Category Archives: News

ZAGNY’s beloved Prof. Kaikhosrov Irani passes away

It is with great sorrow that we report that our beloved Prof. Kaikhosrov Irani (KD and Keku to his associates and close friends) passed away on June 29, 2017 at the age of 95.

Condolences may be sent to his niece Zarine Weil, zbweil@comcast.com and Zarine’s son Darius Weil, darius.weil@gmail.com.

At Prof. Irani’s request the funeral will be very simple and private, ZAGNY will have a memorial meeting at the Dar-e-Mehr, the date and time will be announced shortly.

O B I T U A R Y

By Dr. Lovji Cama

 

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Kaikhosrov Dinshah Irani, born on May 1, 1922 in Bombay, India, was the eldest son of Dinshah Jijibhoy Irani and Banu Mithibai Sethna. He graduated from St. Xavier’s College in Bombay and obtaining a Law Degree from Bombay University. He met his future wife Piroja who was a fellow clerk in the law firm where they worked. He came to the United States and worked on the Manhattan Project at the Univ. of Chicago and then at the Princeton Institute of Physics, where he had the opportunity to have many interactions with Albert Einstein. So impressed was Einstein with him that he wrote a letter of recommendation for a teaching position in Philosophy at City College in New York which helped him to obtain the position. He returned to Bombay to marry Piroja.

Prof. Irani became Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York, after teaching there for 41 years. He was Chairman of the Department for nine years; and the Director, and Executive Director of the Program for the History and Philosophy of Science and was responsible for the development of the Program and its execution and teaching. He was also the Director of the Academy of Humanities and Sciences for 12 Years. He retired from teaching at the age of 90 and had a teaching record at City University in New York for 60 years. Here is a quote from one of his students: “Irani is an amazing professor; knows almost every major figure alive during his incredibly long lifetime; is lucid, precise, w/ fantastic memory. Be prepared for old, European pre-war teaching style. Take the class to learn, not to get a grade; he will not grade your work at all, but will give you a final grade from the gestalt or your performance.”

Among the awards he received, are: The City College citation for distinguished teaching in 1960, the Outstanding Teachers Award in 1984, the Award of the Society of Indian Academics in America in 1991, for service to the cause of Education. He also received the award for service to the cause of Zoroastrianism from the World Zoroastrian Organization in 1991. The Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America Lifetime Achievement Award, 1994. One of his greatest honors was the establishment of the K D. Irani Chair of Philosophy, at The City College of New York, through an anonymous contribution of $2,000,000, by one of his students in 1999.

His original field of teaching and research, was Philosophy of Science. Prof. Irani was one of those rare individuals whose unique background and interests allowed him to understand the works of both Albert Einstein and Emanuel Kant and to successfully apply this kind of knowledge to his chosen field of the Philosophy of Science. In the last thirty years he worked in the area of History and Philosophy of Ancient Thought — Religious, Moral, Mythic, and Technological. He was a contributor on the Seminar for Ancient Ethics, presenting a paper on the Dawn of Conscience. He applied these philosophical analyses to Zoroastrian Scriptures. His original analysis of forms of religiosity was applied to Zoroastrianism and the Indo-Iranian religions and the work was published in the K. R. Cama Oriental Institute Journal (1986) as part of the Government Fellowship Lectures in Bombay in 1981.

Prof Irani arrived in New York in 1947, long before ZAGNY. Over the long years of his association with ZAGNY and indeed the entire North American Zoroastrian community, he was our teacher and advisor and made us think what Zarathushtra really meant by our belief in Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds. His wisdom and guidance benefited us all. His lectures on Zoroastrianism and Philosophy instructed and guided us to be good Zarthushtis. His standing within academia helped with the recognition of the Zarathushti religion in North America.

