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47World Zoroastrian Organisation's 2005 Seminar on Zoroastrian Religion, History and Culture
 

European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies

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 World Zoroastrian Organisation's 2005 Seminar on Zoroastrian Religion, History and Culture

The World Zoroastrian Organisation
5 TENNISON ROAD, SOUTH NORWOOD, LONDON SE25 5NF

VISIT OUR WEBSITE: www.w-z-o.org

WZO’s 2005 Seminar on Zoroastrian Religion, History and Culture
Held in association with the World Zarathushtrian Trust Fund
International Student House, (next to Great Portland St station)
Sunday 5th June 2005

10.00 am - Registration and coffee

10.25 am – Welcome and opening address by Mr Sam Bhiwandiwalla, Chairman of WZO

10.30 am – Morning Session commences

Speaker : Dr Khosro Khazai Chairperson: Shahpur F Captain

“Zarathushtra & Christianity: The End of 2000 years of Misunderstanding”

Dr.Khosro Khazai PhD specialised in Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies with his main Interest in the History of Civilisations. For the past 30 years he has been a scientifie researcher and teacher in Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies in several universities in Europe, in Australia and in Iran. Since 2001 he has been the Director of the European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies, a cultural, secular, and free thinking organisation. Its main office is in Brussels, Belgium.

Dr Khazai has published 9 books and 160 articles including Birth & Evolution of Writing, From Sumer to Babylonia, both available in French and Dutch, The Book of Existence – A Trip into the Zoroastrian Existential Philosophy for Self-Knowledge, Self-Liberation, and Self-Creation available in Persian, and "Les Voygeurs d'Arta." A la recherche de Zarathoustra; in French.
Summary of his speech:

Praised and venerated passionately for about 1000 years as the highest symbol of knowledge by almost all the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, Zarathustra was severely demonized from the 6th century by the Church in Europe as the Father of Dualism, rejecting with him all the Persian doctrines and those of rivals.

This situation changed in the 14th century, the beginning of the European renaissance and the search for a new cultural reference and a new identity. In this new context the interest in Zoroastrianism was reborn in Europe. The main interest for this among European intellectuals was that they thought they had found a weapon against the church: for them the church no longer held a monopoly over the truth. They felt that Zarathustra could bring a new light and anew instrument in their fight.

Twentieth century studies on the Zoroastrian origins/influences of Chrisitianity, while increasing, have tended to remain within the confines of universities and specialists. Insights into the awareness of Zoroastrianism within Christian religious circles were few until the outstanding speech made by the Catholic archbishop of Vienna in 1976 who spoke in Tehran in 1976 on the Influence of Zarathustra in the World. Today there is a European movement called Sacra Europa which states “in order to bring back the lost vitality of Christianity, we should go back to its origin which is Zarathustra’s existential philosophy”.

Speaker: Dr Hanna Omarkhali (Usyan) Chairperson: Noshir Umrigar
“YEZIDISM – and its comparison with Zoroastrianism”
Ezditi, known in literature as Yezidism, is one of the most ancient monotheistic religions of the Kurds. Neither historians nor scholars have yet succeeded in reaching a satisfactory conclusion about the genesis of Yezidism. It has,apparently, very deep roots and can be traced back to the times of early Indo-Iranian religion, whose elements have further been absorbed by Zoroastrianism and the Vedic religion. The many similar elements of early Zoroastrianism and Yezidism, as well as, to some extent, the Vedic religion, allow us to assume that the foundation on which these religious systems are built, were ancient Indo-Aryan ideas and beliefs. Similarity among Zoroastrianism and Yezidism in traditions, like the impossibility of converting to these religions, division of the society based on caste-theocratic principles,venerating the four elements, especially fire, as well as the Sun, the belief in seven archangels in Yezidism and Amesha Spentas in Zoroastrianism are but a few of such similarities. Among many more other similarities between these religions, their is the similarity of their distinctive outward signs, which are to distinguish their adherents: Yezidians' distinctive signs are: Toka, and a wattled wool cord, which they have to wear on their necks; in Zoroastrianism the believers wear a sacred belt “kusti" as well as a white undershirt sudra".

Hanna has been educated at St Petersburg State Unversity , studying Iranian philology as her first degree, moving into Religious Studies for her MA and has begun her doctoral studies in the field she will speak on at the seminar. Her supervisor thoughout has been the highly respected Professor Ivan Steblin Kamensky. Her research work over the past 7 months, has taken her outside Russia to centres in Germany and Paris. She has a knowledge of many languages: Russian, English, Kurdish (Kurmanji dialect), Farsi, Armenian, Old Persian, Middle Persian, Arabic, Kurdish (Sorani dialect), German, Spanish.
Her academic publications:
Book: "Yezidism. From Early Millenia", St Petersburg, 2005, Articles: 15 articles and theses in scientific journals; 5 articles in newspapers and Internet.

1:00 pm -Break for Lunch

2.00 pm : Afternoon Session

Speaker: Dr Raiomond Mirza Chairperson: Farrokh Vajifdar
“The House of Song - Music in Zoroastrian Prayer”
Dr Mirza’s research has uncovered in Zoroastrian ritual prayer performance, musical structures which are arguably over one thousand years old. The lecture is presented as a journey in sound and also as an investigation which lays out facts, clues and theories. The audience is given the scope to compare their own conclusions with those presented.

Fascinatingly, before this work, nobody has known that these musical structures were there, nor has anyone ever really looked for music within Zoroastrian ritual. The study reaches from Iran to India and covers a span of history dating back to 1,500 BC and touches on other traditions including Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Vedic practice.

Dr Raiomond Mirza, composer and writer, received his Ph.D. from the School For Oriental And African Studies (SOAS) – University of London in 2004. His historical research and contemporary field work uncovered a previously unknown side of Zoroastrian prayer and identified music which is more than 1000 years old. His thesis, “The House Of Song” is currently being considered for publication. He has lectured at Cambridge - The Ancient India And Iran Trust, SOAS, and for The Temenos Academy.

He has composed numerous scores for film, TV, theatre and radio including the award winning “A Suitable Boy” and the current BBC Radio 4 nine hour dramatisation of “The Raj Quartet”. His music for the Nigerian drama Voices was performed for the Queen on her last African tour and he won the public vote for his composition “Viderunt Emmanuel” in the BBC news

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