July Fourth is a holiday spent with friends and family. This year, we were able to celebrate the week of July Fourth with new friends from around the world when we attended the 7th World Zoroastrian Youth Congress in LA. It was an amazing experience with highlights that included meeting fellow Zoroastrians, exploring our shared religion/culture, discussing our similarities and differences, and visiting LA together.
Perhaps one of the most compelling parts of the Congress was meeting fellow Zoroastrians from across the globe. In addition to Americans from numerous states, there were large contingents of attendees from Australia, New Zealand, India, and Canada. Typically, when we meet people in social settings here at home, we are in the minority as Zoroastrians. You introduce yourself and when the topic of who you are and where come from arises, you mention your religion. More often than not, you are greeted by a blank stare. But here at the Congress, it was more than likely that the person you were talking to had shared the exact same experience before; that same quizzical look was replaced with a cheerful smile – we were all Zoroastrians that knew and understood each other.
This instant connection provided a springboard for discussion and friendship, enabling us to broaden our understanding of our diverse culture. As we met both Parsis and Iranis at the Congress, we learned not only about each other but our shared experiences and interpretations of our religion. Bonding over our religion strengthened our sense of identity and belonging to a community. Uniquely enjoyable, it is something special we don’t get to experience often in our small community.
A typical day began with morning yoga and breakfast. Panels proceeded, consisting of various topics ranging from business and women empowerment to Zoroastrianism and thinking forward. The two panels that stood out were a LGBTQ+ panel and a speech from the first North American Mobedyar, both having the goal of creating a balance between blind faith, deeper understanding, and our changing future. Towards the end of the afternoon, the optional add-on events began. We had the option of a Fourth of July cruise, comedy and dance night with Max Amini, movie night, and several other activities to meet fellow Zoroastrians and explore LA.
We are all very
grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the Youth Congress. We extend a
huge thank you to the ZAGBA Board and the members that made donations to fund
our trip and make it possible. Following the great experiences from the
Congress, we are interested in attending the Zoroastrian Olympics next year and
invite the other youth in our Boston community to join us for the fun!”