Category Archives: Inter-Faith

A Grand Interfaith Iftar took place in Los Angeles

On April 28, 2022, the Los Angeles Consular Corps held its first-ever Ramadan Interfaith Iftar bringing together Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Baháʼí, and Zoroastrian faith leaders of Los Angeles. Jointly sponsored by the Consulates of Azerbaijan, Turkey & Israel, the Iftar was hosted at the Turkish Consul General’s residence.

Mr. Homi Gandhi past president of FEZANA and  Ervad Zarrir Bhandara represented the Zoroastrian faith at the Interfaith/Multicultural Iftar event hosted by the Azerbaijan Consulate at the Turkish consulate general’s residence.

Los Angeles faith leaders came together at the invitation of the Consulate General of Azerbaijan Nasimi Aghayev to share their perspective on the eve of Iftar on communal peace and harmony on Thursday, April 28th. A well-attended event dedicated to the traditions of multiculturalism, diversity, and tolerance in Azerbaijan.

The event was attended by consuls general and honorary consuls of various countries including Turkey, Iran, and Israel, faith leaders representing many different religions, including Bahism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, the top brass of LAPD, LA Sheriff’s department, journalists, members of various communities, representatives of art, culture, science, and education, and others.

Opening the event, the Consul General of Azerbaijan Los Angeles and Dean of the Los Angeles Consular Corps Nasimi Aghayev thanked the Turkish Consul general Sinam Kuzum for hosting this momentous celebration of multiculturalism, which, he said, was indicative of unity in diversity and a strong commitment to multi-faith and multicultural tolerance and harmony. 

Islam was represented by Dr. Mozambi Siddique, who emphasized the importance of fasting, saying “fasting teaches self-discipline, gratitude generosity, and charity, fasting is associated with the divine message which is done during the 9th month of Islamic Lunar calendar”. 

Rabbi David Wolfer represented the Jewish faith and spoke about Yom HaShoah, also known as Yom Hashoah VeHagevurah, which literally means the “day of remembrance of the Catastrophe and the Heroism remembering the massacre of millions of Jews.” 

Father of Archdioceses of Los Angeles representing Christianity compared people of different faiths to traveling companions, we are all children of the same God.

The Zoroastrian representative Ervad Zarrir Bhandara stole the limelight with his following powerful speech, where he received thunderous applause from the gathering I bring you the greetings of peace and unity from one of the oldest revealed religions of the world- Zoroastrianism. 

I thank the organizers’ honorable Consul general of Azarbaijan Mr. Nasimi Aghayev and Turkish Consul general Sinam Kuzum for this iftar, interfaith meeting.

Well-known Zoroastrians mentioned in the holy Quran and holy Bible are Dastur Diniyar, – Salman-e-Fars, as the most revered companion of prophet Mohammad – may be peace upon him (holy Quran chapter 16- paragraph 105).

The Messiah or the Savior mentioned in the old testament- Zoroastrian king Cyrus- helped our Jewish community to rebuild their temples, in Jerusalem in 538 B.C.  and also gave them the freedom to practice their own religion.

As many of our forefathers have demonstrated. Peace begins with a loving understanding of ourselves and other human beings, human doings, and all living beings including plants, animals, and all-natural resources.

Energy flows, where the attention goes. So, it is important to be conscious about what we think, speak, and do. Our individual actions affect us and affect the whole universe. That is why one of the main tenants of our religion includes Good thoughts, words, and deeds. 

God can be seen and revealed in many different ways, which is why we have different religions. Yet, we connect to fundamentally one supreme principle the infinitude of the divine reality. We believe that the religion we all have taken birth in is THE path God has prescribed for an individual to attain our purest light and progress physically and spiritually.

We have different religions/different paths, but one goal. We are diverse, yet we need to be united. Just like in nature, everything is diverse yet works in synchronization.

Even within our religions, we have different beliefs, but we do not allow our differences to divide us, but to unify and strengthen us.  Live and let live. Thereby, we will bring more peace, unity, harmony, love, and healing to the world. We can spread peace, maintaining our own individuality in the ocean of humanity. I would like to conclude my talk by urging the clergies and community leaders to interpret the scriptures to bring about more peace, harmony, unity, and love in the world, and further he said that during interfaith meetings, we talk and talk, and now it’s high time we take action and make our talk walk’’.

