Newsletter April to June 2002


ZOROASTRIAN PRESENCE AT DAY OF PRAYER FOR WORLD PEACE

ZTFE invited by Vatican


Historic Prayer at Assisi monastery led by His Holiness The Pope

Ervad Rustom Bhedwar amongst leaders of world religions

 

Zoroastrian Participation at The Day of Prayer for World Peace called by His Holiness Pope John Paul II on Thursday 24th January 2002

 

An invitation was received by the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe (Inc) to depute a representative to participate in this historic Day of Prayer for World Peace at the monastery in Assisi.  The invitation came through the good offices of ZTFE's long-serving and outstanding Inter-Faith Representative Jehangir Sarosh.


Ervad Rustom Bhedwar of London was deputed to represent the Zoroastrian faith. Ervad Bhedwar is a member of the ZTFE managing committee and is a regular participant at Inter-Faith events in the UK.  He conducts prayer classes for children and has recently been appointed as Chair of the Atash Dadgah committee of the ZTFE. Ervad Bhedwar travelled to the Vatican as a guest of the Holy See for the 3 days of 23rd, 24th and 25th January.  About 200 representatives of the 12 major religions of the world were invited to participate in this Day of Prayer. The largest non-Christian contingent came from Islam with 31 representatives.

 

On Wednesday 23rd evening, Ervad Bhedwar was invited to speak to a distinguished audience at the Vatican on The Zoroastrian Perspective on World Peace.

 

On Thursday, all religious leaders took an early start from the Vatican Railway station.  This station was re-opened for the special Papal train after 26 years.  Huge crowds greeted the Papal Train on its journey to Assisi.



 

At the famous monastery in Assisi, all religious leaders offered prayers. Zoroastrian, Jain and Confucian prayers were offered in a room on the outer circle of the monastery in order to enable Ervad Bhedwar to light an Afringan.  Ervad Bhedwar chanted the Atash Niyaesh which attracted much attention from the gathered media. Most other religious leaders preferred to pray in silence or to meditate.

 

After prayers, all religious leaders joined in a lunch with the Pope.  Each religious leader was introduced to the Pope.  After lunch, they boarded the Papal Train and returned to the Vatican.   

 

The event was covered by CNN and other networks and also by newspapers in Europe.

 

The following day, on the 25th, the religious leaders were invited to the Papal Palace for lunch with the Holy Father.  At this venue several of them got an opportunity to engage in conversation with the Pope.

 

At the Vatican, Cardinal Arrinze headed the organisation of this historic event. The Papal Ambassador for Inter Religious Dialogue Bishop Michael Fitzgerald organised the contact with the ZTFE.  Bishop Fitzgerald is a keen participant in Inter Faith work in Europe.

 

A Multi-Faith Prayer for World Peace was also organised in London on the same day.  The Zoroastrian faith was represented by Ervad Farhad Sethna at this event.

 

ZTFE’s involvement in Inter-faith activities

 

The Trustees and the Managing Committee of the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe are very indebted to Jehangir Sarosh for his assiduous work as Inter Faith representative.  Sarosh has been working in this field for almost 20 years.  It was due to his efforts that in 1990, during the Presidency of Ervad Zal Sethna, ZTFE joined the Inter Faith Network of the UK. In July 2001, Sarosh was elected as a Vice Chair of the Inter Faith Network of the UK, a unique recognition for our community and the first Zoroastrian to be so honoured.  At present Sarosh is also Chair for Europe of the World Council of Religions for Peace.  ZTFE President Dorab Mistry calls Sarosh       "our brightest beacon for winning friends and influencing people".

 

From the ZTFE Managing Committee, Malcolm Deboo, Ervad Rustom Bhedwar and Past President Rusi Dalal also work on Inter Faith matters.  Firoza Gan-Kotwal and Shahin Bekhradnia are also well-known figures in Inter Faith work. 

 

Recognition of Zoroastrianism in the UK and Europe is more and more in evidence. Since 1995, the ZTFE President is invited to join the Royal Procession in Westminster Abbey at the Commonwealth Day Service each year.  He is presented to Her Majesty and the Royal Family on that day each year with the leaders of eight other religious communities in the UK.  ZTFE is also represented at multi-faith events at Buckingham Palace as well as at St Paul's Cathedral and at the Mansion House in London when the Lord Mayor of London hosts the Bi-annual Banquet for Archbishops and Bishops.

 

On 17th January 2002, Jehangir Sarosh and Dorab Mistry were received at 10 Downing Street by the Prime Minister and Mrs Blair when they hosted a reception for the leaders of Britain's faith communities.  Mr Blair accepted the strong support of the Zoroastrian community in his efforts to strengthen the coalition against terrorism and intolerance.  The Archbishop of Canterbury has played a very significant role in promoting the inclusion of Britain's minorities in major state events.  Jehangir Sarosh pays tribute to the work of The Rev George Carey who will retire as Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of All England in October this year "He had the sagacity to make us feel included in all the great issues of the day".     

