On 28th April, 2022, the Los Angeles Consular Corps held its first-ever Ramadan Interfaith Iftar, bringing together LA’s Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Baháʼí, and Zoroastrian faith leaders. Homi Gandhi Past President of FEZANA and Er. Zarrir Bhandara, who heads ZAC (Zoroastrian Association of California) Atash kadeh, represented the Zoroastrian faith at the Interfaith/Multicultural Iftar event hosted by the Azerbaijan Consulate at the Turkish Consulate General’s residence.
Los Angeles faith leaders came together at the invitation of the Consulate General of Azerbaijan Nasimi Aghayev to share their perspective on the eve of Iftar on communal peace and harmony. The event was attended by consuls general and honorary consuls of various countries including Turkey, Iran, and Israel, faith leaders representing many different religions, the top brass of LAPD and the Sheriff’s department, journalists, members of various communities, representatives of art, culture, science, and education.
Turkish Consul General Sinam Kuzum was thanked for hosting the celebration of multiculturalism, which was indicative of unity in diversity and a strong commitment to multi-faith and multicultural tolerance and harmony. Islam was represented by Dr. Mozambi Siddique, who expressed the significance of fasting; Rabbi David Wolfer represented the Jewish faith and Father of Archdioceses of Los Angeles represented Christianity.
Zoroastrian representative, Er. Zarrir Bhandara stole the limelight with his powerful speech, receiving thunderous applause. He spoke of the now well-known Zoroastrians mentioned in the Quran and Bible – Dastur Diniyar, and how Zoroastrian King Cyrus helped the Jewish community rebuild their temples in Jerusalem in 538 BC and encouraged them to practice their own religion. He added, “As many of our forefathers have demonstrated, peace begins with a loving understanding of ourselves and other human beings, and all living beings including plants, animals, and all-natural resources… Energy flows, where the attention goes. So, it is important to be conscious about what we think, speak, and do. Our individual actions affect us and affect the whole universe. That is why our religious tenets include Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds… We believe that the religion we all have taken birth in is THE path God has prescribed for an individual to attain our purest light and progress physically and spiritually. We have different religions/different paths, but one goal. We are diverse, yet we need to be united. Just like in nature, everything is diverse yet works in synchronization.
Even within our religions, we have different beliefs, but we do not allow our differences to divide us, but to unify and strengthen us. Live and let live. Thereby, we will bring more peace, unity, harmony, love, and healing to the world. I would like to conclude my talk by urging the clergies and community leaders to interpret the scriptures to bring about more peace and harmony… During interfaith meetings, we talk and talk, and now it’s time we walk the talk.”
Consul General Aghayev highlighted the ancient traditions of tolerance and multiculturalism in Azerbaijan. “We all see and cherish diversity as a virtue that strengthens us and makes our world a better place,” he said in his concluding remarks.
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