Zarathushtis, who are also referred to as Zoroastrians by Western scholars, are the followers of the Holy Prophet Zarathushtra Spitaman, who preached the first monotheistic religion in antiquity in Persia (probably circa 1500 to 1800 Before Common Era, or earlier, according to the studies and research by the scholars in Avesta and Pahlavi languages).
From humble beginnings in the mid-sixties when the first wave of Zarathushtis immigrated to Canada, and as their numbers began to grow in and around Toronto, the Zoroastrian Society of Ontario (ZSO) was founded and registered in 1971 as a not for profit religious organization. Today, the ZSO is the largest association of Zarathushtis on this Continent. The Province of Ontario, Canada's most populous province is the engine and power house of Canada. Here thousands of Zarathushtis call it their home. Zarathushtis from India and Pakistan are usually referred to as “Parsees” and their mother tongue is primarily Gujarati, whereas those from Iran are primarily Farsi speaking. In Ontario many cultures and ethnic groups have come to live together in harmony and peace and in a sea of harmonious cultural change.
In the early years, the ZSO was holding meetings and activities in rental locations. As the Zarathushti population grew, there was a greater need to have a central place to carry out our religious, educational, social, sports and recreational activities. The dream for a centre became a reality through the philanthropy of Arbab Rustom Guiv, a prominent Zarathusti of Iran. With his vision for Zarathushtis to meet and practice their religion in a central place, and his extremely generous cash donation, our current location at 3590 Bayview Avenue was acquired and improvements completed to include a large assembly hall.
The official inaugural jashan ceremony of the Darbe Mehr was on September 21, 1980. Arbab Rustam Guiv and his wife Morvarid were in California and were unable to attend. Hence, his closest friend, Dr. Rustam Sarfeh attended on his behalf. There was a formal dinner in the evening attended by the then Attorney General of Ontaio, Roy McMurtry, Mayor of the City of North York, Mel Lastman and many other members from the North York City Council.
Arbab Rustam Guiv and his wife Morvarid Khanum
The centre is known as the Mehraban Guiv Darbe Mehr Zoroastrian Temple and is named after Arbab Guiv's nephew, Mehraban Guiv, who passed away at a very young age. He was a florist by profession and it was known that his philanthropy knew no bounds; he was known to help everyone who he thought needed his help and assistance. The property is owned by a Trust known as the Rustom Guiv Foundation of Ontario (RGFO) and is leased in perpetuity for 999 years to the ZSO at a nominal sum of one cent a year. There are four (4) conditions which were stipulated by Arbab Guiv when he made the donation:
1. The name “Mehraban Guiv Darbe Mehr Zoroastrian Temple” must not be changed for any reason.
2. No gambling and no political meetings to be held on premises.
3. The place must be open to all Zoroastrians and their spouses, regardless of their faith, as long as they follow the rules posted by the ZSO.
4. Any request for a change to the property must be approved by the RGFO Board. The request will not be unreasonably denied by the Board.
It has served as the centre of the ZSO's activities since 1980.
The Mehraban Guiv Zoroastrian Temple is now a very busy center for the Fasli and Shahenshai Muktads, Gahambars, jashans, navjote and “sudreh pushin” ceremonies, weddings, post funeral prayers, as well as for youth sports, library, religion classes for children and adults and for the activities of the ZSO sponsored “First Zoroastrian – 100th Toronto Scout Group” meetings.