Consul general Aghayev highlighted the ancient traditions of tolerance and multiculturalism in Azerbaijan noting that these traditions have already been raised to the level of state policy in the country. The diplomat said that Shia and Sunni Muslims pray in the same mosque and people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, including Muslims, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Baha’is, and representatives of other faiths have been living together in peace, brotherhood, and mutual respect for many centuries in Azerbaijan. The Consul General noted that President Ilham Aliyev repeatedly said that “multiculturalism is a lifestyle in Azerbaijan”. “We all see and cherish diversity as a virtue that strengthens us and makes our world a better place,” said Consul General Aghayev, in his concluding remarks.

Mahrukh Motafram Appointed Trustee at Parliament of World’s Religions

The FEZANA Executive is thrilled to inform the community about the appointment  of Mahrukh Motafram as a Trustee on the Board of the Parliament of World’s Religions.

Mahrukh’s term began in early January 2022. She is the only Zoroastrian on the PoWR Board.

At the end of 2021, Dolly Dastoor completed her three terms on the PoWR Board, and per their term limit rules stepped down.  In the last role Dolly served as the Vice-Chair of the Board of PoWR. Dolly’s dedication and involvement at PoWR resulted in a large, meaningful and powerful representation of the Zoroastrian faith at the two Parliaments in Toronto 2018 and the virtual one in 2021. FEZANA thanks Dolly for her service on the PoWR Board and being a champion of our faith on this world stage.

Mahrukh’s appointment as a Trustee gives our faith a seat at the table of a very important global interfaith organization.

Mahrukh Motafram is a first generation immigrant from India who arrived in the US to pursue higher education. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1984 with a Master’s degree in Bio-Organic Chemistry. Further education included an Associate degree in Business and Marketing from the Waukesha County Technical College, Pewaukee, WI in 2002. She is currently pursuing a certification in Nonprofit Leadership at Seattle University, WA.

Over the past three decades she has been actively engaged with the North American Zoroastrian community, with most of her contributions being with FEZANA. She has served on the FEZANA Executive Board, Co-Chair for Strategic Planning, and is currently the Co-Chair for North American Zoroastrian Congress committee. She currently serves as a member of the Executive Steering Committee of the upcoming 12th World Zoroastrian Congress 2022 in New York City. She is currently a  member, trustee and a past Board member of the Zoroastrian Society of Washington State.

Mahrukh served as a Board member as Vice President for Strategic Planning, and as a President for the Assistance LeagueÒ of the Eastside (2016-20), a nonprofit organization in Redmond, WA that serves local families affected by poverty, homelessness, assault, and domestic violence.

She is a member of the advisory council for the Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Engagement at Seattle University, WA. She serves on the board of F.I.R.E.S – Fostering Interfaith Relations on the Eastside, (Seattle), WA representing her Zoroastrian faith and engages in interfaith community dialogues.

In her spare time, Mahrukh enjoys travel and the culinary arts with Feroze, her husband of 38 years.  She has two children, Freya and Jamsheed who have both built successful careers in the banking and financial services industries.

Please join us in congratulating Mahrukh on this appointment. She can be reached at mahrukhm83@gmail.com

 

Courtesy : Parsi Khabar

The Good Mind – Nurturing Nature – A Zoroastrian Perspective

 

‘The Good Mind – Nurturing Nature – A Zoroastrian Perspective of Sustainable Development for Progress Together’ (Number 1629 submission to the Parliament of World’s Religions)
Submitted by Mrs. Jerou RamMohan Panthaki (member ZTFE).
Much gratitude to Mr. Yazdi Tantra for making this recording, and to our Respected speakers for their kindness and dedication to sharing the message of Asho Zarathushtra and raising the awareness of the Zarathushti Daena with the World.

We aim to build Intellectual, Emotional, Ecological and Entrepreneurial progress.
Ervad Dr. Jehan Bagli will give an overview of what needs to be done to save Creation
Mrs. Jer Panthaki Rammohan will explain how breath and air are key and link us in a fellowship with each other and with Nature, and how this links to Energy and Transformation.
Mobed Zarrir Bhandara will explain some of the key elements of how the Faith cares for Ecology – particularly Plants and Animals.
Dr. Hanoze Santoke- a Professor focussing on Photo-degradation will explain how Science and Technology can be directly linked to some of the concepts of Ecology and the Faith.
Dr. Karishma is a Neuroscientist. She will introduce the mutualistic relationships between the Good Mind, Fellowship, emotional resilience, caring for Nature and each other, increasing innovation and wellbeing.

