The Making of a Darbe Mehr
The Zoroastrian Association of Metropolitan Chicago (ZAC) has been serving
the spiritual, cultural and social needs of the Chicago Zarathushti community
since its founding in 1975. The Arbab Rustom Guiv Darbe Mehr, Zoroastrian Center
of Chicago, in Hinsdale is the vibrant hub of Zarthushtis in the Midwest. ZAC
offers a myriad of services for the community.
- The ZAC monthly newsletter is the official mouthpiece of the association
and is sent at no charge to all Zarthushtis in the Metropolitan Chicago
area, as well to all Zarthushti associations.
- The Darbe Mehr is open to all every Sunday afternoon, when prayers are
offered by a Mobed
- Monthly meetings are held on the second Sunday of each month with the
humbandagi, Atash Nyaesh, and Tandarosti prayers, a traditional Parsi/Irani
lunch by host families and a program. In addition to discussion of religious
subjects, topics have varied from financial planning, drug/alcohol
awareness, home safety and college preparations to healthcare and Western
- Observance of religious holidays and festivals, such as gahambars and
jashans. On Avan Ardvisoor nu Parab, members gather at the Darbe Mehr to
make several hundred dar-ni-poris. Full Muktah praters are offered for the
five Gatha days.
- Large numbers of private functions, navjotes, weddings, birthday parties
and other celebrations are held.
- Children and Youth Sleepovers are held regularly, to foster friendship
among Zarthushti youth.
- Religion Education Classes are held regularly for children, youth and
- Religion Education camps are organized at the Darbe Mehr.
- Financial support is provided to local young adult priests to undergo the
Navar ordainment ceremony.
- ZAC sponsors one young priest at the Dadar Athornan Madressa in Mumbai by
paying the Madressa fees for his boarding and lodging. ZAC encourages others
to also support this very worthwhile cause.
- Every few years, ZAC also sponsors and supports an ordained priest to
settle in Chicago, thereby promoting the number of mobeds serving the
community, while at the same time providing the mobed an opportunity to
immigrate to the USA.
- Financial assistance is provided to all youth who attend Youth congresses.
The amount of assistance is dependant on the youths participation at ZAC.
- Financial loan scholarships are provided to needy Zarthushtis.
- Debt Elimination and Financial Independence education is provided when
- The Library and Learning Center is well stocked with books, tapes, videos,
in English, Persian, and Gujarati, with subscriptions to Zarthushti journals
- The Weekend Tutoring program by the youth for the youth is popular. The
Darbe Mehr stays open on Sundays for youth to congregate to do homework and
get guidance and tutoring from other older youth - truly making it an
extended Learning Center.
- ZAC has periodically invited scholars and priests (Dasturji Kotwal, Ervad
Ramiyar Karanjia, Dasturji Minocherhomji, Khojeste Mistree, etc) for an
extended stay with member families to conduct a series of religion education
- ZAC members have been generous in responding with financial assistance to
those in need due to medical calamities, locally as well as internationally.
- There is a "Welcome Wagon" service for those who are new to the
- A "calling tree" has been established to disseminate urgent
information (such as deaths, funerals) to all members.
- In case of death, complete four-days of traditional prayer
ceremonies are offered by our mobeds.
- Navjote preparation training is offered and navjote ceremonies are
performed by our mobeds.
- Wedding and baby showers are held for old and new families. Wedding
ceremonies are performed by our mobeds.
- Senior citizen outings and all-day get-togethers at the home of host families,
are organized each month to enable the seniors to socialize and enjoy each
- The Zarthushti Choir is available to sing Gujarati and Persian songs (such
as Chhaiye Hame Zarathushti, Kon Ashem Vohu, festive navjote and wedding
songs) for various occasions.
- A Speakers Forum has been established, which is a pool of knowledgeable
persons available to represent our religion to Interfaith and other groups.
- ZAC members are actively involved with local and national interfaith
bodies, such as the Parliment of World Religions and United Religions, and
take an active part in interfaith dialog and services.
- The Darbe Mehr is host, quite often, to visiting groups of school/college
students, interfaith, and other groups. A series of posters on the religion
aids in making the presentation for such visits.
- Ministerial services. ZAC pays a priest to visit and serve the needy and
sick elders of the community at their residences, hospital or nursing home.
He prays with them, assists them in transportation and routine chores such
as purchasing groceries, banking, collecting mail, taking home cooked meals,
and acts as a liaison between them and the community. This program is
supported by a $30 per month (a dollar a day) donation to the ZAC Mobed
Employment Fund from patrons an well wishers. Other ministerial services are
in the planning stage.
- The Darbe Mehr building and facilities are bursting at the seams. ZAC is
currently undergoing a phased building expansion program. Funds are
collected from donations and fund-raising events. All planning,
architectural and general contracting services are provided gratis by ZAC
- ZAC is very committed to keeping Parsi and Irani members together, and
celebrate both Iranian festivals and ceremonies.
All the above activities and programs are possible because of the dedication
and commitment of the men, women and children of the ZAC, for which we are
eternally grateful to Ahura Mazda.