 

 

ZTFE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING ON 18TH NOVEMBER 2001 AFTER VARSI PRAYERS FOR LATE MOBED FARIDOON ZARTOSHTY

 

Rich Tributes paid to the memory of Late Mobed Faridoon

Welcome to new committee member Ratan Buhariwala

Faroukh Sorab, Malcolm Deboo & Keki Cooper re-elected

Fond farewell to Farrokh Byramjee

Farokh Falahati joins House Committee

Dorab Mistry re-elected President

Successful Team retained in new cabinet-style structure

 

The AGM was held on Sunday 18th November after our Ervad Sahebs had performed Varsi Prayers in commemoration of the first anniversary of the passing away of the ZTFE's dedicated friend and benefactor the Late Mobed Faridoon Bahman Zartoshty.  After the Prayers, Shahrokh Shahrokh spoke briefly in Farsi and then in English to the large assembly of members paying tribute to the life and work of Late Mobed Sha Faridoon.  Shahrokh also spoke movingly of his own close association with the Zartoshty Brothers and their benevolence to the Zoroastrian community all over the world.  Dorab Mistry joined in these tributes and enumerated the various charities and personal acts of kindness and philanthropy, which have become synonymous with the Zartoshty name. 

 

A motion was placed before the House and approved unanimously requesting the Zartoshty Family to accept the ZTFE's proposal to name the proposed Atash Dadgah in London after the Zartoshty Family.  We are very pleased to report that Mobed Mehraban Zartoshty has accepted the ZTFE's proposal and will suggest an appropriate dedication at the time of the consecration of the Atash Dadgah.

 

Immediately after the Prayers and the Tributes, the AGM was convened. Past President Rusi Dalal spoke of the contribution of committee member Farrokh Byramjee who retired at this AGM.  Our past senior Trustee Cawas Sethna presented flowers and a memento to Jasmine and Farrokh Byramjee in recognition of Farrokh's services to the community.  In reply, Farrokh pledged to continue to serve the New Premises Steering Committee in his professional but honorary capacity. Former committee member Jimmy Rustumji was also felicitated for his services to the Association. Ratan Buhariwala joined the managing committee for the first time while Faroukh Sorab, Malcolm Deboo and Keki Cooper were re-elected. Members gave a big ovation to Keki Cooper who serves on the committee despite living 300 miles away in the county of Devon.  Treasurer Adi Bilimoria gave an overview of the Association's finances and Joint Secretary Malcolm Deboo moved the Annual Report for adoption. Dorab Mistry was re-elected President.

 

After the Varsi Prayers and the AGM, the members participated in Chasni and snacks provided by our member Armin Dastoor. Sponsorship for the snacks was by courtesy of the Zartoshty Family.  

 

 

NEW PREMISES UPDATE

 

 

Special Service of Thanksgiving to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to be held on Wednesday 26th June at 10.00 am at Zartoshty Brothers Hall, The Zoroastrian Centre for Europe, 440 Alexandra Avenue, Harrow, HA2 9TL. To be graced by Their Royal Highnesses The Earl and Countess of Wessex.

Full details and how to apply for invitations - see separate announcement page.

 

 

ZTFE are delighted to welcome during this month a high-level team from English Heritage and Harrow Council to review the latest proposals submitted for refurbishment of the New Zoroastrian Centre.  These proposals have been developed jointly after detailed discussions between Harrow Council Planning Department, English Heritage and our own team led by NPSC Chairman Shahrokh Shahrokh.  Our team has been strengthened with the addition of Keki Cooper, former Director Technical Services of Exeter City Council.

 

Members will be very pleased to know that both Harrow Council and English Heritage have heartily welcomed the purchase of this landmark property by the Zoroastrian Community.  Both organisations have confirmed in writing that in their opinion the future of this magnificent heritage property is best in the hands of the ZTFE given its history and its record so far.  The only discussion is about how best to accommodate the requirements of the ZTFE with regard to floor space in terms of a large dining area, food preparation areas, a Museum and an Institute of Iranian studies, a crèche, a games room, offices, lecture theatre and residential space.  Several innovative proposals are being discussed.  NPSC Chairman Shahrokh Shahrokh says, "It is best that we go for the maximum at the outset so that the future enhanced needs of the community are provided for.  I would rather engage in longer dialogue than accept something in haste."

 

The timetable to date has been as follows:

 

September 2000 - Acquisition of the New Premises

March 2001 - Development work on plans for an Atash Dadgah with a permanent consecrated ever-burning Fire.  Intensive work undertaken by Malcolm Deboo & Paurushasp Jila culminating in the publication of the detailed plans in June 2001.

October 2001 - Submission of Applications for full planning permission for Refurbishment of the Property into a Community Centre and Building of a separate Place of Worship on car park land.

January 2002 onwards - Discussions with English Heritage and Harrow Council on our proposals.

 

In terms of normal planning procedures, we are very fortunate in the prompt manner in which both English Heritage and Harrow Council have responded and inter-acted with us.  We are particularly grateful to Harrow Council and to councillors who have been and are our well-wishers.  Their goodwill and their key advice have been worth its weight in gold. With the blessings of Ahura Mazda, our Trustees, the Managing Committee and the New Premises Steering Committee are optimistic for an agreement to our proposals, which will present all concerned with a win-win position.

 

In the meantime, it is gratifying to note the very beneficial effect on property prices in the Rayners Lane area since the ZTFE acquired this property.  Property prices have moved ahead strongly since August 2000 when this property was acquired.  By way of example, a 2 bedroom flat in the area sold for £ 75,000 in August 2000 and now sells for as much as £ 125,000.  Local estate agents are unanimous that the eradication of the CineBar with all its associated nuisance has had a tonic effect on local house prices.  Again, with the blessings of Ahura Mazda, we caught the property price just at the right time.  Trustee Noshir Avari puts it succinctly "Only a Divine Hand could have so worked things out that we sold our investments in August 2000 at the peak of the Stock Market boom and bought this property just as the market was taking off.  Dadar Ahura Mazda has blessed us sumptuously.  We owe it to Him to bring this dream to fruition "

 

 

ZOROASTRIAN PARTICIPATION IN GOLDEN JUBILEE EVENTS

 

On 11th March 2002 the Annual Multi-Faith Commonwealth Day Service was held at Westminster Abbey.  This year had special significance being the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  As in past years, ZTFE President was invited to join the Royal Procession in the Abbey along with leaders of all the nine major faiths in the Commonwealth.  President Dorab Mistry was also presented to Her Majesty, to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and to HRH The Prince of Wales.

