Join the Ava Project’s effort to revitalize water’s importance in Zoroastrianism through service to our Earth
Article By Kyra Singh | FEZANA
The FEZANA Ava Project is an effort to rally Zoroastrians across the globe to work together to care for the environment. To live, breathe, and embody the Zoroastrian spirit, it is our duty to protect the elements of the Earth which are considered sacred. As Zoroastrians, environmental consciousness is threaded throughout our prayers, rituals, and other aspects of our religion. As Yasna prayers begin with collecting water from the Agiary wells, this effort begins to preserve the environment by starting with a project that cares for water.
Although Zoroastrians are commonly associated with fire, water plays a key role in our religion as well. In ancient Iranian Zarathushti tradition, Sizdah-Bedar is the thirteenth and last day of Nowruz. The day is also known as Nature’s Day, as it is tradition for families to spend the day outside near a body of water to celebrate the renewal and rebirth of the Earth with friends and family. It falls on Tir in the Zoroastrian calendar, which is named for Pahlavi Tishtar and Avestan Tishtrya, the names of the star Sirius and the guardian angel of rain water, respectively. To wish for good luck and fortune at the end of the holiday, families release the sabzeh (sprouts) from the Nowruz Haft Sin table into the water.
The first goal of the project is to mobilize local communities to participate together in an activity relating to water along with a prayer for the creation of water on Saturday, June 5, 2021. This is also World Environment Day. As caring for water in the environment is not limited to a single day in a year, we intend to continue the efforts of the Ava Project for at least 10 years. In 10 years, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are also due. There are 17 sustainable development goals to transform the world, and the Ava Project hopes to share their progress and contributions to these goals between now and 2030 as FEZANA has NGO accreditation with the United Nations.
In the beginning of 2021, the Ava Project leads and volunteers met virtually to brainstorm projects. Many ideas sprouted from this meeting and some of the ideas are already being implemented. As you read through the current list of ideas the teams are working on, we implore you to consider the work the Ava Project is doing, reflect on your own responsibilities as Zoroastrians to preserve our Earth, and consider how you can contribute and join the effort to care for our environment.
The projects, in no specific order, are as follows:
- Local water clean-up event: One of the most direct ways to help out is by organizing a local water clean-up event. This team is researching and planning community clean-ups by reaching out to parks and local governments.
- Trout Unlimited Canada: This is a not for profit organization that is focused solely on water conservation, protection, and restoration in Canada. The team has reached out to this organization to determine ways they can work together using Trout’s influence and countless resources.
- Drone technology and global cleanup companies: POD subgroup is taking a technology-first approach to the environment. This group is aiming to work with or support companies that specialize in drone aerial seeding technology that seeds trees around waterways to improve the ecosystem. They are also researching the possibility of partnering with other global companies that use innovative technologies to clean up river wastes and oil that pollute the oceans. As one might imagine, these technologies are expensive and the team may require fundraising.
- Educating the children: As the young generation is the future of our world, this group will focus on creating resources about water and its importance for children in grade school (~18 years and younger). This team would create interactive presentations, games, and activities that FEZANA can send to the local associations to educate kids. Additionally, they will facilitate a Youngpreneur Program that will show kids how to start an entrepreneurial business relating to water-related UN Sustainable Development Goals 6 and 14.
- Educating the community: This team aims to educate the Zoroastrian community through various formats. They plan to accomplish this through educational workshops, videos, pamphlets, quarterly articles, and providing tools to communities to host educational games shows such as Jeopardy, etc. A few topics they intend to cover include: water pollution (e.g. microplastics, medications, and hazardous chemical waste in waterways), the importance of water in Zoroastrianism, and how to make conscious decisions to support water conservation and prevent water pollution.
- Bringing clean water to remote areas: An impactful project that hits close to home for many of us is an effort to bring clean water to remote areas like in Northern Ontario, rural areas in the USA, and India. One of the many ideas being looked at is Safe Water Network India. One of the team members has worked with this organization, which offers various solutions to bringing clean drinking water to India. The team may require fundraising.
- Water and trees: Life on land directly impacts water resources. This group is working on multiple ideas that combine water and trees. They plan to plant trees through local organizations, school trips, and communities; they hope to build learning communities to educate individuals on the relationship between land, water and Zoroastrianism; and they are planning events to include art and music in promoting water and the environment.
The Ava Project is open globally to all who want to participate and volunteer. Consider your role as a world citizen to take care of the environment. We encourage you to join your fellow Zoroastrians within and across our worldwide communities in the Ava Project effort! Sign up as a volunteer here: https://bit.ly/2KMqrur
Eduljee, K.E. “Zoroastrian Heritage.” Norooz Nawruz Noruz No-Ruz Nowruz Page 3 – Zoroastrian New Year, 2005, www.heritageinstitute.com/zoroastrianism/nowruz/nowruz3.htm.
Parzor Foundation. “Ava in Yasna – Parzor Foundation – Google Arts & Culture.” Ava in Yasna, Google Arts & Culture, 2005, artsandculture.google.com/asset/_/8wENHJ1bT6o8fw.
About the Author
Kyra Singh grew up in the Philadelphia area and is a member of the ZAPANJ community. Currently she works at Google as a statistician within the ads measurement group in New York, NY. She received her PhD in Statistics from the University of Rochester and her B.S. in Economics and Statistics with a minor in Psychology from Carnegie Mellon University. She has been so inspired to see FEZANA’s support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Kyra is passionate about environmental sustainability and is excited to get involved in the Ava Project.