Persian Philanthropy and the Dr. Elahe Omidyar Mir-Djalali Lecture Series
Image Courtesy of Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute
Philanthropy has been an inseparable component of the Persian identity since the first Persian kings. This ethos continues to be a thread throughout the dynamic history of the Persian people, both in and outside of Iran. However, the goals of philanthropy have taken on various forms as mentalities have shifted along chronological and geographical lines. Iranians living in the diaspora today maintain the value of contributing to higher education, which has been a pillar of Persian society since the Sassanid kings, who began the Academy of Gundishapur as centers of education in medicine, philosophy, and science. Similarly, an important fixture of Persian philanthropy today is the promotion of Persian cultural studies in universities. Such philanthropists include Dr. Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali, Fatema Soudavar Farmanfarmaian, Bita Daryabari, and many others.
As the chair and president of Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, Dr. Mir-Djalali plays a crucial role in the promotion of Persian Studies at various universities across the United States. Having received her PhD from Sorbonne University in Linguistics, Dr. Mir-Djalali has dedicated her career to supporting universities such as University of Maryland in the preservation and advancement of Persian culture as well as advocating for cross-cultural communication. Universities in the United States and Europe are truly indebted to her generosity, underscoring the value in naming the new cultural series at the Roshan Institute after her.
Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at UMD launched the Dr. Elahe Omidyar Mir-Djalali Lecture Series on Saturday, March 11 with a concert “Voices of Spring” performed by ustad Hossien Omoumi, Jessica Kenney, Amir Koushkani, and Hamin Honar. In the introductory remarks, Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz, Roshan Institute Chair in Persian Studies and Director of Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at University of Maryland, noted the great generosity of Dr. Mir-Djalali, and Roshan Institute’s appreciation for her recent donation for the purpose of starting this new series. “We are very delighted with this donation because it gives us the opportunity to be able to present such events without needing to go through the strenuous process of fundraising,” Dr. Keshavarz proclaimed. She held that such generous donations would allow Roshan Institute to organize events that caters to students, faculty, and the Iranian community.
Sai Teja Surapaneni, a Roshangar reporter, described the concert as a “peaceful, vibrant, rich and welcoming experience.” The concert upheld Dr. Omidyar Mir-Djalali’s values of encouraging cross-cultural communication by bringing communities together. Sai explains that although he was not able to understand the lyrics of the songs performed, he fully appreciated the universal nature of music as a medium. In addition, the program featured the documentary film, Classical Persian Music: Hossein Omoumi from Isfahan to Irvine, which gave the audience insight into the life of Dr. Omoumi. The event invited a diverse community to enjoy the masterful musicians and artists, while learning about Iranian culture and history.