 

Later the same day, 11th March, Her Majesty hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace for the representatives of Commonwealth countries and leaders of various faith communities.  ZTFE President Dorab and his wife Shenaz participated in this reception.  Her Majesty inquired of Dorab Mistry about the strength of Zoroastrians in the UK.  She was told there were about 7,000 only.  At this point, the Commonwealth Secretary-General Mr Don McKinnon reminded Her Majesty that the smallest country in the Commonwealth had a population of only 10,000! Dorab and Shenaz also took the opportunity to meet Their Royal Highnesses Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, The Earl and Countess of Wessex.

 

On 25th April, HRH Prince Charles launched his multi-faith initiative RESPECT at the ICC in Birmingham.  ZTFE President Dorab Mistry was among 25 leaders of faith communities to participate in the launch function and to announce the Zoroastrian community's support and admiration of HRH's initiative.

 

As part of the Golden Jubilee, a Young People's Faith Forum will be held on Monday 10th June at Kensington Palace.  Out of 80 participants from the whole of the UK, 2 young Zoroastrians have been invited.  They will be Farmeen Sorab who is the Chair of the YZs and Burzin Rustumji.  The Young People's Forum delegates will dine with the Minister for Culture Media & Sports Mrs Tessa Jowell on 9th June.  They will also attend a reception at Buckingham Palace on 10th June in the evening where they will be presented to Her Majesty and to members of the Royal Family.

 

The reception of 10th June at Buckingham Palace is perhaps the most important multi-faith event of the Golden Jubilee.  In addition to our 2 Young Representatives, another 7 Zoroastrians have been invited.  They are:

Jehangir Sarosh, Vice Chair of the Inter Faith Network for the UK,

ZTFE Trustees Noshir Avari, Kersey Jasavala and Dr Firoze Munshi,

ZTFE President Dorab Mistry, past President Beroze Mody and veteran community worker Mrs Khorshed Sodhi.

On 4th June a Special Service will be held at St Paul's Cathedral to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty who is also Head of the Church of England.  ZTFE is very honoured that President Dorab Mistry has been invited to join the Royal Procession in St Paul's along with leaders of Britain's other faith communities. 

 

Zoroastrians were the first ethnic community to announce their intention to hold a Special Service of Thanksgiving to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty.  Details of this historic event to be held on 26th June appear elsewhere in this Newsletter.

                   

 

JASHNE SADEH - JASHAN & GHAMBAR celebrated

 

The annual Jashan and Ghambar in celebration of Jashne Sadeh was held on 30th January at Zoroastrian House.  The Humbandagi performed on the stage by our Ervad Sahebs was filmed by a team from Channel 4.  This TV documentary was especially filmed on our member Shahin Bekhradnia relating to her faith.  Shahin was also interviewed at Zoroastrian House and shots also taken of the Setayesh Gah and our congregation at prayer as well as at dinner and dance.  Shahrokh Shahrokh and Shahrokh Vafadari as well as Dorab Mistry made brief speeches on the significance of the traditional Sadeh festival.  Tributes were also paid to the memory of the Late Mehraban Farhangi whose endowment is used to fund the Ghambar.

 

 

JAMSHEDI NAO ROUZ

 

Jamshedi Nao Rouz was celebrated with a galaxy of VIP guests and with "4 Steps to Heaven".  ZTFE is enormously grateful to Channel 4 Television for scheduling the broadcast of their film

"4 Steps to Heaven" exactly at 19.55 on the day of Nao Rouz.  This short 5-minute film picturised on Shahin Bekhradnia gave a glimpse of our faith seen through the eyes of one of our most articulate Zoroastrians.

 

The Guest of Honour on this auspicious day was His Worship The Mayor of the London Borough of Harrow Cllr Bob Currie.  His presence and that of the Lady Mayoress was very significant in view of the fact that Harrow is to be the new home of the community in the very near future.  His Worship made an excellent speech, recounting the 7 elements of the Hafsheen.  ZTFE were also honoured by the presence of the former Mayor of Harrow, Cllr Keeki Thammaiah and his wife.  Cllr Thammaiah is an ardent friend of our community and made a rousing speech in praise of various Zoroastrian attributes.  ZTFE is very fortunate to have friends such as Cllr Currie and Cllr Thammaiah in Harrow.

 

Amongst other distinguished guests on this occasion were Mr Brian Sweeney, heritage consultant and Mr Faramroze Patel, President of FEZANA.  Mr Sweeney spoke of his visits to Zoroastrian sites in Iran and how much he looked forward to the inauguration of the New Zoroastrian Centre in Harrow.  FEZANA President Faramroze Patel received a standing ovation as he spoke of his early life in Surat.  Faramroze spoke of the need for Zoroastrians all over the world to join hands and gave a glimpse of the dynamic activities of FEZANA and its various chapters.  He drew repeated cheers from the large audience.  The veteran community leader from North America, Mr Tahamton Aresh was also felicitated on the stage.

 

Harrow Mayor Cllr Bob Currie was introduced by Vice President Faroukh Sorab and Cllr Thammaiah was introduced by Cllr Filly Maravala.  Faramroze Patel and Brian Sweeney as well as Tahamton Aresh were introduced by President Dorab Mistry.  Past President Rusi Dalal and secretary Malcolm Deboo also made brief speeches.  Shahrokh Vafadari spoke briefly in Farsi and later explained the significance of the Naorouz festival and the Hafsheen table.

