Featured Speakers

Our Young Mobeds at the Congress!

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.

Soli Dastur WZYC Vancouver Jashan -2Born 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 welfare 1 Houtoxi ContractorServices 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 Burzin-Balsara 2014officer 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 fatherOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 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 Ervad Bahrom FirozgaryUniversity 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 Rayomand Katrakhis 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 Rayomand Ravjiand 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).

 Don’t miss these young speakers at the Congress!  Register Now, before the event is SOLD OUT!

Do you know the significance of a Jashan? Find out at the Congress!

Zarrir F. BhandaraWe go to jashans often.  But do we truly understand the significance of the ritual?

At the Congress, Mobed Zarrir Bhandara will lead a Khushali Nu Jashan on the first day.  He will also give a talk entitled The Significance of the Jashan Ceremony, in which he will explain the ritual and its application and impact.  “In this ritual,  faith and unity are best exemplified as a unique synergy that is created with Ahura Mazda’s entire creation,” says Mobed Bhandara.

Sensei Mobed Zarrir Bhandara is a priest who also happens to be a 4th degree Karate Black Belt of international repute and has donated his blood, plasma and platelets over 200 times.  He has been serving the Zarthushti community of North America and India for the last 41 years.  Ordained Navar and Maratab, Mobed Bhandara has also completed an advanced 4-year priestly training course conducted by the Athravan Educational Trust under the able leadership of our High Priest Dasturji Dr. Firoze M. Kotwal.  He was the recipient of the Best Student Award for the entire 4 years course. He has performed well over 1100 funeral ceremonies in his 41-years of priestly practice.

Mobed Bhandara conducts religious classes at the California Zoroastrian Center (CZC) for the spiritual training of our Southern California Zarathushti children. He has trained numerous young aspirants for their Navjote, Navar and Maratab ceremonies and represented our Zarathushti faith at interfaith meetings.  Mobed Bhandara has kept our traditions alive by performing the Muktad Ceremony for the past 23 years. In 2013, he was the recipient of the “Jewel of the Community Award” through Zoroastrian Children’s Day Organization.

Don’t miss this interesting presentation!  Register now, before prices go UP on November 16, 2014.

Mobed Shahzadi Illuminates Zoroastrianism for Followers at the Congress

FariborzShahzadi.jpg“Many Zoroastrians know our rituals, wear religious symbols and pray.  But over time they have forgotten the meaning and significance of these things,” says Mobed Fariborz Shahzadi, who will give a presentation entitled Zoroastrianism 101: At Least 20 Basic Things We SHOULD Know, But May Not….. at the Congress. 

The Congress is pleased to present Mobed Shahzadi as a speaker on this subject especially since his goal is to “re-educate Zoroastrians – one person at a time.”  During his presentation, Mobed Shahzadi will try to explain the meaning and significance of many prayers, the significance of the sedreh and koshti and how they are made, the importance of the Gathas, and the significance of the Gahambars and the Amesha Spentas.

Mobed Shahzadi was born in Nasik, India to Iranian-Zartoshti parents, married an Iranian Zartoshti lady and lived in Iran from 1972-78. He immigrated to the USA before the Khomeini revolution and currently lives in Southern California. He has two sons who were born in Iran and lived there for several years.

Mobed Shahzadi has had his religious education and training in Mumbai, India and has completed both his Navar and Maratab. He is an active Mobed available to both the Iranian and Parsi community in USA/Canada.  He also conducts religious classes and seminars at many places, including ZAC and CZC in Southern California.

He has authored many books on Zartoshti ceremonies, prayers and education. His textbook “The Zarathushti Religion : A Basic Text – 1998″ and the English – Persian Khordeh Avesta are used in libraries and Centers throughout the Iranian and Parsee communities.

Don’t miss this enlightening talk!  Register Now before prices go UP on November 16, 2014!

Sheffield To Deliver Jungalwala Lecture at the Congress

Dan Sheffield PICDaniel Sheffield will deliver The Khorshed F. Jungalwala Memorial Lecture at the Congress.  Entitled Living the Good Religion among Others: Cosmopolitan Zoroastrian Thought from the Middle Ages to Modernity, Professor Sheffield will take us on an insightful journey of the endurance of our religion.

Zoroastrians have never been isolated from the world around them.  As Iranians in antiquity left their homes for commerce and conquest, they came into contact with a variety of religious traditions spanning the Asian continent. The Zoroastrian priestly communities of Iran and India remained highly literate, interpreting and reinterpreting their religious traditions according to their changing circumstances.

“In this talk, I delve into the universe of medieval Zoroastrian thought written in Persian (Farsi), Sanskrit, and Gujarati to discover the intellectual spaces that Zoroastrians shared with their Muslim, Hindu, and Jain neighbors. I examine the emergence of ideas of religious pluralism among Zoroastrian thinkers in the 17th and 18th centuries”, says Dr. Sheffield. “I also consider the impact of European education on Zoroastrian communities, meditating upon how language and education affect how we interpret our faith, our view of the world, the place of our communities within it, and the role of other communities around us.”

