Zoroastrianism is an ancient pre-Islamic monotheistic Iranian religion (“Good Faith honoring the Wise”) that preaches the free moral choice of good deeds, thoughts and words.
It was founded by the reformer prophet Zoroaster (Zaratustra) in the 6th or 7th centuries BC (or possibly even earlier). Its modern variants survived until the 20th century in isolated areas of Iran and are also professed in some parts of India (especially in Bombay) by descendants of Iranian immigrants known as Parsis. For this reason, the religion of India is also known as Parsism.
Zoroastrianism is a dogmatic religion which has a developed system and nine basics, according to which Zoroastrians believe. These are:
In European parts of the world, Zoroastrianism is called Mazdaism. This name is based on the name of God and is considered obsolete, although it is very similar to the very name of the Zoroastrian faith—Mazdayasna (Veneration of Mazda). Other names of Zoroastrianism are based on the word “good” (Good worldview, Good faith, Good consciousness) and define the name of adherents as faithful (Behdin).
Zoroastrianism prescribes “good thoughts, good words, good deeds.” In the traditions of the religion, there are specific holidays and rituals. Adherents undergo a rite of initiation, which is called “navjote.” Zoroastrians attach special importance to fire, considering it a symbol of morality and purity, as well as a source of light and warmth.
The communities of Zoroastrians are called Andjomans. Actively participating in the life of the community is considered a daily duty of every Zoroastrian, as well as the recitation of a five-fold prayer (gahi). It is recommended to read it individually or collectively in the temples of fire.
In this religion, there are no prohibitions on food. The basic rule is that food should be useful. Careful treatment of animals is one of the main concepts. Thus, one of the spiritual creations of Zoroaster—Vohu Mana—patronizes the cattle, and the other five emanations are fire, metal, earth, water, plants and man.
Followers believe that their religion was discovered by the Supreme God named Ahura Mazda, or “The Wise Lord,” by way of a priest named Zaratustra (or Zoroaster, as the Greeks called him). Central to Zoroastrianism is the deep separation between good and evil, and the idea that the world was created by God, Ahura Mazda, so that the two forces could interact and evil could be eradicated. It is the belief in spiritual life, which determines earthly choices to bring about the final defeat of evil at the end of time, and the restoration of the world to its once perfect state.
Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest known religions in the world, rooted in the distant past.
The emergence of Zoroastrianism is associated with the name of Zaratustra, whose period of life is the subject of controversy for scientists. Possibly it was around 754 BC. Nevertheless, scientists highlight six main periods of existence of Zoroastrianism:
The religion has many denominations that are mostly considered heretical:
Today, about 100,000 Zoroastrians live around the world. Seventy percent of them live in India and are called Parsis. The genuine communities of the Zoroastrians still exist in Iran, where they are called herbs. Thanks to migration, Zoroastrians appeared in the USA, Western Europe, CIS countries and Russia. There is even a “Zoroastrian Community” in St. Petersburg, the members of which call their faith “godliness.”
The main symbol of Zoroastrianism is a white shirt (cedre), sewn from a single piece of cotton fabric with nine seams, which has a special pocket — a “saving box” for good deeds. It symbolizes the protection of the soul from temptation and evil. The Koshti is a belt woven with 72 wool threads, being hollow inside. It is wrapped around the waist three times and tied with four knots before any important deed or prayer. It is believed that this is how a person communicates with the rest of the community and receives his/her share of good deeds from them.
The next symbol — fire and atashdan—is an altar where Zoroastrians support the sacred fire. This is either movable (in the form of a vessel) or stationary (in the form of a platform).
Faravahar is another symbol of faith found on many cave inscriptions. It is the image of a man depicted in a winged circle.
Zoroastrians attach particular importance to colors. White and green are especially symbolic. White symbolizes purity and grace, and green symbolizes prosperity and rebirth.
Zoroastrianism is known for its “calendar sects”, with a bias in mysticism. Kadimi, Shahinshahi, Fasli and Ilm-e-Shnum are prime examples of such movements. There are also apparent reformers who advocate the abolition of ancient rites and rules.
Today, Zoroastrianism is a bright, vibrant religion, and its doctrines live in other religions around the world and are at the heart of many civilized societies. Zoroastrians believe that we can change the world for the better. And that hope is always with us until the end of the ages.