Trustee Kersey Jasavala felicitated Paurushasp Jila on his recent wedding in Bombay to Marzbeen Toddywalla.  A special message from our benefactor Mobed Mehraban Zartoshty was read out.  NPSC Chairman Shahrokh Shahrokh sent his regrets for not being able to attend as he was away in Manchester.

 

The new YZ Chair Farmeen Sorab made her maiden speech on this day.  YZ leader Rohinton Munshi unveiled the YZ logo after announcing the results of the YZ logo competition.

 

At exactly 19.55, all the VIP guests retired from the stage to their seats and the entire congregation watched the Channel 4 TV documentary "Four Steps to Heaven".  The audience gave a big cheer to Shahin Bekhradnia on whom the film was based.

  

Presentations to all the guests were made by Trustees Noshir Avari and Dr Firoze Munshi. Flowers were presented by Roshan Khorshidchehr, Jesmin Sorab, Mahrukh Mistry and Nergish Avari.  Special thanks were recorded to Daulat Kapadia for her administrative help as also to Beroze Mody, Kerman Munshi and Bapsy Buhariwalla.  Above all, Mrs Paridokht Falahati was heartily thanked for arranging the Hafsheen table every year and treating the guests to the delicious table spread!  The function attracted a very big attendance despite being a working day.  A big pat on the back of the House Committee and the team of volunteers who worked tirelessly.

 

 

FASLI KHORDAD SAL CELEBRATION

 

On this auspicious day Shahrokh Vafadari made a most interesting speech on the Intricacies of Zoroastrian Calendars.  He had the audience spell-bound as he explained how Zoroastrian calendars had evolved.  President Dorab Mistry thanked Shahrokh for his brilliant presentation and also paid tribute to the generosity of Nahid and Bahman Mobed whose endowment funded the Ghambar.

 

 

DASTURJI DR KUTAR MEMORIAL PRAYERS

 

On the 18th Anniversary of the passing away of our late Dasturji Dr Sohrabji Hormasji Kutar, prayers were performed by our Ervad Sahebs on Saturday 20th April.  Members of the Kutar family were joined by a large number of Zoroastrians including several past Presidents and office bearers. In the absence of Dorab Mistry who was away in India on work, past president Rusi Dalal paid tribute to the life and work of our beloved Dasturji.

 

 

FILLY MARAVALA WINS LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTION AGAIN

 

We are very happy to announce that our own Councillor Filly Kaikhushroo Maravala, who recently stood for Local Government Elections as a Labour Councillor, has once again been elected to serve his ward of Loxford in the London Borough of Redbridge for a third successive term for a period of 4 years.  He again recorded a substantial majority over his nearest Liberal Democrat and Conservative party rivals.  Within the Labour Party in Redbridge, he has now been elected as Chair of the Labour Group in Redbridge and is the lead spokesperson for Labour on social Services.

 
YOUNG ACHIEVER

 

Cavus Batki of Cheltenham, son of Khorshed and Dinshah Batki of Cheltenham was presented with the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday 17th July 2001 for services to the community.  Cavus is a third year Bio-Chemistry under-graduate at Bristol University.  Well done Cavus – Congratulations.

 

 

ANOTHER ZOROASTRIAN AWARDED AN MBE

 

We are very pleased to announce that Hoshie Kanga, a member of our Association, has been awarded the MBE for working as an Administrative Officer in Central Government for over 36 years, and was the longest serving member of the Treasury's European Co-ordination Team for over 18 years.

 

Her Majesty The Queen has honoured Hoshie E Kanga in the New Year Honours 2002, with the award of an MBE.

 

Hoshie was presented, with the insignia of a Member of the British Empire, by The Prince of Wales at an Investiture held at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday, 17 April 2002.

Our sincere congratulations to Hoshie.

 

 

DASTURJI SOHRABJI KUTAR FUND FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS

 

This Fund is for the purpose of distribution of the income of this endowment fund in pious memory of our Dasturji Saheb Dr Sohrabji Kutar, to UK Zoroastrians who successfully pass the Second and Final Examinations at first attempt in the fields of Medicine: dentistry, pharmacy, nursing and other medically related fields of study.

 

We request all Zoroastrian students in any of the medical fields in the UK, who qualify, to apply in writing to the Managing Committee for this Award.

 

We wish the students good luck in all their forthcoming examinations and we extend our gratitude to Dr Mrs Shirinbanoo Kutar, the benefactor of this Fund.

 

 

ZTFE BIDS FOR NATIONAL LOTTERY WIN!

 

Gul Billimoria’s idea – will we be lucky this week?

 

For quite sometime an idea was mooted to buy National Lottery Tickets for ZTFE in the hope to boost the New Premises coffers. The idea was that on an event when there was a large gathering, to request members to donate for this particular cause. The total collected would be divided by 52, for the weeks of the year, and whatever the quotient, that many tickets would be bought for each Saturday Lottery draw. The lucky numbers picked would remain the same for the 52 weeks.  On Jamshedi Navroz this challenge was taken up, and, including telephone pledges, £832 was collected in total.  From Saturday, 30 March 2002, sixteen tickets will be purchased each week for the next 52 weeks.  This is a one off collection. The following are the lucky numbers picked.  You may wish to check these each week if there are any winning tickets and the amount won, if any.