Daniel Sheffield holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University, where he specialized in Iranian and Persian Studies.  He is currently working on a book manuscript entitled Cosmopolitan Zarathustras: Religion, Translation, and Prophethood in Iran and South Asia, which tells the story of the Zoroastrian communities of Iran and South Asia by tracing how the embrace of a cosmopolitan theological vocabulary and the reception of the canon of Classical Persian literature affects these communities. He is also preparing a critical edition and translation of an unpublished Zoroastrian Middle Persian text, The Book of Religious Judgments (Wizirgerd ī Dēnīg), for publication.

In 2012, he co-organized with Dinyar Patel a conference in Navsari, Gujarat, entitled Celebrating a Treasure: 140 Years at the First Dastoor Meherjirana Library. He is affiliated with the UNESCO Parsi Zoroastrian Project (Parzor), and is currently editing for publication the collected scholarly writings of Dasturji Dr. Firoze M. Kotwal.  At Princeton, Dr. Sheffield offers courses on Zoroastrianism and related subjects, including the application of translation theory to religious studies, and he reads Avestan, Pahlavi, and Classical Persian texts with interested graduate students.

The Khorshed F. Jungalwala Memorial Lecture Series was set up by FEZANA to honor Mrs. Khorshed Jungalwala, for her work and dedication to FEZANA.  The Series is administered by the Education, Scholarship and Conference Committee of FEZANA.

Don’t miss this dynamic and popular speaker!  Register now, while Early Bird Discounts are in effect!

Vevaina Returns to the NAZC!

Vevaina CroppedYuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina will return to the Congress to deliver a talk entitled Wisdom from the Ancients in the Age of the Moderns, which will undoubtedly make clear how relevant our ancient faith remains in modern times.

Dr. Vevaina is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University. He received his M.A. in 2003 and his Ph.D. in 2007 from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University where he served as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Undergraduate Core Curriculum and as the Lecturer on Old Iranian from 2007-2009. He was a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities from the National Council for the Humanities in 2010. He teaches a number of courses related to ancient and late antique Iran and Zoroastrianism, such as “Beyond Good and Evil: A Thematic Introduction to Zoroastrianism” and “Sugar in the Milk: Modern Zoroastrianism as Race, Religion, and Ethnicity.” He is currently working on a book project on Zoroastrian scriptural interpretation in Late Antiquity. He is a co-editor of the forthcoming, The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism, to be published by Wiley-Blackwell of Oxford, U.K. in 2015.

Don’t miss this insightful presentation!  Register Now, while Early Bird Discounts are still in effect!

CNN’s Parisa Khosravi to Deliver Keynote Address at the Congress

CNN Digital Rebranding 2013 Parisa KhosraviWe are honored to announce that Parisa Khosravi will deliver the Keynote Address at the Congress.

Ms. Khosravi is currently the Senior Vice President of Global Relations for CNN Worldwide and its first ever Ambassador.  In her role as CNN Ambassador, she is responsible for leading CNN’s key international editorial relationships, coverage and securing access for CNN journalists around the world.

During an exciting career at CNN that has spanned almost three decades, Ms. Khosravi has played a vital role in the network’s award winning reporting on some of the most significant international stories of our time.  These include coverage of the first Gulf War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of apartheid in South Africa and the hotel terror attack in Mumbai, to name a few.

Ms. Khosravi’s passion and strong editorial instinct has earned her widespread recognition for her individual and collaborative efforts.  She is the recipient of several prestigious awards, including the 2008 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, recognizing her as a distinguished American and the 2005 Peabody Award for CNN’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

We invite you to hear this award winning and distinguished member of our community at the Congress.  Register now, while Early Bird Discounts are still in place.

Natural, Integrative and Functional Medicine at the Congress

Parmis Khatibi“Let’s have a healthy and robust conversation about the science and art of whole-person healing!” says Dr. Parmis Khatibi, moderator of the Congress’ panel on Holistic Health.  “You probably have a sense of what Natural medicine is – herbs, supplements, stress reduction.  Integrative comes into play because most sick people are on one or more conventional drugs so we “integrate” care.  We also “integrate” your body, mind, and spirit when addressing your health conditions.  Functional Medicine is looking at health and disease as one big system, not individual parts.  All systems affect each other (digestion, thyroid, immune, neurological, etc.).  Come engage with our panelists and attain education, information and support that you need to begin maximizing your health and well-being!”

This session is designed to be an interactive informative experience that is helpful to our delegates.