As a philosopher one may have expected him to be an ivory tower type. Far from this, he as a true Zoroastrian, involved himself in the life of the community. During 1993-95 Prof. Irani served as the President of ZAGNY and was on numerous Boards of ZAGNY. He arranged seminars and conferences under the ZAGNY umbrella. He also arranged the first and second Gatha Conferences held in the UK and Los Angeles and the first Yasht Conference in New Rochelle, NY. From the time of the inception of the Arbab Rustam Guiv Dar-e- Mehr in New York, Prof. Irani conducted classes for adults on the subject of Zoroastrianism. His common sense and ethical approach to problems helped him shed light on many complex problems that arise within the North American Zoroastrian community.

He has given lectures on Zoroastrianism throughout North America, Europe, India and Pakistan. His knowledge of Zoroastrianism, especially the Gathas, his wit and sense of humor, and his ability to fit the subject of Zoroastrianism in the broader field of Philosophy makes him an engaging speaker and a great teacher. Prof. Irani is a person of great honesty and integrity, he has a firm belief in the teachings of Zarathushtra and was dedicated to these teachings. He had often trouble reconciling the social practices of Zoroastrianism when they were in conflict with these teachings.

Prof. Irani’s academic standing and respect gave him the ability to successfully represent and explain Zoroastrianism convincingly at many interfaith meetings. He was a unique treasure to the Zoroastrian community. His connections into the academic world provided the community access to some of the best minds who work in the field of religion and Zoroastrianism in particular. We were indeed fortunate to have amidst us this great philosopher, teacher and friend of our community and one of its finest members.

Ashdeen Brings Creations to New York and Los Angeles

In his debut trunk show in United States, Ashdeen Lilaowala brings his collection to New York and Los Angeles this June. Brilliant textile designer and entrepreneur, Ashdeen’s work has found acclaim in India and all over the world.

Ashdeen will be embarking on his USA tour with a kick off exhibition in Los Angeles at the Zoroastrian Association of California on June 11, and then two back to back exhibitions and sale in New York and New Jersey exclusively organized by the Zoroastrian Association of Greater New York. Behroze Clubwala who is spearheading this effort in New York is happy that her idea that germinated a few years ago has finally materialized.

Behroze writes

“ ZAGNY is hosting an outstanding fashion event and sale of hand-embroidered gara work on Saris, Lenghas, Shawls, Stoles, Dresses, Jackets and evening clutch bags on 16th June in midtown Manhattan and on 17th June in Princeton NJ. These events promises to be a wonderful opportunity to bring friends and all those who admire and treasure hand-embroidered gara type creations.  Ashdeen, the young designer from Mumbai, working out of his atelier in New Delhi has designed and created unique fashion designs and exquisite work based on the old gara designs and motifs that originated in ancient Persia and China. You will fall in love with his creations, but you must come to see them.

Ashdeen’s designs and creations have been acclaimed worlwide and beyond dressing celebrities like Beyonce and Mariah Carey, has also dressed many haute couture clients in Europe and Bollywood.  This is is first show in the US and a certain portion of the proceeds will go to ZAGNY for the upkeep of its new Dar-E-Mehr. “

During the two events Ashdeen will be available to consult on future creations to create special designs for you based on your tastes, needs and your wardrobe. He will also give a short talk on his research and work.

To see more of his designs, please check out ASHDEEN or on ZAGNY’s website at www.zagny.org/ashdeen.

Ashdeen’s creations will be available for purchase online, for those who cannot be there in person.

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In New York: A new year for Zoroastrians, a new challenge

Members of the Dar-e-Mehr Zoroastrian Temple in Pomona get ready for their new year celebration as they worry about the Trump travel ban

Report by Peter Carr/ The Journal News

New City’s Marzie Jafari looks forward to an annual family ritual tied to her Zoroastrian faith: Every vernal equinox, she calls her family in Iran to wish them happy Persian New Year, or Norwuz.

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Marzie Jafari, a trustee at the Dar-e-Mehr Zoroastrian Temple in Pomona March 22, 2017. (Photo: Peter Carr/The Journal News)

Before long, the conversation always turns to when they’ll see each other again.

But not this year.

“It comes to your mind that you’ll have some family gathering,” Jafari said. “But now, when you think about it, uh-oh, there’s this travel ban in the background. What is going to happen? Can we plan in advance for the summertime? We don’t know.”

