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Zoroastrian Studies Seminar Series At University of Toronto

Zoroastrian Studies Seminar Series Winter-Spring 2023
University of Toronto
The Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies in
collaboration with the Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation
& the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America present

Zoroastrian Studies Seminar Series
Winter-Spring 2023

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Friday, January 20, 1:00 PM Eastern Time
“Conception and representation of the Zoroastrian Rituals”
Professor Alberto Cantera
Freie Universität BerlinFriday, February 17, 1:00 PM Eastern Time
“On the Transmission of the Zoroastrian Texts”
Professor Almut Hintze
University of LondonFriday, April 14, 1:00 PM Eastern Time
“Zoroastrian Norms in Sasanian Law”
Professor Maria Macuch
Freie Universität BerlinFriday, May 12, 1:00 PM Eastern Time
“Happiness in the Zoroastrian Traditions of Iran and India”
Professor Jamsheed K. Choksy
Indiana University
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Globally Regarded As One Of The Most Highly Revered Senior-most Zarathushti Head Priest In Iran.


BaNaMeh Ahura Mazda

To Think A Good Thought, To Speak A Good Word, To Do A Good Deed Is Righteousness.

Happiness Comes To Those Who Choose To Live With The Consciousness Of Righteousness.

And With That Preciousness, Ladies And Gentlemen…

This Is Meher Amalsad From California,  And With Immense Pleasure,

I would like To Speak A Few Words In Honor Of Our Highly Respected Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary, at this very special commemoration ceremony in his Honor on Father’s Day in Iran.

He is globally regarded as one of the most Highly Revered Senior-most Zarathushti Head Priest in Iran.

I have had the good fortune of knowing him as a passionate Mobed and a compassionate family friend for the past 35-Plus Years.

And over the years,  we have had this distinctive opportunity to work together towards supporting our Future Generation In Iran, through the World Zoroastrian Youth Congresses, and via other communal endeavors that were focused on promoting our Zarathushti youth in Iran. And I have truly appreciated his kindness and graciousness towards reaching out to humanity.

Presently, he is also serving as the Senior Advisor and the Guiding Light for the BaHumata Global Prayer, Leadership And Entrepreneurship Monthly Webinar Series, for which we are truly grateful.


My Dear And Respected Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary…

You have been an inspiration for serving the worldwide Zarthoshti community, with a commendable willingness to share your wisdom and knowledge, along with your scholastic contribution of numerous articles on various religious subjects.

You have been a pioneer in Avesta recitations through the best researched pronunciations, which were shared globally through your conducted classes, teaching media, as well as through audio recordings, in conjunction with your published book on Khordeh Avesta, which has been standardized for teaching,  as well as for public prayer recitations.

You have been an avid promoter of Gender Equity, Human Equality and Communal Equanimity,  by spearheading the basis and graduation of eight Lady Mobedyars in Iran.

Being officiated in the Yasna rituals,  you have trained five very proficient Mobeds to replace you in that role,  for which I salute you with all my heart and spirit.


Now For Those Who Don’t  Know…

Our Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary  has been awarded the “Chehre Mandegar” (Everlasting personality) by the Tehran Zarthoshty Anjuman,  for his 50 plus years of selfless service to our community as well as humanity.

He has been appointed as the Marriage Registrar for Zoroastrians of Tehran, by the Justice Ministry of the Iranian government,   which he conducts with immense joy and pride.

Our Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary  has represented Iran, and participated in panel discussions at several prominent venues namely:  the Parzor UNESCO Filing of Novrooz amongst UNESCO’s World Cultural listings, The World Zoroastrian Congress in Tehran, and Tehran University celebrations of UNESCO’s declaration of the 2000th year of Iranian Culture.

He has also been involved in numerous national and international seminars on Iranian culture and interfaith meetings, the last being his Panel and Prayer sessions at the 2019 Ninth European Conference of Iranian Studies held at Berlin University.

In addition to serving as a Mobed, he built an outstanding career that spanned over 5-decades, as an Industrial Electronics Engineer after receiving his Bachelor’s Degree from India in 1958.

For 10-years, he was employed by J. N. Marshall & Co – a Parsi Owned Engineering firm in India, where he held responsible and prominent positions as the Service and Branch Manager.

In 1968, he married Mehrangiz from Iran and a year later returned to Iran,  where he was first employed by IBM international and then transferred to Honeywell Controls in Tehran,  where he served as the Head of the Electrical and Instrumentation department for over 20+ years.  Even though he officially retired in 1999, he continued to work until 2016. That’s What I Call A Commendable Dedication.

Ladies And Gentlemen:

It is said that: How We Think About Our World, Changes Our World

My Dear And Respected Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary:

Your Forward And Insightful Thinking,  has helped to change the inner world of many Zarathushtis in Iran and worldwide.

Your name “Mehraban” means kind, but you are kinder than kind.