 

 

ZTFE LOTTERY NUMBERS

 

 

GAME NUMBERS

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

1

2

8

17

24

1

14

 

23

4

4

9

23

31

5

16

 

38

7

21

12

24

39

31

18

 

40

28

22

44

26

41

36

22

 

42

44

35

46

40

47

39

25

 

46

49

49

47

41

49

42

29

GAME NUMBERS

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

2

2

3

1

4

3

10

 

7

4

9

8

3

8

15

13

 

10

20

19

19

29

10

18

40

 

27

39

25

28

36

16

19

44

 

29

47

32

34

37

29

20

48

 

48

48

40

37

46

34

25

49

 

 

 

THE HEIDELBERG SYMPOSIUM ON ZOROASTRIAN RITUALS IN CONTEXT – APRIL 10TH -13TH, 2002

 

A Report by Almut Hintze - Zartoshty Brothers Lecturer in Zoroastrianism

SOAS, University of London

 

From 10-13th April 2002, an International Symposium on Zoroastrian Rituals in Context took place at the University of Heidelberg, the oldest university in Germany established c1368. The conference, the first of its kind, was organized by Dr Michael Stausberg, director of a Research Project on "Zoroastrian Rituals in Changing Cultural Contexts" based in Heidelberg and funded by the German National Research Council (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), which sponsored the conference, together with the University of Heidelberg. It was an international gathering of about thirty scholars from India, Iran, Germany, Great Britain, France, Israel, Italy, The Netherlands and the United States of America. In nine sessions, which took place in the beautiful building of the "Internationales Wissenschaftsforum" in the historic centre of Heidelberg, where most of the participants were also lodged, twenty-five papers were read on various aspects of ritual in general and Zoroastrian ritual in particular.

 

On the eve of the conference, on April 10th, participants were invited to the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences ("Akademie der Wissenschaften"), where the symposium opened with a lecture by Burkhard Gladigow (Tübingen) on "Sequential processes in rituals" (in German), followed by a reception.

 

In the morning of April 11th, the section "Theoretical Approaches" began with an introductory presentation by Michael Stausberg on "The Study of Zoroastrian Rituals". Then, in a paper on "Some Metatheoretical Comments on Recent Approaches in the Study of Zoroastrian Rituals", Jens Kreinath (Heidelberg) discussed the guiding principles of Darrow's application of structural semiotics to ritual and compared that with the aesthetic approach of Williams and Boyd. A detailed analysis of the Navjot ceremony was given by Jan Snoek (Heidelberg) in a lecture on "Initiations in Theory, and in Zoroastrianism".

 

The section "Terminology and Change" opened with a lecture by Philip Kreyenbroek (Göttingen) on "Terms for Ritual and Rituals in the Nerangestan". Antonio Panaino (Bologna) discussed "The Interiorisation of the Sacrifice in the Zoroastrian Ritual Dimension" and elaborated particularly on the concept that the worshippers' own souls were recipients of the worship or sacrifice.

 

Gernot Windfuhr (Michigan) presented "Some Comparative Notes on the Zoroastrian Yasna Ritual and the Taoist Ritual", offering fascinating insights into the structure of Zoroastrian ritual texts and the arrangement of ritual implements.

 

In the section on "Ritual Texts þ Rituals in Texts", Almut Hintze (London) spoke "On the Ritual Significance of the Yasna Haptanhaiti" and argued that the Younger Avestan eulogistic sections of the Yasna were imitations of those found in the Yasna Haptanhaiti. Jean Kellens (Paris) discussed "Finalit‚s sacrificielles dans l'Avesta recent". Shaul Shaked (Jerusalem), in a paper on "The Yasna Ritual in Pahlavi Literature", highlighted the multiplicity of meanings of the Yasna ritual in the Pahlavi texts: it formed part of education, carried an enormous burden of symbolic and actual power, in particular with regard to `perfection' (frashegird), and was an expression of a conscious desire to avoid the immolation of animals.

 

In the section on "Two priestly rituals", Jamsheed K. Choksy (Bloomington) and Dr Firoze Kotwal (Mumbai) gave a joint presentation on "The Stum-Ritual", which was performed on monthly and yearly death anniversaries. In a paper entitled "The Baj-dharna Ceremony: `Inner' or `Outer' Ritual", Ramiyar P. Karanjia (Mumbai) identified ten classifying criteria and argued that the Baj-dharna or Dron Yasht Ceremony belonged to the "inner" rituals, but gradually became, in addition, an "outer" ritual due to its popularity.

 

The morning of April 12th was dedicated to the discussion of ongoing projects. Robert Langer (Heidelberg) presented results of his research on Zoroastrian shrines in Iran in a paper illustrated by slides and entitled "From Private Shrine to Pilgrim-Center: The Spectrum of Zoroastrian Shrines in Iran". Bijan Gheiby (Göttingen) discussed the various functions of "Zoroastrian Nirang". Dorothea Lüddeckens (München) spoke about her work in India on "Ritual Constructions of break and continuity in Zoroastrian Funeral Rituals". She argued that a strong construction of break, in the form of funerary rites, was correlated with a strong construction of continuity, in the form of monthly and yearly death anniversary rituals. Vice versa, a weak construction of continuity was correlated with a weak construction of break.

 

In the morning of April 13th, the interaction of religious traditions was discussed by Werner Sundermann (Berlin), who spoke on "Zarathustra as a priest in the Manichean tradition" (in German). In an audio-visual presentation on "Two Ritual Traditions: Zoroastrian and Shinto", James Boyd and Ron Williams (Colorado State) argued that ritual employed a multiplicity of non-interchangeable dimensions and that ritual and art works were integrated. They supported this view by showing images of Christo's Running Fence.

