Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest religions in the world. It was founded by Prophet Zarathustra (Zoroaster) somewhere in the 6th or 7th century BC. The follower of this religion called a Zarthosti. This religion had flourished in Persia. However, with the rise in Islam religion in the 7th century, the Zarthostis were forced to seek shelter abroad. In India, this community is found in Mumbai only, with its people numbering in few thousands. Zarthostis are known as Parsis in India.

Zoroastrianism is a monotheist religion. It believes in Ahura Mazda (the wise lord), who is symbolized by fire. According to this religion, evil can be overcome by following the principles of ‘humata’ (good thoughts), ‘hukta’ (good words) and ‘huvarshta’ (good deeds). The sacred symbol of Zoroastrianism is known as ‘Faravahar,’ also called ‘Farohar.’ It signifies the final goal of a Zarthosti, which is to propagate one’s soul towards the Ahura Mazda. The sacred text of this religion is called the Avesta-E-Zend or Zend-E-Avesta, Avesta in short. It is made up of five ‘gathas,’ which are the hymns composed by Prophet Zarathustra. These hymns form the essential component of the ‘yasna,’ the central rite. This text also contains the ‘yashts,’ which are hymns dedicated to other ‘ahuras’ (gods), and the ‘videvdat’ which is related to purity and rituals.

Parsis worship their Lord in the Fire temple. During the worship, they wear a ‘sadra’ (sacred shirt) and a ‘kasti’ (sacred thread). This community believes in maintaining the purity of elements, which is why they never cremate or bury their dead to avoid the pollution of fire, earth, air or water. They leave the corpses in the ‘Towers of Silence’ to be completely devoured by the vultures. Parsis are very strict in their principles. They do not believe in inter-caste marriage. A child from a mixed parentage is not considered as a true Parsi.

Updated on 7th June, 2005

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