You truly are a person who is “gifted with a spiritual and luminous face, emanating vibrant energy coupled with the knowledge, wisdom and ability to propagate the pristine message of our prophet Zarathushtra”.

And that’s why you are revered as a “Peer”, the eldest, and most enlightened dedicated Iranian Mobed.   But with utmost humility and modesty, you still prefer to be addressed as “Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary”.

I Love That Spirit Of Humility And Dignity In You.

You Truly Are A Gem Of A Human Being For Which I Salute You With All My Love And Light

Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary, it has been a joy and a privilege;  of knowing you as a Special Friend.

So, At This Very Special Commemoration Celebration in your Honor

I Thank You For Your Fatherly Guidance To Our Zarathushti Community And Humanity.

I am grateful for the gift of your friendship and thankful for the blessing of your leadership.

And, I wish you a life filled with Love, Light, Grace, Joy And Peace.

Be Blessed And Stay Blessed With The Blessings Of Ahura Mazda.  Ushta-Te And Ushta-Ve


Happiness Today, Love Always To You My Dear Respected Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary

Meher Amalsad

Westminster, California, USA


A Special Dedication In Honor Of Our Highly Respected Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary – Head Priest, Iran

ZASHA – Celebrating Zoroastrian Women Across the World


The Zoroastrian women that feature on the ZASHA website represent the strength, intelligence, and generosity of spirit that the global Zoroastrian community is known for. Many have been forgotten and some even overlooked but they are all women who have left and are leaving their incredible mark in important ways.  They present different time periods, geographical locations, and spheres of action. What they have in common is that, in their different ways, they challenged or overcame the restricting gender norms of the societies in which they lived. By refusing to be bound by the social, legal, political, or domestic conventions of their time, they helped shape the modern world.

The ZASHA website is to celebrate the various and magnificent achievements of Zoroastrian women and their community. It is to connect and enable them to interact and work in a bond of fellowship with others in their special fields, across disciplines.  Hopefully, it will also be an inspiration to a new generation who are unaware of the extraordinary line of dynamic women they are descended from and the obstacles they faced to create a better life for themselves, and their families.  We salute them for their bravery, and pluckiness.

Over my lifetime, historians especially in the women’s movement have been asking pointed questions about women and their important role often forgotten and sometimes deliberately ignored and erased. The result has been a rich and new way to view our collective story.  In uncovering these short stories of fascinating Zoroastrian women, alive and deceased I have been left in awe of their achievements. I am sure that those who are inspired by this website will explore their female ancestors that have been the foundation of an ancient and glorious religion.

This ZASHA website is my gift for the 12th World Zoroastrian Congress 2022, in New York, to complement the session on Women and Leadership.   I was honoured to be a keynote speaker and chair of this important event. I believe it is a tipping point in redefining the role of Zoroastrian women in our fast-moving world. It is also an appropriate way to recognise the extraordinary achievements of Zoroastrian women. The ZASHA website will in time be a place for lodging and locating archival material for the worldwide Zoroastrian community and for easy access to events, news, and views.

I have boldly named the website ZASHA, which incorporates Z for Zoroastrian and ASHA which is the name of the centre I helped found in Gloucestershire, England for the enrichment of people’s lives especially the young.

For Zoroastrians the word asha is the basis of what we believe brings truth, order, righteousness, and justice to our world.  ZASHA in Russian means ‘ The Defender of the People’ and in South Africa ‘The Spirit of Fire’ which is revered by us Zoroastrians. ZASHA also neatly spells ‘Zoroastrian Alliance of Sisters here and abroad.’ I just love the sound of ZASHA which is both feminine and fun.

I know that everyone has an important part in making sure that such an extraordinary faith and culture that has changed the course of world history directly and indirectly over millennia flourishes. Most importantly there is a duty to leave a fine legacy to future generations. I hope the ZASHA website will play a vital part in the Zoroastrian community’s role to continue to bring happiness and enlightenment to others.  I am in no doubt that future generations will thank us for keeping the Zoroastrian goodness and magic alive throughout our shared world.

Many thanks to all those that have made this site happen.
My admiration and affection to you all.


Zerbanoo Gifford

A Report on ZAC Atash Kadeh’s 6th Salgreh

ZAC Celebrated the 6th Salgreh of their Atashkadeh with Blessings and Messages from 3 Vada Dasturs

The 6th Salgreh of the Zoroastrian Association of California‘s Atash Kadeh was celebrated with great religious fervor and Parsi gusto on the 12th of November. The celebration started a week ago by deep cleaning the premises. On the day of Salgreh, Chowk was done by Vira & Barjor Santoke, a Hama Anjuman maachi was offered to Atashpadshah in all five gehs. Also, two Hama Anjuman Jashans were performed, one in the morning and one in the evening to facilitate the whole community by Ervads Zerkxis and Zarir Bhandara which was attended by about 75 Zoroastrians. After the Jashans, ZAC president Mrs. Rooky Fitter (in the morning) and Daisy Pithawalla, the Youth Coordinator of ZAC (in the evening) read the following message from the high priest of Iranshah Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor:

“Dear Humdinds, Greetings from the land of Iranshah!

