Parsi Cemetery



The Parsi (also spelt “Parsee”1) burial ground was established at Mount Palmer in Tanjong Pagar in 1828.2 It came under the administration of Parsi trustees, but the trust was transferred to the Muslim and Hindu Endowment Board in 1889 when the last two Parsi trustees left Singapore for India. Following the formation of the Parsi Association in 1954, the management of the trust was returned to the Parsis. In 1969, the burial ground was acquired by the Singapore government, which moved it first to Tampines and then to its present location at the Choa Chu Kang Cemetery.3

History
A minority community in Singapore, the Parsis, who were mostly traders, began arriving in Singapore from India from the start of the 20th century.4 The first Parsi in Singapore was known by the name of Muncherjee. He arrived in Singapore in 1819 not long after Stamford Raffles first landed in Singapore. Muncherjee was a convict, like many from India at the time who had come to the colony.5 When Muncherjee died in 1829, Aristarcus Sarkies, an Armenian trader, persuaded the Parsi community in China to purchase a burial place for Zoroastrians (the Parsi religion) in Singapore.6 Coincidentally, in 1827, John Palmer, a trader from Calcutta was running into business difficulties and thus sold part of his property, Mount Palmer, to a Parsi. The plot was then turned into a Parsi burial ground.7

Parsi Road in Tanjong Pagar marks the site of the original cemetery.8 As part of their faith, Parsis conduct sky burials but as Singapore does not practice sky burials, the Parsis bury their dead here.9

Description
In 1829, the Parsi Lodge Charity, an endowment trust, was established to provide a burial ground for the Parsis, maintain the adjoining Parsi Lodge and offer an annual overseas scholarship.10 The last known burial in this plot took place in 1869. By the time the burial grounds were closed in 1934, there were about 30 graves with three that could be identified. These were of Furmruze Sorabjee (d. 1849), Eduljee Nusserwanjee Muzgamwalla (d. 1869) and Pestonji Pullonji Desai (d. 1868).11

In April 1969, the burial ground was acquired by the Singapore government at a cost of S$400,000, the sum of which was held in trust with the Parsi Lodge Charity. Later, to make way for urban development, the burial ground was moved to Tampines and then to Choa Chu Kang Cemetery. In 2007, the government acquired part of the Parsi cemetery, and the burial ground was relocated across the road to another section of Choa Chu Kang Cemetery. A prayer building, used for prayers and ceremonies, was constructed on its grounds.12

Some notable Parsis buried in the Parsi Cemetery include Navroji Mistri, one of the pioneer Parsis in Singapore, who generously donated to charity and after whom the Mistri Wing at the Singapore General Hospital was named;13 shipping magnate Pesi Davar; and Nargis Medora, the former president of the Leprosy Association.14



Authors
Marsita Omar & Bonny Tan




References
1. Notice – Parsee Lodge Cemetery, Singapore. (1957, June 14). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2.  Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 286. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
3. Notice – Parsee Lodge Cemetery, Singapore. (1957, June 14). The Straits Times, p. 12; Ng, T. Y. (2006, May 31). Grave detective. The New Paper, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Ng, T. Y. (2006, May 31). Grave detective. The New Paper, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Sharp, I. (1979, March 21). An ancient but living faith striving to look aheadThe Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Singapore minority groups. (1986, August 24). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 286. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
8. Das, Y. (1992, March 20). The ways of the Parsis. The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Singapore minority groups. (1986, August 24). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Sharp, I. (1979, March 21). An ancient but living faith striving to look aheadThe Straits Times, p. 14; Graveyard sale to provide annual overseas study fund. (1958, March 28). The Singapore Free Press, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Notice – Parsee Lodge Cemetery, Singapore. (1957, June 14). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Ng, T. Y. (2006, May 31). Grave detective. The New Paper, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Das, Y. (1992, March 20). The ways of the Parsis. The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Ng, T. Y. (2006, May 31). Grave detective. The New Paper, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Parsees--Singapore
Cemeteries--Singapore
Streets and Places
People and communities>>Customs>>Death customs
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places