World Zoroastrian Congress last held in North America 22 years ago, promises to unite influential speakers, sponsors, and more than 1,200 participants from 16 nations
NEW YORK — FEZANA, the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America (FEZANA), in partnership with the Zoroastrian Association of Greater New York (ZAGNY), today announced Zoroastrians from around the world will gather this week for the 12th World Zoroastrian Congress, July 1 – 4, at the New York Hilton Midtown, uniting generations, fostering dialogue, and forming bonds to last a lifetime.
The largest gathering of its kind, the World Zoroastrian Congress returns to North America after 22 years, marking a new beginning for congress-goers in the post-pandemic, and attracting more than 1,200 attendees from 16 countries. Congress programming features a compelling roster of speakers, including Zoroastrian religious leaders and clergy, academic scholars, community leaders and facilitators, and program tracks tailored to a variety of generations in attendance.
“Not since the turn of the millennium in 2000 has a World Zoroastrian Congress been held in North America and we are proud to put together what we think will be a truly memorable experience that honors our history and contributions, unites Zoroastrians from all walks of life, and perpetuates our faith for future generations,” said Congress Co-Chair, Astad J. Clubwala. “More than two years of planning, meeting, coordinating, fundraising and volunteering have brought to fruition an event that we believe will create lasting memories and move our ship forward for future generations.”
FEZANA President and Congress Co-Chair Arzan Sam Wadia, a longtime ZAGNY member, recognized the hard work, logistical undertaking and leadership of hundreds of local volunteers who helped bring the Congress to fruition and attract the world’s foremost speakers on Zoroastrianism.
“This was truly a herculean effort and I couldn’t be more proud of the passion, dedication, long hours and patience as we navigated planning and preparation throughout the pandemic,” Wadia said. “Congress participants will unite, debate, rejoice and form bonds and we look forward to providing an insightful and transformative experience.”
Keynoting the congress will be Erv. Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman (Retired Aug. 2021). Justice Nariman will deliver remarks in his presentation entitled: Gender Equality: The Rights of Parsi Women after the Advent of the Constitution of India. Other prominent speakers include: Lord Karan Bilimoria, life peer in the United Kingdom’s House of Lords, and co-founder and chairperson of Cobra Beer; and Harvard Professor Mahzarin Banaji, recent winner of the Atkinson Prize from the National Academy of Sciences and a leading subject-matter expert on implicit bias specific to race, gender and sexual orientation.
Congress Program Committee Co-Chairs, Keki Dadachanji and Aban Rustomji, shared congress programming highlights specific to several salient cornerstone topics: Zoroastrians and future leaders; the contribution and leadership of women in Zoroastrianism; Mobeds (priests) meeting the challenges of modern society; the role of Zoroastrianism in shaping interfaith harmony; Zoroastrian scholarship in academia; religious education reimagined; Zoroastrian identity, community and belonging within interfaith families; hidden biases in good people and ways to align values with behavior; the efforts of contemporary Zoroastrians to confront environmental issues; the rise of Iraqi Kurdish Zoroastrianism and reclaiming their heritage; healthy aging, mental health and wellbeing; and Zoroastrian entrepreneurship.
“Emerging from the uncertainties of a devastating pandemic, this Congress will reconnect people and inspire hope,” Dadachanji said. “Our wide-ranging programming is constructed around the theme of bridging all divides and we look forward to realizing that goal through our exceptional group of moderators and speakers.”
Zoroastrians are followers of one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions founded by the prophet Zarathushtra more than 3,000 years ago in ancient Iran. Zoroastrians have long served as bridge builders in interfaith dialogue, believing in truth, righteousness, charity, beneficence, respect and care for the environment, and the triumph of good over evil. Zoroastrianism flourished as the imperial religion of three Persian empires, those of the Achaemenians, Parthians and Sassanians, and was the dominant religion from Turkey and eastward to China during those times. North America’s Zoroastrian community includes those who arrived from the Indian subcontinent, known as Parsis, and those who came directly from Iran seeking religious freedom.
The Zoroastrian Association of Greater New York (ZAGNY) was founded in 1973 by a group of Parsi Zoroastrians primarily from India and Pakistan as a non-profit cultural, religious and social organization representing the interests of the Zoroastrian community in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Over the decades, ZAGNY has facilitated educational, religious, social and community gatherings; religious education for all ages; social events to commemorate and celebrate important religious days and festivals; and social service volunteer opportunities for adults and children. ZAGNY members participate in official events such as the Persian Day Parade in New York City, the Mayor’s Celebrations during Nowruz, Zarathustra’s 3000th birth anniversary and various interfaith events at the United Nations. ZAGNY fosters a sense of unity and belonging within its membership through innovative cultural and religious programming that is imparted to younger generations. Visit www.zagny.org to learn more.
Founded in 1987, the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America (FEZANA) represents a diverse and growing Zarathushti community in the western diaspora. Guided by the blessings of Ahura Mazda and the teachings of prophet Zarathushtra, the non-profit federation serves as the coordinating body for 27 Zoroastrian associations and 14 corresponding groups in Canada and the United States. The activities of FEZANA are conducted in a spirit of mutual respect, cooperation and unity among all member associations, and with due regard for the Zarathushti principles of goodness, truth, reason, benevolence, implicit trust and charity toward all mankind. Visit www.fezana.org and follow FEZANA on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @TheFEZANA.
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