FEZANA Journal Holds Essay Contest Themed: ‘Zarathushtra’s Gathas in the Contemporary World’

Recently, the Spring issue of FEZANA Journal, which was based on the theme – ‘Zarathushtra’s Gathas in the Contemporary World’ – held an essay competition, with the aim of getting an insight into how the Zarathushti youth imbibed our great Prophet’s teachings and their understanding of the hold Gathas.

Participants were divided into three age-categories (13-18; 19-24; and 25-30 years old) and invited to submit an essay ‘How Zarathushtra’s Teachings In The Gathas Guided Me In Choosing A Right Path That Led Me To A Right Decision To Do A Good Deed.’ A $250 cash prize was announced for the winning essay in each age group, which were assessed by judges Kersy Dastur, Fereydoon Keshavarz and Kersi Shroff. Guest co-edited by Dr. Jamshid Goshtasbi and Dr. Keki Dadachanji, with Chief Editor – Dolly Dastoor, this issue of FEZANA Journal flaunts a vibrant and gorgeous cover illustration, drawn and composed by Roshni Chikliwala (15) and coloured by Natasha Dungor (13). [Above PIC]

The four winning entries which were finalized by the judges were:

(I) ‘Choosing My Path’ by Neelufar Khosraviani (Age group: 25 – 30). [PIC]

[Neelufar is a physical therapist at an inpatient rehabilitation center in Chico, California, and is currently working towards her neurological specialist certification.]

Excerpt: “The distinction between good and bad came to me in the third grade, as I waited outside of school for my mom to pick me up. Nearby, I witnessed the class bully finding joy in mocking a girl for the pigtails she wore. Without hesitation, I marched up and placed myself between the two. As much as I feared the bully, to stand by and do nothing, when someone was being hurt, felt wrong to me. Although my moment of courage backfired and lead to a target on my own back, I never regretted my decision.

By the teachings in the Gathas, I was raised to believe, and still do to this day, that good deeds are not done for reward but to help those who are in need. My very career has been shaped by Zarathustra’s teachings. I fervently believe in the philosophy of treating all humans, animals and our environment with dignity and respect. As a physical therapist at the community hospital, I treat individuals of all backgrounds. I have learned it is not my role to bring judgement but to provide the tools for others to choose their own path, so that they may heal and hopefully follow a more righteous path.”

 (II) ‘Compassion with Passion’ by Spenta Jassawala (Age group: 19 – 24) [PIC]

[Spenta is pursuing her final year in Journalism & Mass Comm, Delhi University. She helps promote and market sustainable bags, the proceeds of which go to destitute women in Chennai. She is also the editor of a student-run blog and an ardent photographer.]

Excerpt: “I still remember the words my grandmother said, to describe this Yasna to me. “Khshathra Vairya means Divine Strength,” she said, “It is the most precious gift we can be given by God, for it urges us to serve mankind.” She told me, that as long as I strive to serve all beings on our planet respectfully, and by treading the path of truth, God will shower his choicest blessings on me.

On a chance encounter, my mother and I met a friend who employed destitute women, who had lost their jobs in big garment industries to machines. He employed them in making sustainable bags, which are foldable, durable, washable and super good looking! …. I immediately felt a spark, a connection… a calling. “I will help sell these bags and give these women a source of livelihood,” I promised myself. Since then, my mother and I have put all our efforts into selling these bags.

Every good deed that I do is dedicated to Ahura Mazda and his journey to the Truth. I pray that He always gives me the strength to power on, for I will strive to serve mankind, forever.”

(III) ‘My Faith In The Gathas’ by Goolnawaz Porus Kapadia (Age group: 13 – 18) [PIC]

[Pursuing her degree in Microbiology in Mumbai, India, Goolnawaz wishes to become a virologist and invent cures against viruses, as a successful scientist, and contribute to medical science and the world.]

Excerpt: “I was 6 years old when I got to know about the Gathas, my bapai (grandmother) had introduced to me the concept of Gathas. It is the time in the year when the departed soul arrives on earth. The Gathas are amongst the oldest remnants of the Indo-European literature, but since they were translated into European languages in the eighteenth until twentieth century, they did not catch on like their close relative the Rigveda.

The contemporary world has started to forget its (Gathas) importance and eventually lose out on some very beautiful and beneficial aspects of nature and its tremendous power. The words written in the Gathas eventually have all the power of Nature. I personally have a very positive change in my life by following what the almighty has made for me and continuing to share my knowledge with everyone I feel lacks it. The contemporary world is indeed a nice place to live, just the lost importance of Gathas should be spread on a world-wide scale.”

(IV) ‘Inspired By Zarathustra’ by Zeyus Spenta (Age group: 13 -18)  [PIC]

[A Grade 8 student from British Columbia, Zeyus is an avid reader, artist and loves sports, travel, learning about history and music. He is an enthusiast of the Zoroastrian classes by Zoroastrian Society of British Columbia.]

Excerpt: “The messages, ideas, and way of life which our judicious prophet conveys through the Gathas continue to guide our lives, like the eternal holy flame in our place-of-worship. One line in particular has had a lasting impact on me, and positively affected my thoughts, words, and deeds. I feel that “spreading love and kindness to others” has guided me towards a righteous path laid out by Zarathustra, where kindness, generosity, and compassion prevail in various aspects of my life.

….We can make real-life connections to the Gathas from all aspects of life, and it is a reminder that some of the same 2500-year-old teachings of Zarathustra are timeless, and are applicable and relatable to this date! … Through the Gathas, the Zoroastrian holy book of hymns, psalms, and songs, Zarathustra communicates the importance of spreading love, joy, and kindness in our daily lives. The word “love” is a vital part of our faith and makes our world a special place.”

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