 

Katayoun Mazdapour (Tehran) lectured on "Changes in Zoroastrian Rituals: Past and Present" (in Persian) and Sabine Kalinock (Frankfurt) on "Supernatural Intercession to Earthly Problems: Sofreh-rituals among Muslims and Zoroastrians", discussing a popular form of women rituals in Iran.

 

The section on "Ritual Spaces" was opened by two lectures illustrated by slides. Gerd Gropp (Hamburg) spoke on "The `Anahita-Temple' in Bishapur" and Dietrich Huff (Berlin) "On the Development of Zoroastrian Funerary Space". The latter reviewed the archaeological evidence for funerary practices in Iran and argued that some of the so-called Zoroastrian "fire altars" should be interpreted as receptacles for bones (ossuaries). Jamsheed K. Choksy (Bloomington) analysed "Zoroastrian Notions of Sacred Space" according to which evil was combated within the confines of pure space. Albert de Jong (Leiden) examined the evidence of Muslim sources on "Sasanian Court Rituals".

 

Parsi experiences were discussed by Sarah Stewart (London) in a paper entitled "The Atash nu git and Parsi Lay Devotional Life". Finally, Michael Stausberg concluded the conference with a shortened survey of his work on the "Emergence of a New Ritual Pattern". It was regretted that Beate Schmermbeck (Heidelberg) was prevented from giving her paper on "Zoroastrian Monajat" due to illness.

 

The discussions taking place during the conference were lively and benefited from the presence and participation of Zoroastrians, in particular Mr Malcolm Deboo, librarian of the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe in London, and two priests, Dastur Dr F M Kotwal and Ervad Dr R P Karanjia, principal of the Dadar Athornan Madresa in Bombay.  After the conference, Ervad Karanjia stayed on in Heidelberg for two months to work there with the "Zoroastrian Ritual" team.

 

Although the lecture programme was intense, there was also ample opportunity to relax and converse with colleagues and friends during coffee and lunch breaks in the pleasant setting of the house and gardens of the "Wissenschaftsforum".  There was an afternoon visit to the Heidelberg Castle on a guided tour. In the evening of April 12th, an exhibition in the Heidelberg Museum of Ethnology, entitled "In the front of the fire" ("Im Angesicht des Feuers"), was opened by Dr Margareta Pavaloi, the director, in a public ceremony on the occasion of the Conference.

 

As the exhibition was partly sponsored by The Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe in London, Mr Malcolm Deboo, their representative, gave a short talk reminding the audience that there was a precedent for ZTFE supporting Zoroastrian Studies in Germany, since the first English translation of the Avesta by Friedrich Spiegel, published in 1864, was also sponsored by ZTFE under its first president Muncherji Hormusji Cama.  His descendents today run Bombay Samachar, the oldest newspaper in Asia.

 

In conclusion of the opening ceremony, Dastur Kotwal recited auspicious texts from the Avesta.  The exhibition showed photographs documenting Zoroastrian religious life.  The photographs were the works of two artists: of N. Desai, a Parsi from India, who was present, and of K. Kazemi from Iran. Visitors had also the privilege of seeing a selection of ritual objects, kindly lent by Dr Gert Gropp from Hamburg, and of watching a video filming of the Yasna ceremony recently recorded in India by Dr Stausberg.

 

 


COURSES ON ZOROASTRIANISM AT SOAS

 

Courses for the study of Zoroastrianism at the School of Oriental and African Studies for the next academic year 2002/2003 are scheduled to commence around mid September 2002. 

The graduate as well as post-graduate courses are detailed as under:

 

BA courses:

Zoroastrianism in the Ancient and Modern Worlds –

This course is an introduction to the most important aspects of Zoroastrianism, for those with no prior knowledge of the subject.  The lectures cover four major subject areas: the sacred texts, the history, the ritual and devotional practices and modern Zoroastrian thought.  As part of this course, it is planned to visit Zoroastrian House, London, which is the Centre of the community in Britain.

 

Zoroastrian Set Texts: Avestan:

This course is an introduction to the language of the earliest sacred texts of the Zoroastrians, the Avestan.  No prior knowledge of the subject is required.  The course is based on lessons covering basic grammar, and students will be asked to do weekly homework.  Some memorization of grammar and vocabulary will be necessary.

 

MA Courses:

Zoroastrianism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives –

The MA version of “Zoroastrianism in the Ancient and Modern Worlds”.

 

Avestan Language:

The MA version of “Zoroastrian Set Texts: Avestan”.

 

The courses are tutored by Dr Almut Hintze, Ph.D.

 

Moreover, Dr Hintze will convene and contribute to a course on “Religions of the Near and Middle East”.  This course for first year undergraduate students offers a survey of Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Each religious tradition will be presented by a specialist.

 

Dr Hintze will also contribute to an interdisciplinary course on Apocalyptic Texts in Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Christianity.

 

The courses on Zoroastrianism at SOAS are conducted under “Zartoshty Brothers Lectures”, endowed by Mehraban and his late brother Faridoon Zartoshty with Rusi K Dalal and Shahrokh Shahrokh appointed as co-ordinators with SOAS.  Any Zoroastrian who is interested in joining these courses can apply directly to the Admissions Secretary, c/o Department of the Study of Religions at SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG.  Such students may also approach ZTFE, whose Grants Committee will consider their application for grants to be awarded to suitable candidates. 

 

 

DASTURJI DR FIROZE KOTWAL AWARDED VISITING FELLOWSHIP AT CAMBRIDGE

 

Cambridge University honoured Dasturji Firoze Kotwal, our high priest from Mumbai by inviting him last year to Clare Hall, Cambridge, as a Visiting Fellow. 

