Religious Diversity News

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Zoroastrians Keep Old Traditions Alive In Australia

Author: Neena Bhandari

Source: News Blaze

It’s a Sunday morning. A fire is burning on a silver urn in the sanctum sanctorum as about 30 children pray with a priest in the main hall of the Darbe Meher, the place of worship and community activity for Zoroastrians, in the Sydney suburb of Annangrove.

Nestling amidst verdant surroundings with a tranquil billabong (pool of water) and fruit trees, the Darbe Meher has become the epicentre of learning and festivities for the Zoroastrians who have migrated to Australia from India, Pakistan and Iran since the 1960s.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2006 census, there are 2,110 people (1,156 males and 954 females) practising Zoroastrianism, the pre-Christian faith founded in Persia (Iran) by Prophet Zarathushtra, who believed in a single God, Ahura Mazda.

Zoroastrians Make Annual Pilgrimage to Mountain Cave

Source: BBC News

On June 17, 2004 the BBC News reported, “Members of Iran’s dwindling Zoroastrian community are making their annual pilgrimage to the temple in the rocky mountain of Chakchak. The desert site near the central city of Yazd is holy to the minority whose numbers are said to have halved to 22,000 since the 1979 Islamic revolution. It is believed the last Zoroastrian princess sheltered from the Muslims in a cave on Chakchak in AD 640…Yazd is the historic capital Zoroastrianism, considered by some to be the world’s first monotheistic religion and a profound influence on Judaism, Christianity and Islam…Legend says the Chakchak mountain opened up and received Nikbanou [daughter of the last Zoroastrian king] – closing behind her at a spot marked by a fresh water spring. Pilgrims have long since removed a colourful rock believed to be a petrified cloth that was all that was left of Nikbanou. Today, pilgrims make their way up the towering rocks, following hundreds of steps to a cave where they pray and drink clear water from a spring.”

Zoroastrians Observe Anniversary of Zarathustra’s Death

Source: Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

On December 24, 2004 Religion & Ethics Newsweekly ran a feature story on Zoroastrianism: “This week marks an observance for a belief system much older than Christianity — the anniversary of the death of the prophet Zarathustra, also known as Zoroaster. Zoroastrianism began in ancient Iran or Persia and may be little known today, but it left its historical imprint on Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Estimates vary widely, but some claim that as few as 115,000 Zoroastrians remain, a few in Europe, North America and Iran; the vast majority in India, where they are called Parsis. From Bombay, now officially known as Mombai, Fred DeSam Lazaro reports.”

Zoroastrians Observe Sadeh Festival In Iran

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Cultural Heritage News Agency

Iran’s Zoroastrian community held the Jashn-e-Sadeh Festival for celebrating the discovery of fire on the 10th of the Iranian month of Bahman (which coincided this year with Jan. 29).

Considered one of the biggest Persian festivities in ancient times, Jashn-e-Sadeh — also known as the day of kindness — is celebrated by Zoroastrians throughout the world.

Sadeh is a mid-winter festival celebrated 50 days before Norouz (the Persian New Year starting on March 21) to honor fire and to defeat darkness and cold.

Zoroastrians on the Internet

Source: Star Tribune

On November 7, 1998, the Star Tribune published an
article on how Zoroastrians are using the Internet to help spread the
message of their religion. With approximately 140,000 worldwide
adherents, Zoroastrians are trying to create “virtual” communities in
order to preserve their faith. Joe Peterson, architect of one of the
largest Zoroastrian web sites –, lives in Kasson, MN and
works for IBM in Rochester, MN. He is one of 60 to 70 Zoroastrians
living in Minnesota.

Zoroastrians Request Heritage Site Status for Fire Temples

Source: Gulf News

On June 28, 2004 Gulf News reported, “The Parsi Zoroastrian community in the city is fighting to protect nearly 50 fire temples from being taken over by developers, and wants the state government to declare them as heritage sites. ‘To begin with, we want the four Atash Behrams in the city (out of the eight major fire temples in the world) to be upgraded as Grade II heritage sites to make it difficult for developers to demolish the structures in the temple complex,’ Adi Doctor, Editor, Parsee Voice, told Gulf News. ‘We have already written a letter to the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee,’ he said. But he is worried that the builder lobby within this Committee will not let the extra floor space index (FSI) and transfer of development rights (TDR) allowed by the government to be wasted. Once these key fire temples are protected by law, the next step would be to ensure that all the other fire temples, too, are untouched by those wanting to develop it, as a Parsi priest puts it, ‘in the name of charity.'”

Zuma Inaugurated As South African President After Sanskrit Chants

Author: Fakir Hassen

Source: The Gaea News

A Hindu prayer started off the inauguration of South African President Jacob Zuma at the Union Buildings here Saturday.

As Indian Vice-President Hamid Ansari joined heads of state of 28 other countries, South African Hindu Maha Sabha president Ashwin Trikamjee recited a few lines in Sanskrit before translating them into English and making a plea for divine guidance to assist Zuma in resolving a range of challenges facing the country under his leadership.

The Hindu prayer was followed by similar ones from representatives of the Muslim, Christian and African Traditional Religion (ATR) faiths before Acting President Kgalema Motlanthe bestowed the country’s greatest civil honours, the Order of Mapungubwe, on Zuma.