June 1, 2018 dawned as a beautiful sunny late fall day in Perth Australia. Over 330 Zoroastrians from all over the world gathered for the very first World Congress in the Southern hemisphere. The 11th World Zoroastrian Congress with its theme “Together Towards Tomorrow” welcomed delegates from all over the world, including USA, Canada, UK, UAE, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Iran and Kurdistan.
The morning saw the Global Working Group have their annual day long series of deliberations and discussions on areas of collaborations amongst the various global Zoroastrian diaspora associations.
The formal opening of the 11th WZC started with a Jashan ceremony conducted by the respected Ervad Aspandiar Dadachanji who is in Perth with Dhun Aunty specially for the Congress. He was joined by the local Perth mobeds and others from around the world.
After the jashan he gave a talk explaining the Jashan ceremony and the meaning of the various actions.
The local native indigenous people of the Wadumbah nation welcomed the delegates with a fantastic dance performance.
The Congress had a flag march past of all the countries that were present, with the playing of their national anthems. This was a new first at the Congress.
The Chair of the 11th World Zoroastrian Congress Firoz Pestonji welcomed the delegates to this momentous occassion. He thanked those who had supported him and his team against all odds in pulling off a fantastic event. He hoped that the actions of “Team Australia” in organizing this event will become an inspiration for other smaller Zoroastrian communities to step up and do similar events. He hoped that those who doubted his team’s ability to host this event will join in making the next few days memorable and successful.
Firoz also thanked his wife Mahrukh and daughter Farzana who have been at the frontlines of organizing this Congress with dozens of others, not only from Perth, but also from the Zoroastrian communities in Sydney and Melbourne.
The Consul General of India, Amit Mishra welcomed the Zoroastrian delegates. On behalf of the Government of India he highlighted the role that Parsis had played in India and continue to play to this day, not only in India but all over the world.
Global community leaders from all over the world thanked Firoz and Team Australia for hosting the 11 WZC in Perth.
The Chief Guest of the evening was Premier of Western Australia Mark McGovern. He welcomed all the delegates to Western Australia and hoped that the participants would have a great time in WA.
On the occasion of the opening of the 11 WZC, Meher Bhesnaia of UAE launched her new coffee table book “Zarathushtra and the origins of Zoroastrianism” explaining the historical, social, cultural and entrepreneurial legacy. The book was specificaully created for the 11th WZC. The book is available for sale. Details at this link
Meher Bhesania also launched the short film “Life and Times of Zarathushtra”. This beautiful 18 minute film lucidly explains the story of the life of our Asho Zarathushtra.
This was followed by local entertainment and dinner.
Some thoughts on the day….
Firoz and his team pulled it off ! Keeping in mind the size of the community here, the geographical location of Perth etc, they hit the ball out of the park, in hosting this Congress.
A diverse group of people are present at the Congress. Some die-hard congress junkies but a large majority of first timers. Sadly not as big a participation as one would have expected from other Australian cities.
A quick look at the program shows a big thrust on business, entrepreneurship and commerce, which is a welcome change.
There is a good number of youth, which bodes well. The venue is beautiful and the host volunteers are amazingly helpful.