How did Zoroastrianism begin?
Zoroastrianism began in Ancient Persia (what is now Iran) when the prophet
Zarathustra or Zoroaster was inspired to teach and preach to others when his
peaceful society was being torn apart by warring tribes. He saw this as a
struggle between good and evil. His followers are called Parsis. This name
was given to the followers of Zarathustra when they had to flee Persia to
avoid persecution by Muslim rulers in the ninth century AD.
The Parsis went to India which is where most of the Zoroastrians are today
What do Zoroastrians believe?
Zoroastrians believe in one God called Ahura Mazda. They believe Ahura Mazda
created the world and everything in it. The enemy of Ahura Mazda is the evil
spirit Angra Mainyu. It is believed that one day the forces of good will
defeat the forces of evil and restore the world to the state of perfection it
It is believed that people have to choose between good and evil. If the good
deeds outweigh the bad they believe they will go to heaven by way of crossing
a bridge. If the evil outweighs the good, they believe they will fall off the
bridge and into hell.
What symbols are of great importance to Zoroastrians?
Fire is the most sacred symbol. It is at the center of Zoroastrian worship.
Places of worship are called fire temples. Fire represents righteousness and
truth. In Zoroastrian temples, a fire is always kept burning by priests who
Purity is also very important to Zoroastrians. White is used as a symbol for
purity. Zoroastrians pray with a special white belt called a kustis. It
symbolizes being bound to their religion and their community. Zoroastrians
always where a white undershirt called a sudreh as a symbol and reminder of
purity. When Zoroastrians die the kustis and the sudreh are placed on top of
their bodies on a white sheet, another symbol of purity. Any form of decay
like rust or rotting is avoided since this is the opposite of purity. For
this reason Zoroastrians do not cremate or bury their dead. They do not want
to pollute or add decay to the earth. Instead they place dead bodies in
circular stone towers called "towers of silence". The birds of prey come and
eat the decaying bodies.