Who are Zoroastrians?
Zoroastrians are the followers of the first revealed religion of mankind taught by a great thinker (Manthran) known to Greeks as Zoroaster and to the Persians as Zarathushtra. His teachings span back to the early dawn of civilization some 3500-3700 years ago. His was an enlightenment of a life of Good Conscience (Daena Vanghui) that in time was encoded into a Divine doctrine.
What was the Background?
The Zoroastrian religion originated in the Russian Steppes of Central Asia, somewhere near the partially dried Aral sea, that falls partly within the northern borders of present day Uzbekistan. Nestled in this fertile plain, at the infancy of mankind, was the nomadic Aryan society living a pastoral life and believing in multiple deities, one for each element of Nature.
What did Zarathushtra teach?
The prophet through his revelation propounded that it is through Global Wisdom that the Universe emanated, and it is the Supreme Divine Intellect that continues to govern and advance the course of the Cosmos. Zarathushtra chose to call that divine force his God Ahura Mazda. Ahu meaning to be, or to exist, Mazda meaning wisdom. He declared that Ahura Mazda - this Wise Being or Wise Lord is the Sole Creator omnipotent and omniscient in existence. Through this radical declaration, Zarathushtra brought into existence the First Monotheistic Religion of Mankind. The message of this great Savant is enshrined in 238 verses of songs composed by him, in Avestan language known as the Gathas.
What is unique about Zoroastrian life?
Zarathushtra considered humanity as the most highly evolved creation of his God. It was brought into existence to preserve, protect and revere all other creations (Sky, water, earth, plant, animal, and Fire) of Nature. Guided by their Good Mind (Vohu Manah), humans endowed with the Freedom of Choice must choose the path of Righteousness (Asha) as the highest ethical pursuit. However the absolute Freedom of Choice has invariably led humans to evolve two ways of thinking -the twin mentalities of GOOD or progressive (Spenta) and of EVIL or retrogressive (Anghra). Man through the choice of moral law of GOOD life on this earth, has the responsibility to eradicate EVIL, to reap the reward of perfection and immortality and to bring the Divine rule of Ahura Mazda to the material creation. In essence the basic ethical tenets of Zarathushtra are:
To think Good, (Humata)
To speak Good (Hukhta)
To act Good (Huvreshta)
When did the Zoroastrian Religion Spread?
Over a thousand years ranging from 558 B.C. to 652 C.E. the Zoroastrian religion flourished through three powerful Iranian Empires: the Achaemenians, the Parthians, and the Sasanians. At its Zenith the Persian empire stretched from river Indus on the East to the Aegean sea on the west well over 2.25 million sq. miles. It was the strides of Philippides across 26 miles from Marathon to Athens that caused the Persian army to retreat from the Greek mainland and immortalized the modern day athletic event of Marathon Race. Over this long span the Zoroastrian religion encountered numerous civilizations. The most profound interchange of Zoroastrian thought occurred with Judaic ideology over five centuries. Consequently some of the main teachings of Zarathushtra were adopted by Jewish Faith and through it transmitted to Christianity and to Islam.
What are the major Zoroastrian Festivals?
Parab of Aban (to venerate water)
Adur (to venerate fire)
Other prominent festivals and celebrations are Yalda (commemorating of the longest night) and death anniversary (Zarathust no diso) of Zarathushtra.
Gahambars 6 seasonal festivals
A Zarathushti year is reckoned from the year of accession 632 C.E. of the last Persian emperor Yazdegard III that is presently 1371 Y.E. The New Year (Nouruz) is celebrated on the day of the Spring equinox around March 20/21. Traditionally in Iran a table is set up with a display of the seven creations (Haft Seen).
The birthday of the Prophet Zarathushtra is celebrated on the sixth day ( Khodad Sal) of the year.
The days that coincide with the months are considered as days of devotion and festivity.