Featured Sessions of Interest to Young Adults

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!

Poster Session Deadline Extended to November 4, 2014!

Poster Session ImageDid you miss the deadline to register for the Poster Session?!  No worries!  We’ve got good news:  The deadline to submit your name and the subject of your poster to reserve your spot in the Poster Session has been extended to November 4, 2014!

This is a great opportunity to channel your creativity and create a poster related to our Zoroastrian community!  
Our requirements are simple: there’s no age limit, you can work with your friends as a team, you can create anything related to Zoroastrianism on a poster that’s 22 x 28 inches or larger!
All you have to do before the deadline is email Trity Pourbahrami at poster@nazc2014.org with your contact information and tell her what your poster will be about!  Then bring your poster with you to the Congress!  We will display it and give you the chance to show off your creativity! 
Don’t delay!  Email poster@nazc2014.org with your information today!

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!

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! 

Zane Dalal to Speak on Zoroastrianism for the Next Generation

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The Congress Committee is pleased to announce that Zane Dalal will speak at the Congress.  Mr. Dalal’s presentation is entitled Zoroastrianism and the Next Generation.

Zane Dalal was born and educated in England.  Awarded an Organ Scholarship to the University of Oxford, he held the position of Choirmaster and Organist at Oriel College Chapel from 1983-1986.  He holds Masters Degrees in Music from both the University of Oxford, U.K and from Indiana University, at Bloomington.

Zane continues to pursue a career in music as an orchestral conductor, conducting several professional orchestras all over the world.  He currently holds the position of Associate Music Director with the Symphony Orchestra of India, a new professional international ensemble founded in Mumbai in 2006.   He also serves on the management team of the National Centre Performing Arts, Mumbai and lectures extensively on a wide range of topics.

Zane’s love of history and theology has followed him through his career.  Frequently invited to speak on theological perspectives, he is deeply interested in Zoroastrianism and issues that concern our community today. 

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

NAZC 2014 Call for Posters!

Poster Session ImageIn an effort to engage young Zoroastrians attending the Congress, NAZC 2014 invites you to participate in the  Congress’ Poster Session.  The session will allow young Zoroastrians to engage with their heritage in an environment that showcases and celebrates their creativity.

A few requirements are set forth below, but we encourage you to follow your bliss in the creation of your poster and presentation!  Prizes are in the offing and we wish all our participants the best of luck with their artistic endeavors!

For additional information, please contact Trity Pourbahrami, at poster@nazc2014.org.

Poster Session Requirements:

  • Age of Participants: No limit, but we encourage student participation.
  • Subject Matter: Anything related to Zoroastrianism.
  • Poster Size:22 x 28 inches or larger.
  • Registration Deadline: November 4, 2014 (extended)
  • To register, please email a short description of your poster and your contact information to poster@nazc2014.org
  • Team efforts are welcome.

Register now and participate in this fun session at the Congress!

Calling All Zoroastrian Musicians!


The World Zoroastrian Symphony Orchestra (WZSO) is looking for Zarathushti musicians of all ages, to play at the XVII North American Zoroastrian Congress to be held in Los Angeles from December 29 to 31, 2014.

The WZSO unites Zarathushtis from the world over to provide unforgettable musical experiences, under the baton of its Music Director, a professional conductor, Farobag Homi Cooper of Chicago.

If you can play an orchestral instrument, and would like to play with this talented group of musicians, please contact Vira Santoke at vsantoke@verizon.net or 714-963-1301.

Register now to support the WZSO at the Congress!