December 25th 2015 will forever be remembered as the first day of a long cherished festival in Udvada to celebrate the hallowed stature of this the “Vatican” of the Zoroastrian faith. Born out of an idea proposed by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, a few years ago; our Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastur had promised to host this and he stood by his word and was the ever gracious host and the face of the IUU 2015 at the events of the first day.
Image courtesy: Jame Jamshed via facebook.
Events for the day began even before the actual inauguration. The Global Working Group got down to work (pun intended) at the home of Homai Engineer who welcomed leaders of the Zoroastrian diaspora from India and the world over, to deliberate and discuss matter of common interest to the faith and the community worldwide. Beside the presence of the FPZAI which represented the Indian anjumans, there was large representation from North America (FEZANA) United Kingdon (ZTFE) Iran, Middle East and Australia. Other global organisations like the WZCC and the WZO Trust Funds of India were also represented.
The meeting was inaugurated with a benediction led by Vada Dasturji Khurshed who welcomed everyone to Udvada. He also updated the gathering on the Agiary renovation program that has been ongoing in India over the past year.
Amongst matters discussed was the awarding of the 11th World Congress in 2018 to Australia. Firoz and Mahrukh Pestonji of Perth Australia made a great presentation and also addressed the concerns of those gathered to layout an action plan for the hosting of the Congress in Perth. Tentative time frames are June or December of 2018. Check out their website 11wzcperth.com.au
The GWG also deliberated on ways to bring about a more accountable action plan and set up a time table for meeting annually and also discuss a global time table for Zarathushti events worldwide.
The GWG will continue to meet over the next day or two of the IUU.
The evening saw droves of attendees gather at the Gymkhana grounds for the official opening. Vada Dasturji welcomed one and all to Udvada and detailed out the steps that went into the organizing of this the first ever IUU. The opening was graced by the Chief Guest Mr. Saurabh Pant, the finance minister of Gujarat welcomed the Parsi community and urged them to meet every two years and also to increase their population.
As Parsiana states…”Speaking at the inauguration of the Udvada Iranshah Utsav on December 25 Gujrat finance minister Saurabh Patel urged Parsis to preserve their sunder (beautiful) houses in Udvada and if the buildings were to be sold, they should be sold only to other Parsis”
After the formal inaugurations, entertainment segments included multiple dance performances by Shiamak Daver’s troupe and a fantastic play by Yazdi Karanjia Group of Surat.
In a spot contest….the youngest participant at the IUU was a 3 month old baby boy and the oldest a sprightly 89 year old grandmother.
The Ushta Te Foundation from Ahmedabad inaugurated a Gatha Calendar.
The evening ended with a vote of thanks and a dinner laid out “panth” style catered by MEK caterers of Udvada.
Some general observations from Day One.
Udvada town has been spruced up beautifully. Roads are paved and the buildings have a fresh coat of paint. There is street art and street furniture that gives the town a festive look without taking away the sanctity of the Iranshah. All the naysayers who had been spreading negative social media messages, should have been present to see the beauty.
The arrangements are slick and professional. Things started on time. The crowd was lively and enthusiastic, however the MC Viraf Patel did run out of jokes from time to time :)
The Vada Dasturji and his team need to take a big bow for really pulling all this together over days and nights and weeks of planning, that is clearly evident.
The food lines at the end of the evening were long, but the crowd was patient and orderly. Probably something to do with being in such close proximity of the Iranshah !!