The Doc Project

Becoming my mother's priest: keeping Zoroastrianism alive in Canada

At the young age of eight, did you know what you wanted to do with the rest of your life? Well, Hormuz Javat knew what he wanted to be. He made a choice, and he’s sticking with it: Hormuz decided to begin his training to become a Zoroastrian priest.
Hormuz Javat, age 14, in the Zoroastrian temple in Oakville, Ontario. (Sujata Berry)
Listen to the full episode27:30
Hormuz after being ordained at age 12. (Mahveer Javat)
At the young age of eight, did you know what you wanted to do with the rest of your life? Well, Hormuz Javat knew what he wanted to be. He made a choice, and he's sticking with it: Hormuz decided to begin his training to become a Zoroastrian priest.

You have to start early because it takes four years, and ordination happens at the ripe age of 12.

There are about 10,000 Zoroastrian followers living in Canada, but there aren't enough Zoroastrian spiritual leaders to sustain the community. It's an ancient religion, with ancient traditions — traditions that some say need updating if the religion is going to survive.

Keeping Zoroastrianism alive in Canada

Doc Project associate producer Julia Pagel traveled to Southwestern Ontario where the dreams of the Zoroastrian community are being cultivated and beginning to grow new roots. They hope to make international Zoroastrian history by building a consecrated place of worship so that, for the first time, priests can be ordained outside of India.

Mahveer Javat (Hormuz's dad), Jamshed Dhabhar (priest), and Phil Sidhwa (head of the place of worship) are standing next to the vessel for the sacred fire, awaiting its home in the new temple.
Designs for the new fire temple.
Jamshed Dhabhar unwraps the vessel for the sacred fire.

About the producer

Sujata Berry
Sujata Berry is a veteran producer who has been honing her radio skills for four years now at CBC Radio One's The Current. Prior to that she produced television documentaries and current affairs programs for The National. She developed her fascination with the Parsi community early in life, having spent her childhood surrounded by Parsi friends and neighbours in Mumbai.