I would like to express my heartiest congratulations and best wishes to my dear friend and a sincere Mobed, Er. Zarir Bhandara on this auspicious occasion, the 6th Salgareh of the Darbe Meher in California.

In many of my talks, I have expressed the need and importance of a religiously pious and scripturally knowledgeable Mobed who is willing to share his learning and insight with the community. This is the one way, our religious traditions will be protected and our religion; preserved.

This is what Zarir has believed in and has made every effort in the direction

of Preservation. He continues to take the trouble to play a contributory role in organising and being a part of as many religious gatherings as he possibly can, in his part of the world.

What strikes me as very impressive is that he has not only encouraged and motivated his son Zerkxis but has mentored him to follow his passion.

I am grateful to you Zarir, though so far away from your roots, you have in the past 50 years helped lay a strong foundation of religious wealth for the Zoroastrians in the U.S. Your sincere efforts towards maintaining the glory and sanctity of the sacred Atash Dadgah have not gone unnoticed nor have they gone in vain.

The community has derived its strength to survive and persevere with the blessings of the burning Holy Fire.

I pray that Dadar Ahuramazda and Iranshah Let your efforts bear fruit within our Community and May you receive their blessings in abundance.

May the Light of the Sacred Fire strengthen the Faith, bring Harmony, and Guide our community towards preserving our traditions and ethnicity eventually leading us towards enlightenment.”


ZAC Secretary Mrs. Vira Santoke (in the morning) and ZAC Treasurer Mr. Phiroze Gundevia (in the evening) read the following message from high priest Dasturji Dr. Firoze M. Kotwal:

“Dear Ervad Saheb Khushro Unwalla,

Many thanks for your message about felicitating Ervad Saheb Zarrir Bhandara on the auspicious day of the 6th Salgreh of your Atash Padshah Saheb. I am pleased that the Association of California has deemed it fit to felicitate a worthy priest who is involved in the service of the whole Parsi community. Kindly find attached my message for Zarrir to be read on the auspicious occasion.

With all the good wishes and blessings of Ahura Mazda,

Yours in His service,

Dasturji Firoze M. Kotwal

Felicitations on the 6th Anniversary (Salgreh) of the Atash Padshah installed by the Zoroastrian Association of California (ZAC)

On this auspicious day of the Salgreh of the Atash Padshah, Rūz Māhraspand, Māh Khordād 1392 AY, it is our sincere prayer that our Holy Fire may continue to shower his choicest blessings on the faithful devotees of California. It is our wish that the Holy Fire which is spiritually linked with the Divine Fire of Ahura Mazda, may continue to bestow its spiritual blessings on the Parsi Community until the time of the Resurrection. And may the Holy Fire also bestow his divine blessings on the Parsi Community and lead them always on the path of Truth and Righteousness.

It is very gratifying that the Zoroastrian Association of California (ZAC) is fortunate to have a good and sincere priest such as Ervad Saheb Zarrir Bhandara who has been helping the members of the community in all spheres of life to lead them onto the path of virtue.

It is my sincere hope that Ervad Saheb Zarrir Bhandara and his son Zerkxis will continue to serve the faithful and devout members of the Good Religion in matters of the religion and in their everyday life and serve as the true shepherds of their flock. May this father and son team live a long and healthy life and may the divine blessings of Ahura Mazda be bestowed upon them and the devout members of the Parsi Irani Zarthushti community of California.”

After which ZAC’s immediate past president Mobedyar Houtoxi Contractor read the following message from High priest Vada Dasturji Cyrus Noshirwan Dastur:

Dear Ervad Dr. Unwalla,

Here is my message to be read out on the auspicious occasion of ZAC Atash Padshah’s 6th salgreh:

I wish and pray to Dadar Ahura Mazda that the divine fire that was enthroned in California six years ago, may eternally keep burning and keep blessing the Zarthosty devotees with an abundance of happiness, success, progress, and prosperity. I also congratulate Ervad Zarrir F. Bhandara, my guru, on his 50 years of dedicated, selfless, and honorary service to our Zarthosti community in the US, North America, and globally. Zarrir you have been guiding our community with your expansive knowledge about our religion and I commend you for the same, may Ahura Mazda’s blessings be showered upon you forever.”

After which a note of thanks was delivered by Ervad Bhandara, thanking the ZAC executive committee and Ervad Zerksis for working behind the scenes to make sure everything runs smoothly and to Commissariat and family for preparing delicious Dhundar, Chawal, veg Patio, and Lagan nu custard and Yashmin Mehernosh Pithawalla for mouth-watering chutney sandwiches which were relished by everyone.


