The Congress will shine a light on the lives of young mobeds in a panel called The Achievements and Challenges of Young Mobeds in North America moderated by Ervad Soli P. Dastur and Mobedyar Houtoxi Contractor.
The panelists include Ervad Burzin Balsara, Ervad Zerkxis Bhandara, Ervad Bahrom Firozgary, Ervad Rayomand Katrak, and Ervad Rayomand Ravji.
Born as the last of 11 children in a small village, Tarapur, India, to a priestly family from Udwada, Ervad Soli P. Dastur completed his high school SSC in the M. F. Cama Athornan Institute boarding school, completing his Navar, Martab, and Samel ceremonies in Udwada Iranshah Atash Behram. After B. Chem. Eng., he proceeded to Northwestern University, Evanston, IL to complete his Graduate studies. He joined P&G and retired after 30 years after which he consulted for 5 years.
At the NAZC, Houston, December 2010, Soli was awarded the Rohinton Rivetna Outstanding Zarathushti Award. In January 2011, he started and conducted 17 teleconferencing Zoroastrian Religious Classes. Soli started and published over 80 weekly scripture extract with translation. He has contributed articles in FEZANA and WZO Hama Zor Journals.
Houtoxi Contractor was born in Ahmedabad, India. After finishing her education, she worked at Tata Consultancy Services in Mumbai until she joined her husband in Pittsburgh, PA. Houtoxi and her family lived in Pittsburgh for 35 years and raised two children, Laila and Cyra. Believing that it was important to give back to the community, she volunteered her time to several organizations, including the Easter Seal Society and the Allegheny General Auxiliary.
Houtoxi served as a Founding Member and President of the Tri-State Indian Physicians Auxiliary, the Treasurer of the University of Pittsburgh’s India Nationality room, and a member of the Board of Trustees at Sewickley Academy. Eager to be active in the Zarathushti community, Houtoxi served on the Executive Committee of ZAPA (Zoroastrian Association of Pennsylvania) for twenty-five years and ended her years in Pittsburgh as President. She also serves as a co-chair for the Fezana welfare and Unity Committee. Houtoxi recently completed her mobedyar training.
Ervad Burzin P. Balsara was born in Plano, Texas. He is a 9th grade student at Clark High School in Plano. He was an officer in the National Junior Honor Society at his middle school and an active member of the Student Council too. He enjoys courses related to mathematics and science, and has won several science fair awards at the school, district, regional, and state levels. He also competes in speech and debate tournaments and was a captain of his middle school’s Whiz Quiz team. Besides academics, Burzin is a competitive swimmer and swims for the City of Plano Swimmers (COPS), a local swim club.
Burzin is an active member of the Zoroastrian Association of North Texas (ZANT) and regularly participates in Sunday school, volunteers at all fundraisers and other local charitable activities, and frequently helps around the ZANT Center. He was ordained as a Zoroastrian priest after undergoing his Navar ceremony in December of 2008 in Mumbai, India. Since that time he has accompanied his dad in several Jashans and done Navjote ceremonies, Muktad prayers, and other religious activities
Ervad Zerkxis Bhandara is a very dedicated and accomplished Zoroastrian priest. He has completed his Navar (2006) and Martab (2007) in Mumbai and has been steadfastly serving the Zoroastrian community alongside his father since. Zerkxis was also the recipient of the 2012 Mobed’s Council Award at the New York Congress for his exemplary community service and outstanding devotion unto his priestly duties. Currently, he is working on his undergrad in religious studies and teaching credentials in history; both of which he chose for his fascination in various faiths and a passion for spreading knowledge. As a priest he believes in being lenient towards an ever changing congregation, yet never forgetting his forefathers’ Bhagarsath traditions. For a withering community that is pulled between the urge to Americanize and the need for a personal identity Zerkxis is always willing to guide the community towards a center path that allows a combination of both.
Ervad Bahrom Firozgary is currently a first year medical student at the Texas A&M University College of Medicine. He graduated from Rice University in the spring of 2014 with a degree in biochemistry and cellular biology. Along with being published in two scientific journals for his involvement in cancer and epilepsy research at the Baylor Collegeof Medicine, Bahrom played on Rice’s Division I Men’s Basketball Team. He stays involved in the Zoroastrian Association of Houston while in school, particularly by performing jashans alongside his fellow Houstonian Ervads. At the moment, his particular interests of medical specialty are trauma and otolaryngology (commonly known as the study of “ear, nose, and throat (ENT)”), but he is still open to all fields. He looks forward to fulfilling his dreams of becoming a doctor while also staying involved in both his Zoroastrian and non-Zoroastrian communities.
Ervad Rayomand Katrak was born in Mumbai, India on December 28, 1994. In August 1996 his family moved to Houston, Texas, where Rayomand grew up. At the age of eight he had his Navjote ceremony, at the age of twelve he became an Ervard at the Modi Sorabji Vatcha Gandhi Agiary in Mumbai, India. Rayomand has since preformed many types of ceremonies for his community in Houston, such as jashans, navjotes, and muktad ceremonies. He served as the ZAH Youth Group’s treasurer for three years, before becoming the president during his senior year. He has taught Sunday School classes when the teachers were not in town. In 2013 he won the Cyrus R. Desai award for excellence in education and community affairs. He is currently a sophomore at Baylor University and is planning on getting his degree in biology with a minor in chemistry. He hopes to one day become a surgeon.
Ervad Rayomand Ravji is 25 years old. He was born in Mombasa, Kenya and raised in Illinois. In 2002, Rayomand was ordained a Nâvar at the Cama Baug Agiary in Mumbai. He later returned to Cama Baug to achieve a higher degree of priesthood, the Marutab. Rayomand received his Bachelor’s of Science (B.S.) in Psychology with a minor degree in chemistry- as a premedical student- at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In Champaign, through his experiences with the American Medical Student Association and volunteering between the Oncology and Intensive Care units at a local hospital, he cemented his passion for serving others in healthcare. Rayomand currently works full-time for Labpro Laboratories, Inc. Outside of his job, he volunteers his services as a Mobed and as President of the Zoroastrian Association of Chicago (ZAC).
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