About the Project
The Neo-Zoroastrian Project is an academic undertaking by Mr. Ruzbeh Hodiwala, a Ph.D. student at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London under the supervision of 𝐃𝐫. 𝐀𝐥𝐦𝐮𝐭 𝐇𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐳𝐞, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐙𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐡𝐭𝐲 𝐁𝐫𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐟𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐫 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐙𝐨𝐫𝐨𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐦, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐀𝐫𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐧 𝐀𝐝𝐢𝐛-𝐌𝐨𝐠𝐡𝐚𝐝𝐝𝐚𝐦, 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐟𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐫 𝐢𝐧 𝐆𝐥𝐨𝐛𝐚𝐥 𝐓𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐏𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐨𝐬𝐨𝐩𝐡𝐢𝐞𝐬.
Authors and academics use the term 'Zoroastrians-by-choice' or 'Neo-Zoroastrians' to refer to those Zoroastrian adherents who were born to non-Zoroastrian parents - where both mother and father are non-Zoroastrians. These are known as 'Zoroastrians by choice' in common discourse, in contrast to those who by reason of birth are Zoroastrians. These individuals voluntarily underwent a Sedreh-Pushi/Navjote – the Zoroastrian initiation ceremony – or identify themselves as Zoroastrians irrespective of having undergone a Sedreh-Pushi ceremony due to unfavourable socio-political circumstances.
The idea of the project dates back to 2015 when out of curiosity the researcher had travelled to Europe and stayed with a group of ‘New-Zoroastrians’ and interviewed them for an independent article that never saw the light of the day. Instead, it was decided to use the findings to formulate a wider project to study the Neo-Zoroastrian settlements globally and understand their interaction with the established Zoroastrian communities – of those who were born to Zoroastrian parent/s. The project involves an academic exercise spanning postgraduate (2016-17) and doctoral studies (2019-23) in contemporary Zoroastrianism, under the expertise of academics at SOAS, University of London.
The project involves travelling to various countries in order to spend time and interact with the 'Zoroastrians-by-choice' and attend their socio-cultural and religious gatherings. This also includes meetings and interactions with Zoroastrians – those born to Zoroastrian parent/s - to understand their knowledge, perceptions, and attitudinal patterns towards the Zoroastrians-by-choice and evaluate the challenges of interaction between the two communities in Europe and North America. Since 2015, the researcher has travelled to parts of Europe, North America, and the Caucasus to conduct the study.