On Thursday May 16th, our very own Mobed Zarrir Bhandara along with clergies of different faith were invited to speak at Interfaith Iftar hosted by the American Muslim Women Empowerment Council in collaboration with the Jewish Temple Bath Yam, California Southern University, Olive Tree Initiative, Anti-Defamation League of Orange County, Jewish Collaborative and Orange county Jewish Coalition for Refugees at Temple Bat Yahm Synagogue in Newport Beach CA amidst tight security.
The event started with a recitation from the holy Qur’an by a 4th grade student Ryan Syed. The AMWEC board members welcomed people from different faith including Jewish, Christian, Zoroastrian, Baha’I, Hindu, Buddhist, Shia and Sunni Muslims and Sikhs. The key note speakers of the evening were Rabbi Gersh Zylberman, who emphasized on the need to ebrace all people and cultures. Lee Weisman- Jewish educator, who read the Surah-al-Fatiha in Hebrew showing the similarities between the Jewish and Muslim faiths. Imam Mahdi Qazwini talked about Taqwa, linking it to God’s consciousness and being mindful of the Creator. The Mayor of Irvine, Christina Shea, talked about how this gathering was an excellent opportunity for her and other non-Muslims to learn about Ramadan.
The Mayor of Newport Beach O’Neill mentioned that he learnt about Ramadan from his Turkish classmate and how his mother fed him, even without speaking a word of English, so even through food we can bridge cultures. The Zoroastrian religion was represented by Mobed Zarrir Bhandara and Mobed Zerkxis Bhandara, Zarrir captivated the audience through his following erudite speech: GOFTARE NIK. PENDARE NIK. KERDARE NIK. The motto of the Zoroastrian religion is Good Thoughts, Good words and Good deeds. It is common to all religions, as all religions profess the same. Hence, when we focus on commonalities and similarities of different faiths, we realize, that we have a common goal to achieve though through different paths.
“Good thoughts, Good words and Good deeds are truly energized
When we spread so much peace around us, there is no room for war
When we spread so much love around us, there is no room for hate
When we spread so much good around us, there is no room for evil
When we spread so much health around us, there is no room for sickness
When we spread so much light around us, there is no room for darkness
When we spread so much prosperity around us, there is no room for adversity
When we spread so much consciousness around us, there is no room for viciousness”
What is a good thought? What is a Good word, what is a good deed? When we think of making others happy, is a good thought, or say a kind word is a good word and when we help someone without any expectation is a good deed.
An Another common aspect: what is God’s presence in every being and in everything that we always talk about? It is the energy. Just like God it was always there, is, and will always be. It cannot be destroyed, goes inform and out of form. It is the God’s essence in all living beings, and the manifestation of God in the physical form is the Fire, which is a symbol of reverence not just for the Zoroastrian religion but of all religions”.
What is Zoroastrian idea of worship? Prophet Zarathustra introduces the unique idea that we worship God with His own divine qualities. We worship God’s truth by being truthful, focusing on truth of love rather than love of truth. We worship what is right by doing what’s right. We worship His good thinking with good thinking. We worship His benevolence by being benevolent. In short, we worship God in the material world by infusing His divine and benevolent qualities into each thought, word and action, in the temple of life – in our homes, in the business world, in academia, in government, in the practice of our professions, in the treatment of our environment, in the way we relate to each other, and to all life forms. A “living” worship in every sense of the word. Thus, serving the creator by serving his creations with love. I would like to mention two instances of Acceptance from history.
The messiah or the Savior who is mentioned in the old testament -Bible was the Zoroastrian king Cyrus who helped the Jews to rebuild their temples in Jerusalem in 538 B.C. He gave them the freedom to practice their own religion. 2. This great country the United States of America, has been a place where everyone has the freedom to follow their own faith and religion safely. Hence, it is extremely important how we the leaders, the maulanahs, the mullahs, the molvis, the rabis, the ministers of our communities interpret our scriptures. Just like a knife in a surgeon’s hands can save a life and in a killer’s hands can take a life. Similarly, we can create heaven on earth or the otherwise -through our preaching and interpretation of our texts. Hence, let’s interpret our scriptures to bring about more love, peace, harmony, and acceptance in our world and show empathy towards all living beings through our thoughts, words and deeds thus creating heaven on earth.
Some well-known Zoroastrians of the past and the present are King Cyrus the great who is mentioned in the old testament as the Messiah or the savior many times, along with the kings Xerxes and Darius. The 3 Wisemen -the Magis- who visited baby Jesus. were Zoroastrian priests Salman or Solomon -E -Fars Dastur Diniyar, a close associate of Peace be upon Him -prophet Mohamed. The Philharmonic maestro Zubin Mehta. The famed Queen of Bohemian Rhapsody, Freddy Mercury. The industrialist Tatas, and the list goes on.