What is Zoroastrian Return to Roots?
The aim of Zoroastrian Return to Roots is to bring together young Zoroastrians from across the world to return to their roots, reconnect with their culture, and revive the community. Participants (‘Fellows’) explore various significant Zoroastrian historical, religious, cultural, and archaeological sites in India over short trips of about 10 days in length.
Who are these trips for?
This program is designed for Zoroastrian youth who live in the diaspora who want to explore their religion, culture, ethnicity, and identity alongside fellow Zoroastrians while being exposed to local heritage and customs in India. These trips expose Zoroastrian youth to opportunities available in India and are designed to encourage them to take leadership roles in their local communities upon returning.
Is there more than one type of trip?
Yes. There are currently two types of trips and alternate on an annual basis. The inaugural Return to Roots trip (Track A) took place in December 2013 – January 2014 and exposed participants to Zoroastrian religion, culture, and history and Parsi businesses. The trip involved visits to consecrated Agiaries and Atash Behrams around Mumbai, Udvada, Surat, Navsari, and Sanjan.
The first Track B trip took place in March 2015. It involved visiting Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and various sites in Gujarat. This track focuses on engaging Zoroastrian youth in the diaspora who want to explore their culture, community, and the opportunities in India. Fellows will be exposed to the work local Indian Zoroastrians are doing in business, science, government, philanthropy, arts, and education. This track is open to anyone who comes from Zoroastrian parentage and who has had a navjote (Sudre Pooshi) ceremony.
What impact do these trips have on the participants?
One of the key aims of this program is to foster a sense of community amongst Fellows and for individuals to contribute to the institutions they visit as well as the program even after they have participated. Another aim of the trip is for participants to understand and realize the influence Parsis have had on modern-day India. Fellows also understand and experience first-hand the meaning behind our long-standing religious customs and traditions.
The Fellows from the first Return to Roots trip returned from India with a deep understanding and appreciation for our small but powerful community. Fellows are becoming more involved with their local Zoroastrian associations, giving back to the community, and encouraging other youth to participate in Return to Roots.
For further information about our alumni please look at our Fellows page.
Who organizes the logistics of the trip?
The trips will be organized by the Return to Roots organizing committee in conjunction with TBI Tours. We will assist with booking your round trip flight tickets to India, but participants are financially responsible for any changes to the flight itinerary once booked.
Will there be trips to Iran?
We plan to introduce similar trips to Iran in the future. However, current political circumstances in the country make it very difficult to travel there at this point. Although the current itinerary only includes India, we are especially keen to have Iranian Zoroastrian youth participate in the India trips.
When is the next trip?
The next trip will take place in March 2016.
FOR POTENTIAL FELLOWS
Who is eligible?
Return to Roots groups consist of Fellows from all over the world between the ages of 20 to 40. Future tours may also include participants outside of this age range. We aim to include an equal number of men and women.
Do both my parents have to be Zoroastrian?
No. Those who have at least one Zoroastrian parent and who have had their navjote (Sudre Pooshi) are eligible to participate on Track B trips. For Track A trips, your father must be Zoroastrian in order to participate (as these trips involve visits to Atash Behrams, Agiarys etc.).
One of my parents is Zoroastrian but I have not had my navjote (Sudre Pooshi). Can I still participate?
Unfortunately you may not participate in Tracks A and B.
I am not Zoroastrian but am interested in participating. Can I apply?
Return to Roots is exclusively targeted towards Zoroastrians. If you are interested in a tour as a scholar please contact us and we will try and assist with your query.
Do I have to pay for the trip? How do I pay?
Each participant will be asked to contribute $3,000 USD (about 180,000 INR) towards the cost of the trip. We understand that not everyone will be able to afford such a trip and so we are willing to reduce the contribution on a needs-basis. We also request participants to obtain sponsorship if they cannot afford this themselves. Please note that the contribution amount from participants may change for future trips. More information will be provided once Fellows are accepted to participate in a trip.
Payment will be accepted by Indian cheques or wire transfer to PARZOR. For instructions on how to remit payment to PARZOR, please click here.
When is the deadline to apply for the next trip?
The deadline for the next trip is 15 February 2016. Note, applications are accepted on a rolling-basis. Submit your email address in the form in our right sidebar here and we will notify you when the application goes live.
When will I find out about the status of my application?
You will receive a decision response within one month of the application deadline.
How do I make sure I can travel with my friends?
There is no guarantee that you and your friends will be selected for the same trip. We have a limited number of slots for applicants from each geographic region. Part of the idea of Return to Roots is to introduce Fellows from disparate parts of the world.
What if I am unable to go at the last minute?
If you are unable to go for credible reasons we will either refund you or hold a place for you on the next trip. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.
If I am not selected for this session, can I apply again for a future trip?
Yes. We encourage people to reapply if they are not selected after their first application and they will be given preference.
I would like to participate but cannot go this upcoming session. Will there be future trips?
Yes. We aim to have one trip per year. Please see the Trips section or sign up for our newsletter for updates on forthcoming trips.← link to Trips section
Can I apply for more than one trip?
Yes, but you may only participate in one trip per year. Applications do not carry over from each trip. If you would like to register for a future trip, please submit an application when registration for that particular trip opens.
Do I need a visa to travel to India?
If you do not have an Indian passport, an NRI/OCI card, or an Indian resident visa, then you require a visa to visit India. Fellows are responsible for applying for and purchasing their own Indian visa.
Do I need health insurance? What about travel insurance?
Yes. You need to purchase health and travel insurance before you fly from your home country.
What if I have to leave during the trip? Will I get my money back?
Please note that if you fail to complete the Program for any reason aside from death of close relative or serious medical emergency of self (supported by documentation), you will be required to compensate RTR for the costs incurred during your absence.
FOR POTENTIAL DONORS
How can I donate to Return to Roots?
Please go to the Contribute section of the website.
If I donate to Return to Roots how are the funds used?
All funds are used to support each Fellow on their trip. Funds are used to provide accommodations, food, transportation, etc. for Fellows.
How much does the trip cost per participant?
The cost for one participant is about $5,000 USD (approx. 305,500 INR).
FOR POTENTIAL PARTNERS
I own a business/restaurant in India and would like to support the program. How can I get involved?
We endeavour to patronize Parsi businesses during our trips. If you would like to become a partner or would like us to visit your business, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I volunteer to support the program and its activities from outside India?
Yes. If you are interested in supporting the Roots program, please contact us