Zoroastrianism is a religion that was founded by Prophet Zoroaster. This religion worship their god known as Ahura. It is believed that worshipping their supreme god involves doing moral actions in order to fight against the spirit of the evil known as Ahriman. Just like any other religion, Zoroastrianism has their own unique ways of worshipping and performing their sacred festivals. Everyone has freedom of worship and, therefore, one can indulge in any religious practice of their choice, as long as these practices follow the acceptable morals in the society or community.
Zarathustra the prophet believed that God has shown him a vision and called this god Ahura Mazda who was chosen to be worshipped. Zarathustra is believed to have lived in the eastern parts of Iran many centuries ago. He is the founder of non biblical monotheist religion. This religion was absorbed in the Persian Empire shortly before the Muslims took over. This is the time the Muslims flooded Iran. The followers of Zoroastrianism were left in the villages until they discovered the freedom of worship and decided to awaken their religion in India (John, pg 62. 1997).
Zoroastrianism represents an attempt to unify the followers and practice the worship of one supreme god compared to those religions of the ancient Greeks who had multiple gods. This religion has high ethics, whereby, a person’s choice of doing right or evil is crucial. This is because the result of their choice would determine their destiny in eternity. It is, therefore, a freedom of a person to choose their actions as explained in the Zoroastrianism religion. The eternal life of Zoroastrian is determined by their actions. If followers’ actions were admirable, then they would have a chance to go to heaven, but if their actions were evil, they would end up in hell. The religion also believes in angels and demons, life after eternity, hell and resurrection.
THE SACRED TEXT
The sacred text of Zoroastrianism religion is known as Avesta or the book of the law. This sacred text constitutes a collection of writings that are known to be sacred in their history. These writings contain scriptures that were written a long time ago. The sacred texts or book of law contain the following; the liturgical writing which describes hymns that are dedicated to Zarathustra the prophet. It also contains invocations that are used during festivals; these rituals are practiced in any festival in order to fulfill the wish of their god (Clack, pg 24. 1998). There are also hymns and praises that whenever the followers come to worship, they sing these praises. Lastly, the sacred text also has spells used to warn away demons, this spell also are used during purification. All these doctrines are at the fingertips of every follower. It is, therefore, a compulsory action to stick to the contents of the sacred texts in order to be accepted as a believer of this religion.
Festivals are a characteristic of Zoroastrianism, and worshipping is the most essential practice. They believe that being happy is because of the faith that unifies a person. The festivals are named after seasons and, therefore, have seasonal festivals. They have a separate day in every month to celebrate and also every month is dedicated to a festival known as deity, whereby they celebrate the reason as to why a name was given to every month. There is also a festival for the memory of the dead at the end of every year; this festival is symbolizing the unending love for the dead and also a sign of remembrance (Clack, pg 80. 1998).
The most embraced festival is that of the New Year and it is named Noruz, it is the most celebrated feast among all the Zoroastrian feasts. The feast is celebrated in honor of the coming summer and the noonday and, therefore, named as Rapithwin. All these festivals have their own symbol meaning and, therefore, the followers are always yearning for every festival. The festivals of this religion are meant to strengthen the morals and religious practices of followers and are, therefore, respected and embraced by every follower. All these commitments towards religion also bring the follower near to the supreme god so that they are counted as righteous.
RITE OF PASSAGE
The rite of passage for Zoroastrian in this case funeral involves exposing the dead before a dog. The dog should have two eye spots above the normal eyes so that it appears as a four-eyed dog. This rite is done for five times, and after the first rite of the passage is done, they light a fire inside the house where the corpse is centered for three days whereby the corpse is transferred to the silence tower. The silence tower is constructed into three circles that are concentric; one each of the tree circle belongs to children, women and men. Since the corpses are exposed naked, the vultures may feed on them and thereafter the remains; the bones in this case are swept to the central well. The fourth day of mourning consists of an important activity of observing the death ritual, they believe that this day, the departed has gone to the world of spirits, and they are passing through judgments (Boyce, pg 50. 2001).
The form of mediation involves reciting the scriptures whereby every sinner will confess their sins and resort to avoid sin. The ceremony is celebrated by surrounding the sacred fire, and the followers recite the Avesta. They also offer sacrifices in the form of milk, bread, meat and animal fat. At this point, prayers are done five times a day and it involves following the guidelines from the sacred text.
Zoroastrianism is practiced mostly in India and Iran. The followers are also located in many different parts of the world and Persians are the principal followers or rather the participants of this religion. The roles of the participants include influencing other people to join their form of religion. They do so by establishing worship centers in different countries. They also make sure they teach the younger ones about the rules of the sacred text so that when they grow up, they will be well conversant. They also make sure that they correct each other by observing their fellow participants; this enables them to work as per the doctrines of the sacred texts. Participants also engage in the various rites and festivals whereby they organize these functions (Boyce, pg 120. 2001).
The practices of Zoroastrianism are deeply rooted into their religion because the participants are always observant to the doctrines of the sacred texts. They also perform all the religious practices, for example, festivals, meditation and rites of passage according to the writings from the sacred text. This explains how they are deeply rooted to their religion and to add on that the sacred text also is associated with the practice. This means that every practice follows the writings from the sacred text and that the writings explain the procedures to be taken in every practice. For example, the text has writing on how to cast a spell during prayers and also has the writings to use during worship. The sacred text is, therefore, the most powerful document in the Zoroastrianism religion since it contains all that should be done to enable one of being a participant.
The reason as to why I chose this religion from the brochure is to explain more on this religion since many people are not aware of an existence of such a religion. The practices of this religion are so much different from other religions and because they believe in a prophet who introduced them to their supreme god. One of the aspect of practice that I found it most intriguing is that of funeral. It is evident that, in this religion, there is no respect for the dead. They leave the vultures to feed on the dead body which is not a respectable way handling the dead. They also display the dead before a dog so as to pass a rite but according to how I understand the ethics of handling the departed soul, respect is one of the most eminent virtues.
I have not had the opportunity to, personally, observe the practice but since it is an fascinating religion to learn a lot from, I would like to have had this opportunity. The festivals seem to be the most enjoyable practice, and it makes one be interested in observing this practice personally. Everyone, therefore, has a right to indulge in any religion as long as the religion observes the morals of the society and does not interfere with people’s lives.
Boyce, M. (2001). Zoroastrianism: their religious beliefs and practices. Psychology press.
Clark, P. (1998). Zoroastrianism:An introduction to an ancient Faith. Sussex Academic Press.
John, R. (1997). Zoroastrianism; the penguin dictionary of religions. Penguin books.