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The Ostowari Story

The Ostowari Story


This is a love story.

It is a story about a family’s love for their community and the lengths they went to.

I am writing about the Ostowari family of Sydney and especially Akhtar and Nawzar Ostowari.


Nawzer Ostowari

Akhtar Ostorawi

Akhtar was born in Kerman, Iran while Nawzar was born in Bombay and grew up in Poona.

Nawzar was one of 9 siblings, 6 boys and 3 girls.

Akhtar was sent to India from Iran when she was fifteen to get married. Nawzar’s father, her uncle, came to meet her at Poona station with all his sons. Akhtar famously narrated that on her arrival he lined them all up at Poona station and asked her to choose one for her husband. She chose Nawzar for his good looks. He did look like Omar Sharif as photographs show. Apart from his looks, Nawzar was a highly skilled and talented man. He was a glider pilot, a mechanical engineer, a very good photographer, an accountant and a natural with his hands. Apparently he was asked by the Shah of Iran to come and start a Glider training school in Tehran. Nawzar accepted this invitation and moved with his young family to Tehran.

In Tehran apart from running Glider training Nawzar also started a photography business and combined his aerial and photography skills to do photogrammerist work to produce maps for surveys done by oil companies of possible locations for oil exploration sites. His sister Shera had a daughter Marokh who was married to a Canadian oil driller working on the BHP Bass strait oil fields in the mid sixties. That induced Shera and her family to migrate to Australia. Shera’s husband Fereydoon had throat cancer and was dying. Nawzar decided to migrate to Australia to be with his sister to help out. Nawzar, Akhtar and the children came to Sydney in 1967. Nawzar bought a large house in 14, Nelson Road, Lindfield and put his inventive skills to work and started a successful Labels printing business in Australia.

When I came to Australia in 69 that house on Nelson Road, Lindfield was the focus of community meets. I landed at the start of the Labour Day long week end and went to visit Akhtar and Nawzar the next day. A knock on the door was opened by this beautiful lady who looked like Princess Soraya. It was Akhtar in her late 30s. I did not know her from a bar of soap but the warmth of her welcome was so overwhelming that as a stranger in a strange land I immediately felt at home. This was the magic she had on people. Nawzar and Akhtar’s generosity and hospitality did not just extend to me alone. I know of several families who stayed at their house in the first months of arrival until they had found work and could move out. This was a true Zoroastrian act, asking for nothing in return, they just got pleasure from giving!

I would visit Akhtar and Nawzar regularly. There were only about 20 Zoroastrians then but growing very slowly. One day when I visited, Akhtar said she was going to start a Zoroastrian Association and ask for government land for our community. At that time such allocations were being done in new suburbs like Terry Hills. We were between 25-30 people at this meeting. Some were brand new arrivals who I had not even met. After a discussion of the aims and objects we passed the hat around and close to a $1000 were collected with the Ostowaris putting in $500. The next day Akhtar went with Jehangir Mistry and Pervez Kolsawalla to register our association in the Corporate Affairs Commission office in Clarence Street, Sydney and AZA was born. This was also the occasion for the first “jashan” in Sydney with Zoroastrian hymns chanted by the late Jangoo Unwalla who was from a mobed family. A write up of this event based on material provided appears on the AZA website.

As the 70’s moved on the community grew. I lost touch with the Ostowaris and I got caught up in my work and moved to study in the UK. Cyrus, Akhtar’s eldest son, went to Texas to do a PhD and teach Aeronautical Engineering. Akhtar and Nawzar also went to the US and considered settling there but eventually decided against it.

When I returned to Sydney in 1981 I married Dinaz Sadri who got involved in fund raising with the Foundation Committee and other AZA activities. After a lot of both written and verbal communication, in 1982 a pledge was gained from the Guiv trust for US$60K to purchase land for a Darbe–Meher and community centre. To push for early release of these funds Akhtar and Nawzar rushed to California at their own expense to make direct representations to Dr Sarfe the chair of the Guiv trust. They also went to Canada to appeal to Mr Meherboon Zarthosty for funds. They got an encouraging hearing.

A debt free property of $143,500 with legals etc. of an extra $4000 was purchased by AZA by the end of 1985.

How was this possible? There were no funds from the Guiv or Zarthosty trusts and by Dec.1985 only 49K had been collected in community donations[1]?

The answer is straight forward.

The Ostowari family contributed the rest. Their contribution was given in stages at different times, by different members of the family and in different lots and therefore there is much confusion around how much they actually gave. What is clear is that Nawzar’s parents gave 15K of which receipts are available with the AZA. Akhtar and Nawzar gave 50K initially as per a note by Peshotan Katrak in his Memorial article to Nawzar in the December 2008 issue of Manashni. A further $1900 was given by the children bringing their total contribution to 66K+. An additional 12K+ was given which brings their major donor contribution to 78,927. This amount squares with the amount shown in a spreadsheet on pp4 of the Souvenir Issue published when the new Darbe-Meher was inaugurated in July 1994.

