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48-7th International Congress of Zoroastrian Culture and Iranian / Central Asian Studies, Organized by “European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies” Brussels-Belgium From 27th to 31st October 2004
 

European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies

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7th International Congress of Zoroastrian Culture and Iranian / Central Asian Studies, Organized by “European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies” Brussels-Belgium From 27th to 31st October 2004

This report is prepared by “Section for Information” at :
European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies,

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FINAL REPORT in English (the same report is available in Persian)
7th International Congress of Zoroastrian Culture and Iranian / Central Asian Studies, Organized by “European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies” Brussels-Belgium From 27th to 31st October 2004

Invited by the “European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies “ in Brussels (Belgium) under the same roof, in the conference auditorium of Brussels University (ULB) thirty-one scholars from thirteen countries -- Afghanistan, Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Iran, Israel, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States and visitors-scholars from 17 countries met from 27th to 31st October,2004 in Brussels, Belgium to talk about their latest research on Zoroastrian Culture in Ancient Iran and Central Asian countries, including its philosophy, history, archaeology, linguistics, literature, architecture, dress, and music.
This five-day congress, programmed, organized and conducted by “European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies” in Brussels-Belgium, took about one year of hard work to get its final shape. Nothing was neglected to make out of these five days very rich and fruitful moments not only in terms of human contact and exchange of knowledge but also show and entertainments. The psychological effect of this event was so impressive that the biggest English language magazine in Belgium(and in Europe out of England)” the Bulletin” wrote in big letters and in two big pages as title “ thousands of Zoroastrians meet this week in Brussels for their annual congress !”. Of course, there were not “thousands”, but the quality of the speakers and attendees, gathered in the same place and in the same time could give easily such impression. Curiously, the Russian television MVT also gave the same information! Whereas, the BBC world service in its interview with Dr. Khosro Khazai, the chairman of the congress, focused rather on the aim and direction of the congress .
Though the official language of the congress was Persian, a gist of what had been said during the congress, was presented on Sunday 31st of Oct, from 6PM to 9PM, in English and French to an eager audience from Belgium, France, Germany and India.
During those exceptional five days of congress our guests, apart from attending the conferences that started everyday from 9.30 AM. to 7 PM, enjoyed the outstanding programs and entertainments that our Center in Brussels had organized in their honor, such as:
•On the 28th Oct a warm and cozy reception-diner organized in the headquarter of “European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies” located in the prestigious and beautiful historical heart of Brussels, “The Queen Gallery”. During this reception, Dr. Khosro Khazai (Pardis) the president of the center, gave a short introduction on the important role this Center is playing in the heart of Europe, to promote the Zoroastrian world view and culture. He also talked about the organization of the Center and the historical value of the premises.
• On the 29th Oct. a poetic and friendly “Night of Poetry” chaired by Masoud Sepand, from the USA was organized. During this program the Persian poets from Iran, America, Belgium, Sweden, Israel, France, Germany and England took part. There were plenty emotional moments of joy and tears that night.
• On the 30th Oct in the amphitheatre of Brussels University packed with about 400 persons, a very beautiful and unforgettable dance and concert -spectacle in two parts were performed. This three hours spectacle was performed by the best Persian artists, dancers and musicians that our Center had handpicked from the four corners of Europe.
Our guests had opportunity to see a very refined dance choreographed on Persian love poetries of Nezami’s Khosro and Shirin, (12th century), and Ferdowsi’s Sohrab and Gordafarid) (10th century).
The second part of the program was the Persian Classical Music performed by the well known artists who had come from Vienna and Paris.
• On Saturday the 30th Oct. in the head quarter of the European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies 18 persons were initiated into Zoroastrianism, and two wedding ceremonies were witnessed. These ceremonies that took more than five hours, attracted a huge number of people, families, friends and visitors. There were no possibilities for the new arrivals to enter the Center, so much it was packed with people that were standing even on the stairs.
Speeches The time for every speech was 40 minutes plus 10 minutes for questions. Eight hours of speech delivered by 8 speakers every day.
Wednesday the 27th of October 2004