Dr. Khatibi’s panel includes: Dr. Farhad Contractor on Breast Cancer; Dr. Nikan Khatibi on 5 Habits that Will Change Your Life; Dr. Ali Makki on Migranes and Pain Prevention; Dr. Cyrus Mody on neurological issues like Alzheimer’s; Dr. Freny Mody on cardiology; and Dr. Namiranian on dental health.

Come hear these informative and relevant sessions at the Congress!  Register now, while Early Bird Discounts are still in effect!

Dr. May to Address Healthy Diets at the Congress

ArmaitiBuddy_516x300Dr. Armaiti May will speak on Healthy Vegetarian Living at the Congress.  “In our Zoroastrian teachings, kindness to animals is embodied by a recognition that during the month of Bahman, Zoroastrians are called upon to abstain from flesh foods. In my talk I will discuss why Vegetarianism and Zoroastrianism go hand in hand during all months of the year, including the human health and environmental effects of our dietary choices,” says Dr. May.

Armaiti May was born and raised in Santa Monica where she had her navjote following a pilgrimage to India with her mother, grandmother and brother to visit Zoroastrian sacred sites including the fire temples. She graduated with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2005 and has been a practicing house call veterinarian in the Los Angeles area since 2007, providing a wide range of veterinary care services including acupuncture to dogs and cats. She is also an animal advocate, member
of Vegan Toastmasters and organizer of an animal rights meetup group, United Animal Advocates of LA (www.uaala.org). She has also volunteered on several veterinary service trips providing spay/neuter
and deworming services to low income communities in the US and abroad.

Since October 2012 she has hosted an internet radio show entitled Animal Issues with Dr. Armaiti May which has podcasts archived at www.veganvet.net.

Don’t miss your chance to hear this presentation!  Register now, while Early Bird Discounts are still in effect!

Sorooshian to bring Discussion on Green Economy to the Congress

PIC 2 - Soroosh Sorooshian headshotWhat world will our children inherit?  What impact could Zoroastrian philosophy have on the Green Economy?  Dr. Soroosh Sorooshian will explore these and other questions in a session entitled Zoroaster’s Vision of Environmental Preservation and its Relevance Today: Earth, Water, Fire and Wind.

An internationally known hydrometeorologist, Dr. Soroosh Sorooshian is a Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth System Science Departments and Director of the Center for Hydrometeorology & Remote Sensing (CHRS) at University of California, Irvine. His area of expertise includes the interface of the global hydrologic cycle and the climate system. He has supervised over 50 PhD students who hold prominent positions in academia, government and private sector, both in the U.S. and abroad.  He is a member of the prestigious U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE); the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA); and the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS).

Among his other honors, Dr. Sorooshian was recently called to the 2014 Einstein Professorship by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).  He is the recipient of: the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Robert E. Horton Medal in 2013, the 2010 4th Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water Resources Management & Protection; the 2005 NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal; the 2012 Eagleson lectureship, Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science (CUAHSI).  He is the Honorary Professor at Beijing Normal University, China 2010; the Walter Orr Roberts Lecturer at the American Meteorological Society (AMS), 2009; the recipient of AMS Robert E. Horton Memorial Lectureship, 2006; and the William Nordberg Memorial Lecture at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in 2004.

He has served on numerous advisory committees, including those of NASA, NOAA, DOE, USDA, NSF, EPA, and UNESCO and has testified to both U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate Committees on issues related to water, climate and satellite programs.

Don’t miss your chance to hear this presentation!  Register now, while Early Bird Discounts are still in effect!

Trity Pourbahrami to moderate panel on Zoroastrian Parenthood


Moderated by Trity Pourbahrami, the panel entitled Navigating Zoroastrian Parenthoodwill discuss the challenges and opportunities of raising children in North America.  The panelists will share their unique approaches to balancing school, children’s extra curricular activities, the demands of their career, religious education, and involvement with the Zoroastrian community.  The main objective for this panel is to engage Zoroastrian families with young children to be more active in the community by creating a forum for them to learn from each other.

Trity Pourbahrami is the Director of Communications for the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) Division of Engineering and Applied Science and the Editor of the award winning publication ENGenious.  She has Bachelor of Science degrees in Physics and Physiology and Masters degrees in Social Welfare and Public Administration.   She is also a certified mediator and facilitator.

Trity and her husband, Peter, live in South Pasadena, California with their two young daughters Neeku and Meena.   The family is active in the Iranian and Zoroastrian communities, where Peter and the girls are taking Persian Language (Farsi) classes and Trity is teaching the Gathas.

Trity was eleven years old when her family immigrated to Canada and succeeded to leave the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as the Iran-Iraq war.  As a young adult she was very engaged in the local and international Zoroastrian community including serving as a President of the Zoroastrian Youth of North America (1997-1999).

Don’t miss your chance to hear this presentation!  Register now, while Early Bird Discounts are still in effect!