– ALL FIVE HIGH PRIESTS ADDRESS GLOBAL COMMUNITY –
Last Saturday, 4th September, 2021, proved to indeed be a rare and historic occasion, when ALL FIVE OF OUR HIGHLY REVERED AND ESTEEMED HIGH PRIESTS / VADA DASTURJIS – Dasturji Dr. Firoze M. Kotwal; Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor of Iranshah – Udwada; Dasturji Keki Ravji-Meherjirana; Dasturji Cyrus Dastur; and Dasturji Dr. Jamasp Dastur Kaikhusroo JamaspAsa – came together to give blessings and a message of love, peace, joy, health, and prosperity to our community worldwide, on the occasion of the Behram Yazad Jashan to welcome the ‘GOOD TIMES’, conducted at the ZAC (‘Zoroastrian Association of California’ in Los Angeles, USA) Atash Kadeh.
Performed with great passion and dedication by Er. Jal Birdy, Er. Zarrir Bhandara and Er. Zerkxis Bhandara, the Jashan was live-streamed on ZOOM for the benefit of our Zarthostis worldwide, who are unable to attend live religious ceremonies, on account of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the world over. The Jashan witnessed a robust attendance of 201 Zoroastrians, with 192 attending over Zoom, from across the world, and 9 in person.
After the Jashan, Er. Zarrir Bhandara thanked 86-year-old Er. Jal Birdy for participating in the Jashan, as also his son, Zerkxis, for officiating the Jashan; he thanked ZAC’s Executive Committee for hosting the Jashan and all the attendees for their presence and participation in the Jashan. Explained the historical significance of this Jashan, he shared, “It all started in June 2021, when I saw the recorded death announcements (paidasta/obituaries) being published in Parsi newspapers, which had shot up alarmingly to over 50 per week! I felt the need to do something as a priest for my community in India. That is when I got a divine vision to perform a Behram Yazad Jashan to help the lives of our Indian brethren. A Jashan was performed on Dae Mah – Behram Roj. About three weeks later, the number of obituaries went down to approximately 10 per week. Hence, on Bahman Mah – Behram Roj, a ‘Jashan of Victory’ was performed. A few days ago, I received a divine message to perform yet another Jashan to welcome ‘Good Times’ and to invite all of our venerated High Priests to address our community. People ridiculed me saying ‘what good times? We are into the third wave!’- to which I said, we need to invite Good Times and shift our focus from this virus to our good health because where our attention goes, energy flows.”
Er. Zarrir then read Dasturji Dr. Firoze M. Kotwal’s message, by first introducing Dasturji Kotwal – the Yozdathregar Mobed and ‘Living Legend’ – who is sought by well-known universities around the world for his knowledge and who has been guiding our community for the past 75 years.
Dastur (Dr.) Firoze. M. Kotwal’s message to the community:
My Dear Ervad Zarrir Bhandara,
Thank you for your recent email but as I have explained earlier, I am not in a position to participate in Zoom calls and at my age, I find it troublesome and difficult to do.
I am happy however to send you a message as given below which you can read out to the community:
‘May your Jashan ceremony create Peace and Harmony in the community and may the Holy Haft Ameshaspands restore Goodness and Good Health in the world.
May the prayers recited in the holy Jashan ceremony restore order in the world and May Bahram Yazad bring the victory and the prevalence of Good over Evil.
May in this world, religious discipline overcome atheism, Peace overcome discord, Generosity overcome Miserliness, Humility overcome Arrogance, Rightly spoken word overcome Falsehood and the Truth overcome the Lie! (karda from tå ahmī nmāne , Yasna, 60.)
May the Blessings of the Padshah Saheb, be on the Parsi Irani Zarthoshti community and may the community seek enlightenment, gain knowledge about the Religion and find the strength to preserve our ancient rituals.
Atha Jamyāt Yatha Āfrināmī! ‘May it come about as I Bless’!
Thereafter, Er. Zarrir Bhandara introduced the second speaker, as one of the most well-known High Priests in the world and the Viceroy of our Pak Iranshah – Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor of Udwada, who shared a live talk via Zoom, excerpts of which are as under:
“With the merciful grace of Dadar Ahuramazda and the Blessings of Iranshah, we are fortunate to be present here to celebrate the beginning of yet another year. I take this opportunity to wish you a fulfilling, peaceful, prosperous and above all a very healthy year ahead. May the future years bring you joy and many reasons to celebrate… Today is an auspicious day, the first Beheram Roj of this new year. We believe Behram Roj to be an auspicious day because Behram Yazad is the most glorious and the most powerful… In troubled times as well as in good times, we Zoroastrians turn to Behram Yazad to seek his protection against all evil… I would like to think that the impact of these difficult times has given us a fair opportunity to face new challenges. I would like to believe that most of us found within ourselves renewed hope, renewed faith and renewed energy that helped us emerge as stronger and better individuals. And this was possible because we believed! We believed in the power of the divine and we took respite in the power of prayers to reach inward and tap our reserves of inner strength and conviction… We definitely cannot rewrite this last chapter of our lives but we most certainly can learn from it and adapt to the changes of time and try our best to evolve as better humans and even better Zoroastrians, at heart.”