Moderators: Susan Behnam, from France, morning . Jaleh Daftarian, from France, afternoon
The congress was inaugurated at 9.30 AM on Wednesday the 27th of Oct. in the conference auditorium of Brussels University (ULB) by Dr. Khosro Khazai ( Pardis) the President of the “European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies” in Brussels and the organizer of the “VII International Congress on Zoroastrian Culture”. In a short speech Dr. Khazai welcomed the guests, spoke about the aim and history of these congresses, remembered a great and a loyal member Dr Khanak Eshghi Sanati ( Mehrdad Parsi) who passed away in Canada last year, and read a letter sent by Professor Jacques Duchesn-Guillemin ( who is now 94 years old and living in Liege about 100 Km. far from Brussels) welcoming the attendees and wishing the success of the congress. He reminded the audience that Prof. Duchesn-Guillemin is one of the rare survivals of the generation of great western initiators of Zoroastrian Studies.
After the inauguration, the first speaker Dr. Shojaedin Shafa, the great specialist of Iranian culture, well known writer and the head of the Royal Library during the Shah’s period who had come from France, started his speech on “Ossetians and their contribution to the extension of Iranian culture”. His speech was about a Caucasian people of Iranian language called Ossetians, whose country was a part of ex-Soviet-Union. The speaker showed the important role this people played, through the history, in the extension of Iranian culture in the countries situated north of Caspian sea. After this speech, and answer to questions, Mrs.Fataneh Farid, an anthropologist and a pro-eminent member of the Zoroastrian Assembly of California and a specialist in Zoroastrian rituals, who had come from the United- States, started her talks on the “ Place of Women in Zoroastrianism”. With slides and quotations from the Gathas and other documents she showed the strict equality of men and women in all levels of life between men and women in the Zoroastrian world view. After this speech, a beautiful 15 minutes film titled “Cyrus the Great and Human Rights” was projected. This film made by the “Zoroastrian Association in Washington”, was sent as a gift to the “European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies” in Brussels. The beautiful dance inspired from the Achaemenian period, and the music that accompanied it in this film moved the audience. Again our many thanks to the Zoroastrians of Washington. After presenting this film and taking a break for coffee and fresh juice, the next speaker, Mr. Ator Torabi, a musician and a musicologist, who had come from France, started his talks on “Structure of the music in the Gathas and its relationship with Indian Vedas”. The speaker’s views, advocting the lack of rhythm in the Gathic poetry, was contested by some scholars in the audience who insisted on the necessity of a sound linguistic knowledge of the Gathic poetry to lead such studies. At one o’clock pm the audience and the guests went to the Universitie’s restaurant for lunch.
At 14.30 PM. the second part of the Wednesday’s program started by Dr. Abtin Sasanfar, a generous and active scholar from France, who spoke about the “Mazdaysna religion and its difference with Zoroastrianism”. In his speech he insisted that Mazdaysna religion was heavily influenced by the Magus and other non-gathic concepts during the Sasanian time, whereas the Zoroastrianism follows the Gathic concepts. After this speech, it was the turn of Dr. Manouchehr Tehrani, from Germany, to speak on “Iranian world view and the evolution of Persian writing “. After this speech a 20 minutes break for drinking coffee and refreshments was taken. The next speaker was Mr. Hosein Lajevardi, from France who talked about “ Ancient Iran, today and tomorrow”. The speaker gave some statistics, about the number of Zoroastrians, the evolution and the prediction of their number in the future and the number of Moslems and its evolution. This speech and the figures the speaker gave rose a lot of questions and controversy among the audience. As the passionate questions and the answers took more time than scheduled, and the time was already 19PM. the moderator announced the end of the program for the day, and invited the audience to be in the conference auditorium on Thursday morning at 9.30 AM. We had still four other long days before us for other passionate talks and enjoyment.

