Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mr. Farhad Panthaki Desribes His Roots in the Deeply Rooted Religion Zoroastrianism

written by Programming Intern, Michaela Wolf

Please take a moment to read an interview with Mr. Farhad Panthaki of Boston. He is the President of the Zoroastrian Association of the Greater Boston Area (ZAGBA) and has generously taken the time to share a little bit about his faith and beliefs with me.  Zoroastrianism is an ancient religious tradition with a history of over 3,500 years and roots in India and Iran. Currently there are about 200,000 of Zoroastrians or Zarathushtis globally and 17,000 in the US and Canada. Zoroastrianism is said to have a large influence over the development of the Abrahamic faiths, and is credited with establishing concepts like good and evil, heaven and hell, monotheism, and free will into religion. I initially became interested in Zoroastrianism because of the reverence the tradition holds for natural environments and processes as well as light and darkness and am so grateful Mr. Panthaki gave me a unique opportunity to learn more. I hope you enjoy his responses as much as I did!

* Due to the length of this interview, it will be a four part series.

Brief Statement:

I was born and grew up in Mumbai, India and came to the US about 25 years ago for graduate school. I currently work as an Engineer and live with my wife and two children in Norwood, MA. Our family has been fortunate to be a part of the ZAGBA family for about two decades.

Interview Questions:

First, I was wondering if you could give a little background on your religion and also about how it became your faith.

 The Zoroastrian (Zarathushti) religion originated over 3500 years ago in ancient Persia (present day Iran), as a revealed monotheistic religion through prophet Zarathushtra (called Zoroaster by the Greeks). It was the dominant religion during three mighty Persian empires spanning over a thousand years from about 550B.C.E. to 650 C.E. In the early part of the 10th century, there was an exodus of Zarathushtis from Iran to India to escape religious persecution and for preservation of their faith. The Zarathushtis that were given refuge in India came to be known as the Parsees. It became my faith through my parents who are Parsee Zarathushtis.

Where do you practice?

We practice our faith with our family at our home in Norwood, MA and also with our Zarathushti friends and community members in Massachusetts. Our local community comes together under the auspices of ZAGBA (Zoroastrian Association of the Greater Boston Area). Since we are a small community, we do not have our own community center. We have our community events in rented halls, usually of community centers or local churches.

How large is your community?

Our local community in MA (ZAGBA) consists of about 250 individuals. There are numerous Zarathushti communities in the US & Canada with an estimated total of about 17,000. The worldwide population of Zarathushtis is estimated at about 200,000, with the largest concentrations in the “homelands” of Iran and India.

What is the most important part to being a Zoroastrian for you personally? How do you connect and find meaning in your faith?

The most important part of being a Zarathushti for me personally is to be able to cherish being a part of this ancient yet relevant tradition, learn and understand more about the core teachings of our faith, learn how to live by them on a daily basis and be able to pass that religious and cultural heritage to our children.

What is a religious or spiritual stereotype that impacts you?

I cannot think of any stereotype that impacts me.
Look for the second of this four part series next week!

Michaela Wolf is the program intern at Project Interfaith. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with a focus in Biology and a minor in Sociology from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. She currently attends Clarkson College, pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. Her interests include reading, writing, running, the outdoors and art.

For more information about Zoroastrianism and ZAGBA, please visit…

The ZAGBA website: http://zagba.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=frontpage&Itemid=4

Khojeste P Mistree. The Zarathushi Religion: A Basic Text. Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America, 1998.

Rivetna, Rohinton M. Zoroastrians (Zarathushtis) Followers of an Ancient Faith in a Modern World. Ed. Committee FEZANA Publications. Hillesdale: FEZANA, 2005. Print.

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