The next eminent speaker was Dasturji Keki Ravji-Meherjirana, the most respected Vada Dasturji of our Dharam-ni-tekri (the headquarters of our religion) – Navsari. Vada Dasturji Ravji holds the proud and stellar record for having performed 70-Nirangdin Ceremonies, over 5000 Ijashnes and over 3000 Vendidad Ceremonies in India! He has served our Zarathushti community in India for the past 60 years and as a Boiwalla Saheb at the Navsari Atash Behram for 20 years. He has consecrated two sacred Varasyajis (our holy, white bulls) as well as the Gumbad of Navsari Atash Behram. In his message which was read out by Er. Zarrir, Dasturji Ravji shared, “Dear Zarrir, wishing you all good health, wealth and prosperity. May Dadar Hormazd Bless you all!”
We thank Dasturji Ravji for his selfless dedication towards promoting the bounty of our Zarathushti prayers. Post this, Dasturji Cyrus Dastur – Vada Dasturji of Surat – was introduced as a man of many talents. Known to make everyone always laugh with his excellent sense of humour, Dasturji Cyrus is also a Karate Black Belt, grand student of Hashi Vispy Kapadia. Dasturji Cyrus has tremendous faith in our prayers with which he helped heal himself from Covid.
Dasturji Cyrus addressed the community in Gujarati, quoting from the ‘Sudreh, Kusti and Navjote’ book, published by the Athornan Mandal of Surat, which stressed the importance of following our Tarikats in order to live a happy Zarthosty life.
The last speaker of the event was introduced as one who believes that the hands that heal are holier than the lips that pray, being a cancer surgeon and also a High Priest, who heals souls with his prayers and bodies with his skill and knowledge… Dasturji Dr. Jamasp Dastur Kaikhusroo JamaspAsa, the son of late, illustrious Dasturji Dr. Kaikhushroo Minocher JamaspAsa. The following are excerpts from his erudite speech, delivered live via Zoom:
“I would like to firstly thank you for inviting me to address our Zoroastrian community in North America and the wider community globally on this auspicious Behram Roj. It is truly pleasing to see our traditions and prayers being upheld by the widespread Zoroastrian diaspora and I fervently hope this will remain the case globally for millennia to come. I commend Ervad Bhandara for continuing this rich tradition and upholding the values that are so dear to our community. I have fond childhood memories of him praying at our beloved Anjuman Aatashbehram in Bombay many years ago, under the auspices of my late father, Dasturji Kaikhusroo Minocher JamaspAsa.
Behram Yazad has always held a special place in our prayers and scriptures. A Yazata that presides over success and victory, He gives us the strength to overcome various hurdles in life and in doing so, always allows us to fight the Righteous Fight for the triumph of Good over Evil… He is also invoked as Perozgar, Dushman Zadaar and Fattehmand – all of which stand for ‘Victorious Smiter of Ones Enemies…
Let us move towards the significance of today’s Jashan ceremony, which we are grateful our Mobed sahebs have performed for us. Today, we see a world significantly changed due to a global pandemic and significant climate change… Things we once took for granted became impossible and a single virus showed us what a small part we play as human beings in an ever-changing and much more powerful universe… But through this difficult period, we have also seen numerous acts of kindness, of courage, of resilience, of human beings coming together to help each other… our Mobeds and Boiwallas have ensured that our Aatashbehrams and Agiaries are looked after with diligence and the Holy Fires tended to daily – the everlasting flame kept burning! I pray that in invoking Behram Yazad in today’s Jashan, He continues to give us all the strength to overcome the hurdles in our lives and constantly helps us become better human beings. To my fellow Zoroastrians worldwide, I urge you to continue living a good life that embodies the three basic tenets of Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds; to be proud of our Zoroastrian roots; to pray daily at home and at our peaceful and serene AatashBehrams and Agiaries; to have faith in our powerful Manthravani and prayers. Zoroastrianism has always been associated with kindness, charity, tolerance, strength and honesty, and it is up to us and our future generations to carry forward this priceless legacy… I would once again like to thank Ervad Bhandara for today’s Jashan and for the blessings invoked for our community and for humanity as a whole.”
The occasion concluded with a special gratitude to Team Parsi Times for making the announcement of the Jashan and reaching it to Zarthostis across India and the world.
Kudos to Er. Zarrir Bhandara for this marvellous initiative which has truly served the worldwide Zarthosti community, bringing them peace and happiness, at a time when it is most needed. Er. Zarrir Bhandara has also been instrumental in conducting numerous religious initiatives and reaching these to grateful Zarthostis worldwide, who are unable to attend our religious places of worship and long to partake of our religious ceremonies and prayers. We thank and applaud Er. Zarrir for all his selfless and consistent efforts and dedication.