Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s preliminary perpetually practiced religions rooted in the teachings of the Iranian-speaking oracle Zoroaster. Zoroaster (or Zarathushtra) emanated this religion in the 6th century BC in Persia (now Iran). By modern practitioners, the Threefold Path of Asha- Humata, Huxta, Huvarshta (Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds) contemplates the core maxim of Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism embraces both monotheistic and dualistic features. Avesta is the principal holy text that embraces the major beliefs of Zoroastrianism. Only the Gathas are quirked to Zarathustra. Yasna (one of the main divisions of the Avesta) lodges all these texts.
Zoroastrians believe that God has created two spirits: a good one and a bad one. They believe that people are free to have the choice between good and bad. The reason behind the motto of the religion – “Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds” is that choosing to be the good spirit leads to happiness.
Today, Zoroastrianism has its two main schools of thought -Reformist and traditionalist. The central texts of Zoroastrianism religion are embedded in – Avesta, Denkard, and Bundahisn. The Avesta contains 17 hymns i.e. Gathas and the Yasna and Visperad. The Denkard is the collection of beliefs and customs. At last, Bundahisn consists of cosmology and cosmography. Nowadays, there are about 2.6 million people who are following the Zoroastrian religion in the world. Most of them reside in Iran, Pakistan, and India and are known as Parsis in Pakistan and India.
Zoroaster’s Vision- At the age of 30, Zoroaster had a spiritual vision while bathing in a river. On the rim of the river, he saw a ‘Shining Being’ build of light who divulge himself as ‘Good Mind’ i.e. Vohu Manah. Vohu Manah led him to the presence of God (Ahura Mazda) and the Holy Immortals (five radiant beings). This was the first number of visions in which Zoroaster saw Ahura Mazda.
Zoroastrians regard one god, known as Ahura Mazda (meaning ‘Wise Lord’). He is solicitous, virtuous, and is the master of the universe. Ahura Mazda is Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, impossible for a human to conceive, unchanging, and the source of all goodness and happiness.
The most important festivals celebrated by Zoroastrians are – Nouruz and Khodad Sal. Zoroastrians celebrate Nouruz –The New Year around March 20/21 on the day of the spring equinox, while Khodad Sal on the birthday of the prophet Zoroaster. Sadeh, Parab of Aban, Adur, and Tirgan are some other important days of the Zoroastrian religion.
The axiom laid down by Zarathushtra is:
If you wish to be happy, make others happy.
Principles of Zoroastrian religion:
Every religion has its different principles to be led down. Zoroastrians also laid down several principles which depict the pureness and transparency of this religion. These principles are as follows:
- Zoroastrians believe in marrying within the same religion. However, the religion accepts marriage with non-Zoroastrians also, but it should be done with the simple Zoroastrianism rituals. The ethics of the religion outlines that non-Zoroastrian would have to believe in Zoroastrianism and they must learn the principles and beliefs before getting married.
- If a Zoroastrian woman marries outside the religion, her children cannot be considered Zoroastrians. But if a man marries outside the religion, then his children can follow Zoroastrianism.
- Religion places more emphasis on purity. However, Zoroastrians neither bury nor cremate the dead bodies. They laid them out under the sun, where the vultures devoured them.
- Husband and wife are equal in religion. Religion makes the husband the head of the family, but he must not do anything which can mistreat his family. It teaches the family to respect him, and in return, the husband must fulfill their family needs. Women must also carry out their duty as a wife by taking charge of the home and children.
- When a baby is born, the family members soak the lips of the infant in the juice of a sacred plant (known as haoma as a sign of purity and divinity). When they turn 7, they start to wear traditional outfits (sudre and kusti). They are also supposed to learn several Avestan prayers and texts.
- Zoroastrians pray several times in a day, always facing a source of fire (a symbol that represents the source of life).
Apart from these, there are some other chief principles /beliefs which are led down by Zoroastrians.
- Zoroastrians believe that everything created by God is pure and should be treated with adoration and admiration. So traditionally they do not harm the land, water, or atmosphere. This has provoked some to denominate Zoroastrianism ‘the first ecological religion.
- Zoroastrians believe in only one powerful entity i.e. Ahura Mazdaor ‘Lord of Light’.
- A Zoroastrian doctrine of self-sacrifice enjoins all of us to consider the welfare of others before that of our own. We grow by bestowing and not by covetous greed.
- Each Zoroastrian must be exemplary and philanthropically in conduct towards all around him.
- Goodness is Godliness and true Zoroastrian should be an assisting angel to all. They believe in radiating goodness every moment of their life as God is so gracious in providing the needs without any expectation for return.
- Water (along with fire) is the symbol of purity in the Zoroastrian religion. Haurvatat, Wholeness are the modules of the element of water, being the state of complete well-being, spiritual and physical integrity.
- Zoroastrian weddings include a marriage contract and celebrations for seven days. Female relatives hold a white scarf over the head of the couples and rub the cones of sugar together to sweeten the marriage. Then they sew the ends of the scarf together to symbolize the unity of the couples.