celebrations continued in the evening when Mr Phiroj Mancherji Clubwala entertained members to a sumptuous dinner where a string band was in attendance.

Panthaki Gai was succeeded by Ervad Rustomji Pestonji Daji who, along with his son Tehmurasp took charge of the Agiary in March 1913. After a long and meritorious service of 25 years, Rustomji Daji expired on 3-2-1938 at the age of 76 years and his son Tehmurasp assumed charge as Panthaki of our Agiary. Mobed Tehmurasp's son Peshotan also joined the service of the Anjuman in 1924, during the life time of his grandfather. Mobed Tehmurasp Daji was felicitated by the Anjuman on 21-3-1963 on completion of 50 years of service. After a meritorious career of 55 years, he expired on 7-6-1968 at the ripe old age of 83 years and his son Peshotan succeeded him as Panthaki. In 1974, the Anjuman felicitated Panthaki Peshotan Daji on his completing 50 years of service and once again in 1983, on his retirement after a dedicated service of nearly 60 years. Panthaki Peshotan Daji expired on 7.12.1997 at the ripe old age of 87 years. He was succeeded by Mobed Jehangirji Piroshaw Dastur as Panthaki and Mobed Kaikobad Piroshaw Dastur as Assistant Priest of our Dar-e­Meher. The community is grateful to the Daji family for seventy years of continuous service to our Dar-e-Meher.

In 1987 Ervad Hoshang N Bhandara was appointed Panthaki of the Dar-e-Meher. On the resignation of Ervad Bhandara in 1992, Ervad Nadirshaw R Dastur was appointed as Panthaki on 1.1.1993, and was later assisted by his son Adil. It is with regret that we record the untimely demise of Ervad Nadirshaw Dastur in August 1994.


On 16th July 1996, Ervad Kaikhushru Faredoon Laskari was appointed Panthaki of the Dar-e-Meher. He served the Holy Fire and the community with loyalty and devotion for fourteen years, during which time he won the hearts of all the Zoroastrians of Chennai. It was with regret that we accepted his resignation on the 19th of June 2010. The community bade farewell to Kaikhushru on the 26th of June 2010 when we presented him with a shawl and a gold coin. We also welcomed our new Panthaki, Ervad Bomanshah Vazifdar and his family and wished him a long and fruitful stay in Chennai while tending to our Holy Atash and serving the community.

We celebrated landmark years in the history of our Dar-e-Meher

  • GoldenJubilee in 1960 

  • Diamond Jubilee in 1970 

  • Platinum Jubilee in 1985 

  • 90th Anniversary in 2000 

  • Centenary celebrations in 2010 


Work had begun for a grand celebration of the 110th Salgireh of the Dar-e-Meher in January 2020. However, due to the unrelenting lockdown during the Coronavirus pandemic, these had to be postponed. We recently celebrated the 111th Anniversary of the Jal Phiroj Clubwala Dar-e­- Meher, during lockdown.

Although we were all confined to our homes, the Anjuman hosted a Khushali  nu Jashan on Zoom, and gifted each resident family a hand-made glass bead toran as a keepsake to commemorate the occasion. Honouring our traditional craftsmanship was a good way to celebrate this special event. Members received this simple but exquisite gift with delight, and many shared photographs of how they have installed them at home.  It has indeed been another historic moment in the history of the Zoroastrians of Chennai. The Trustees of the Dar-e-Meher conducted another drive to collect funds and bulwark the temple against the future. This has been highly successful, with members reaching generously into their pockets to thank the Holy Atash for the protection it sheds over us all,

We gratefully record our sincere thanks to all donors through the years, whose religious devotion and spirit of service have enabled us to augment the funds for the maintenance of our Dar-e-Meher from time to time, and to maintain the glory and grandeur of this heritage building.

Nemsetey Aatash Mazdaao, Ahure Udaao, Kajistey Yazatey


- Compiled by Zarin Mistry, Roshan Poncha & Tehnaz Bahadurji



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