Respected Trustees of Pestonji Kalabhai Vakil Atash Behram Saheb, Surat na Vada Dasturji Er.Cyrus Noshirwan Saheb, Surat Parsi Panchayet na President Dr. Doodhwalla saheb, our highly respected religious scholar Er. Marazban Hathiram Saheb, my friend Shernaaz Engineer of Jam-e-Jamshed, anney aaj ni aa majlis anney anjuman ma avel pratisthit mehmano anney Humdeeno, tamey sarvone, mara Namaskar.

Looking at the scale at which this Grand bicentennial celebration of our Pak Atash Behram Saheb is being organised and the large number of Parsi Irani Zarthusti ‘s turnout and attendance at the Jashan Ceremony at 9am in the morning on a working day, surely, I can say that in the last 200 years our ‘Jah-o-jallali’ may have come down a bit but the ‘astha’ and faith of our followers continues with the same fervour and has not declined at all.

Firstly, let me bow my head in all humility to thank our Pak Atash Behram Padsha- Saheb in gratitude on behalf of all of us who are present here and also those who may not have been able to attend this avsar of completing 200 years of his enthronement.

I am just a fervant student and follower of our great Religion. I do not profess any scholarship or expertise in knowledge of our religion. I would therefore like to share my experiences with you today and tell you how following the tenets of our great religion have been the corner-stone of whatever modest successes I have personally achieved in life. I would like to enjoin this idea that we must work very hard in life, concentrate on one’s career and business with vigor BUT as we do that, we must continuously & seamlessly seek guidance from the tenets of our Zarthosti din and blessings from Ahura Mazda.

But before I do that let me share with you, the 4 worrisome impediments that our religion currently faces, which we all like-minded Zarthustis need to come together and find an amiable way forward solution to. The 4 impediments we face are :
a. Deliverance
b. Ignorance
c. Avoidance
d. Arrogance.

4 a. Deliverance : Our religion is blessed with such great body of knowledge that there exists within that body, answers to all the questions of corporeal and spiritual life that we may have. We also are blessed to have amidst us, our religious scholars who have studied the religion and are also very familiar with our ‘tarikats’ and who are capable of answering all queries of the laity that may arise. This is good news on the one hand.

On the other hand unfortunately the bad news is that there exists an acute shortage and penury of knowledge and information amidst our laity. Surplus of Knowledge on the one hand and Ignorance of the same knowledge on the other hand clearly indicates that this is a ‘Supply-Chain’ problem. We, the well wishers have all to come together and see how we can bridge this gap of delivering this body our knowledge with the help of our scholars in an easy and understandable way to our laity & younger generations.

4 b. Ignorance : today, acute ignorance of even the basic tenets poses a problem. You will agree that understanding ‘Ahura Mazda’ is at the absolute centre of our religion. Most of our people wrongly believe in their ‘phantasmagoric’ – (dreamy imagination) a human form & imagery when they think of Ahura-Mazda. They imagine an old bearded man with flowing beard and long hair, wearing a long white robe in their imagination. This is only an artistic representation. They don’t even understand that in our distinct religion, Ahura-Mazda is ‘Anthropomorpic’ – not human like in shape, form or image. Ahura- Mazda is
‘An Ayanah’ (no shape, no form, no image). He is ‘Abarvand’ (distinctive) , ‘Abhi Anjam’ (ever flowing without end). And thus he is ‘An Aaifah’ ( incomprehensible and thus can be understood and perceived by his devotees , each only in their own mind’s eye). Thus we Zoroastrians do not believe in image worshipping in any form. Fire (‘Atash’) is the closest imagery of that most powerful & wise flowing energy – ‘Ahura Mazda’ and thus we believe that Atash is ‘putr’ of Ahura-Mazda.

But the laity unfortunately being ignorant even of this core concept, keeps searching wrongly for the quick-fix – 2 minute ‘instant coffee’ type solutions to their spiritual and corporeal questions & problems and thus seeks solace in different images, idols, talisman and Godmen. It is very important that we all need to shed their wrong core ideas and fill them up with right knowledge of our religion.

4 c. Avoidance : Most of our people know things but their intention to follow and practice these norms is pushed by an acute sense of procrastination. ‘Karsu’ – ‘Karvanu chhey’ – ‘ Retirement Pachee’ – ‘ BPP e karvu joeeye’ ! In the process, we miss the bus. We want gratification and blessings right now but we want to invest in the goodness of our religion, later. Unfortunately, maybe never.

4 d. Arrogance : some amidst us have not invested anything to know our religion but are arrogant enough to keep challenging every aspect and tenet of our great religion. Aggressively Arrogant Although Acutely Ignorant ! ‘Kaa lakhelu chhey’, konn-e-kayu’, ‘Zarthos saheb bolee ne Gayla ke’, ‘sukaam’, etc etc. They believe in a sense of entitlement for benefits but do not believe in any sense of duty towards their religion and aggressively reject the principles of our religion.

We all who want to work towards preserving and growing our great religion, need to sit together, create a ‘think-tank’ and work towards developing our strategy to handle each of these four challenges.

My successes may be modest but I am proud of them because they have always been architected and guided by the basic principles of our religion. I strongly would recommend people to follow our Zoroastrian tenets in their own lives as well to experience success and happiness. These norms are :

5 a. Observing Righteousness in everything you do even at the cost of personal pain or loss. It is easy to profess Righteousness when someone else has to pay the cost. Righteousness even at your own cost has meaning. That is called the true search for one’s ‘Asha’.

5 b. Our world is a world of contradictions (Yashst 11.1/44.1) . You can succeed only if you have unflinching faith and belief in our 7 Amesha-Spentas … in the ‘wisdom’ of Ahura Mazda, in ‘righteousness’ of Asha Vashsti, in ‘goodness’ of Vahu – Mann, in ‘piety’ of Armity, in ‘beneficial protection’ of K’shashtra Vairya, in ‘well being’ of Urvatat and in ‘spiritual life’ after corporeal life in ‘immortality’ of Ameretatat.

5 c. Believe in the ‘Power of Prayers’. Prayers are the heaven ward soaring of the soul on worldly wings. Man is a praying animal from the time of ‘Gaya Maraten’ – the first man to be born and till ‘Saoshyant’ – the last man to be born. Do not ever give up on your prayers. You will experience the power of this magic with your authentic perseverance.

5 d. Share your happiness with others. Remember : Yasna 43.1 where man is guided to share happiness with others. It says :
‘Ushta ahmai yahmai, Ushta kahmai chit ‘ … happiness comes to those who happiness bring to others.

I share my deep prayers to our Padsha Saheb for the next not only 200 years but 2000 years, once again on behalf of all of us. We will not be there but our dear Padshah Saheb will still be enthroned in this Pak Atash Behram saheb protecting, guiding and blessing our community of Zoroastrians.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen.

Ush-ta te – m

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