The funds collected to the end of Sep. 85 were:

Direct Ostowari Family contribution:        $66K+

Community Donations                            $49K

Interest                                                 $8K

TOTAL   (about)                                     $124K


As the MC of that time was also looking for suitable property for a Community Centre, they felt they were short of funds by around 24K considering the prices prevailing for properties in those days. To back up this shortfall there is a communication by Dr. Boman Kalapesi (then MC President) to this effect.  In the community there was a general expectation that any such shortfall would be made good from Guiv Trust funds which had already arrived in Sydney and were sitting in a Guiv Trust account in the Turramurra Branch of the Westpac Bank. However, by a turn of events this was not to be! Peshotan Katrak writes in the Manashni issue I mentioned earlier, that there were “protracted negotiations lasting 12 years” (starting from 1980, 1982 when the pledge was given, 1987 when the Deed of Release(DOR) was signed) to 1992 when funds were actually released to AZA. Unfortunately there is a false belief that the Guiv Trust released funds straight away for purchase of Annangrove property. Some believe that the funds were released when the DOR was signed which is again simply not true. In reality the precious funds were only released after AZA passed resolutions at an EGM in 91/92 to meet stringent Guiv Trust conditions to appoint trustees etc. to protect their donation.

So who made good the shortfall of close to 24K?

It was the Ostowaris.

How do I know this? Akhtar told us in 2011, when Dinaz and I were seeing her virtually every day that Nawzar did not want to miss out on purchase of the Annangrove property. A deposit had been paid which would be lost if AZA did not go to settlement like any conveyancing deal. Furthermore, to meet a stringent condition set by the Guiv trust that the AZA community should match their contributions as well, Nawzar made the decision to increase the Ostowari contribution to AZA. He also made contributions in other AZA members’ names to increase community contributions. Dinaz in fact remembers that one day in 1985 when I was at work we got a call from Nawzar asking if he could make a donation of 2-3K in our name. They were going round asking the old original AZA members to use their names. This indirect contribution done by the Ostowaris privately in other people’s names saved the day.  It buffered the community contribution so strongly demanded by the Guivs and Zarthoshty Trusts, satisfied the strong preconditions and finally enabled AZA to purchase Annangrove.

In private conversations, 27 years after Annangrove was purchased, Akhtar spoke of this modestly, recalling the many hurdles they had faced.  Furthermore we have to keep in mind that AZA’s records as minuted at the time are unreliable as they are incomplete and not all available. The MC in the past have claimed many times when questioned in AGMs that many minutes and other records have been lost or inadvertently destroyed.

A similar group of direct and indirect contributions were made by Nawzar Ostowari when money was collected for the new Darbe-Meher. However here there are well documented figures available of their generosity. Akhtar said that a family property was sold by Nawzar whose proceeds were used to fund these AZA donations.

In addition to their donations for the purchase of Annangrove and the building of the new Darbe-Meher the Ostowaris gave material things such as Fridges, Ovens, Stoves, Pressure Cookers and so on both for the old and the new building. There are people still alive who went with Akhtar to purchase these things. In addition to this, Nawzar worked night and day come rain, come shine to oversee the construction of the new Darbe-Meher. The landscaping at the front, namely the rockery and the fountain were his pet projects. I have some photographs of the building getting constructed which I will post with this article.

As if this was not enough of Ostowari contributions, Cyrus Ostowari built, all by himself, the beautiful furniture in the library and paid for all the materials and quality timber. The shelving, the tables and chairs are all done by Cyrus. But there is more. The pergola at the back of the Darbe-Meher with the paving was designed and built by Cyrus with the help of the Working Bee group. Special timber was ordered and paid for by Cyrus from a timber yard in Orange. There are back issues of Manashni that the curious can look up on this. We don’t know what Cyrus spent on these two projects but the raw materials themselves would have been over at least $10K- he never accepted any reimbursement for his expenses.

Further to all this contribution Akhtar did three more major things for AZA.

First, as a major donor she chaired the joint MC and Trustees meetings at which improvements and maintenance matters were discussed and funded. It was not just chairing as most of the time she was the first port of call for funding. Putli has told me that she carried $1000 in cash every time she went to AZA and spent it as she saw fit. There is no accounting for the total spent by her in this. Even if we take one visit a year (which is totally absurd) then over 40 years it amounts to $40K. We know she went at least once a month.

Second, she started with Dinaz the highly successful monthly Seniors program in 2008 after Nawzar’s death. This program is still running (with a name change!). At the Seniors meet alone she came with fruits, nuts, yogurts and other goodies of close to $100. For every prayer meet held at the AZA she would discreetly donate anything from 100-to 500/- dollars.

