Launches ‘FEZANA Professorship of Zoroastrian Languages and Literature’
At its 34th AGM held in June 2021, FEZANA (Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America) announced it had reached its matching fundraising goal of $1.1 million (USD), in partnership with the University of Toronto, officially establishing the ‘FEZANA Professorship of Zoroastrian Languages and Literature’, here. This milestone achievement will transform and advance the study of Zoroastrian languages and literature in the Western hemisphere for future generations, and marks a historic moment for FEZANA and all its member associations and patrons. A global search for a candidate to fill the position will soon commence so that the position is filled in at the Toronto by July 2022.
Elated about this academic milestone for North America’s Zoroastrian community, FEZANA President – Arzan Sam Wadia said, “In more than three decades of FEZANA’s existence, this has been the single largest capital project we have initiated, and its completion is deeply gratifying to the entire community. What is truly unique is the collective participation of individuals and institutions from around the world. FEZANA will forever remain grateful to every donor who helped realize this dream.”
“This generous gift from the FEZANA community propels our Zoroastrian studies program as a leader on the global stage, greatly elevating its significance and contribution to the study of Zoroastrianism,” said Tim Harrison, Chair – U- Toronto’s Dept of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations (NMC), in which the professorship will be based. “This professorship will help us greatly increase the number of students able to read and understand the ancient languages of Avestan and Pahlavi, and advance research and publications on the translated texts and their context in history. Ultimately, it will help raise awareness of Zoroastrianism around the world.”
Initiated in 2019 by FEZANA’s then President – Homi Gandhi, said, “It is important for faith-based organizations like FEZANA to invest in scholarship and educational opportunities for their communities and the world. By fostering a greater understanding of the tenets that guide our lives, we can better understand other faiths who may believe differently, and in turn, achieve a global unity based on cooperation and understanding.” The concept of an endowed professorship was first presented in 2017 at FEZANA’s 30th AGM, by Er. Dr. Jehan Bagli, who worked closely with Gandhi, towards the fundraising effort. Over 250 donors supported the cause, including Zoroastrian individuals and associations, across the UK, Hong Kong, Australia, India, Europe and North America.
FEZANA is grateful to stalwarts including Er. Arda-e-viraf Minocherhomjee – President, North American Mobed Council; FEZANA’s Fundraising Lead – Behram Irani and General Counsel – Sean Elavia; Prof. Yuhan S-D Vevaina, Bahari Asst. Prof. of Sasanian Studies, Oxford University, for their leadership and guidance.