In a few hours the 11th World Zoroastrian Congress will begin in Perth. This will be a Congress of a few firsts, all of which make it worth going to Perth.
For the first time it is being hosted in the Southern Hemisphere. And for the first time it is in the Oceania region. When Firoz Pestonji bid for the Congress to be hosted in his hometown, it took a lot of guts and some risk in taking the leap.
To me this is a very Zarathushti trait. Over the centuries we have been taught that our forefathers took risks, and went into uncharted territory and reaped benefits. Ask Jamshedji Jeejebhoy ! Why did he go to Hong Kong and Macau ? What about the pioneering Zarathushtis who left the shores of Western India and settled in all parts of the world….South Africa, North America, United Kingdom and Australia and New Zealand; in the days before aircrafts were invented ! Today we all lament that this spirit of adventure is what is lacking in our youth. And then; when someone comes and proves that they can take on the impossible and welcome the Zarathushti world to Perth….what do we do ??? We question whether it is worth it ??
A little historical perspective is needed here. The most successful World Congress in terms of number of attendees was the 7th World Zoroastrian Congress in Houston in December 2000. The organizers had to close out registration at 2000 attendees; because the venue could not accommodate more. This was in Houston….not even in one of the major American cities like New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco. On the other hand, when the Congress returned to Mumbai in 2013, only 1200 people attended. Keeping in mind that just the city of Mumbai is home to more than forty thousand Zarathushtis; this was pretty disappointing.
Perth may be a geographical outpost; but in today’s jetsetting world, you can be here in about 11 hours of flying. Sometimes one cant get from Mumbai to Ahmedabad by road in the same time.
One may argue that having only 300 attendees at a World Congress is too less. In history numbers dont matter. We Zarathushtis are a living example of it. If only all our forefathers had said….we are so few…why bother, would we as a community have made the kind of impact we did and still continue to do to so today in the Indian subcontinent.
At the Congress one will get an opportunity to meet and hear the fearless amazing Awat Darya; the first Zoroastrian woman representative in the Kurdish Parliament. She has taken on strong opposing forces and stood her ground to defend her Zoroastrian faith, at great danger to her life. It is worth going to Perth to meet her.
At the Congress one will get a chance to meet and interact with our own homegrown Dahanu boy Yaz Mubarakai….who now sits in the Western Australia State Legislature as an elected representative of the people of his new adopted home. It is worth going to Perth to meet and hear him.
At the Congress, one will witness the birth of the Australian Federation of Zoroastrian Associations. AFZA will be the second diasporic body of this nature and brings about a game changer for Zoroastrian Associations in Australia. It is worth going to Perth to witness this.
However the greatest benefit of going to Congresses is the meeting of other fellow Zarathushtis from all over the world. Something that is pretty much impossible to do if you dont go to one. It is worth going to Perth to meet other Zarathushtis.
For a small community like Perth; its a major milestone to pull off. Yes there are other larger cities in Australia. Could they not have hosted it ? Well we will never know….since they didnt step up to the plate. Thank you that Perth did and we can be here in Australia.
So to all those who pose the question….is it worth going to Perth…..if you had bothered to come…you would have had your answer. For the 300 odd souls who are here; let the fun times begin.
Parsi Khabar will bring you daily updates on the Congress, both on the website and in the social media realm. Stay tuned….and see why it truly is worth it going to Perth