Zoroastrianism

Gahambar

Gahambars are the six periodic festivals marking the seasonal divisions of the year for Zoroastrians.

Avesta

The Avesta comprises the oldest extant sacred texts of Zoroastrianism. The scripture collection includes the Yasna; the Vispered, which covers festival observances; the Yashts, hymns of praise; the Vendidad, a book of ancient purity laws; and the Khordeh Avesta, or the “smaller Avesta” which contains the daily prayers. Within the Yasna are the Gathas, the oldest and most sacred teachings of the Avesta. The Gathas are the hymns of the Prophet Zarathushtra, which were orally transmitted by the Prophet’s followers for centuries.

Pateti

Pateti is a Parsi Zoroastrian new year’s observance in which one assesses one’s actions of the previous year and repents for any bad thoughts, words, or deeds.

Mazdayasni

Mazdayasni literally means a worshipper of Ahura Mazda. This term is used interchangeably with “Zoroastrian,” the more recognized form, or “Zarthushti.” Increasingly, Zarthushti is the form used by the community itself.

Fasli calendar

The Fasli calendar is one of the three religious calendars observed by Zoroastrians; it is most often followed by Irani Zoroastrians. The other two calendars, the Shenshai and the Kadmi, are often followed by Parsis. At present, there is much debate amongst Zoroastrians as to whether the community should adopt a unified calendar so that ritual observances would occur on the same days.

Zarathushtra

Known to the Greeks as “Zoroaster,” the Prophet Zarathushtra lived and taught in ancient Persia in the second millennium BCE, some scholars say as early as 1,750 BCE. His divinely revealed teachings emphasized ethical monotheism, with one supreme God, Ahura Mazda.

Navjote

The Zoroastrian initiation ceremony is referred to as a Navjote by Parsis and as Sudreh-Pushi by Iranian Zoroastrians. This ceremony, an investiture of the sacred shirt and sacred cord, represents a choice to enter into the Zoroastrian faith and to live as a Zoroastrian.

fire altar

Fire altars have played a central role in both Hindu and Zoroastrian religious rituals. In the Hindu tradition, fire altars were central to ancient Vedic religious life as the place where many yajnas or rituals were performed. The kindling of sacred fire at a fire altar continues to be central for many Hindu domestic rites, including marriage, and for public rites such as the consecration of a temple. In the ancient Zoroastrian tradition, the central rites called yasna were and are still performed in the presence of the purifying fire. In a fire temple the Afargan or fire vase... Read more about fire altar

Angel

Angels are a class of supernatural or spiritual beings, imaginatively understood to perform various functions on God’s behalf. Angels are especially described as divine messengers. Angels are common to Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Parsi

Parsis are Zoroastrians originally from the Iranian region of Pars who came to India, having fled religious persecution in Iran. Owing to centuries of separation, present-day Parsis and Iranian Zoroastrians often speak different languages, and may follow distinct religious calendars and observe different ritual practices.

Jashan

A Jashan is a Zoroastrian religious observance marking an important occasion or event, whether joyful or melancholy. This observance is often referred to as “Jashan” by Parsis and as “Jashn” by Irani Zoroastrians.

Dar-e-Mehr

A Zoroastrian house of worship is often known as a “fire temple” because Zoroastrians pray in the presence of fire. Fire temples in India and Iran are named according to the grade of fire; the highest grade temple is known as an Atash Bahram. In the United States, the term Dar-e-Mehr or Darbe Mehr is often used, meaning the door or portal to all that is good: love, charity, kindness, and devotion.

Sudreh-Pushi

The Zoroastrian initiation ceremony is referred to as a Navjote by Parsis and as Sudreh-Pushi by Iranian Zoroastrians. This ceremony, an investiture of the sacred shirt and sacred cord, represents a choice to enter into the Zoroastrian faith and to live as a Zoroastrian.

Initiation into the Faith

Initiation into the faithThe Zoroastrian initiation ceremony, called the Navjote by Parsi Zoroastrians or Sudreh-Pushi by Iranian Zoroastrians, involves the investiture of a sacred shirt (sudreh) and sacred cord (kushti) that will be worn throughout life as a reminder of how to live ethically. Children choose to be initiated, typically between ages 7 and 15, and the initiation rites are the same across genders.... Read more about Initiation into the Faith

Zoroastrians in India and Iran

Zoroastrians in India and IranZoroastrians gained acceptance and eventual imperial power in Central Asia, reaching their zenith when Zoroastrianism was established as the state religion of the Sassanian Empire in the 3rd century. When the Sassanian Empire fell in 652 CE to Arab Muslims, Zoroastrians were forced to flee, convert, or practice in secret. A group of Zoroastrians, known as Parsis, fled to Gujurat, where they developed a cultural identity distinct from Iranian Zoroastrians.... Read more about Zoroastrians in India and Iran

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