Thursday, the 28th October 2004
Moderators: Zoya Majd from Sweden, morning . Azad Aghvami from Belgium, afternoon
The speeches on Thursday started on 9.30AM. with Dr. A. A. Jafarey, an active scholar in Zoroastrian Studies and the founder of “Zoroastrian Assembly” in California who had come from the United States. His talks were about “Achaemenians Traces in "Shahnameh," the Book of Kings”. The speaker observed that Shahnameh, based on the History of Iran from the origin to the downfall of the Sassanians, does not strangely mention the Achaemenian period. After explaining the reasons he shed some lights on the traces of this key dynasty in the “Book of Kings”.
After this speech that took one hour, it was the turn of Dr. Khosro Khazai (Pardis), from Belgium to go behind the lectern on the podium. His talks were about “ Christianity’s fight with Zarathustra, or, the End of 2000 Years of Misunderstanding”. He said, Zarathustra, praised and venerated for about 1000 years as the highest symbol of knowledge in pre-Christian Europe, was severely demonized as from the 6th century by the Christian Church. He explained the roots and the reasons for this hostility, based on a sorrowful misunderstanding, that took 2000 years. Thanks to the admirable works, done for the last 200 years mainly by European scholars, the Zoroastrian source of the main philosophies and religions, was finally recognized. The high authorities of the Christian Church such as Cardinal Franz Konig have put more than 70 years to admit eventually this fact, inaugurating a new era of reconciliation with Zoroastrianism.
After this speech and subsequent questions and answers, it was 11.30 AM,, the time for a break of 15 minutes and drinking a cup of coffee and fresh juices.
Then Mr. Babak Eshaghi, a passionate young poet and journalist who had come from Israel, started his speech under the title “Zoroastrian Fire in Jewish and Christian House” He said, Cyrus the Great liberated the Jews from the Babylonian captivity and he and his successors helped them to resettle and reconstruct their temple in Jerusalem as well as get settled in any part of the Achaemenian Empire. As from then the Zoroastrian world view influenced profoundly Judaism and then Christianity. He also insisted that Cyrus is the only non-Jewish personality who is called the Savior and Messiah in the Bible.
After this speech, it was the turn of Mrs. Mehri Shah Hoseini who had com from Iran. Her talk was about “Rabee and Love”, a retrospective of ancient women poets in Iran that their poetry about love.
It was 13hour and the time for lunch. As usual many went to the university’s lunch room and some went to the restaurants of their choice that were plenty around. Just for information, in Brussels, there is one café or restaurant for every 35 persons!
At 14h30, the afternoon’s program started with Mrs. Shahin Saraj from France. Her talk was about “Book of Wisdom of Azarbad Mehr Espandan and the Bahar’poetry”. As this speech took more time than scheduled no time was left for asking questions. Therefore, Mr. Mahmand Shidrang from Germany started immediately his talks on “Angra Mainyou or Ahriman” He reminded that the word angra mainyou is not mentioned in the Gathas, though we meet repeatedly this term in the Avesta. After this speech and the questions and answers, the audience took a short break for coffee, cakes and drinks. At 17h it was the turn of Dr. Shojaedin Shafa to comment documents that he had recently received- miraculiously- fron Iran after 25 years of waiting. These documents, gathered during many years when Dr. Shafa was the head of the Royal Library in Tehran, were aimed to write an encyclopedia on Iranian culture. Mr. Shafa had gathered these documentations through his multiple connections with the world leading researchers and a hard work. His aim was to start writing this encyclopedia, but the work was stopped by the Islamic revolution in Iran. Now he wants to go on with this work, but he needs to find the financial means.

After this talk that took more than one hour, all the guests- about 140- went to the headquarter of “European Center for Zoroastrian Studies” that is situated in the beautiful historical heart of Brussels’ There was a diner-reception organized by the Center to the honor of participants who had come from far away for this congress. A colorful table with many kinds of foods, salads, fruits, wine and other drinks, decorated beautifully by the Center’s members with a lot of candles and flowers was waiting the visitors.
Dr. Khosro Khazai, the President of the Center welcomed the guests and invited them to the conference room for a short introduction on the aims and structure of the Center and its role for spreading the Zarathustra’s message. He thanked warmly the generous donators, mainly from Spain, the United-States and France, for their highly appreciated generosity that allows the Center to exist. He also thanked the Center’s 404 members and specially those among them who contribute actively every day to move forward the Center’s aims.
After this introduction the dinner started in a very warm and friendly atmosphere and last until midnight.

