Day 1 - 21st July - Radisson Blu Hotel
On our first night, Merzi Modi will be our host for the evening and will introduce the Congress and the events taking place. We will be having a Jashan to commence the Congress with opening speeches from the 8WYZC Co-Chairs Sanaya Khambatta-Heerjee and Sheherazad Kapadia followed by the 2WYZC Chair, Kerman Jasavala. Next we will be having Zamyad Meherji take us through the history of ZTFE followed by Mark Gifford taking us through our first icebreaker session where will be introduced to other delegates in a "get to know you session". These sessions will be taking place in the Commonwealth Room and Royal room.
Sheherazad F. Kapadia
Day 2 - 22nd July - Radisson Blu Hotel
To formally open the Congress, we will be having an Opening ceremony which includes a flag ceremony and a word from our Keynote speaker, Sir Rohinton Minoo Kalifa OBE. This will take place in both the Commonwealth Room and Royal Room.
Sir Rohinton Minoo Kalifa OBE
Zoroastrians in Business
Join our panel of experts as they explore the essentials of entrepreneurship. They will discuss starting a business, defining success, and the differences between full-time jobs and entrepreneurship. Discover how to navigate the AI revolution and become an entrepreneur in this space. Our panelists will also share insights into how being Zoroastrian influenced their careers and business values. Lastly, they will provide actionable initiatives to engage more Zoroastrian entrepreneurs, including mentorship through the WZCC. This dynamic discussion aims to empower aspiring entrepreneurs with practical knowledge and tools to thrive in the business world, while staying true to their Zoroastrian heritage. Don't miss this opportunity to gain valuable insights and network with industry professionals.
WZCC Speed Networking
After successfully running this event at the 7WZYC in LA, we are proud to welcome back the WZCC Youth Wing to run a speed networking session. The WZCC Speed Networking event aims to grow your professional connections, expand your business network and get to further know your fellow Zororastian youth and establish meaningful connections that you can take forward into your professional and personal life.
Zoroastrianism 101: Zoroastrianism Through the Ages
This panel is a Q&A session of prepared questions and audience questions covering the basics beliefs and practices of the religion, theology and culture, unknown facts and a brief histroy of changes over time including how practices have evolved evolved over the years. This panel will be held in the Commonwealth Room.
Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor
Prof. Yuhan Vevaina
Ervad Sheherazad Pavri
Zoroastrianism in Practice- A guide towards a better life
Zoroastrianism in Practice: A Guide Towards a Better Life” is a seminar-style session co-hosted by Meherwan and Alaisha. The session will begin with both hosts sharing personal and academic experiences that have led to their understanding of self and their environment. While Meherwan brings forth a blend of a theoretical and applied knowledge to reveal the magic of personal spiritual practice, Alaisha introduces an uniquely embodied connection to spirituality, using movement exercises to cultivate and receive truth that lies deep within the body. Together, they motivate a move towards deeper personal, spiritual growth, and would love to have others join them on this journey. The hosts will then open up the stage to the audience, and are keen to hear others share their own journeys, stories, and discoveries!
Future of the Community: Presenting the Findings of the Gen Z Survey
This panel will be taking place in the Commonwealth Room. On 16 August 2021, Gen Z and Beyond: A Survey for Every Generation was launched at the SOAS Shapoorji Pallonji Institute of Zoroastrian Studies. The in-depth, online survey was conducted to explore different beliefs and practices within the current global (Iranian / Parsi / Irani) Zoroastrian community and those close to it. It gathered demographic, behavioural and attitudinal information which gave us a greater understanding of the factors that have promoted or inhibited the growth and success of the community in different contexts around the world. In this talk Nazneen will focus on the modern family by asking what role the family plays in youth identity, relationships with the wider community, and religious beliefs and practices. She will also highlight some interesting and important findings from respondents with a sole Zoroastrian parent. Sarah will discuss aspects of community identity and interaction. She will conclude with some observations about what young people are interested in learning more about, what they think are the greatest threats facing the community, and what factors they think are the most significant for strengthening the future of the community.