We share with the world a Zoroastrian Perspective on Sustainable Development for progress together which combines Scientific Progress, Spiritual Wisdom, Fellowship, Mutual Respect for All, Good Governance and Self-Regulation to make informed choices that are good for the Earth and Human Fellowship, Peace, Happiness and Harmony.
We build upon a webinar marking the World Environment Day with Scientists, Priests and Scholars. 30th May 2021 https://bit.ly/3yuwsQy
The speakers included Ervad Dr. Jehan Bagli (FEZANA, NAMC), Mobed Saheb Zarrir Bhandara (NAMC), Dr. Hanoz Santoke (FEZANA), and Dr.Karishma Koka (Ba Humata and ZTFE)

Zerick Dastur at the Parliament of World Religions

A 6 minute talk by Zerick Dastur at the Parliament of World Religions 2021 on Global Peace and Harmony.

The talk addresses the topic from the point of view of :
1. The Role of an established legal system protecting human rights and the rule of law,
2. The Responsibility of nations and the Indian example and
3. The Role played by organized religion : the philosophy of the Zoroastrian religion in promoting global peace and harmony.

The importance of education to combat ignorance and contributions of individuals across history are also discussed.

Our Environment from Zoroastrian Perspective

 A talk by Ervad Zarrir Bhandara representing FEZANA – delivered at the Parliament of World Religions on October 16th

There is nothing more important in life than life itself. This does not just refer to human lives but all life forms as the well-being & future of all living beings are intertwined. Today, what we know as ecology, was taught by our prophet Zarathushtra thousand of years ago.

In order to achieve success in preserving, healing, and sustaining our environment for the benefit of our current and future generations, we need to come together and use our good minds to form a collective consciousness.

In Zoroastrianism, there are 7 Amesha Spentas, bounteous immortals, each having a beneficient quality and a responsibility of overlooking each of the wonderful creations of God.

This heptad is also considered as the seven steps or commandments, when followed benefits individuals and collectively to bring about progress in improving ourselves and others in terms of physical and emotional health, to bring about prosperity and happiness.

The first Amesha Spenta is Spenta Mainyu, the beneficent spirit. The quality is innate Wisdom/God’s will and the creation looked after/represents is Human Beings. Hence, it is important that we realize God’s will by connecting ourselves with our superconscious through meditative prayers and caring for each other through wisdom.

The second Amesha Spenta is Vohu Manah – the good mind or the rational mind which helps us to make decisions in our daily life. The creation being looked after is Animals. It is important that we use our good minds to further goodness in this world and also take care of animals. According to Shahnameh, (Book of Kings), it is this tradition, which was introduced to the people first time ever in human history by ABLIS, A PERSONIFIED DEVIL “AHRIMAN” WHICH IS KILLING ANIMALS FOR FOOD.
Surely, we have followed this tradition until this day without realizing, whose tradition we are following? In addition, in what way it affects our environment and us.
The output is in direct proportion to the inputs “Garbage in garbage out” what food you eat affects our (mental and physical health) thinking and disposition to a very great extent.

God gave us dominion over animals to take care of them not harm them. Factory farming of animals creates more fossil fuels, pollutes our environment, and depletes natural resources more than any other industry. Hence, it is important that we transition to a healthy plant-based diet that is good for our health and our environment.

The third Amesha Spenta looks after/represents Fire, which is the purest form of energy that is present in all living beings and the physical manifestation of that energy is the holy fire that we can physically see and also represents the energy that is not visible to the human eye. Possessing the qualities of righteousness, truth, and order. It is important that we use renewable energy from natural and clean sources like Sun and Wind. It is also essential that we follow the path of righteousness by practicing truth and orderliness in our lives to bring about peace & happiness.

The fourth beneficent spirit is Kshthravairya which looks after the sky and metals. The quality possessed is of moral strength, power, and conviction. In this step, we have to take care of our birds who fly in the sky and make the best use of metal objects. A knife in a surgeon’s hands can save a life and in a murderer’s hands can end a life. Kshthravairya helps us not to give up; when you are treading the path of righteousness, you are bound to come across a lot of obstacles and distractions, you need to gather courage, moral strength, and conviction to overcome those obstacles and distractions.

The fifth archangel is Spenta Armaiti, she looks after Mother Earth and has the qualities of holy piety, devotion, and love. Hence, it is extremely important that we take care of our Mother Earth in the most loving way we can, be devoted to the cause of taking care of our environment, and also invest feelings of love in all our work that we do on a daily basis.

