Teen Track at the Congress!

ShiRrin Kumana Wadia 02The XVII North American Zoroastrian Congress is pleased to present an exclusive track for our delegates aged 13 to 18 years. Over the course of three days, our teen delegates will engage in a series of workshops, discussions, and activities which will provide an opportunity for them to get to know their peers and meet other young and dynamic Zoroastrian role models.

The Teen Track will kick off with a workshop led by Shirrin Kumaana-Wadia, who has just been awarded the Outstanding Young Zarathushti Professional of the Year 2014 by the World Zoroastrian Chamber of Commerce. Entitled Zoroastrian Connection and Creativity, this workshop allows our teen delegates to interact with other Zoroastrians at the Congress using photography and social media. Delegates will engage with community members, young and old, to capture the spirit of our community.

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A second workshop entitled Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds, will expose the teens to individuals who have contributed in various ways to the Zoroastrian community. The workshop will be led by a group of panelists including Autusa Behroozi, co-founder of Raise 4 A Cause; Dinsha Mistree, co-founder of Zoroastrian Return to Roots and Agiary Connect; Afshin Sepehri, co-producer of the audio book, Stories of the Shahnameh; and Arzan Sam Wadia, founder of Parsi Khabar.  At the workshop, the delegates will brainstorm on how they can make a contribution to their community.

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In addition to the workshops, there will be two panel discussions that hone in on issues that affect teenagers today. In a panel discussion entitled Growing Up Zoro…!, our teen delegates will have the opportunity to interact with young adults who have grown up in North America, yet maintained a connection to their Zoroastrian roots. The speakers are Ervad Zerkxis Bhandara, Farhad Choksy, Shahyan Dalal, Deanyar Jahanian, Kaizeen Mody and Meher Pavri. All panel participants have distinguished themselves in their community through their active involvement and contributions. The panel of speakers will s hare their stories about building bonds within our community while navigating various cultures in middle school, high school and college.

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The second panel – Making It Happen! –  focuses on career choices and showcases successful young Zoroastrians who have pursued careers that involve doing what they love. An opportunity for a candid Q&A with panelists is presented after the session. The panel includes attorney Shehnaz Bhujwala, entrepreneur Zubin D. Mehta, filmmaker Yaz Rabadi, musician Mahfrin Santoke and systems engineer Anahita Sidhwa.

Additionally, as part of the program, our teen delegates will attend the opening and closing ceremonies of the Congress, sessions on the main Congress tracks that may be of interest to them, receive a private tour of the Shahnameh Exhibition, including a private reading of the Shahnameh by Afshin Sephari and his 10 year old daughter Nusha Sephari. Opportunities for social interaction are plentiful at the Congress and we are pleased to provide a Game Room to our teens as well, so that they may hang out with friends in a casual setting.

For many teenagers, this may be their first Congress experience.  We hope our young delegates will leave the Congress with a passion to learn more about our religion, a commitment to follow the righteous path of Zoroastrianism, and an enthusiasm to remain active and involved in our community.

Bring Your Gently Used Eyewear to the Congress!

Operation Eyesight Filler Image

The XVII North American Zoroastrian Congress is pleased to have the opportunity to give back to our world.  Community members from our littlest ones in religious classes to our seniors in bridge clubs across North America are encouraged to collect gently used prescription eyeglasses and send them to the Congress.

Working with other like-minded local groups, like Lions In Sight of California and Nevada, the Congress’ organizers will ship the eyeglasses collected to developing countries where there is a need for them.

Approximately 161 million people in this world are visually disabled or blind and approximately 2 billion people need eyeglasses. Most people in developing countries cannot afford proper eye care. This limits their vision, their ability to work and their quality of life.

The mission of Lions In Sight is to promote the collection of used eyeglasses for the purpose of recycling and use in developing nations worldwide and to provide no cost primary eye care to the needy and low-income citizens in these countries. A coalition of Lions Clubs in the United States and abroad, collect, neutralize/measure and dispense the used eyeglasses.

Do your part to help us eradicate avoidable blindness in the world!  Find those old glasses and pack them now for your trip to LA!

For more information about Lions In Sight, please click here.


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!

Discount Airfares to the Congress!

sunset-plane-landingThe Congress has partnered with United Airlines and BB Travel Experts to bring you discounts for air travel and rental car expenses.

For Air Travel Within the United States and From Canada: 

To avail yourself of discounts of up to 10% (depending on class of travel selected), please book your travel to LA through United Airlines’ website:  www.united.com.  Enter ZTC3643272 in the Offer Code Box while booking online.  This offer is valid for travel between December 25, 2014 and January 5, 2015.  The code is valid for travel in all 50 states of the United States and in Canada.

  While you can use this code to reserve your airfare through a travel agent, service charges may apply to such a transaction.  Such charges will not apply if you book your travel online  through united.com.

For International Travel to the Congress:

  For international travel to the Congress, please contact Bomi Patel of BB Travel Experts for “at cost” worldwide ticketing!

For Car Rental Services:

  If you need to rent a car during your stay in Los Angeles, contact Bomi to avail yourself of the best rates!  

Bomi can be reached via e-mail at bbtes9@gmail.com or by calling 408-264-4395.

Don’t forget to make all bookings soon!  And register now for the Congress, before our final September 20, 2014 Early Bird Deadline!

The Stuff of Legends at the Congress!

Gordafarid-SohrabWe are excited to host Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, an awe-inspiring exhibition curated by our very own Silloo Mehta!   The exhibition will include hand crafted 3D models, exhibits from Iran, paintings and pictures.

The Shahnameh is the Crown Jewel of Persian Literature.  It celebrates the survival of a civilization that originated some 7,000 years ago and withstood countless invasions, absorbed diverse influences, and conquered its conquerors by virtue of its timeless values.  The enduring appeal of the Shahnameh points to a core of meaning – the eternal strife between good and evil – that transcends specific time and place and is an article of faith for Zoroastrians.

Commentary by dedicated students of this great work will bring to life the legends of the Shahnameh at the exhibition.  In addition, Shahnameh enthusiasts will enjoy hearing Shahin Nezhad’s presentation entitled Shahnameh: Myth or Fact?
And, for an authentic interaction with this great epic, be sure to attend a unique presentation by Afshin Sepehri and his 10-year old daughter, Nusha, the producers of an audio book called The Stories of the Shahnameh, who will regale audiences with recitation of the timeless poetry in English.

The Mini-Congress will also introduce your children to the Shahnameh through stories, arts and crafts and games.  And you can interact with this exciting topic by participating in our Poster Session!

Come and immerse yourself in a glorious piece of your ancestral heritage…. see the stuff of legends at the Congress!
 Register now!


Early Bird Discounts Extended to September 20

Party OnTo celebrate the success of our registration drive and response to popular demand, the discounted prices for Early Bird Registration are now available until September 20, 2014!

Don’t miss out!  

Register now and save before the Early Bird flies off forever!