Spirituality Fireside Chat
An unapologetically real and raw fireside chat exploring meaningful questions of what it means to be alive and offering practical psycho-spiritual guidance on how to navigate this crazy, confusing, paradoxical, beautiful world as spiritual BEings having a human experience. We hope you join us as we share heartcentered stories of healing, magic and expansion through Nadia Jam’s journey of embodiment, remembrance and reconnection with the Divine. We would be honoured to co-create a space that will empower you to be the conscious co-creator of your reality so you can experience more joy, peace, purpose, freedom, play and unconditional love inspired by Truth, by Asha.
Day 3 - 23rd July - Radisson Blu Hotel
Women in Zoroastrianism
The panel discussion will serve as a platform to shed light on the pivotal role of women within the Zoroastrian community, exploring the multifaceted intersection of gender and participation across various domains, including the household, workplace, and wider community. By delving into the rich history of the Zoroastrian religion, the discussion aims to emphasize the significance of reclaiming the role of women in traditionally male-dominated spheres such as priesthood, community leadership, and the creation of equitable spaces. One of the focal points of the discussion will be the exploration of the historical context of Zoroastrianism, which has traditionally valued gender equality and acknowledged the influential contributions of women throughout its development. By drawing inspiration from this legacy, the panelists will highlight the need to revive and build upon the historical prominence of women, ensuring their active participation and leadership roles within the community. By harnessing the power of women's perspectives, experiences, and knowledge, the Zoroastrian community can foster inclusivity, diversity, and social cohesion. The panelists will share practical action points that individuals can implement to actively participate in the creation of equitable spaces, such as supporting women's initiatives, amplifying their voices, and challenging gender biases.
Displacement of the Parsis of East Africa and Aden
Parsi Studies, obviously concerned with the spiritual history and socio-cultural evolution of the oldest living Iranian diaspora, is also integral to Diaspora and Indian Ocean Studies. Sub-regional fields of the latter are Arabian Gulf and East African studies. Parsis, inextricably linked with the subcontinent’s other trans-national confessional communities, evolved into imperial subjects at once as expatriates. One observes, in Southern Arabia and East Africa, salient correspondences where Zoroastrians, like other British Indians, fulfilled the ‘middle management’ role of a literate, mercantile, white collared class, who experienced voluntary emigration and involuntary eviction in the imperial and post-imperial eras. Parsi ‘agency’ was largely inconspicuous, given demographics stacked against them, but also their apolitical reticence to be drawn into the post-WWII turbulent politics of both regions. Their impress, so typical in Parsi history, was their disproportionately positive contribution to public life in the crown colonies of Aden and East Africa.
Zoroastrians in the Media
Learn about what it takes to land a role in the media industry! This panel features film and tv producers, casting producers, and actors who will speak about their fascinating experiences in the media. Whether in front of or behind the camera, each panelist’s experience will teach audiences about the skills needed to succeed in their field.
Mark (Sumariwalla) Summers
Traditions of modern Iranian Zoroastrians and their changes
Join us for an enlightening talk as we embark on a journey to unveil the vibrant and often overlooked traditions of Zoroastrians in their homeland. Dr. Khanizadeh, an academic at SOAS, University of London and a member of the Zoroastrian community, will lead this engaging exploration. We will delve into the profound transformations experienced by Iranian Zoroastrians, shedding light on the transmission and changes of their ancient traditions, such as the Sedre Pushi (Navjot ceremony), monthly celebrations, and rituals, amidst the rapidly changing world. Our focus will include their efforts to balance their faith with the demands of modern existence, navigating realms such as education, urbanisation, and assimilation. We will highlight the tireless efforts and commitments of Zoroastrians in preserving their extraordinary tangible and intangible heritage. We will discuss how Zoroastrians, following Zarathushtra’s message in Yasna 30.9 i.e. ‘we may be those who will make the existence excellent’, have adopted their millennia old beliefs and traditions to the circumstances of the modern world.
BaHumata (With Good Thoughts) – Voice of the Youth
A session for dialogue on how Prayers related to Actions inspired by Good Thoughts (Humata) add value to our lives and the lives of others. Together we will reflect upon the guidance of the Zoroastrian Faith on optimising the ability to make choices with responsibility by listening and reflecting in each individual circumstance based upon facts. Through this dialogue we can build shared Wisdom and propagate Fellowship, World Peace, Happiness (Ushta) and Prosperity for All while building individual resilience. We will discover how imbibing the Amesha Spentas can help us develop into the caregiver – the Vastarem, as described in the Yatha Ahu Vairyo so as to care for our Vohuman (Good Mind) and build the Vohuman of others. Our speakers will share concepts/words/lines and their meanings from our Prayers, provide references and experiences/actions that will aid reflection with a clear mind and a Q&A session will engage the audience during the session and at the end of the event- all you have to do is raise your hand and a mic will be brought to you.
Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor
Jerou Panthaki RamMohan
Dr Karishma Koka
Ervad Yazad Cyrus Unwalla
The Zoroastrian Glossary
Join Armaity Homavazir, Farzin Avari and Kimiya Shahzadi as they lead you through the history of our words and the importance of why Zoroastrians across the globe would benefit from using this valuable tool. Through fun games, you will come away with a deeper understanding of Zoroastrian history, languages and words. The Zoroastrian Global Glossary was first launched in December 2021 at the FEZANA (Federation of Associations of North America) AGM. Since then, the team has made over a dozen presentations. The team continues to change over the years, and is comprised of scholars, priests, linguists and historians. The glossary team is extremely proud to unveil version 2.0 at this congress Why does spelling matter? Whether we admit it or not, we are judged by our spelling. If we made errors in a school report or at work, it would be noticed. Yet, somehow, within the English-speaking world, Zoroastrians have taken great liberty in how they spell religious terms. Think of Norooz, Nowruz, Navroz, etc. As one of the smallest – but influential – religions in the world, it is our great responsibility for future generations to streamline our spelling as much as possible.
Ask me anything, with Jasmine Dotiwala
Come and meet Jasmine Dotiwala in an "Ask me anything"session. Jasmine Dotiwala has over 25 years of experience as a Head of department, manager, broadcaster, producer, director, and columnist at brands like Netflix UK, Media Trust, Channel 4 News, MTV and more. Learn from Jasmin Dotiwala as she speaks about what it means to be part of the media industry. This will be an exciting talk with a Q&A session.
Guildhall Speakers and Acts
Meet your Speakers and Acts for the evening. Shreas Pardiwala will be your host for the night with special speakers from the esteemed Lord Karan Bilimoria. Alyza Zack and Delraaz Bunshah will be your acts for the evening!
Your Speakers and Acts
Speaker: Lord Karan Bilimoria of Chelsea CBE DL FCA FRSA
Host: Shreas Pardiwala
Speaker: Fravash Chothia
Performer: Alyza Zack
Performer : Delraaz Bunshah
Day 4 - 24th July - Radisson Blu Hotel, Zoroastrian Centre and London
Many Voices, One Fire: Zoroastrian Priesthood in the 21st Century
Is there just one path and set of beliefs among our priestly classes, or a plethora of varied opinions and debates? Our Zoroastrian community, as one of the world's oldest continuously practised religions, has always been a treasure trove of rich culture, varied perspectives, and a profound understanding of faith and spirituality. This panel discussion, moderated by Rishad Mehta, aims to explore the rich and varied priestly traditions, and sometimes conflicting opinions among the next generation of Mobeds, Mobediyaars, and Osta’s and Osti’s. Featuring five young Zoroastrians with priestly backgrounds, each having their unique perspectives and experiences within the framework of their faith. The panellists will discuss their religio-spiritual journeys, explaining how they arrived at their current understanding and practice of Zoroastrianism. They will also address how they reconcile their traditional beliefs with the challenges and realities of modern living. These narratives are crucial in revealing the vast diversity within the Zoroastrian priestly classes. Each person's journey is shaped by unique experiences, contributing to the rich tapestry of faith. We hope to shed light on the multiple paths that individuals can tread within our faith. We look forward to a thought-provoking and enriching discussion.
