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Doorway to Joy’s July 2022 Retreat in Santa Cruz 

Finding our path to happiness and joy

by Trity Pourbahrami


We came from various walks of life and from across the state, some of us drove the entire day to get there.  We were greeted by the sound of ocean waves, welcoming faces, and messages from the Persian poet Hafiz.  My message said,

“I wish I could show you,

When you are lonely or in the darkness,

The Astonishing Light

Of your own Being!” - Hafiz


I had been in the darkness for much of the previous year, as I went through cancer treatment in the middle of the COVID 19 pandemic. Two and a half months earlier, I got the invitation from Doorway to Joy for a women's spiritual retreat based on ancient Iranian teachings with the theme of “free to be happy.” We were invited to come together to pray, meditate, sing, dance, laugh, and enjoy the beauty of nature. I immediately signed-up!


We started our days with guided meditation before gathering to enjoy a delicious and locally sourced breakfast in the dining room overlooking the Pacific Ocean. After breakfast, we gathered to remember and reflect on the teachings of Zarathushtra in the Gathas.  Our group of multi-generational women discussed what radiant happiness looks like in our lives.  We shared what blocks our happiness. We used watercolors to connect with Asha and the rhythm of our collective creativity and to encourage each other to be free to be happy. We could feel our interconnectedness and a shared sense of purpose.  We gained strength from each other and reflecting on the many generations of resilient and joyful women who came before us.


As we walked on the sand and gathered around the campfire, we raised our voices in joy and sang ancient Zoroastrian hymns, calling to the many generations who came before us.  It was not lost on us that many of our ancestors did not have a voice and needed to stay quiet to survive.  We raised our voices and built trust to try and address the multi-generational trauma experienced by our community.


Our way forward is to learn to embody Spenta Meinyu the progressive and expansive mentality that counters the constriction and destruction of Angra Mainyu. During our few days together, we started to build a divine bridge that interweaves the ancient Gothic ways with our modern ways of living, interlacing the old with the new.  We invite you to join us next time we gather, to share your joy and learn with us how to be free to be happy.


Trity Pourbahrami is a boundary spanner with 20 years of international experience

in strategic communications, science communication, and employee engagement

spanning the higher education, government, philanthropic, and corporate sectors.

She is an inclusive leader with a proven track record of effectively engaging diverse

groups and supporting organizations as well as their stakeholders with transformational

efforts. Currently, she leads communications for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s

science program.  Before joining the foundation, she was director of communications at the

California Institute of Technology.  Trity earned her Bachelor of Science degrees in physics

and physiology from the University of British Columbia and her master’s degree in social

welfare and public administration from the University of Hawai’i. She was born in Iran and

moved to Canada with her family during the Iran-Iraq war. She is raising two teens with

her husband of over 20 years, Peter Capak.  


“Come Home to Wisdom”

a ½ day spiritual retreat organized by Doorway to Joy

by Natalie Cango

"Natalie was born to a Parsi father and Canadian mother outside of Toronto, Canada. She grew up in San Jose and became involved in the Zoroastrian community from a young age. She volunteers at the summer Z-Camp for teens, she helped create a mini documentary showcasing the San Francisco Bay Area Zoroastrian community, she was the producer for a professional photography project which raised funds for the community, she serves on the NCZC committee, and she has spoken at worldwide Zoroastrian conferences. Needless to say, the Zoroastrian community is near and dear to her heart, and she would like to see it continue to flourish in North America. Apart from her involvement in the community, Natalie is pursuing her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, focusing on the interaction between physical and mental health."

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The 1st Zoroastrian Women Retreat in Santa Cruz, CA

by Artemis Javanshir

​On the weekend of June 29, 2018, I was one of the lucky ladies to attend the 1st Zoroastrian Women Retreat. This retreat was organized with the vision and hard work of Dolat Bolandi and Armita Dalal in collaboration with Persian Zoroastrian Organization (PZO).


We gathered at Villa Maria Del Mar nestled in the city of Santa Cruz, right by the ocean. Hearing the waves against the sandy beach, and feeling the cool air against my skin, I was ready to have a new experience. I was not disappointed. There were about 30 women participants from San Diego all the way to San Jose.


The retreat accommodated both, English and Persian speaking ladies hence closing the gap between generations and nationalities. Overnight, the wonderful ladies of the retread, with compassion, strength and unity raised $2700 towards the new Zoroastrian Center in the Bay Area. We gathered together in meditation, relaxing our minds; savoring the sweet voices of Nooshin Jahangiri and Farangis Jahanian Pishdadi singing the Gatha’s versus, Ashem Vohu and Yatha Ahu prayers in the Avestan language and pondering over their meanings by taking in the ancient and yet modern words. Stretching our bodies as well as our minds through the yoga movements instructed by Armita Pishdadi, our certified yoga instructor, brought us closer to one another.


There were many unifying moments, including the Chakra blue stone I picked as a symbol of Earth and my part in taking care of it; the band wrapped around my wrist while reciting the ancient prayer of Ashem Vohu and Yatha Ahu to seal and carry my connection to my roots and the wonderful women around me. The anticipation of melting the candles imbedded in “esfand” which we made in the sand-dunes at the beach, a project organized and led by Delbar Jahanian, the joy of lighting it and having the smell of our “Atash-kadeh” at my home.


The connection I felt was extended through many generations of Zoroastrian women, felt by everyone in an elegant poem recited by the poet herself, Yasmin Kouchesfahani paving the way for sharing intimate stories of old, and new which connected us to our shared history and beliefs.


The best gift the 1st Zoroastrian Women's Retreat gave me was hope. It provided an environment for women of different generations to come together in an atmosphere of understanding and kindness. I came home with the hope that my girls will join me and the other women of their community in strength and unity in similar retreats in the future.



Artemis Javanshir holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from California State University,    

Long Beach (CSULB), and a second bachelor's degree in dental hygiene from the University of

Southern California (USC). She is the co-chair of the FEZANA Religion Education Committee,

where she has led projects such as age-appropriate lesson plans, informational sheets about the

Zoroastrian religion, Zoom talks, and the Oral History Project, in collaboration with her co-chairs,

other religion teachers and accredited teachers. Artemis is an active member of the Core Education

Committee at the California Zoroastrian Center in  Los Angeles, where she teaches Persian history,

religion, and language classes. In 2021, she joined the California Zoroastrian Center's Public Relations

Committee, providing information about the Zoroastrian religion to interested individuals.

Her greatest joy is working with the youth. She has organized essay, short story, and drawing contests

to help younger community members become more familiar with the teachings of Zarathushtra.

Artemis has been the recipient of the California Zoroastrian Center, 2020 Zoroastrian of the year

Soshiant Award. 

She lives in Southern California with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs.

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