This year, in that time when that phone conversation would have turned to the coming summer, there was silence on both ends of the phone.

“They didn’t want to say anything to upset me, I didn’t want to say anything to upset them,” Jafari said, her voice catching the slightest bit. “So we didn’t talk about a near-future gathering.”

President Donald Trump has signed two executive orders banning travel from predominantly Muslim nations, including Iran, where Jafari’s family still lives.

"They have stopped taking appointments for visas," Jafari said.

Her niece, a top student at the University of Tehran, had an internship in the States last summer. This year, Bahar — her name means "spring" — missed the deadline to apply for another internship because of the uncertainty triggered by the ban, which is now working its way through the courts.

‘New day’

When spring came to Rockland County at 6:20 a.m. on March 20, 2017, it was greeted, as always, with a New-Year’s-Eve-style countdown by the region’s Zoroastrians, including Marzie Jafari.

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Ferzin Patel, a trustee at the Dar-e-Mehr Zoroastrian Temple in Pomona March 22, 2017.

Local followers of what is believed to be the world’s oldest monotheistic religion face Nowruz — literally “new day” — with a mix of hope, pride and uncertainty.

There is hope in the new year’s renewal, the turning of a page.

There is pride in a gleaming new temple (or dar-e-mehr) and community center in Ramapo, where Jafari and her friend Ferzin Patel are trustees.

A Nowruz table is set with seven items – traditionally, apples, grass, dried sumac berries, dried fruit of the oleaster tree, coins, garlic and a semolina pudding – signifying renewal, love, kindness, service and rebirth. All seven of the symbols begin with an “s” sound, and the table is called a "Haft-sin" – for seven "S". This is the haft-sin table Marzie Jafari set for her Nowruz celebration in New City this year.

There is uncertainty in the impact of the travel ban, which has cast a pall over future travel to America by family members from Iran.

Zoroastrians welcome each vernal equinox, the start of spring, with family and symbols of renewal – no matter what time the equinox arrives. This year, spring arrived at 6:20 a.m. In 2012, the equinox was at 1:14 a.m., meaning that Zoroastrians began their Nowruz celebrations at that hour. They read from their holy book and greet the new year in new clothes.

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A table is set with seven items – apples, grass, dried sumac berries, dried fruit of the oleaster tree, coins, garlic and a semolina pudding — signifying renewal, love, kindness, service, rebirth. All seven of the symbols begin with an “s” sound, and the table is called a "Haft-sin" — for seven "S". As the day progresses, there are visits to family, and elders bestow money on children.

A milestone

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The Dar-e-Mehr Zoroastrian Temple in Pomona March 22, 2017.

On Saturday, the region’s Zoroastrians will gather at the temple for a Nowruz celebration, a dinner for 400.

The prayer room at the Dar-e-Mehr Zoroastrian Temple in Pomona March 22, 2017.

On Sunday, they will gather again to mark the one-year anniversary of their temple, technically a “dar-e-mehr” or “door to peace” – on Pomona Road, just down the hill from Palisades Credit Union baseball stadium.

The gleaming square building with an impressive collonaded portico is the Dar-e-Mehr Zoroastrian Temple, or DMZT. It is the meeting place and sanctuary for some 1,000 followers of Zoroastrian faith from across the tri-state area.

In the year since it opened, the temple has become the community center it was envisioned to be:

One religion; two branches

Before there were Christians and Muslims and Jews, there were Zarathushtis, as its followers are called, after their prophet Zarathustra.

 

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Marzie Jafari, left, and Ferzin Patel, trustees at the Dar-e-Mehr Zoroastrian Temple in Pomona March 22, 2017.

About 1,400 years ago, when Persia was invaded by Muslims, some Zarathushtis fled to India, where their faith took root. They are called Parsis, while those who stayed in Persia are called Iranian Zoroastrians. Jafari is an Irania Zoroastrian; Patel is a Parsi.

Both said they saw irony in the fact that an executive order that has been characterized as a “Muslim ban” is having an impact on a faith that was displaced by Muslims centuries ago.

