8th World Zoroastrian Youth Congress Update

The World Zoroastrian Youth Congress is one of the most crucial platforms that brings together and reinforces the unity and strength of our Zarthosti youth from across the globe. Parsi Times is delighted to be associated with this noble endeavour, by publishing quarterly updates about the 8th World Zoroastrian Youth Congress, which will take place in the UK in 2023. Sheherazad Kapadia and Sanaya Khambatta, the two dynamic Co-Chairs of the 8th World Zoroastrian Youth Congress, share the following first update on the progress of this much anticipated event.

This series of articles aims to provide an insight into the profiles of individuals organising the 2023 8th World Zoroastrian Youth Congress with the aim of inspiring and motivating the future generation of young Zoroastrians. Through this article, we highlight the journey of the two congress Co-Chairs and how they use their voice to represent the community and add value to bring about progressive change through a collective voice.

Sheherazad F. Kapadia and Sanaya Khambatta are from London, Co-chairing the 2023 8WZYC. In 2019, they started serving the UK Young Zoroastrian (YZ) committee as Chair and Vice-Chair, respectively. They hail from Zoroastrian families who have been strongly involved in serving Zoroastrian communities. While Sheherazad’s father was the Treasurer in the 1997 2WZYC and her mother was a teacher for the UK Zoroastrian Children’s Fun Club; Sanaya’s family has been prominent in the Delhi Parsi community and several charitable causes. As a result of their family’s extensive communal involvement, Sheherazad and Sanaya have been actively involved in the Zoroastrian community from a very young age. 

An Occupational Therapy Student/Assistant Therapist by profession, Sheherazad is Chairperson of Young Zoroastrians (YZ) of the UK. Sanaya works as a Technical Consultant at IBM and is the Vice Chair of YZ, UK. As young adults, they are committed to representing the voice and views of young Zoroastrians in the UK.

Sheherazad and Sanaya shine a light on various aspects of their journey relevant to representing the Zoroastrian Youth community and planning the 2023 8WZYC: 

Involvement in Community and Youth Matters: 

Sheherazad: At age 10, my family and I moved to the Middle East, which seemed like a scary decision at the time. We never thought we would find a Zoroastrian community as vibrant and loving as our London group. However, looking back, it may have been the best choice my parents ever made!  Within the first month of moving, my family and I were introduced to a group of expatriate Zoroastrians who called themselves, the ‘Abu Dhabi Bawa Gang’. From then on, we enjoyed communal weekly dinners, outings and celebrations. The Bawa Gang taught me a lot – most importantly that no matter where I go, what I do, or how scared I become of the future, our Zoroastrian community and faith will always be there for me. The moment I returned to London for higher studies, I felt a sense of responsibility to give back to my Zoroastrian roots and so I joined the YZ committee. Beyond that, I truly hope that through the 8WZYC, I can provide a platform for our Zoroastrian youth across the globe, to build a sense of belonging, empathy and a voice. Afterall, a community that cares, is a community that makes for a brighter tomorrow. 

Sanaya: Growing up, my family always ensured that I had a strong sense of community and that I followed the three tenets of the religion – Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds. As a result, I always had Zoroastrian friends and engaged with them socially on a regular basis as well as attended Zoroastrian classes from an early age to learn about my religion and these tenets. Through this, I felt an innate sense of belonging which helped to shape my identity and allowed me to understand more about our religion overall. I have always been a proud Zoroastrian and my motivation for my involvement with the main YZs is that I want others to feel the same way I did growing up. I want them to have a sense of community, to meet other like-minded individuals and make and share experiences with them and to follow the religion, not because they have to but because they want to.

What do you bring to the table in terms of Co-chairing the 2023 8WZYC in the UK?

Sanaya: Both, Sheherazad and I, come from different backgrounds and it is this differentiating outlook that will benefit us greatly as we embark upon our journey in co-chairing the 2023 8WZYC. We examine a task and work on collaborating together to provide the best course of action that benefits our community, peers and the project at hand. Over the years, we have come to mutually understand each other’s beliefs and strengths and we plan on using these to the optimum. We are confident in our area of expertise and believe that communication and transparency is key in working together.

How do you overcome your individual viewpoints and focus on representing the community’s voice?

Sheherazad: For us, having a communal or collective voice representing the community, is essential to good leadership. It does not just mean representing the views of others, it means accepting that sometimes your ideas or opinions must take a backseat and we must implement a different ideology. We always prioritize the greater, collective goal. By considering other points of view, we create a more inclusive and empowered community. 

Sanaya and I have been guided to show kindness in our actions. We believe, when we take on a leadership role – be it captaining your school sports team or starting an enterprise – being openminded and respecting the opinions of those around you, especially those who you represent, will always be a huge asset towards the success of your endeavours.

What is the significance of having a female-based committee and Co-chairs?

Sheherazad: The Zoroastrian youth in the UK has a vibrant atmosphere. I’m both, proud and grateful to say that having women in leadership positions is not a rare occurrence in the UK YZ community. I believe that having a congress committee made up of so many wonderful and accomplished young women is essential and will showcase how we are paving the way to a more equitable society. Sanaya and I firmly believe, that with the equality and empowerment of women, we will achieve a stronger future for our community as well as our religion.

How do we wish to envision the global Zoroastrian youth in the future?

Sanaya: Looking to the future of the global Zoroastrian youth, we hope that individuals will continue to follow the Zoroastrian faith and be part of the global Zoroastrian community – through attendance at events such as the Youth Congresses and World Congresses. This can develop one’s spiritual and emotional connection with the religion as well as their peers and facilitate the world in seeing us as a unified, global community. We wish for the YZ community to advance and start tackling progressive issues that we face, not only within the religion, but in society too; and to evolve as respectful and inclusive of all.

Sanaya and Sheherazad look forward to answering your queries and providing details in future updates. You can mail them at: 8WZYC@ztfe.com .

About By Sheherazad Kapadia And Sanaya Khambatta

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