MAKE THE "DEEN" (RELIGION) YOUR BEST FRIEND
- says Dasturji Dr. Firoze M. Kotwal
An article from one of the most knowledgable Dasturjis (High Priests) of the Zoroastrian religion. Dasturji Kotwal is the High Priest of the Wadiaji Atash Behram in Bombay and has poured out his earnest appeal in this simple, sweet and strict counsel to fellow Zoroastrians around the globe.
He emphasises the need to preserve the religion (by the proper worship of the Holy Fire), to preserve the Parsee-Irani Zoroastrian race (by marrying within the community only) and also to make religion an integral part of one's life.
Dasturji rightly implores both the youth and the elders to "make the Deen (religion) your best friend" and to be courageous in speaking out against unorthodox Zoroastrian practises. This may cause them to "lose a few mortal friends" (but not their soul)
Dasturji is positive that given the right education, there is no cause of gloom for the future of devout Zoroastrians in North America.
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Dasturji Dr. Firoze M. Kotwal has recently re-turned from an extensive tour of North America. Within a short span of five weeks, he has lectured and addressed group meets, as "Yankees" say, "from coast to coast".
His first stop was Los Angeles. Here, Dasturji played an important role in enlightening the youth on the religious beliefs and customs of the community.
"lt should be every youth's mission," he implored, "to preserve the community's heritage. Our forefathers left the shores of Persia to preserve the religion and race in its pristine purity. If we do not perpetuate this, we will completely lose our identit y and the community will be lost without any trace in the huge American melting pot."
Dasturji also stressed the need for every young and adult Zoroastrian to study the history of Zoroastrianism. Knowledge of the religion is incomplete without knowledge of history. It is history which instils religious and cultural pride. Once we know our roots, it will not be difficult for us to distinguish a diamond from a piece of glass."
From Los Angeles, Dasturji moved on to Dallas, Houston, Pitsburg, New York, Ontario and Chicago. En route to India, he also addressed a group of devout Zoroastrians in Singapore. He also performed jashans in Los Angeles, Pitsburg and Toronto.
All across North America, Dasturji spoke on the topic of the exalted place of fire in the Zoroastrian religion," the three fundamental Zoroastrian prayers ('Yatha Ahu Vairyo', 'Ashem Vohu' and 'Yenghe Hatam') and the miraculous story of the birth and death of Zarathushtra".
The response everywhere," says Dasturji, "was very good". "Zoroastrians all over the world are thirsty for religious knowledge. Many of them hold conservative views, but do not express them openly out of peer pressure."
Dasturji advised parents to teach their children whatever little they can about the Zoroastrian religion. Good books on the Zoroastrian religion are now easily available, all over the world. Religion is a way of life and should be an integral part of our day-to-day lives.
"Make the Deen (Religion) your best friend and be loyal to it. Do not worry if your loyalty to the Deen makes you lose a few mortal friends", he advised. He urged orthodox Zoroastrian groups all over North America to stand up and be counted. Do not be afr aid of speaking out the truth. Remaining silent when less informed individuals attack the religion is very un-Zoroastrian. Dasturji informs us that many Zoroastrians in North America have promised him that henceforth, they will certainly not take things lying down. Apparently, Dasturji has reinforced their beliefs and inculcated a sense of religious responsibility.
Dasturji also advised parents to cultivate a Zoroastrian atmosphere at home (recite the 'mathravani' prayers daily, keep the fire burning in a fire place or light a diva, celebrate the Zoroastrian feasts) and attempt to answer the questions raised by the youth, logically.
Zoroastrians in North America are also aspiring to have a ritually consecrated 'Adrian' fire. Dasturji, however, has advised that it would be wiser to start with a 'Dadgah' fire. "Try to maintain a 24 hours burning fire at home first," he suggested, as a practical measure.
Contrary to what is generally believed, Dasturji sees a bright future ahead for devout Zoroastrians in North America. It is merely a question of giving them the right education," he concluded.
Written by the General Editor
Published in the Deen Parast, Bombay, India
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