When we follow these 5 steps, we arrive at the 6th step Haurvatat or perfection, she looks after the waters. We need to conserve water by reducing our use of natural resources, which are becoming scarce.  Also, we must be mindful to not pollute water by using less plastic and more reusable items. Only about 10% of recyclable items around the world are actually recycled, the rest goes into landfills & eventually makes their way into bodies of water, which is extremely harmful to marine life.

 

The last one in the heptad is Ameretat, she looks after the Plant kingdom and possesses the quality of immortality or long life. And that what is righteous will be remembered for a long time. Thus, we become immortal through thinking good thoughts, speaking good words, and performing good deeds wherever we go. Our thoughts, words, and deeds affect not only ourselves of course, but the whole universe as well. We are as much a part of the universe as the universe is a part of us because God’s energy is present in all living beings and we all are made in the image of God.

Until about 2 years ago, many of us did not realize the importance of the air that we breathe and the fact that Plants give us this life-sustaining force throughout our lives. We took this for granted. Our lives depend on plants, hence we need to grow more plants (mainly trees). Furthermore, we must take care of our environment – with the 7 Ameshaspands in mind, as mentioned before – to revive our planet & secure the future for generations to come.

THE PLEDGE TO MAKE HEAVEN ON EARTH
How about we make a pledge today to learn practice and imbibe the qualities of these Amesha Spentas in our lives namely the Wisdom the higher consciousness, the superintelligence, the righteousness and order, the moral strength, the holy piety/devotion/love, Perfection and good deeds that would be helpful for our future generations and also let us make a sincere effort to take better care of our environment and each other. Thus, we can create Heaven on Earth here and now.

Some Relevant questions and answers:
What is the importance of nature in Zoroastrianism?
Nature is an integral part of our Zoroastrian religion, we revere all the elements of our nature, and what we revere we may use it but we do not misuse it or abuse it. Today what we know as ecology was taught to us by our prophet Zarathushtra thousands of years ago to take care of our environment.

   Are there any prayers or ceremonies dedicated to the environment?

Yes, there are many prayers and rituals dedicated to nature and one of them is a Jashan ceremony. It strengthens that particular element of nature that is prayed upon and it also invokes the blessings of the divinity in charge of that particular element.

 

What is the Jashan ceremony?

Jashan is a Pahlavi (old Persian) word that comes from an Avestan word Yasna, which means religious service. There are many types of Jashans, some are performed on joyful occasions and some are performed on not so joyful occasions. For example, there are Thanksgiving Jashans which are performed six times a year seasonally as Thanksgiving Jashans which are called Gahambar Jashans.

What is the significance of each item placed in the Jashan ceremony?

In the Jashan ceremony, the Representatives of the seven Amesha Spentas the bounteous immortals, the deputies of Dadar Ahura Mazda are present, Spenta Mainyu, who looks after mankind is represented by the priests. Bahman Amshashpand or Vohu Manah the Good Mind who looks after the animal kingdom is represented by milk. Asha Vahishta or Ardibehesht Amshashpand looks after the fire and energy are represented by fire. Kshthra Vairya or Sherevar Amhashpand looks after the sky, and all the minerals and metals are represented by all the metal elements in the ceremony. Spenta Armaiti or Spandarmad Amshashpand who looks after the mother earth is represented by the earth on which we sit and perform the ceremony. Haurvatat or Khordad Amshashpand who looks after the waters is represented by the beaker of water placed in the ceremony. Ameretat or Amardad Amshashpand who looks after the Plant kingdom is represented by the fruits and flowers placed in the Jashan ceremony.

 

What is the importance of fire in Zoroastrianism?

God’s energy is present in all living beings and the physical manifestation of that energy is the holy fire. Fire is a very important element in Zoroastrian religion and it is present in all our ceremonies and rituals, the holy fire is also considered as a receiver and also a transmitter, who receives the energy from the spirit world and transmits to His devotees who are present.

Zarathustra: Zoroaster’s influence on the Abrahamic Faiths.

EXISTENTIALIST SOCIETY – Melbourne, Australia.
Saturday 20 November 2021 , 2pm to 4pm.
Online ‘Meetup’ lecture, followed by questions and discussion.
 
“Zarathustra: Zoroaster’s influence on the Abrahamic Faiths.
 
