Not many know who Zoroastrians are; they may be termed as a dying breed but they refuse to go down without a fight! With approximately 69,000 in India, Zoroastrians are often compared to dying species like the Tiger but the Parsis/Zoroastrians take pride in wanting to expand their community. And the recently concluded – 25th All India Zoroastrian Youth Meet in Pune was a step towards it. The youth meet was organised by the Federation of Zoroastrian Youth Associations (FOZYA). Fozya came into existence at the first All India Youth Seminar held at New Delhi in 1987.
This annual youth meet has never been an intentional matrimonial meet but is organised so that Parsi/Zororastiran youth can mingle, get to know each other better and have a good time. This year, the meet celebrated its silver jubilee and took place at the Dr Erin Nagarvala High School, Kalyani Nagar, Pune from October 29, 2016 to October 31, 2016. About 170 people (in the age group of 18-35) from cities like Ajmer, Ahmedabad, Coimbatore, Nagpur, Navsari, Mumbai, Pune and Surat attended the meet. It was also attended by a guy from Karachi (Pakistan) who now works in Mumbai.
The meet kick started with Dr Cyrus Poonawalla being felicitated by Dr Shernaz Cama (Foundation head of Parzor foundation) at the Poonawalla Auditorium.
A number of lectures were conducted by prominent people over three days. While, Major General RS Jambusarwala conducted a lecture on ‘The Ethos of the Armed Forces’, Ashdeen Lilaowala, a designer by profession, shared an interesting experience of him coming across a group abroad which was fascinated to know about the Zoroastrian community. Ashdeen tried to educate them and in process also acquired a lot of knowledge about his own community.
Pearl Mistry from the Jiyo Parsi Organisation conducted a small workshop on Community Affairs. She raised the issue of decline in Parsi population and explained as to why Parsis should try and make a difference and have more children.
On the last day, there was a workshop – It’s all in the mind – by Behzad Randeria. An open house debate session was held after the workshop and was conducted by Behzad along with Major General RS Jambusarwala. This session discussed love, infatuation, marriage and live-in relationships. Though the discussions were intense, they had their share of humour. From intimacy to loyalty after marriage, everything was openly discussed. Interestingly, the ones who agreed on live-in relationships also thought it had a time period and the relationship needed to be sealed with marriage. Just before everyone dispersed to come back for the night, Brandon Lalkaka, a stand-up comedian by passion, from Ahmedabad put up a show that thrilled and entertained everyone.
Apart from the discussions, the meet was also high on fun and bonhomie. Outdoor games like volleyball, throw ball, basketball and football were played in between sessions and they kept the excitement levels high. Mingling in groups was a common sight at the event. Some old friendships were renewed and some new ones blossomed. Though not a matrimonial meet, some special relationships did take shape! The entertainment included a beautiful and graceful belle dancer who enthralled everyone with her moves. A dance and music session was enjoyed by all to the fullest at Vivaanta, Taj Blue Diamond. It was then that Mabrin Nanavati (President of FOZYA) passed on his responsibilities to Ariz Bokdawalla.
Here are the experiences of some of delegates who attended the meet!
Behafrid Motafram, Ajmer
I had a great time listening to the speakers and the debate was also pretty good. I made many friends from all walks of life and different age groups too! It was my first youth meet and I’m looking forward for the next one. I think the next meet should be for more than 4 days so that people can get more time.
Jamshed Dumasia, Mumbai/Karachi, Pakistan
It was a fab event and everybody was so enthusiastic. We should have more youth meets like these and the meet should go on for at least a week!
Michelle Lalkaka, Ahmedabad
I felt extremely welcomed at the youth meet. This meet was a great first experience. I enjoyed the debates as it gave all of us a chance to share our different point of views.
Hera Havewala, Mumbai
The icebreakers were a lot of fun and I played volleyball for the first time! The debates actually opened up a whole new world of ideas in my head. People say Parsi girls are materialistic but I did see a few of us vouching for love over money during the debates!
Kazvin Marfatia, Ahmedabad
Everyone made me feel super comfortable at the youth meet even though I didn’t know many people at the meet. Towards the end of it, I felt like I was a part of a great big family! I want to thank Foyza, the organisers and volunteers for making this experience so memorable.
Mehernaz Mavalwalla, Nagpur
I felt amazing as I never interacted with so many Bawas and Bawis before! Being an introvert it’s difficult for me to interact with new people but as the days passed away at this meet, I made some really nice friends.
Firoz Mehta, Mumbai
I have always loved coming for Fozya camps and this is the 4th youth meet I have attended. These meets are very relaxing and very different from other youth meets I have attended. It’s my yearly getaway and I eagerly wait to attend it. The lectures were very refreshing.
Rayumand Yazdani, Mumbai
I loved the time spent at the youth meet. I got to meet so many new people; we lived in a dormitory and that made me nostalgic about the good old college life!
Brandon Lalkaka (Ahmedabad)
Initially, I felt pretty awkward as I don’t meet many people from the community. However, at the meet, as the days passed by, I felt more comfortable with others. I loved the company of people and the activities which took place. And, of course, I enjoyed the debates. I was one of the few who spoke after all!
Diana Olpadwalla (Mumbai)
This was my first meet and it was a wonderful experience. I got in touch with so many crazy Bawas!
Yannick Sethna, Ahmedabad
The meet was well planned with the right amount of interactions. Unlike most meets, I have always felt that meets in Pune give you a chance to bond with more people. The debates were enjoyable and I specifically liked the way Behzad Randeria put her points forth. Speaking about the debate, I feel one should marry for love but one also needs money to live happily. I am not against live-in relationships but the fickle nature and its legal implications mean that I wouldn’t want to do the same.
Berjis Sethna, Ahmedabad
As always, FOZYA youth meet gave us a proud feeling of being a Parsi/Zoroastrian. Cheers to Fozya which makes it possible to bring so many youth from all around the country under one roof.
Astad S Dalal, Mumbai
The meet was fun filled with lots of activities, debates, dance, sports and of course the Bawa food! The debate organised was good, but at some point of time the discussion was going off the main topic and had talks only about sex.
Sarosh Mevawalla, Mumbai/Surat
Fozya has written a new chapter in history by connecting the largest number of youths from every corner of India. I feel lucky to be attending such a grand camp.