A long view

Today, there are fewer than 200,000 Zarathushtis worldwide, and their numbers are shrinking, making the shining $4.5 million temple a beacon of optimism and hope in the next generation.

While the travel ban is concerning, both women took the longer view, perhaps a byproduct of following a religion that is 4,000 years old.

“The tradition has survived for thousands of years,” Jafari said.

“Yeah, this is nothing,” Patel said with a laugh.

Visit Lohud.com to see the video interview

Seminar: “Zarathushtra’s Vision and Zoroastrianism Today”

Seminar: “Zarathushtra’s Vision and Zoroastrianism Today”

ZAGNY is proud to present the first seminar at our new Dar-e-Mehr, on Saturday Nov 19th starting at 10:30 AM. Lunch will be provided by ZAGNY

The List of speakers include:

Prof. Stanley Insler

Emeritus Professor at Yale University. Prof. Insler is an expert in Vedic and Gathic languages and an authority on the Gathas of Zarathushtra, having given us one of the most brilliant translations into English. Prof. Insler gave the first academic lecture at the inauguration of our first Dar-e-Mehr in New Rochelle and it is particularly fitting that he is a speaker again at the first seminar at our New Dar-eMehr.

Dr. Kersey Antia

He is the Zoroastrian High Priest of Chicago, Illinois, a position he has held since 1977. He attended the M.F. Cama Athornan Institute in Bombay and became an ordained priest at the age of 13. He studied Avesta and Pahlavi at the University of Bombay. While in college, he received essay-awards from the K.R. Cama Oriental Institute, and has served the community as a volunteer priest.
He has lectured and written on the subject of Zoroastrianism, in India and the United States, both live and on radio and on television, and has made video courses on Zoroastrianism. He has studied the Gathas on his own for many years. Utilizing, at first, the translations of Kanga, Mills, and Taraporewala, he now relies primarily on Dr. Insler’s translation.

Prof. Kaikhosrov Irani

He is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York, after teaching there for 41 years. He was Chairman of the Department for nine years; and the Director, and Executive Director of the Program for the History and Philosophy of Science and was responsible for the development of the Program and its execution and teaching. He was also the Director of the Academy of Humanities and Sciences for 12 Years.

Prof. Irani really needs no introduction to the Zoroastrian World. He has given lectures throughout North America, Europe, India and Pakistan. His knowledge of Zoroastrianism, especially the Gathas, his wit and sense of humor, and his ability to fit the subject of Zoroastrianism in the broader field of Philosophy makes him an engaging speaker and a great teacher.

Dr. Lovji Cama

Lovji is past president of ZAGNY and Dar-e-Mehr Trustee, has organized the religious education classes for children aged 4 to 15 years at ZAGNY, since 1973. He has taught Zoroastrian history, culture, philosophy and religion to children of ages 10 to 15. One of his primary areas of interest is youth related activities.

He has lectured and written on subjects on Zoroastrianism in New York, London and India and contributed to the text book used for the Good Life program, for U.S. Scouting, which is administered by ZAGNY.

Additional speakers and speaker topics will be announced soon.

To know more about the event and to RSVP please email Lovji Cama at ldcama@gmail.com

Muktad 2016 Names Sign Up

This year the hosts for the Muktad Ceremony are as follows:

Friday August 12th: 6:00 PM

Jasmine and Maneck Kotwal, (609) 275-5952

12 Park Hill Terrace, Princeton Junction, New Jersey 08550

Friday August 12th: 7:00 PM

Dinaz and Farhad Subjally, (973) 635-6984

10 Crestwood Drive, Chatham, New Jersey 07928

Saturday August 13th: 11:00 AM

Arbab Rustam Guiv Dar-E-Mehr, 106 Pomona Rd, Suffern, NY 10901

Sunday August 14th: 11:00 AM

Arbab Rustam Guiv Dar-E-Mehr, 106 Pomona Rd, Suffern, NY 10901

Monday August 15th: 7:00 PM

Navaz LoPinto, (917) 757 7942

25 W Orchard Street, Allendale, NJ 07401

Tuesday August 16th TBD

Email secretary@zagny.org if you would like to host on Tuesday August 16, 2016