Religion for Conservation

A Report by a Member and Trustee of the Delhi Parsi Anjuman – Professor Kavas Kapadia


The Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) in collaboration with the Ecological Management Foundation( EMF) and International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC) had organized a three day  workshop on “Faith, water ,sanitation and hygiene” from 5-7th July 2009 in the Sarum College, Salisbury, England. The programme was coordinated by Martin Palmer, a theologian, author, environmentalist and a broadcaster.

The organizers had invited around 25 delegates from around the world who are in some manner or the other associated with the above theme either as practitioners of specific faith, field workers, financing institutions, working with voluntary organizations, academicians or product inventors. Also were specially invited the high priests of seven different mainstream religions i.e Christian (both Catholic and Protestants), Hindu, Islamic, Jew, Buddhist and Zorastrian. The purpose was to get a view of the different religions on the now very pertinent and significant matter of resource conservation-with special reference to water.

The Zoroastrian faith was represented by Dr. Rooyintan Peer, priest from Mumbai  and Prof. Kavas Kapadia (DOS School of Planning and Architecture).

Works, innovative ideas and case studies were presented in a packed programme lasting over several sessions. Each session was started by  inviting a representative of a different faith to say a small prayer. Most speakers chose to pick  a water related theme for the prayer.

Prof Kavas Kapadia presented the case of the ‘Tanka’ in Zoroastrian houses in Bharuch as has been documented by PARZOR, illustrating the Zoroastrian faith in keeping environmental traditions alive. The reverence to water as practiced in the Zoroasterian religion  was also very enthusiastically received. The presentation on the ‘Tanka’ was highly appreciated. The workshop evoked a tremendous interest in the Zoroastrian faith and the role of Parsis in Modern India.

The highlight of the workshop was a special session of short religious prayers  said in the historic and monumental Salisbury Cathedral on the evening of the 6th July, by the religious leaders in their full colorful  regalia.  Since Dr Peer had left for Mumbai by then Prof.  Kapadia  recited the ‘Ashem Vohu and Yatha Ahu Vairyo” giving their simple explanations.

The organizers have promised to bring out a comprehensive guide book titled “Faith in wate: Ideas Inspirations and stories” soon.