Ervad Sheherazad Pavri
Ervad Karl Desai
Ervad Jimmy Madon
Relationships, Identity and the future
Zoroastrianism – one of the oldest religions in the world, with a community featuring a vast pool of people with a mix of orthodox and liberal ideas. Relationship – a bridge connecting two people through love and understanding. Join us to talk about Zoroastrian relationships in today’s day and age: interfaith, LGBTQIA+, Parsi-Parsi, Parsi-Irani, and more. With our religious teachings telling us to follow ‘Asha’ or the path of truth, we must ask ourselves, “What is my truth?” Sometimes this truth may be jaded by the fear of not being accepted in our communities. But only by speaking openly about these issues can we understand the truth of the matter and promote change. Only by using our Vohuman can we discern for ourselves what is right. So let’s talk about it! After all, we are but one community, living our own Truths but coming together as various flames of one Holy Fire. We together are the various ‘Ashas’ of One Eternal ‘Atash’. Is it possible for our relationships and acceptance of one another to showcase the love at the heart of our beautiful religion and community? Don’t miss this first ever discussion on relationships in the Zoroastrian community.
Day 5 - 25th July - Radisson Blu Hotel
Breathing and Mindfulness
According to Nayomi, incorporating yoga into daily life can help develop an awareness of the effects of stress and effectively manage it. This benefit extends to the workplace and daily life, resulting in increased productivity and overall well-being. Unlike many exercise routines, yoga eliminates fatigue and generates energy, leading to higher levels of productivity. It is not just a physical practice but also benefits the mind and soul. This wellness session is thoughtfully designed to include chair yoga sequences, simple yoga stretches and postures, breathing techniques, and mindfulness exercises to help manage stress and improve their overall health and well-being. This session is accessible to individuals of all skill levels and does not require any prior experience. These yoga practices can be easily incorporated into daily routines and, when practised regularly, can yield significant benefits. Participants will leave feeling rejuvenated and energized, making a few minutes invested in holistic health a worthwhile investment.
Rekindling our Resilience: Intersections Between Mental Health, Wellness and Zoroastrianism
There was a time when the taboo of mental (ill-)health could not and would not see the light of day. Fortunately, those times have changed and it now emerges as a headlining topic for discussion during this youth congress, a coming together of minds from all over the world. Acknowledging the importance of mental health is certainly warranted in today’s society. Coming to terms with our inner world, mind and soul, is crucial in ensuring that we live healthy and fulfilled lives. After all, your overall well-being, or ‘Ushta’, comes from more than just the salad you had for lunch or that 30-minute jog - your mental health is equally as important when working towards our full potential! The aim of this panel is to ignite the spark of the Holy Fire in facilitating a much-needed conversation. By beginning to explore the links between Zoroastrianism and mental health, we seek to highlight the various parallels between religious teachings and contemporary psychology because, in some ways, we Zoroastrians were well ahead of our time! Examining the influence of culture and language, we shed light on the ways in which we may overcome the stigma surrounding mental ill-health and build a more united, compassionate, and healthy community. Drawing on our lived experiences and subject-specific knowledge, we take a moment to reflect on the courage of our ancestors and longevity of this religion in the face of persecution and intergenerational trauma. We’re stronger together: supporting, uplifting, and understanding each other, a powerful and respectful community. We conclude by exploring some techniques or tools from religious, spiritual, and cultural practice that we can utilise to improve and maintain our mental health. We welcome you to a community, a support group, a safe space, wherein we young Zoroastrians, explore the power of the mind. It is time we talk, listen, act and heal. Let’s work towards rekindling our resilience and unite with each other and become one - just like our Holy ‘Atash’...Many Sparks - One Fire.
Rushad Zubin Saklatwalla
Zoroastrian Harbingers of Change - A Community Practicing Environmental Sustainability
This session aims to inspire a renewed commitment from young Zoroastrians to lead by example and become Harbingers of Change, both through practicing environmental sustainability and by highlighting the effort of contemporary Zoroastrians to confront environmental issues. Zoroastrians are committed to the religious tenants of maintaining the purity of the earth and its elements, succinctly enshrined in the statement “we worship the earth which gives good gifts"" (Yasna 16.6). Rashneh Pardiwala has been creating successful models of environmental sustainability for the past 20 years and will share her initiatives in the field of solar electrification, rainwater harvesting and urban afforestation, especially with the Zoroastrian community in Mumbai. Her presentation aims to empower the next generation of Zoroastrians to become climate warriors, irrespective of their professional fields of expertise, and adopt simple, environmentally friendly, socially equitable and financially viable strategies to help combat climate change and heal the earth. Global warming poses one of the greatest challenges to mankind and more than ever before, every field demands a skillset in “natural resource management” or a specialization in environment be it careers in engineering, law, medicine, architecture, or fashion designing. Every Zoroastrian can and must be a Harbinger of Change in their personal and professional lives.
