Sunday July 23rd shall henceforth be remembered as the day that 350 Zarathushtis from all over the world took over the fabled Guildhall of London. The current building was originally built in the 1400’s and then restored in 1666 after the Great Fire of London. Today this beautiful space is used for official function by the CIty of London Corporation and is the backdrop of many a stately function.
The Guildhall where the evening festivities were held.
The grand courtyard and exterior of the Guildhall
The event was an add-on to the 8th World Zoroastrian Youth Congress that was held in London from July 21-25th 2023. On a beautiful sunny afternoon youth and young adults attending the Congress and many other adults from all over the world landed up at the Guildhall dressed in full finery.
The importance of the event was elevated by the presence of Guest of Honour, and India’s High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswamy and his wife Sangeeta and Keynote Speaker Lord Karan Bilimoria. Others who attended included the two co-chairs of the 8th World Zoroastrian Youth Congress Sheherazad Kapadia and Sanaya Khambatta-Heerjee, Sir Ron Kalifa, Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor, ZTFE Trustees Rusi Dalal and Dorab Mistry, BPP Trustees Xerxes V. Dastur and Viraf Mehta, WZCC Global Vice President Perses Sethna, WZCC UK Chair Shernaaz Engineer, Executive Chef Cyrus Todiwala and his wife Pervin and FEZANA President Arzan Sam Wadia.
The Master of Ceremonies Shreas Pardiwala took the stage to set the tone for the evening. With charm and wit, the young Bollywood actor kept the program moving and brought humour and wit to make his point, with what at times was a rambunctious crowd.
WZCC UK Chair Shernaaz Engineer with Indian High Commissioner Mr. Doraiswamy and Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor
Mr. Doraiswamy in poignant address to the gathering spoke about the contributions of the Parsi community to the overall well-being of India. He spoke about the duality of Parsis holding on to tradition, religion and values while at the same time being leaders and doing their bit in nation building, not only in India, but in socieites around the world, where Zoroastrians settle and call home. He concluded by reminding the young Zoroastrians that they continue to stand on the shoulders of the past generations and wished them well during the Congress and in the years ahead. He ended his speech with a standing ovation from the gathering.
The youth Core Volunteer Team of the 8WZYC with Mr and Mrs. Doraiswamy, Lord Bilimoria, Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor and ZTFE Trustee Dorab Mistry
The next speaker was none other than our own Lord Karan Bilimoria who gave a powerful speech on a variety of topics including the history of the Guildhall, his work ethic, the Zoroastrian ethos and the way the religion guides him in his daily life be it business or politics.
After Lord Bilimoria’s speech it was time for Fravash Chothia, a young Zarathushti from Toronto, Canada to take the stage and share his journey in galvanizing the youth and young adults in his local community to get together and organize. Fravash spoke from the heart and shared the ups and downs as a youth leader and he hoped that his story resonates with other youth from around the world and they too step up to do their bit in their communties.
The two Congress Co-Chairs Sanaya and Sherrii thanked the audience for making this event a real success and also thanked the volunteers who had helped pull off a fantastic 8WZYC.
Dinner was served and was catered by the brilliant Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala and their team.
Post-dinner two young ladies took to the stage and blew the audience away by the sheer strength of their talent. Delraaz Bunshah from Mumbai sang a medley of songs and was ably accompanied on the piano by 15 year old London local Alyza Zack who also sang and performed. They had the crowd chanting “encore” more than once, and sadly the evening had to end, even though Delraaz and Alyza could have continued to enthrall the crowd.
The Guildhall event was the perfect halfway point for the 8WZYC attendees and a unique once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for those visiting London to take in the pomp, paegentry and grandeur that comes with all things British. The presence of India’s High Commissioner, Lord Bilimoria, Fravash Chothia flying the flag for the youth and Delraaz and Alyza showcasing fantastic natural talent, upped only by the lipsmacking Parsi cuisine by Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala made this a truly memorable event for all those who attended. What started as an add-on event, soon became a sellout event and dozens of folks were clamouring for tickets, alas they were all sold out.
Lord Karan Bilimoria delivering the Keynote
Fravash Chothia just before taking the stage
Executive Chef Cyrus Todiwala and Pervin along with their team
ZYNA Core team and other Youth from North America