Zoroastrians from India, Iran and Pakistan started migrating to Australia in the late 1960s. Amongst those families were Akhtar and Nawzar Ostowari our quiet benefactors who have made an enormous contribution to the Zoroastrian community in Australia.
As our numbers increased there was a lot of socialization. From a humble beginning of about 25 adults, the Australian Zoroastrian Association of NSW took shape and today by the abundant Grace of Ahura Mazda there are at least 1500 Zoroastrians in NSW. From meeting at individual's houses, today we are the proud owners of the first and still the only Darbe Meher in the Southern Hemisphere.
In 1971 the Australian Zoroastrian Association of New South Wales was established and registered under the Charitable Collections Act of NSW. 1970 to 1980 were our formative years. Committees were formed, religious and social activities were held, our newsletter distribution had started in those formative - years keeping the community well informed. In 1982 our Newsletter was formally called "Manashni".
AZA held its first Jashan for the community in January 1977 and continues to hold jashan ceremonies annually. Our Association's first Sunday School was held in April 1977 at a Church Hall in Sydney and finally we started to hold our classes in the new premises at Annangrove in 1986.
In 1978 on Jamshedi Navruz day the Association decided to have a place of our own and fund raising activities began in earnest, but for a long time this just remained a dream. Money trickled in ever so slowly. Then came the big impetus when Nawzar and Akhtar Ostowari magnanimously donated a huge sum of money without any conditions attached. AZA of NSW was incorporated as a Public Company in 1984.
In December 1985 Zoroastrians in NSW saw their dream come true. With the grace of Ahura Mazda the Australian Zoroastrian Association purchased AZA House - A Place To Call Our Own in the quiet, serene and leafy suburb of Annangrove. This five acre property with a small house that was later converted to include a small hall and prayer room was purchased with funds raised entirely from our local members and the magnanimous donation from the Ostowari family. In February 1986 the Zoroastrian Community in Sydney held an Inauguration Jashan at AZA House in Annangrove.
1988 was a worrisome year for our community as we were not allowed to use our premises because of local council zoning regulations and the property was locked up. With determination and will power we did not let our Sunday School be disrupted and continued to hold our classes regularly from 1989 to 1994 at Thornleigh Public School with parents sitting in the verandahs of the school braving the cold winter mornings of Sydney just so that our future torch bearers could interact with each other and form a close friendship with their fellow Zorro mates. In 1990 we decided to go to court and win the right to use our property and by the grace of Ahura Mazda we won the court battle thanks to some of our zealous community members.
In 1988 The Ostowari family got busy again and obtained another huge donation for the Association - this time from the Zarthoshty Brothers of Canada - Mehraban and Fareidoon Zarthoshty. Subsequently they also succeeded in securing the release of a large donation from the Arbab Rustom Guiv Trust, a truly magnificent gift from our late benefactors Arbab Rustom and Khanum Morvarid Guiv. In 1993 our funds received another major boost from the Incorporated Trustees of the Zoroastrian Charity Funds of Hong Kong.
Construction of our Darbe Meher commenced in January 1994 and our dear Nawzar Ostowari himself personally and single handedly supervised the construction of the beautiful Darbe Meher, the Kebla and the landscaped gardens with the water fountain at the entrance. On 24 July 1994 a proud community celebrated the inauguration of our Darbe Meher with a jashan. The Community also were in the limelight in 1995 ABC TV telecasted a religious ceremony at our Darbe Meher.
In June 1995 the Community once again proudly celebrated their Silver Jubilee Year with a Jashan and Ghambar.The power of prayers was felt by the children and adults alike amid the wafts of the fragrance of sandalwood and loban.
Since 1995 to date the various hard working Committees have achieved much with the help of the whole community and today we enjoy a feeling of pride and belonging to the community and contribute to playing an active role thereby ensuring our legacy and customs are preserved for our children and their future generations.
With a united commitment, dedication and generosity of donors both local and overseas we have marched forward and achieved much. Today our beautiful Darbe Meher, a place of worship and community activities, sprawling five acres of landscaped and bush surroundings including a tranquil billabong and fruit trees is the envy of many who visit us from overseas.
May our numbers increase, may we all continue to flourish! Atha Jamyad, Yatha Afrinami!