SOAS University of London

SOAS launches new institute on Zoroastrianism in London

3 July 2018

SOAS University of London has launched its new SOAS Shapoorji Pallonji Institute of Zoroastrian Studies in central London.

Guests at the launch included SOAS’s patron, Shapoor Mistry, Chairman of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group; Pallon Mistry, non-Executive Director at AFCONS Infrastructure Ltd; Alun Evans, CEO of the British Academy; Rohinton Kalifa, Vice Chairman of Worldpay; Malcolm Deboo, President of Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe and Darayus Motivala, Hon. Sec. World Zoroastrian Organisation.

Zoroastrian Ins launch group photo

L-R: Dr Sarah Stewart, Baroness Valerie Amos, Shapoor Mistry and Professor Almut Hintze

In July last year SOAS was awarded a £5million gift to create this world-leading institute, which would become a resource dedicated to enhancing the research, learning and teaching in the field of one of the world’s oldest religions.

The SOAS Shapoorji Pallonji Institute of Zoroastrian Studies will become a resource dedicated to enhancing the research, learning and teaching in the field of one of the world’s oldest religions and strengthen SOAS’s relationship with the Zoroastrian community globally.

Speaking at the event, Mr Mistry said that the launch of the institute filled him with great pride, describing it as a “great journey that we are about to begin.”

He added: “These are the first baby steps that we take to protect our culture and religion [and] I’m sure that this initiative is the right initiative and the only way forward is with SOAS.”

Zoroastrian Inst patron speech

SOAS's patron Shapoor Mistry speaking at the event

The Director of SOAS Baroness Valerie Amos CH said: “Over a period some eighty years, SOAS has significantly promoted the study and understanding of Zoroastrianism and Iranian languages through engagement with the public, teaching and research.

“Today we celebrate this legacy in the form of a new institute, named fittingly after its supporters - the founder of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group and Shapoor’s grandfather Shapoorji Mistry, himself a philanthropist and highly successful captain of industry.

Baroness Amos gave her personal thanks to Mr Mistry and said that without the “transformational gift” this new institute would not have been possible. 

Co-chair of the new Institute, Dr Sarah Stewart, holder of the Shapoorji Pallonji Lectureship in Zoroastrianism, said: “I hope that many of you – colleagues at SOAS and members of the Zoroastrian community – will help us to shape the future of the Institute to make it the success that Shapoor Mistry and his family wish for and so richly deserve.”

Professor Almut Hintze also said a few words on this history of SOAS’s research in Zoroastrianism. Professor Hintze, Zartoshty Brothers Professor of Zoroastrianism, will also co-chair the institute with Dr Stewart.

Guests also enjoyed a traditional Zoroastrian prayer given in the Avestan language by Dastur Dr JamaspAsa.