Finally as an outgrowth of the Seniors, Dinaz and Akhtar conceived of building a new modern commercial fully fitted out kitchen to replace existing facilities which were inadequate for feeding so many people monthly as also creating a modern facility suitable for the growth of an expanding, burgeoning community.  The funding was kicked off by Putli whose generosity resulted in her being named a Major Donor by AZA. Again, we will never know the exact amount spent on the kitchen. A separate account was opened with $244K+ deposited over time but in addition many cash ex-gratia payments were made by Akhtar. A lavish inauguration jashan was funded by Akhtar attended by 425 guests with food and drink and catering to both Indian and Iranian menus. I estimate that as some teething repairs also have to be taken into account a figure of $280K-ish would be near the actual cost of the new kitchen.

Note that the new kitchen has been a great success and it is used by both AZA for its functions and rented out for private navjote and wedding functions. It provides income to AZA as it is separately charged when booked.

Finally it would be amiss of me not to mention individual charities, scholarships, medical bills, and other good works of Akhtar. Many AZA members visited her and she discreetly helped all.

So far I have mentioned how Akhtar, Nawzar, Cyrus and Putli have donated to AZA. The final one to mention is Kaikhosrov’s contribution. If you enter AZA from the front door, then in the porch outside the front door sit two beautiful solid marble sculpted lions. These were donated by Kaikhosrov, and are very valuable costing tens of thousands of dollars each.

It is amazing to find that one family has shown such munificence and generosity.

No one else comes anywhere close.

There are no also–rans and it is highly unlikely that there ever will be. The mighty heart of this one family is self evident. I do hope it stands as a beacon to inspire future generations.

All up they have given well over half a million dollars.

Of course there will be the knockers, “gold-coinwallas” as I call them who give a gold-coin and ask for a receipt. They will want to knock off a dollar here and there of my figures. To them we have to say that we will never know the actual amount given by the Ostowaris and what we give here is a low end estimate.

For the Ostowaris’ actions one can only dwell on an interpretation of a part of the Yatha Varyo which says that:

“Happiness comes from making others happy”

By being instrumental in buying and developing Annangrove, lots of happy events have been held for the Zoroastrian community and many people have been happy.

I started this piece saying this was a love story. You can see after reading it why, for unless the Ostowaris truly had a love for their AZA community, they would never have bothered. They could have simply enjoyed their life and their money in peace and quiet and done nothing for us. After all there are other wealthier Zoroastrians in Sydney, who do little to nothing for AZA and that is their call. Two generations of the Ostowari family were not only generous they are truly unique!

Paradoxically ZAV started in Melbourne about the same time as AZA but they regret that till today they do not have a place of their own as ‘finance is a problem’ and doubts they will ever get one. Their President rues this fact in the June 2022 issue of Parsiana. Why? I say because they did not have far sighted visionaries like the Ostowaris championing their cause. The same could be said for Perth or Adelaide or Auckland.



I believe my life was enriched in being fortunate enough to know the Ostowari family so well and today where the community is we can truly say that:

“We stand on the shoulders of giants”

In the Zoroastrian tradition there are four wonderful gathic hymns. They are: the Ashem Vohu, the Yatha Varyo, the Airyema Ishio and the Vengha Hatam. The first two all Zoroastrians know while the last two are known by few of us. The Airyema Ishio enjoins us to always remember and emulate the example of those people who have followed the good religion by doing good works. That is why we are asked to remember and never forget them and place them in our thoughts and in our prayers. I ask you my dear readers to do that, to remember Akhtar and Nawzar and Cyrus next time in your prayers.


Dinyar Mistry

[1] Ref. AZA House Inaugural Jashan Souvenir, Feb.9, 1985

Inauguration Ceremony of Udwada Railway Station

Dear Parsi/Irani Community,
Today the 6th Sept 2019, Mah: Farvardin – Roj: Ram Y.Z. 1389, marks the day for the Inaugural of our restored Udwada Station, with Feliciation ceremony of our Vada Dastoorji Shri Khurshed Kekobad Dastoor and his efforts and personal attention towards the Restoration of the Udwada Railway Station and the whole of Udwada. It’s the most beautiful station in South Gujarat and equipped with the latest technology and the most modern facilities for commuters. An announcement for halting Flying Ranee and another train for the convenience of commuters was made by Vada Dastoorji Shri Khurshed Kekobad Dastoor for which he shall put in an appeal and request our Railway Minister Mr Piyush Goyal to do the needful. He also requested citizens to take care of the upgradation and considered it as their own by keeping the surroundings clean and requested everyone to join the “Šwachh Bharat Mission” a dream of our adorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra bhai Damodardas Modi Jee. Ervad Mr Zarir. M. Dastoor too was present with other Parsi members of Udwada Gam to applaud Vada Dastoorji Shri Khurshed Kekobad Dastoor for his fulfilment in getting the project completed in the stipulated time period. Many more from the Lions club, WE club, Senior citizens club, Bhakti and Shakti Mandal members, Udwada Anjuman, Vyapari Mandal, Gram Panchayat and District and Taluka Gram Presidents were present to grace this special day.
The programme started with Maa Saraswati Vani by students of Bhagini Samaj School, speeches were held by the dignitaries and ended with reciting our National Athem. It was a wonderful evening and a successful inauguration of the beautifully made air-conditioned rooms was done by Vada Dastoorji Šhri Khurshed Kekobad Dastoor.
Sweets and chocolates were distributed to everyone present to mark the happiness and fulfilment of the day.
Bharat Mata Ki Jay.
Love and Regards
Shahin J A Mehershahi.

