This special was prepared for our Tuesday Morning Group series on World Religions that is currently running by zoom so I can participate.
We volunteered to do this because Zoroastrianism is a religion we’d heard of but didn’t know much about. So here goes friends.
Zoroastrians believe there is one universal all good creator called Ahura Mazda or the Wise Lord.
The religion is one of the oldest and was founded in Persia, today’s Iran, about 3500 years ago by Zoroaster.
Zoroaster originally followed a Hindu style religion. One day he had a vision of a supreme being and began teaching followers to worship only this single God.
The religion spread throughout Asia via the trade route known as the Silk Road
The key tenants of the faith are truth and righteousness, heaven and hell, freedom of choice between good and evil and a day of judgement. All this is believed to have shaped the major Abrahamic religions.
In a nutshell God is Good but he is opposed by an evil one that we would call Satan.
Six good heavenly beings know as the Amesha Spentas work on behalf of God. They are like our archangels. There is also a very special soul the Spenia Mainyu who is like the Angel of God or our Holy Spirit.
Currently we are all living in a period known as the Gumezishn when the forces of good and evil both exist. When we die our good deeds and evil deeds are weighed but hope is on the way!
One day though the Saoshyant or Messiah will come, or come back, and rescue all of us and we will live in harmony and peace for ever more.
The Jewish community living in Babylonia may have been some of the first to encounter Zoroastrians when the Persian King Cyrus a devotee of the religion freed them. Many returned to Jerusalem and the Hebrew Bible took form which, some argue, had strong Zoroastrian influence.
The religion remained the primary one in Persia up until the Muslim conquest when those practicing the faith were forced to flee.
Today there are only about 200000 practicing Zoroastrians remaining mostly living in India, Iran and North America.
Their place of worship is called a Fire Temple where an alter with an eternal flame composed of 16 elements is burned. The fire is not worshiped it is merely a point of focus on God’s immortality.
Fire and water are seen as symbols of purity and the evergreen cypress tree as a symbol of eternal.
Traditionally a sky burial was practiced where the dead were placed on a pillar until it was entirely eaten by vultures. The bones were then placed in an ossuary.
The text that forms the basis of the faith is like a series of poems in several volumes.
[and here’s the bit that makes me super happy it features dogs and prickly dogs aka hedgehogs]
Today many Zoroastrians are known as Parsis and are great philanthropists
There are many famous Zoroastrians and it has inspired a number of epic dramas. Can you name any.
We enjoyed this little learning experience and have now even greater appreciation of how in each religion there are so many similarities. It all comes down to being loving.
Blessing # 982 – Study