This video was the introductory segment on the session titled “Zarathushti Identity”. This was presented at the XVI North American Zarathusti Congress 2012, hosted by ZAGNY in New York in August 2012.
Historical Review and Demographics of Zarathushtis in North America
Roshan Rivetna will present early episodes and stories of the traders, merchants, students, entrepreneurs and pioneer settlers, who came to Canada and the United States, starting with a trickle in the 1800s and growing to a steady stream by the mid 1900s; extracted from Zarathushtis in North America, a forthcoming FEZANA publication. Roshan will then trace the growth of the community in North America, and present the results of the 2012 demographics survey of Zarathushtis in each American state and Canadian province as well as in Iran, India and other diaspora communities around the world. This data, alongside data from a similar worldwide demographic survey undertaken by FEZANA in 2004 (FEZANA Journal, Winter 2004) will help community leaders in forecasting trends and formulating action plans.
The theme of the congress is “Zarathushti Existence in the Contemporary World”. This theme raises the question: who is a Zarathushti? Answers to this question would clarify what we mean by Zarathushti identity. In this session we will examine the dimensions and implications of identity, and why it is important to preserve Zarathushti identity. What is Zarathushti identity as defined in the Avesta? What are the attributes of an individual Zarathushti, and of the community of Zarathushtis? What do we need to do to ensure that the teachings of Zarathushtra are understood and practiced by future generations? What role does the Navjote ceremony play in identifying a Zarathushti? How important are places of worship in strengthening our identity? These are some of the questions we will examine. We will find that we do not always arrive at definitive answers to some of these questions. But we want to understand different positions on these questions, so that every person can form his or her own view. This session will encourage audience participation. This will be done through two mechanisms. First, we will use the Audience Response technology to ask the audience some questions, and immediately display the distribution of opinions in the audience. Second, we will provide a significant amount of time for the audience to ask questions of a panel of Zarathushtis. This panel of eight Zarathushtis is a microcosm of the community at large, and holds diverse views on the questions of Zarathushti identity. Over the last six months, these panel members have discussed the right questions to ask, listened to what others had to say, and in the end formed their own views. They will briefly describe this journey before answering questions from the audience.
Dr. Ali A. Jafarey Cawas Desai Ferzin Patel Ervad Dr. Jehan Bagli Jimmy Kumana Ervad Kobad Zarolia Mohsen Zandieh Dr. Parastu Dubash Roshan Rivetna
Dr. Keki Dadachanji