The Zoroastrian Religion - An Overview
The ZOROASTRIAN Religion was brought to light by the great prophet SPITAMA ZARATHUSHTRA. The exact date of the birth of our religion is still being debated by scholars. However, it is widely believed that our religion started about 5000 years ago, in ancient Persia (today Iran).
Long before Zarathushtra was born, his arrival was proclaimed in the sky by visions of his FRAVASHI (soul). The heavens made this known in different supernatural ways. At the moment of his birth, his mother's home was engulfed in a brilliant halo of devine light, while gloom filled the forest and wilderness where demons roamed.
The parents of Zarathushtra were POURUSHASPA and DOGHDOVA. Zarathushtra was born in the town of Rae, on the river Darji, in the province of Azarbaezan, on KHORDAD the sixth day of the month FRAVARDIN, in about 3000 B.C. The babe smiled at his birth and the onlooking parents were filled with great love, joy and hope for the future. Knowing the child's destiny, they named him Zarathushtra of the Spitama family (He of the golden light).
The evil forces tried to hinder Zarathushtra's path by subjecting him to various dangers. However, Zarathushtra came unscathed from all of these.
Under orders from God AHURA MAZDA Zarathushtra made his way towards the court of King Vistaspa of Bactria. In his inaugural sermon, Zarathushtra tried to induce his countrymen to forsake the worship of multiple gods and bow only before Ahura Mazda. At Vistaspa's court, he had to fight for a foothold and contend with the intrigues and plotting of the so called "wise men" and courtiers around the king. In the end Zarathushtra came out victorious and Vistaspa was the first person to embrace the Zoroastrian religion.
The Zoroastrian religion is based on the three fundamental tennets of HUMATA (good thoughts), HUKTA (good words) and HUVARASHTA (good deeds). It can't get any simpler than that. From distant Greece in the west to Hindustan (India) in the east, people from all walks of life thronged to hear the Holy Zarathushtra speak of his great new religion. His was the religion of ASHOI (righteousness):
- A Zoroastrian's duty was to strive against evil. He may succeed or he may fail. But he must go on trying.
- Telling the truth and foreswearing the lie is an essential element of our religion. From which follows that one's word is sacred and not to be broken, however difficult the circumstances.
- Wearing of the SUDREH and KUSTI, was the symbol of a Zoroastrian.
Zoroastrians worship all the worldly elements, but more so, fire. As Zarathushtra said:
"The all powerful Ahura Mazda is the creater of all things including fire and other elements, but because He has bestowed on it a special power and usefulness, it is worthy of a special status and while we stand before our Sacred Fires, note well, we address our prayers to God Almighty."
Therefore Zoroastrians should not be regarded as mere fire worshipers. Instead, we are worshipers of the One Pure God, and the fire is a symbol of His purity and strength.
The Zoroastrian calendar consists of 12 months of 30 days each. At the end of these 12 months there are 5 separate days called the GATHAS. It is during the days of the GATHAS, that Ahura Mazada (God) spoke to Zarathushtra about our religion and enlightened Him.
There are three Zoroastrian calendars namely, SHEHENSHAHI, KADMI and FASLI. Zoroastrians emigrated from Iran in groups. Depending on the time of arrival of a certain group from Iran, a certain calender is followed. The Kadmi calendar is one month ahead of the Shehenshahi calendar. The days however, are synchronised. The Zoroastrians that still live in Iran, follow the Fasli calendar. No matter which calendar is followed, there is perfect harmony between all Zoroastrians. All calendars are given equal importance and there are no restrictions on anybody to follow a certain calendar.