 

From June to October 2001, Dasturji Kotwal worked on two joint projects at Cambridge: Firstly on an important Avestan manuscript and secondly on an edition of our Five Gāhs.

 

A write up appeared in the Ancient India and Iran Trust’s recent Newsletter which, with the courtesy of their Trustees, we reproduce below for the realisation of our Members and the community of what is happening in field of Zoroastrianism at Cambridge:

 

 

VISIT OF DASTUR DR FIROZE KOTWAL, HIGH PRIEST, BOMBAY

 

Dastur Dr Firoze M Kotwal, the Zoroastrian High Priest (Dastur) from Bombay, spent five months in Cambridge, from June to October 2001, as a Visiting Fellow of Clare Hall.  He came to work on two joint projects with one of our Trustees, Dr Almut Hintze, who is lecturer in Zoroastrianism at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.  His visit was supported by the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe, London.

 

Avestan Manuscript El:

“The first project was concerned with a facsimile edition of one of the most important Avestan manuscripts, called El.  Dastur Kotwal was able to bring the manuscript to England from the Meherji Rana Library in Navsari, Gujarat. The manuscript was photographed in the Photographic Department of SOAS, London, and the slides were subsequently sent to Berlin for digitisation. 

In the meantime, Dr Kotwal made a detailed table of contents of the manuscript.  When the digitised version is received back in Cambridge, we hope in Spring 2002, each page will be provided with headings identifying the text, and on the margins, the paragraphs of the text will be noted.  This particular procedure will enable the user to find any text quickly and easily.  The book will be published by Harrassowitzin Wicsbaden, Germany.

 

The manuscript itself was in very poor state of repair, so Dr Nicholas Hadgraft, who has already carried out much valuable work for the Trust, restored it so as to prevent further decay.  Some pages, for example, were heavily worm-eaten and the paper had become so thin that it would break when touched.  Dr Hadgraft strengthened these with a special, expensive Japanese transparent paper.  Moreover, the entire manuscript was in the form of loose leaves, the binding having been dismantled when it was microfilmed in India several years ago.  Dr Hadgraft provided a folder for each group of leaves to protect them and keep them together.

 

It was made clear at the outset that this was going to be a preliminary restoration only.  A full restoration, including a new and appropriate binding for the manuscript, would have required more time and money, both of which were not available.  However, it was felt that it was good that the manuscript should be restored at least in a preliminary way in order to prevent further decay.  This was made possible thanks to the generosity of The Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe and their President, Mr Dorab Mistry, who funded the restoration.

 

Five Gāhs:

Dr Kotwal’s second project was working on an edition of five Avestan prayers called the Gāhs.  These are prayers to be recited by faithful Zoroastrians at five different times of the 24-hour day.  The work consists of a text critical edition of the Avestan text and variant readings, a translation, a commentary and a glossary.  Dastur Kotwal was able to provide numerous valuable comments on the interpretation of the texts, while Dr Hintze contributed to its linguistic analysis.

 

The presence of Dastur Kotwal in Cambridge attracted a number of Zoroastrians to come and visit him at his house in Clare Hall.  On several occasions, members of the Zoroastrian community of London invited him to conduct religious ceremonies or give lectures.   


The Trust was fortunate to have a very interesting and beautifully presented lecture from Dr Kotwal at the beginning of Michaelmas Term, on October 12th in the Friday lecture series.  He spoke about the Zoroastrian Fravardigan Festival.  The event attracted a good audience and stimulated a lively and engaging discussion following the lecture.

 

While in Cambridge, Dr Kotwal decided to accept the Trust’s invitation and establish his place of work there, in the Iranian room, Sir Harold Bailey’s former study.  He was very satisfied to find most of the books he needed for his work, including some rare books.  The books being on open shelves, and concentrated in one room, within easy reach, proved to be an ideal working environment.  Moreover, the Trust’s Library provided the ideal venue where he and Dr Hintze could meet and work together and discuss their joint projects.

 

Dastur Dr Firoze Kotwal’s visit served to highlight the need for conservation of many of the rare printed books in the Bailey Library.  Among them, a number of valuable books on Zoroastrianism are in very poor condition and literally falling apart, due to the intensive use made of them by Sir Harold himself and others.  Some of them, such as Bartholomae’s Avestan Dictionary or Geldner’s edition of the Avesta, in particular, are in urgent need of repair and conservation.  Dr Kotwal is extremely careful and could of course be relied upon to use them, but in their present state it would not be possible to allow them to be generally used.

 

The Trustees of the AIIT are currently seeking funding to bring all rare printed books in the collections to a condition where they can safely be handled and used by all readers.  Every donation of whatever size will be gratefully received and duly acknowledged.  For example, a donor may choose one or more individual books and fund their restoration.  Once restored, the book will contain a label inside the cover acknowledging the gift.  Depending on the state of repair, the restoration of one book costs between £30 and £60.  If they wish the donors name can be acknowledged as a bookplate.”

 

Avestan Manuscript El, folio 528 verso, containing the

end of the Bahman Yast, in Pazand with Sanskrit translation.

 

Fellow members and indeed all Zoroastrians are urged to take note of this invaluable projects undertaken at Cambridge and come forward with suitable donations, send it to ZTFE which will be acknowledged and forwarded.