Message of Zoroastrianism must be heard worldwide: Iran President

 Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has sent a message to the 11th World Zoroastrian Congress, expressing hope the meeting could help spread the message of divine religions the world badly needs.

In a Saturday message to the event, which was started in Perth in western Australia on Friday and will last until Monday, Rouhani said the congress is a source of pride for Iran, the birthplace of the Zoroaster and the first home of Zoroastrians.

The president said Zoroastrianism is a divine religion highly similar to Islam and other monotheistic religions, whose message needs to be heard.

“The world today needs moral teachings of prophets, including Zoroaster. The world ought to pay attention to [basic Zoroastrian] tenets of Good ThoughtsGood Words, Good Deeds,” he said.

“These tenets point out that our deeds are affected by our thoughts and we need to correct our thoughts before correcting our deeds and words,” he said.

The president said Zoroastrian teachings have greatly affected Iran’s culture, inspiring prominent intellectuals from Iranian polymath Avicenna to renewed poets Hafez and Rumi.

“The Zoroastrian teachings have been incorporated into Iranian culture … and have become parts of characteristics of Iranians from all ethnicities and races,” he said.

“We must be grateful for these common roots that connects us together and shape our deeds and behaviour”, he said.

“I hope such gatherings could [help] convey the message of this great religion to the whole world,” the President concluded.

Rouhani finally wished happiness and prosperity for all Zoroastrians in the world, particularly the Parsi community of India.




Prime Minister Rt Hon Theresa May Jamsheedi NoRuz message to the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe and Zoroastrian community

We at the ZTFE are delighted to share with you, that once again the ZTFE and the Zoroastrian community has received a celebratory message for Jamsheedi NoRuz on Wednesday 21st March 2018 from our Prime Minster Rt Hon Theresa May.  Please download the attached letter on 10 Downing Street letterhead, the text is pasted below. 
I would like to wish everyone celebrating Jamsheedi NoRuz a very happy year.  Although NoRuz is celebrated by many communities, its origins and religious significance are, of course Zoroastrian.  
History records that the Zoroastrians have celebrated the joyous spring festival of Jamsheedi NoRuz for over 2500 years.  It continues to the first day of spring and has special significance, as it is a time for the restoration of peace and the renovation of the world.  It is also a celebration of the revival of nature, bringing with it warmth and prosperity after the cold winter months.

May the spirit of renovation that symbolizes the ancient Zoroastrian festival of Jamsheedi NoRuz be emulated by all people and nations, where friendships are renewed and quarrels are set aside to usher in peace, tranquility, well-being and the rejuvenation of happiness and all that is good in the world.
The Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe is the oldest Asian faith-based voluntary association in the UK and together with the Zoroastrian community has contributed to the progress, well-being and prosperity of our country. I wish you all peace and joy on this day of NoRuz.
Theresa May
21 March 2018

Many of you are aware that the oldest photograph in the ZTFE archives, is of our then president Dr Dadabhai Naoroji (first Indian / Asian MP in Britain), together with Sir Mancherjee Merwanjee Bhownaggree (second Indian / Asian MP), Allan Octavian Hume (Father of the Indian National Congress) and guests from other faith communities including founder members of the Indian National Congress, celebrating Jamsheedi NoRuz in 1906 at the Cafe Royal, Regents Street. This year, just like in the previous 111 years, the ZTFE together with the Zoroastrian community celebrated Jamsheedi NoRuz on 21st March. On behalf of Team ZTFE, I thank you for your continued support and loyalty, thus enabling the ZTFE to continue to celebrate this ancient Zoroastrian New Year festival on the actual day itself.


Yours sincerely 

Malcolm M Deboo
Malcolm M Deboo
Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe (Incorporated), Established 1861
Oldest Asian Faith Based Voluntary Organisation in the United Kingdom  
Zoroastrian Centre, 440 Alexandra Avenue , Harrow, Middlesex HA2 9TL , UK
Religious and Cultural Centre of the Parsi & Irani Zoroastrian Community

Liberty/Faravaraneh, Justice/Dad and Happiness/Ushta for all; is explicit in the Gathas.