Speaker: Dr. Brian Arthur Brown – “The Three Testaments”

ZOOM Link:
Meeting ID: 811 6123 6676 – – Passcode: 442029
All viewpoints welcome.   Enquiries: existmelb@yahoo.com.au

Existentialist Society: Website and Meetups.

Zoroastrian Voices at the Parliament of World’s Religions 2021

This weekend the 2021 Parliament of World’s Religions will be held completely virtually. Over 48 hours, there will be hundreds of presentations viewed by thousands of attendees who have registered and signed up.

As in past PoWR, FEZANA has taken the lead in organizing representation of Zoroastrian voices at the Parliament.

You can view a complete list of all presentations/talks/seminars/workshops and pleneries by Zoroastrians on the FEZANA website.

Note the date and time per your interest and log in to watch.

You do need to register to be a participant. Registration is still open.

Details and Full Schedule herehttps://fezana.org/powr-2021/

Zoroastrian Event Schedule at PoWR 2021

Nominations for the Global Interfaith Youth Network for participation at the Conference of the World Council of Religous Leaders in Lindau, Germany

Dear Friends,

THIS OPPORTUNITY IS AVAILABLE TO ALL QUALIFIED ZOROASTRIAN YOUTH IN THE WORLD

We are seeking to select Zoroastrian youth to join the Religions for Peace Global Interfaith Youth Network representing FEZANA and Zoroastrian community at the Conference of the World Council of Religious Leaders: An Intergenerational Dialogue on Faith and Diplomacy in Lindau, Germany on 4-7 October 2021.

The candidate should be between 18 and 30 years of age and should fall under the following categories:

a) Religious leader in training,
b) Official representative of an international or regional religious organization who is active in interfaith work at regional and/or international level.

Once selected by the RFP organizers, selected youth leaders will be invited to attend the upcoming Intergenerational Dialogue conference of Religious Leaders in Lindau, Germany – either through in-person or virtual attendance. If the selected candidate is chosen for in-person presence in Lindau, all expenses related to his or her participation will be covered by Religions for Peace and its partners. The selected individual shall be requested to provide leadership in the RfP Global Interfaith Youth Network by engaging his or her own organization’s youth constituencies in RfP’s multi-religious action and advocacy.

We look forward to receiving your applications along with the candidate’s CV and any other supporting documents. The deadline to receive this is midnight ET 13th June 2021.

With Best Wishes,
Bakhtavar Desai (bfdesai@aol.com) & Homi D. Gandhi (homidgandhi@gmail.com)
Co-Chairs, FEZANA Interfaith Activities Committee

We need Zoroastrians at the 2021 Parliament of the World’s Religions


Dear Friends,

 

I hope you are well during these challenging times. Let me introduce myself. I’m Dolly Dastoor, past President of the Zoroastrian Association of Quebec and of FEZANA (Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America), and a Trustee of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, the world’s oldest and largest interfaith organization. I’ve been active with the Parliament since attending the 1993 Parliament hosted in Chicago, USA.

 

 

I’m now serving as a member of the Program Committee for the 2021 Parliament with its theme, Opening our Hearts to the World: Compassion in Action, convening for the first time online, on October 17- 18, 2021.

It is my great pleasure to invite you and members of our community to participate or organization to participate in this year’s Parliament by attending and by submitting program proposals. You’ll find the Parliament Call for Programs linked below. You can register to attend the Parliament here.

The deadline for submissions is June 30 and I recommend proposals for panels, which will receive priority given limited time slots. Panels are also an excellent way to share our community’s diversity and international constituency.

For the first time, this convening will also have continuous religious services, prayers and celebrations so please consider a proposal for a ritual, prayer or celebration, or a submission to the arts track. In planning to participate, you can pre-record or present live, and in your native language.

You may also be interested in a Sponsorship or an online booth which many Zoroastrian organizations have done in the past. You can sign up to be an exhibitor or sponsor here.

Zoroastrians have played an important role in the modern Parliaments which have convened 6 times since 1993, and our participation has enhanced understanding and respect for diverse beliefs, practices, and communities throughout the world and has contributed greatly to interfaith understanding.

I hope you will join me in expanding our presence and contributing to a world that is just, peaceful and sustainable.

Sincerely,

Dolly Dastoor, Ph.D.

Past President of the Zoroastrian Association of Quebec and of FEZANA (Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America)

Trustee of the Parliament of the World’s Religions

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