The birth of a new Dar-e-Mehr is a rare and momentous occasion. We were lucky to witness the inauguration of the newest Dar-e-Mehr in all of the Zoroastrian world on September 20th, 2014 in Boyds, Maryland; in the Washington D.C. vicinity in United States.
The Kamran Dar-E-Mehr is the home of the Zarathushtis of the Washington D.C. area and the permanent home of the Zoroastrian Association of Metropolitan Washington (ZAMWI: www.zamwi.org)
Navroz Gandhi, President ZAMWI writes
“I am writing to inform you that the Zoroastrian Association of Metropolitan Washington, Inc. (ZAMWI) is having its opening celebrations for the Kamran Dar-e Mehr this Saturday, September 20th.
This Dar-e Mehr is due to the munificence of the late Khodamorad Kamran, his wife Banoo, and the entire Kamran family, and is also made possible with the donations of over 200 additional individuals and 5 associations.
While Mr. Kamran unfortunately passed away before he could see the opening of this Dar-e Mehr, we will be remembering him with deep gratitude and affection during the opening jashan and calling on his fravashi to bless this auspicious occasion.”
Saturday September 20th was a beautiful sunny bright day in Boyds, MD as over 250 Zarathushtis gathered at the Dar e Mehr. The gathering was called to order by young MC Urvaksh Patel who invited the mobeds to come up on stage to begin the Jashan. ZAMWI’s own Ervad Brigadier Behram Panthaki led the Jashan accompanied by Er. Soli Dastur of Florida, Er. Adi Unwalla of New Jersey, Er. Noshir Karanjia of New Jersey and youth Mobedyar Zen Pandey of ZAMWI. After the benediction was over, Mrs. Banoo Kamran cut the ceremonial ribbon to inaugurate the Dar e Mehr.
Navroz Gandhi and other past Presidents of ZAMWI spoke about the process of building the Dar e Mehr and Mr. Kamran’s massive drive and determination, and the entire Kamran family’s support both in terms of time and money, without which this would have remained a pipe dream. Donors big and small were thanked for their contributions.
Other dignitaries including Katayun Kapadia, President FEZANA and Homi Gandhi, Vice President FEZANA conveyed the congratulations of the Zarathushtis all over North America and the world. This was done in English and Persian.
Shahin, the daughter of Mr. Kamran thanked the audience and laid out the vision of her father in building the Dar e Mehr. Shahin is also the President of the Kamran Foundation, a new entity that owns the property and has leased it to the Zoroastrian Association of Metropolitan Washington, Inc.
The immediate past-President of ZAMWI, Mr. Mehrdad Aidun, also spoke. The previous Board served for almost five years and completed the bulk of the transactional and construction issues. The ZAMWI Constitution was especially amended in order to allow the previous Board to stay in office for an additional period in order to finalize the complex transactions with the Kamran Foundation.
The formal part of the program was followed by music and dance performances by the local ZAMWI youth and concluded with the beautiful rendition of the Khan Ashem Vohu.
The function ended with a beautiful lunch spread out in the lawns of the Dar e Mehr.
Everyone present realized that they had been part of a very historic event. We are in the 14th year of this century and this is only the second Dar E Mehr to be inaugurated. The previous one was in Dallas, Texas. The last one to be inaugurated in India is even further back. The strength of the Zarathushti community of ZAMWI can be seen in the fact that two functions needed to be organized, the first one in the morning and a similar one (without the jashan) in the evening. The building has occupancy restrictions set by the local fire department; and the 500+ folks who RSVP’ed forced the organisers to split the crowd into two functions.
While most of the work is done, the Prayer Hall is still to be furnished. ZAMWI hopes to do it in the weeks and months ahead.
Dar E Mehrs in North America are growing. Many of them are brand new buildings from ground up, that showcase the architecture, hopes and aspirations of the Zoroastrian diaspora in the “new” land. In the next few years other Dar E Mehrs are poised to be built, most notably the one by the Zoroastrian Association of Greater New York, that broke ground in July of this year.
Interesting and happy times for the Zoroastrian diaspora in North America looms ahead.
The above write-up has been edited and updated since it was first published. Corrections and further details were provided by Navroz Gandhi, President ZAMWI and Kersi Shroff, ZAMWI Board Member.
Parsi Khabar is thankful to Navroz Gandhi, President ZAMWI, Mahzarine Chinoy, Treasurer ZAMWI and the ZAMWI Board for inviting us to be a part of this event.