The US bill of rights and the US constitution is inspired by Iranian: civilization, philosophy, science and culture.

Liberty/Faravaraneh, Justice/Dad and Happiness/Ushta for all; is explicit in the Gatha.
Wishing you the best/vahishta/behesht –  The best mental state; the abode where Ahura-Mazda/Wise-Human unite to celebrate/jashn/yasna.”

Shahrooz Ash

Remembering Dr. Zinobia Madan


 It has come as a great shock to learn about the untimely demise of Dr. Zinobia Mahiar Madan,a  well known expert in healthcare, Founder  and managing director, ClinOma Healthcare, Honorary  consultant – Lifestyle Medicine, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre,  A Co-founder of Jiyo Parsi scheme, and above all a good human being,  kind, compassionate always eager and ready to help anyone in distress, or needing care and guidance.

       Giving a helping hand to the poor and suffering is our reason to exist said Zinobia, 


who was very passionate about this social cause. In December 2009 when she met Dr. Shernaz Cama at the 9th World Zoroastrian Congress in Dubai where she presented a paper on ” The medical problems concerning the Parsi Community”, she with Dr. Shernaz Cama conceptualised and planned a scheme to solve the problem of the declining trend in the community.



 She presented a research data of the community and insights into the causes of decline of the Parsi community. After discussion with the infertility expert Dr. Anahita Pandole, a plan was submitted, which was approved by the Ministry and a foundation was laid for a scientifically designed programme ‘Jio Parsi’.

       “Time for Focused Action, Not for Unwarranted Reactions” was the introductory message from Dr. Zinobia.

       Dr. Zinobia was a Mumbai-based expert in healthcare, and had garnered more than 20 years of experience through clinical research, new introduction of healthcare products, teaching, writing and mentoring. In the pharma industry she held key leadership positions as Medical Director of leading multinational pharma companies.



 In recognition of her outstanding contribution to the field of Medical Science & Nutrition, she was awarded MAMS (Membership of The National Academy of Medical Sciences), FIMSA (Fellowship of the International Medical Science Academy) and FICA (Fellowship of the International College of Nutrition). Dr Zinobia Madan was also the recipient of “Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award for Innovations in Healthcare, 2014” & “Jewel of India Award for Landmark Contributions in Healthcare, 2014”.

She was identified by the Mumbai University as an outstanding Undergraduate to undergo an intensive research training orientation course at National Chemical Laboratory, Pune in Basic and applied Biochemistry related areas pertaining to research orientation in various departments of NCL.



After she was awarded doctorate for her original cardiovascular research work at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, she actively pursued a career in the Pharmaceutical Industry, in the Medical Divisions of  leading Pharma companies like Abbott and Wockhardt, in areas of clinical research pertaining to several therapeutic areas, Pharmacology, Nutrition, Medico marketing, Regulatory and Medical Information.

       She was a member of several medical societies in India, and has no less than 30 key publications, some being coauthored with eminent Doctors like G. S. Sainani, G. B. Parulkar and others.


She was a speaker at many national and international forums for increasing awareness on wellness and healthcare.

       In 2010, the Indo- American Society invited Dr. Zinobia to deliver a presentation on “Lifestyle Changes for a Healthy Future”.

       A new leaf in her career opened in the year 2010 when she conceptualised the novel idea of providing quality healthcare for Indian citizens with a lifestyle concept through her organisation, ClinOma healthcare with a focus towards imparting quality and meaningful healthcare to make a significant impact on human life. In the area of pharmacovigilance & Clinical Research ClinOma Dr. Zinobia was Panelist and Chairperson and participated at two forums speaking on Patient Empowerment.



Individuals at this clinic with stress and associated problems like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, gastrointestinal problems, osteoporosis and several others, received care and counselling with a scientific and holistic approach.

       Having a disability should not discourage one from leading a useful life. True to her words, in spite of the crippling disabilities she suffered, she worked till her last breath helping the poor and the suffering making it her reason to exist. She further emphasised, “We need to elevate our souls by shifting our life’s curve more and more towards our positive attitudes & to eliminate all negativity from our life, as this will ultimately give us the satisfaction of having lead a life as per the tenets of our great religion. We must ultimately learn to involve ourselves more in caring for others rather than having an attitude of being self-obsessed, so that our existence will become more and more meaningful.These very words speak of the great emphasis she laid on Service Before Self!


       She further bemoans, ” It is so true and we have live experiences that the greatest wealth in the universe cannot bring back all the lost health or lost happiness. So true for one who had the spirit and the will to rise and excel, but no physical strength to combat.

       “As a good human being how far you go in life, depends on your being gentle with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic to the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong.. Because at some juncture in life, you would have been all of those.” These words narrated by her speak a volume about the way she faced the world with rare courage and determination till the end.

       May her soul rest in heavenly bliss and inspire others to tread the path of renunciation and righteousness.

By Piroja Homi Jokhi

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