UNESCO Conference: “2003: The 3000th Anniversary of Zoroastrian Culture” (2003)

Based on a proposal submitted by his Excellency the President of Tajikistan to UNESCO of United Nations, the year 2003 was officially recognized as “2003: the 3000th Anniversary of Zoroastrian Culture.” Tajikistan and several other countries celebrated this immense event by organizing different programs to spread the teachings of Ashu Zartosht, the prophet and founder of Zoroastrianism, to the world. The California Zoroastrian Center (CZC) also organized and provided additional educational programs and seminars to expand and spread the philosophy of Ashu Zartosht. The CZC, in partnership and cooperation with national and international organizations, hosted a gala event to celebrate the 3000th Anniversary of Zoroastrian Culture on December 19-21, 2003 at Anaheim Convention Center, in Orange County (southern California). The event was coordinated by Dr. Khosro E. Mehrfar. The main objective of this event was to create a global awareness of Zarathushtra’s contributions to the advancement of humanity and human civilization.

Most of the proceeding of the conference featuring academic scholars was broadcast live on Asian Satellite TV and was beamed into the Middle East and the globe over. The theme of this international event under the above UNESCO title was “The Ancient Persian and Zoroastrian Ethics and Today’s World Affairs.” The event started on Friday, December 19 with a reception party from 3-9 p.m. Friends and guests around the world gathered at the California Zoroastrian Center, where cheese and wine, tea and coffee and assortment of fruits were served based on ancient Persian traditions.

The event continued the next day at 9:00 a.m. with a conference at the Anaheim Convention Center, with speakers from Canada, Europe and U.S. from academia, government and mass media (see speaker list below). The languages of the conference were English and Farsi. In between each speech, there was classical music with traditional dances with folkloric themes, and messages from various organizations and individuals around the world were read. The conference included the American and Iranian national athems, Persian classic dance and music and world peace prayers. The president of Tajikistan, UN/UNESCO officials, the governor elect of California, U.S. federal, and regional government authorities, representatives of the press and media, including CNN, were invited to participate in the opening or at the gala banquet receptions. Also on Saturday was a recognition of appreciation for those who have selflessly dedicated themselves to spreading the humane and Universal messages of mantras Zarathsuhtra to “Refresh This World” with their Good Deeds. The conference ended at 5:00 p.m.

The night gala started at 8:00 p.m. at Proud Bird, in LAX airport, with scholars, celebrities, authorities, and artists in attendance. Multiple singers performed, various shows were conducted and dinner was served.

The last day of the event was December 21, the “Day of Heritage” at the California Zoroastrian Center. The Center presented various cultural programs presenting rich aspects of Persian and Zoroastrian heritage dating back millennia with a variety of folk dances, customs, traditional ceremonies, historical events and shows. In addition, a forum based open discussion was conducted for those who needed to ask more questions from the scholars at the conference. Following is a list of speakers who presented at the conference:

  • Justice of the Peace, Honorable Magistrate Shahin Bekhradnia of World Zoroastrian Organization – Oxford, England
  • Dr. Dolly P. Dastoor, Chair of the Educational Committee, McGill Center, Past President of Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America and Previous Chair of the International Committee on Status of Women – Quebec, Canada
  • Professor Stanley Insler of Yale University, Holder of the Salisbury Chair for Sanskrit & Comparative Philology – Connecticut, USA
  • Dr. Ali A. Jafarey, Director of Religious Affairs, the Zarathushtrian Assembly – Anaheim, USA
  • Dr. Khosro Khazaie, Director of European Center for Zoroastrian Studies in Brussels and Scientific Researcher in History and Archaeology, at University of Sydney, Australia, University of Gent and University of Brussels – Brussels, Belgium
  • Professor Emeritus Farhang Mehr of Boston University, Professor on International Relations, Past President of Shiraz (Pahlavi) University, Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Finance Minister, Previous Representative of Iran on OPEC’s Board of Governors and Founding Member of the Ancient Iranian Culture Society – Boston, USA
  • Honorable District Attorney of Orange County and Past Presiding Judge by the Chief Justice of California, Appellate Department of the Superior Court and the Judge of the Municipal Court and Superior Court by Governors of California for Complex Criminal Cases, Tony Rackauckas – Santa Ana, USA

—Dr. Khosro E. Mehrfar