Dr. Rashneh Pardiwala
Zoroastrianism in the Arts
The talk will traverse the journey between Persia, China and India to trace the roots of the storied Parsi Gara embroidery. Through the course of the address, Ashdeen will highlight motifs, forms, and ideas that travelled across these diverse geographies and culminated in this beautiful craft that has mesmerised generations. The objective is to take the audience through some of the meanings and significance of commonly occurring patterns and designs that draw heavily from Zoroastrian culture. The recurring visual vocabulary of Parsi Gara embroidery also shows a deep reverence for nature which is a direct reflection of Zoroastrian belief systems.
Your first steps with Money and Investing
Join us for an engaging speaker session that is focused on empowering the youth to navigate the world of finance. Melwin will delve into crucial topics such as earning potential, and the art of saving and investing wisely in various asset classes, including stocks, shares, and mutual funds. Our speaker will shatter the common misconception that investing is solely for the wealthy, stressing the fundamental principle that “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. By sharing practical steps, fostering beneficial habits, and highlighting pitfalls to avoid, the session aims to equip you with the necessary knowledge to embark on your own wealth accumulation journey. The objective of this session is to ignite your passion for learning, expand your horizons on the world of finance and provide recommended further readings to ensure you have the resources needed to embark on a lifelong journey of financial education.
Return to Roots
The Zoroastrian Return To Roots (RTR) program is the only international trip that exclusively exists for Zoroastrian youth and is designed to strengthen community identity amongst Zoroastrian youth around the world. It is a 15 day trip in India, which takes a small group of participants on an exciting, fun, and educational journey to explore their religious, social and cultural heritage. RTR is going into its 7th year now, and has over 100 alumni around the world. The program has had tremendous impact on participants, many of whom were once disenfranchised and disconnected from the greater Zoroastrian community. Return to Roots is more than just a trip, but rather a life-changing journey that has participants walking away with a greater sense of pride for their culture and faith, amazing memories, and friendships with Zoroastrians from around the world. Join RTR alumni and board member Tanya Hoshi as she discusses her own experience attending Return to Roots and shares news about how you can apply for the next trip. The presentation includes a short film about the trip to give you a better look at the exciting journey you can experience yourself.
Neo-Zoroastrians - Becoming Zoroastrian: Beyond the binary of Parsi and Zartoshti-zādeh
The session will present findings of an ethnographic study investigating the motivations, socio-cultural, and religious practices of ‘Zoroastrians-by-choice’ – those who were born to both non-Zoroastrian parents and have accepted the Zoroastrian identity by undergoing a Sedreh-Pushi/Navjote ceremony. It will shed light on the patterns of interaction between ‘Zoroastrians-by-choice and those Zoroastrians who were born to both Zoroastrian parents. The session involves an interactive activity where the audience will be asked to participate in live polls. Therefore, having a mobile phone with internet is suggested. The talk will be followed by a screening of a short documentary titled ‘Becoming Zoroastrian’ which has been jointly produced by Leah Rustomjee and Ruzbeh Hodiwala. The movie features ‘Zoroastrians-by-choice’ from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds and nationalities sharing their experiences of becoming a Zoroastrian. The documentary, which combines participatory and interview-based genres, provides a firsthand account of the ‘Zoroastrians-by-choice’, who speak about their lives as Zoroastrians.
Fireside Chat with Ayesha Bilimoria
Ayesha is a 3 time Indian national running champion, as well as the founder of Project Fitgirl, a social enterprise that aims to educate girls in rural India in Physical Education. She’s accomplished so much - from her professional athletics career, to building a profile as a nationally recognised fitness influencer, to changing the lives of young women across India. Through our interview we’ll focus on her path; how she’s harnessed her faith and spirituality to navigate the opportunities and challenges that she’s faced and how she balances it all in this busy and demanding world.
A career in the Public Life
Do you consider yourself a public figure? Well, you should! Join this session to learn about the key to creating a successful personal brand and elevating your public profile.
Join Shirin Azari Amani in the Closing ceremony of the Congress.!