On November 17th, the students of the ZAC-LA Religion Class, ranging in age from 3 to 15, hosted a Gratitude Gahambar. The event allows each student’s family to invite guests to whom they wish express gratitude. The students work the event under the guidance of their parents. They set up the Arjani Hall, hauling tables and chairs to set up a theatre area in front of the stage, and a dining “path” — complete with place settings and florals — where they serve the lunch that they have spent the morning cooking. The Gahambar is a chance for the children to experience Ushta ahmai yahmai ushta kahmaichit (from Gatha Y. 43.1), loosely translated to mean Happiness comes to them who bring happiness to others, since all the guests leave feeling deeply touched by the efforts of the young Zarathushtis.
At this year’s Gahambar, the children chose to honor and thank Ervads Zarrir Bhandara and Jehangir Dastur for being founders of the ZAC Religion Class. It was fitting that these enduring teachers were introduced and felicitated by Ervand Zerkxis Bhandara, who was one of their young students for many years and who is the newest member of the faculty of the Religion Class today.
The variety show, emceed by Zane Commissariat, featured the recitation of two original gratitude themed poems by Zubin Daruwalla and Zara Commissariat, a solo vocal performance of Summer Wine by Reishad Pagdiwala, a solo flute performance of Edelweiss by Riyan Bilimoria Kadribegovic and a duet by Nadia Mehta and Natasha Dholoo of the internet funny, Bawa Tips’ Somebody Who Ate My Malido. The finale was an unexpected bring-the-house-down, hand clapping, foot stomping, heart thumping rendition of Queen’s We Will Rock You by young Kyan Lali, who dressed up and performed just like Freddie Mercury.
A traditional Parsi vegetarian lunch – Lagan nu Achaar, Saarya, Parsi Stew with Rotli, Egg Curry Chawal with Kachumber, and Gulab Jamun – was then served by teams of students to their delighted guests in the tradition of Parsi weddings and navjotes. The afternoon ended with games of Bingo and chai with batasas and khari biscuits. Guests left with missives and flower arrangements created by their hosts and hearts full of love for such a giving community of young Zarathushtis.
To the extent that Gahambars are meant to be a demonstration of our religion’s principles and values in a loving communal context, the students succeeded in making the event a true Gahambar. The sound of music, the joy of love and laughter were all present during the morning’s preparations in anticipation of the guests. Event organizers opted for the use of environmentally friendly products as much as possible, and – in keeping with Zoroastrian compassionate living principles – a vegetarian menu. With the American Thanksgiving holiday coming up, our students are fully familiar with the current Season of Giving, and they whole heartedly gave thanks to their elders by indulging them and taking care of their every need while they were at the Center, all the while honoring the traditions of their ancestors with food and entertainment reflecting Parsipanu.