Friday the 29th October 2004 Moderator: Mrs. Parvin Vaziri
This day, like other days, was supposed to start on 9h30, but due to an unexpected public transport strike and consequently the shortage of taxis the guests had stuck in their hotels until 10 o’clock AM. Therefore, the members and friends of the Center who had a car went to pick up the guests at their hotels. Despite the huge traffic jam everywhere in the town the speakers and visitors could arrive to the conference auditorium around 11 o’clock. The speeches started by Mr. Homer Abramian, a cultural activist in Iranian studies, and the founder of Persian Cultural Centre in Sydney, Australia. For record, he was one of the main contributors to the memorable Persian Cultural Festival of Mehregan in Sydney (Australia) in 1994. His talk was about “Rostam and Sohrab from the Zoroastrian Point of View”. He concluded that in the masterpiece of Ferdowsi’s Book of Kings ( 10th century), the painful tragedy regarding the greatest Persian hero, Rostam and his son Sohrab, happened because the basic Zoroastrian principles such as Asha / Arta ( Righteousness) and Vohu manu ( Right Thinking) were not respected. After this speech that took 45 minutes, Mr. Kamran Jamshidi, a mobed (Zoroastrian initiator or priest), and a scholar in Zoroastianism from Sweden, took place behind the lectern on the podium. He spoke about “Zoroastrian Perspective of Mankind and Information” He explained by a well structured chart, projected by overhead projector, that human beings has been granted full freedom of will along with the ability to comprehend and choose the best course of life. He or she has been endowed with various gifts such as: Tanu, the Physical Frame, Urvan, the Soul that gives life to the Physical Form, Daenâ, the Conscience Fravashi, the Guardian Spirit that accompanies and protects it in its spiritual and material life Baodha, the Awakening and Realization, that makes it realize life and also its purpose. Sraosha, the Divine Voice within the body. Manah, the Mind, is the thinking faculty. Vohu Manah, Good Mind. And Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds.
After this talk and despite the shortage of time the audience was offered 20 minutes of break, with coffee, tea and refreshments to boost their energy after the unexpected adventure of transport strike in Brussels.
After the refreshment, Dr. Mohamad Asemi, the editor of Kaveh magazine, from Germany started his speech about “ was Zarathustra a prophet ?”. Inspired by Mr. Jalal Ashtiani’s writings he concluded that Zarathustra was neither a prophet nor he brought a religion. But he was the initiator of a thought based on wisdom and progress. This talk finished at 13h and the guests went to the university’s restaurant for lunch.
The afternoon’s speeches strated by Dr. Shahrokh Mirshahi from France. He talked about the soul and body as seen by the Sassanian doctors. He referred to the Avestan literature and other Sassanian medical texts. The next speaker was Mr. Houshang Etezad also from France, who spoke about “ the architecture of Damghan, yesterday and today”. Mr. Etazad who is a specialist in urbanism insisted on the fact that how much the development of ancient monuments of this city, especially an old fire temple could to attract tourism. Then it was the turn of Mr. Ghasem Talebzadeh, the violinist and composer, to speak about “the music in Hafez poetry”. He analyzed the different terms and concepts related to music in Hafez poetry. The speeches came to an end on 19 hours
At 20hours, after a quick dinner, the “Night of Poetry” in a warm and cozy setting decorated with flowers and candles started. This programmed chaired by Masoud Sepand, from the USA took three hours. In this program, Maziar Ghavidel from Sweden, Vandidad Golshani from England, Mehri Shahosieni, from Iran, Babak Eshaghi from Israel, Homayoun from France, Pirouz from Belgium and Masoud Sepand from the US. took part, reciting beautiful poems of their own composition. There were a lot of emotions, the great moments of laugh, tears and nostalgia. The night of poetry ended at 23 hours.
Saturday, the 30th of October
Saturday morning was a free day and programmed to visit Brussels from 9Am to 1Pm. As from 14h sharp the European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies had organized extremely warm and cozy ceremonies of Sedreh Poushi during which 18 persons were initiated to Zoroastrianism, and 4 persons married according to Zoroastrian rites (Govah Giri). These initiations were performed by the mobeds Mrs. Fatanh Farid and Dr. A.A. Jafarey (From the USA) and Mr. Kamran Jamshidi ( from Sweden).
The Center situated in the historical heart of Brussels, a very tourist area, was packed with a huge number of people who had come to see these ceremonies. There was not a single place what so ever for any person wanting to get in the Center. Even a Parsi couple who had driven more than 500 Km. from Germany to Belgium to see this ceremony could hardly manage to enter. It is worthy to note that among those who were initiated to Zoroastrianism, there was Mrs. Monique Zetlaoui the French writer of Jewish origin. She has made an extensive published studies about the Parsis in India and Jewish community also in India ( So they go Zarathustra’s children in India 2004 and Shalom India 2002). These ceremonies last until 19h.
