Zoroastrianism Glossary Terms

Ahura Mazda

Ahura Mazda in the Avestan language is the “Lord of Life and Wisdom,” the one supreme and infinite God, as taught by the Prophet Zarathushtra. Ahura Mazda’s divine attributes, which humans are taught to emulate, include: the good mind; the divine law of righteousness, justice, and truth; divine majesty and power; divine love and benevolent devotion; perfection and immortality.


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.


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.


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.

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.

Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America

FEZANA, the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America, was founded in 1986 to serve as an umbrella organization for Zoroastrian associations in the U.S. and Canada. This organization publishes the quarterly FEZANA Journal and sponsors numerous congresses, committees, and special events.

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 rests upon the altar and contains the eternal fire in the presence of which Zoroastrians pray.


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


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.


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.


A mobed is a man with knowledge; in common usage, this term refers to a Zoroastrian priest of any category or rank. Zoroastrians recognize an hereditary priesthood; one must be born into a mobed family in order to become a priest.


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.


Navroz is the Zoroastrian New Year. Contemporary Zoroastrians observe three distinct religious calendars: Fasli, Shenshai, and Kadmi. Accordingly, three New Year celebrations are also observed. “Jamshedi Navroz” takes its name from King Jamshed, and occurs at the time of the Spring Equinox.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Originating with the teachings of the Prophet Zarathushtra in the second millennium BCE, the ancient faith of Zoroastrianism is referred to as “the Good Religion” in the sacred texts. Zoroastrians are encouraged to live out their faith through the practice of “Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds.” Today, many Zoroastrians refer to themselves as “Zarthushtis.”