Unity in Adversity: The Abu Dhabi Bawa Gang


May 26, 2020

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Parsis first migrated to the UAE long before its unification in 1971. While Dubai is where the majority settled, it’s capital, Abu Dhabi hosted a smaller but equally thriving community now rising to about 30 plus families. Each weekend, our close-knit group would meet for pot-lucks on Thursday’s and bowling on Fridays, the only requirements were a good sense of humour and an appetite to match. Since our numbers are so small, there has never been an official Zoroastrian Association, we were always just known as the ‘Abu Dhabi Bawa Gang’. 

Abu Dhabi Bawa Gang

Unfortunately, due to the spread of COVID-19, regular gatherings have come to a halt. Most of the youth no longer live in Abu Dhabi, and the lockdown prevented them from returning to their loved ones. So, it was not long before the group started making suggestions to meet up virtually and globally. From grandkids to grandparents, Abu Dhabi Bawa’s from all four corners of the world were invited. The first activity set up on our forum was Bingo and it brought together players from America, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. With nearly 40 strong at one point it was hard to hear who had yelled ‘Fullhouse’ and who was shouting for more Falooda! 

After a couple of weeks, the lockdown really kicked in and one Aunty vocalised what all the bawas were feeling.’Su yaar, I can’t wait a whole week to see you all again’ she lamented. In typical Bawa fashion, the Whatsapp group chat was soon flooded with ideas and funny memes suggesting ways in which the Bawa gang could remain connected.

Zoom Bingo Session run by Mahzarin Katrak

Brimming with these ideas, it dawned on the youth (all of whom live abroad) to step up and organize some more fun. There soon followed fitness sessions and Bollywood dance classes with the different time zones being part of the fun! We had the Australian Bawi’s dancing away into the night in their pyjamas and the Canadian Bawa’s brewing fresh coffee to the sound of ‘Sheila Ki Jewani’. Magic shows, art lessons and concerts are all in the planning process and our Abu Dhabi Bawa Gang has remained more united than ever. In fact, it’s even given the Youth the chance to step away from their hectic schedules and spend more precious time with their childhood friends.  

 Online Zoom Fitness Session run by Cyrus Karbhari

Beyond the Abu Dhabi Bawa Gang, some of our overseas Youth have started their own Zoroastrian initiatives, and have used the lock down period to bring even more unity amongst their Zoroastrian communities. Anaheez Karbhari, Co-Founder of Dhansak and Co. partnered with the Zoroastrian Society of Ontario to host quiz nights, whilst Persis Zack in the UK has pioneered the first ever Global Zoroastrian Facebook Page, with the immediate uptake of over 7000+ members. 

One takeaway from this experience is that borders and boundaries are only limits if you let them be. The bonds of family and community created in times of health come to light in times of hard-ship. Thanks to social media and advancing technology many initiatives have taken place to keep the Zoroastrian community together and bring unity even in the face of adversity. 

‘Spirituality is not in making the connection, spirituality is in being the connection’
– Meher D. Amalsad 


Mahzarin Katrak
Zoroastrian Association of Victoria Member
Civil Engineering & Architecture Student
Toastmasters Member
Sheherazad F. Kapadia
Young Zoroastrian’s of the UK Chair
8th Zoroastrian World Congress Co-Chair
Occupational Therapy Student/Assistant Therapist