THE MYSTERY OF THE PERSIAN MUMMY

 

A series of Horizon on BBC2 recently screened how the mummy of alleged ancient Persian princess was “manufactured” in Afghanistan for sale to the World in the field of archaeological art effects.  The following write-up indicates how Prof. Nicholas Sims-Williams of SOAS and Cambridge and collaboration of Zoroastrian Scholars (that included Ervad Godrej Sidhwa of Karachi) exposed the huge fraud of the underworld:

 

The mysterious mummy first hailed as the find of the Century

 

The story began when police in Karachi seized a mummified body which had supposedly been uncovered in an earthquake and which was offered for sale as that of an ancient Persian Princess.  The mummy was richly adorned with gold and encased in a wooden sarcophagus and an inner coffin of stone. 

 

Cuneiform inscription in Old Persian identified the mummy as Rodogoune, daughter of the Achaemenian monarch Xerxes (486-465 B.C.E.).  The evidence that the ancient Persians had mummified their royal dead contrary to the principles of their Zoroastrian religion was quite unexpected and the mummy was immediately hailed as the find of the century.

 

At first everything appeared authentic: the carved sarcophagus, the golden ornaments, the cuneiform inscriptions.  It even appeared that Rodogoune, daughter of Xerxes, was known to the ancient Greek historians.  But, as professor Sims-Williams pointed out, the name should have been written quite differently in Old Persian, as Wardagauna. 

 

Could one believe that a Persian king would have buried his daughter under the Greek form of her name?  Other discrepancies soon appeared: the mummification process had been bungled, the carpenter had used a modern lead pencil to make his guide-lines on the coffin and, finally, carbon-14 dating revealed that the Persian Princess had died within the last few years.  When an autopsy showed that the cause of death was a broken neck, the archaeological investigation was over and a murder enquiry was launched.

 

(Extract from the Ancient India & Iran Trust Newsletter)

 

 

NAVSARI ATESH BEHRAM GETS RED CARPET TREATMENT

 

The Prayer Hall of our sacred Atesh Behram in Navsari, which was consecrated in 1765, has been covered with a most exquisite carpet for the benefit and comfort of the Zoroastrian devotees, who visit the Atesh Behram from all over the world.

 

The project for the Atesh Behram carpeting was spearheaded by ZTFE member Jehangir Dordi.  An appeal was launched when Villoo and Jehangir Dordi brought to ZTFE’s attention that the Navsari Atesh Behram was in need of re-carpeting and general repairs.  Jehangir began with his task and raised over Rs. 10 lacks in donations from friends and acquaintances in London and elsewhere.  This included a generous donation of £5,000 by the Jokhi family of Hong Kong, synonymously linked with charitable causes notably in Navsari and indeed throughout the world.

 

Jehangir was personally involved in this venture.  From the donations he had collected, he arranged for the purchase in the UK of the best-in-the-world carpet appropriately named Palace Velvet.  Earlier in the year, he travelled to Mumbai to take delivery of the carpet.  Mr Noshir Irani, a renowned carpet furbisher from London specially flew to Mumbai with his special tools and his skill to install this red carpet at the Navsari Atesh Behram. 


Gratifyingly, other Zoroastrian volunteers were at hand to enable the carpet to be laid at its best.  Before the carpet was laid, the Atesh Behram was extensively repaired and the Prayer Hall painted to complement the richness of the new carpet.

 

We commend Jehangir Dordi, Noshir Irani and their team of helpers for their creative awareness for the “Atesh Behram Carpet” Project and for devoting all their energies to accomplish the laying of the carpet at the Navsari Atesh Behram.

 

The success of this project indicates the close bond and warmth radiating between the Zoroastrian Communities in India and Europe.

 

PARSEE DINNER AT THE BUCKLAND CLUB IN BIRMINGHAM

 

Members of the Buckland Club, who dedicate themselves to taste variety of international foods, chose last winter to put their pallets to test with a varied Parsi Cuisine.  A menu that included Falooda, Sali Margi, Rotli with Achar, Mora Dar Chaval with Patio, Dhansak Dar, Patrani Machhi, Tarkari, Sev and Ravo was served in a magnificent surrounding of the historic Woodmen of Arden Archery Club, Forest Hall in Meriden near Birmingham.  The dinner was graced with thetraditional Avestan baj.

 

The Buckland Club’s Chairman Roger Hale described the Parsis as having very few food prohibitions as the Zoroastrian religion favoured enjoyment of life.

 

Earlier on, Rusi Dalal gave a talk about the role of the Parsis and Zoroastrians in Britain.  Malcolm Deboo demonstrated the historical background of the Parsis with slides and narration which was extremely well received.

 

The stupendous food was prepared by our Birmingham residents Aban & Jimmi Suratia, Amy & Kali Suratia and Khorshed Pochkhanawalla that was enjoyed by nearly 100 guests.  The dinner was sponsored by Rusi Dalal.

 

We warmly applaud our Birmingham members for their participation and dedication to make a success of such events that keeps our flag flying.

 

OPPORTUNITY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

 

Ford urgently requires -

Self-motivated young people for their Advanced Modern Apprenticeship Scheme in Engineering.

 

Do you, or someone you know, have a son or daughter who is still undecided on a career path?

Do they have an interest in engineering and new technology?

Will they be aged 16-19 on 2nd September 2002?

 

If the answers to all the above is yes, then they should be aware that Ford is now recruiting young people for a number of exciting engineering careers based in the south east.

 

Detailed information and an application form can be obtained by e-mailing 'mferries@ford.com'

with the name and address of the interested young person or by asking them to write to:-

 

Recruitment

Ford Motor Company Ltd

Room 9/811, Thameside Training Centre,

Thames Avenue

Dagenham, Essex. RM9 6SA