The MUYA team organised or participated in a range of different events during the running time of the project (2016–2022). They included:
The evening served as a wonderful opportunity to showcase the 360-degree Yasna film as well as discuss some of the challenges and opportunities that new technologies such as Virtual Reality afford researchers.
The event also featured an engaging presentation by Dr. Sarah Stewart (SOAS) and Dr. Alexandra Buhler on the subject of digitising endangered languages, in particular, Zoroastrian Dari which is unwritten but still spoken by a small number of Zoroastrians in Iran. Through digitised oral testimony, attendees had the rare chance to hear Zoroastrian Dari being spoken by villagers and to watch them perform lay rituals.
The opening day of the event was marked by a presentation by Kerman Daruwalla on SOAS and its steadfast work on Zoroastrianism followed by the screening of a short video on the MUYA project. The presentation was attended by 700-800 delegates including media persons, prominent personalities of the Zoroastrian community from around the globe and key government officials. The highlight of the team’s presentation on the second day of the festival was MUYA’s Virtual Reality taster of the Yasna ritual. Brought to India for the first time through the festival’s platform, Ruzbeh Hodiwala hosted the viewing of the film pre-loaded on three 360° VR headsets, which he had carried to India for the purpose. More than a hundred delegates tried the demo which gives the user the completely immersive experience of being within the ritual. The students were also able to garner important feedback on the impact of the demo on the understanding of the ritual by the user. Around 70% of the delegates who viewed the 4D film expressed that they either knew nothing or only little about the ritual before taking the experience. 95% of delegates responded that the VR experience contributed to their knowledge and understanding of the ritual and would help them describe the Yasna ritual better. Out of the total delegates who participated, 83% identified themselves as Zoroastrians.
Moreover, the students had the opportunity to demonstrate the digitisation and cataloguing work done at the Dastur Kayoji Mirza Institute library in Udvada by the SOAS team of the Multimedia Yasna (MUYA) research project at the Shapoorji Pallonji Institute. The Udvada manuscript collection at the library was exhibited to the public for the first time during the festival, and it was visited by around seventy people. Kerman Daruwalla gave them a tour of the library, along with a brief overview of the digitization project completed by the SOAS team in January 2019.
MUYA’s principal investigator Prof. Almut Hintze and post-doctoral scholars Celine Redard and Mehrbod Khanizadeh were instrumental in helping the students to curate their presentations at the festival. SOAS-SPIZS participation at the festival received media coverage from the national, local and Parsi Press.
As reported by Kerman Daruwalla and Ruzbeh Hodiwala.
Press clippings of the event: Gujarat gears up for Parsi festival, પારસી સમાજની 'યાસના વિધિ' અંગે ઉદવાડા ઈરાનશા ઉત્સવમાં 4D ટીઝર દર્શાવાયું, Iranshah Udvada Utsav 2019 Lives Up To Its Promise Of Bigger And Better!!, and ‘The blessings of Iranshah’.