First Parsis in Singapore

The First Parsi to arrive in Singapore – a Crown Colony founded by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 – was Mr. Muncherjee
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The First Parsi to arrive in Singapore – a Crown Colony founded by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 – was Mr. Muncherjee. When he fell seriously ill in 1829, an Armenian named Aristarcus Sarkies persuaded the Parsis in China to buy a burial place for Zoroastrians in Singapore. Funds were raised by the Parsi Traders to buy a plot of land in the most prestigious banking area of Shenton Way. In 1948, more land was bought adjacent to it to build a bungalow as a Parsi Lodge for Parsi Traders from China to rest and to hold Zoroastrian Religious Ceremonies.

More Parsis started settling down in Singapore by the middle of the nineteenth Century. Among them was Mr. Fromurzee Sorabji whose son Cursetjee married an English Lady and founded Little Cursetjee & Co., which later became the well-known John Little & Co. Cursetjee also served as one of the Trustees of the burial ground.

Mr. Dunjibhoy Hormusji served on the Grand Jury in 1854 and Mr. Cama of Byramjee Hormusjee Cama and Co. opened an English School, on Tanjong Pagar Road, which he ran at his own expense giving free education to the local Chinese and others. Another prominent Parsi was Mr. Edaljee Khory, an advocate and solicitor, who came from London to Singapore via Rangoon, Burma having served there for nearly ten years. He had the distinction of having a Masonic Lodge named after him viz. Edaljee Khory Lodge of Mark Masters Masons No 436 and was installed as a Founder Master in 1891. Mr. Heerji Pestonji Kaka arrived in 1898 and was the manager of a timber merchant. Though an English Scholar, he had great interest in Community Work and started a Chinese Newspaper.


Mission & Purpose

In 1906, Mr. Sorabji Kavasji became the Editor of the Eastern Daily Mail which was taken over by the Straits Press Syndicate where he became the Editor and Sole Manager. In 1903, Mr. Phirozshaw Manekji Framroz started Framroz Aerated Water Factory and in 1909, Mr. Navroji Mistri joined him as a partner. They parted ways and Mr. Navroji Mistri started Phoenix Aerated Water Co. as well as branched out into real estate and restaurant business. Mr. Pesi Davar came in 1925 and joined his cousin Mr. Navroji Mistri. They courageously weathered difficult times through the Japanese Occupation during World War II. After the War, Mr. Pesi Davar launched his own business with Mr. Minoo Warden and started Davar & Co. They branched out into shipping. paint and timber business that stretched across into Malaysia. Mr. Pesi Davar and Mr. Navroji Mistri remained bachelors.

When Mr. Pesi Davar passed away on 14th September 1978, he donated Singapore Dollars 50,000 to the Parsi Association and left the rest of his entire estate in a trust for charitable and educational purposes under the trusteeship of Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank and Mr. Nariman Bhaghat. Even today, up to Singapore Dollars 200,000 or more are disbursed annually for charitable and educational purposes. Unfortunately, the humble Parsi remained unrecognized even amongst the Parsi Community.

Mr. Navroji Mistri who died a millionaire in 1953 donated Singapore Dollars 1,000,000 to the Ministry of Health to build The Mistri Wing for children at the Singapore General Hospital. The road adjoining his factory was named Mistri Road and the one next to the Parsi Burial Ground was named Parsi Road.