At 20h sharp the unforgettable programme and show on which the “European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies” had worked more than six months started in the big amphitheatre of Brussels University. The show was in two parts; the first one was performed with an astonishing talent by a very famous dance group who had come from Paris : Shahrokh Moshkinghalan, Karine Herrou Gonzales and Semira. Their dance extremely well choreographed was on love Persian poetry” Seven Castle of Love” Khosro and Shirin of Nezami ( 12th Century) and Sohrab and Gordafarid of Ferdowsi ( 10th century) . The second part was the Classic Persian Music, performed by the great artists, Soroush Izadi ( she is one the best Persian singer living in Vienna,), Jalal Akhbari ( the great master of Santour living in Paris)) and Dadmehr ( the talented player of Tombak living in Brussels). The amphitheatre was packed with people, that many had come from the areas as far as south of France ( 1100 Km.), Berlin ( 1500 Km.) and the neighboring countries. The program and the aim of the congress was introduced by Dr. Khosro Khazai, the Director of the Center, who welcomed the audience to see the aspects of Zoroastrian art and culture. The program was finished at 12 midnight.
Sunday the 31st of October Moderator: Mazyar Ghavidel (from Sweden)
This day was the last day of the congress and we had again a long day. The speeches started at 10 AM by Mr. Hassan Makaremi, from France who talked about “love in the two worlds, according to Hahez”. He analyzed the spiritual and material worlds in the Hafez poetry (14th century). Then it was the turn of Dr. Vandidad Golshani to speak about “the Sweet Dreams” introducing his latest publication. Immediately after, Mrs, Lily Kamkar Parsi who read one her writings about the great poet Ferdowsi (10th century) and the studies of the “Book of Kings” in India. These talks ended at 13h15. It was the time to have lunch. As it was Sunday and the University’s restaurant was closed, the collaborators of the Center had prepared different foods and drinks that were offered to the guests.
After the lunch at 14h30, Mr. Rasoul Bavari, an academic and diplomat from Afghanistan, spoke about the “reconstruction of Bamyian statues”. The conclusion was that these statues that are carved in the rocs can not be reconstructed. The next speaker was Mr. Dadmehr from Belgium. He talked about the Persian drum called ‘Tombak’. He concluded the this instrument is the most perfect percussion instrument in the world as it can be played at the same time by ten fingers. The third speaker of this Sunday afternoon was Mr. Keyvan Khosravani from France. He spoke about ‘Persian dress’ during Shah’s period. Showing many slides particularly of Farah Diba’s cloths, extremely refined, nice and well done by Iranian artists, mostly from the far away villages such as Balouchistan. The last speaker was Mrs. Zohreh Eskandari, programmed to speak about “construction of the Gathic language from the view point of the music and the sacred songs”. But unfortunately because of lack of time, she only gave a summary of her talk.
At 6 PM. as it was programmed, the speeches in English and French languages started. The audience was naturally made up of non-Persian speaking people. This part of program was chaired by Dr. Khosro Khazai. The first speaker was Mre. Monique Zetlaoui from France. She spoke in French about “the relationship between the Zoroastrism and Judaism”. She showed that she had a vast knowledge on both concepts. The Mrs. Fataneh Farid spoke about “Women in Zoroastrianism”. She was followed by Dr. Jafarey who spoke in English about the Achemenids in the Ferdowsi ‘s “Book of Kings”. Then a Parsi lady from India came to the podium and spoke about the conditions of the Parsis in today’s world, and said that the Parsis should accept some evolution and adaptation to the new conditions and allows some openness. Otherwise they will be vanished. At 9 PM. Dr. Khosro Khazai (Pardis) on the part of “European Centre for Zoroastrian Studies” in Brussels thanked the speakers and all those who had worked hard for months to make this congress a great success.
He thanked warmly the generous donators, Mr. Mouchehr Farhangi ( Spain), Mr. Mehraban Zartoshti ( USA), Mr. Abtin Sassanfar (France), Mr. F. Moradi (USA), Mrs. G. Farhangi, (Canada), Mr. and Mrs Anoshirvani (USA), Mr. Alayar Dabestani (USA). All we know that without the help of them nothing could be possible. The thanks went also to Mrs. Kerstin Windahl, Mrs. Jaleh Daftarian, Mr. Arya Azarmanesh, Mrs. Shabnam Shahinia, Mr. Maziar Ghavidel, Mr. Kianoush Shafii, Mrs Bahram Pounasiri and Mr. Ordoukhani for their constant effort, before and during this congress. In this congress, beside the speakers, we could see the active cultural personalities that had come from many countries. Among others we could meet Mr. Manoucheh Farhangi ( Spain), Dr. Farhang Mehr and wife Banou Parichehr (USA), Mr. Alayar Dabestani (USA), Mrs. Mehrafzoun Sassanfar, Mrs. Lili Hajazimi, Mrs. Sousan Behnam, Mr. Mir Fetros, Mr. Faramarz Dadras, Mrs Mariete Ghiaii, Mr, Parsi (France), Mr. Maziar Ghavidel,and Mrs Zoya Majd ( Sweden), Mr. Parsa Shirkhani (Norway), Mrs Ebtehaj and Mrs Pourchista ( England), Mrs Yazdan Seta, Mrs. Edalati, Mr. Berehnh Marsom, Mr, Sohrab Mobed ( Germany), Mr. Mehr Merain and Mr. Eskandar Soltani ( Holland). Those who wish to receive a copy of the film of the congress can contact Mr. Soltani, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
This report is prepared by Section for Information
 

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