Nowruz Mobarak {Happy Persian New Year}. .

Cafe Sunlight, South Mumbai, 6am :

As a March night folds and day breaks, three men with long family connections to a space that has operated continuously for 90 years in South Mumbai’s Kalbadevi area – the first 60 of them as café and store, the last 30 as a bar - opened its shutters, unlocked its doors and walked inside just as they had every other day of their working lives.

They were followed minutes later by two Zoroastrian priests who quickly set to work as the doors were closed behind them, laying out the sofreh - a white linen sheet  - on the floor and populating it with fruits, a fire urn of burning sandalwood twigs and incense, flowers, milk and water, before reciting prayers.

Within the walls of one of Mumbai’s now iconic Irani café spaces, this jashan ceremony gave thanks and invoked prosperity as a new year began; a ritual with a heritage from Sassanian times that has occurred within this neighbourhood commercial space every Nowruz – Persian new year - since its opening almost a century earlier.

- Top and bottom : Cafe Sunlight, Kalbadevi Mumbai, March 21, 2017
- Middle : Meheraban Jamaspi Irani, 
   Cafe Sunlight Restaurant & Stores, circa 1970