Legend has it that when Zoroaster was born, he laughed. His date and place of birth
are uncertain, but it is thought he was born in Central Asia around the Aral Sea
and lived in the Iranian Bronze Age 1800–1100BC, receiving his revelation at the
age of 30. His first disciple was his cousin, and then royalty, King Vishtaspa of
Bactaria, and his Queen, Hutoxshi, whose lame horse he miraculously cured.
Zoroaster was the first prophet to preach a monotheistic religion, based on a loving
God. His sacred texts were written in the ancient Avestan language.
Zoroaster’s view of the world was according to the law of Asha, signifying truth,
order, eternal justice and the righteous way. He advocated the protection of all
creation. He was the first religious leader to teach that there was a
Heaven and Hell, angels and demons, the Coming of a Messiah, a Day of Judgement,
the Resurrection and Life Everlasting.
Zoroaster was a ‘New Man’. He stressed equal rights and responsibilities for women
and men. They had to use their conscience to decide whether they would be co-warriors
with Ahura Mazda, the god of light and wisdom, against Ahriman (Satan), and the force
of darkness and evil. Ultimately Good would triumph over evil.
Zoroaster was the genius who stressed that life should be cherished, and that there
was no escape from being judged for our thoughts, words and deeds. His revolutionary
ideas have had the most extraordinary impact on the world’s faiths and on modern
The Faravahar carved in the rocks in Iran.
The Faravahar is the symbol of Zoroastrianism, thought to represent a guardian angel.
For thousands of years Zoroastrianism was the main religion of the Persian Empire
during the Achaemenid Empire (558–330 BC), the Parthian Empire (AD 247–224) and the
Sassanid Empire (AD 224–651), until the Arab invasion in 541 BC when the region was
converted to Islam.
Today Zoroastrians are known as Zarthoshti or Vehdin, the followers of the good religion.
The term Parsi describes Zoroastrians who migrated to India in the 10th century AD
and simply means people from Persia. Zoroastrians who emigrated
from Iran in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to seek religious freedom which
was guaranteed in British India were known as Iranis.
Representation of the prophet, Zoroaster.
Places of worship
Zoroastrians worship in Fire Temples. They do not worship fire as their religion
rejects worship of any idols. The Sacred Fire is revered as a visible symbol of the
inner light, the divine spark that burns in every heart and the ultimate purifier.
All rituals and prayers are performed in the presence of a fire, tended with sandalwood
and frankincense in a silver urn. Non- Zoroastrians are not permitted to enter Fire
Temples. The religion does not accept converts.
Zoroastrian Sacred Fire.
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus (558BC–530BC), founder of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, was the first ruler
to be called Great.
Today he is known as the Father of Human Rights. He was immortalised in the Bible
by the Jewish prophets, Ezra and Isaiah, the only Gentile to be glorified as King
of Kings and the Anointed of the Lord. Cyrus’s greatness lay in uniting the Medes
and the Persian tribes, creating
the largest empire the ancient world
had seen, and liberating the enslaved
peoples. He helped the Jewish captives in Babylon return to Jerusalem and rebuild
He Respected the customs and religions of all the lands of the ancient world that
he conquered – the first Interfaith champion.
The Navjote ceremony of Zerbanoo’s brother, Naswan.
The Zoroastrian Navjote is the Initiation Ceremony, like the Jewish Bar Mitzvah.
Boys and girls are confirmed in the faith with the recital of the sacred prayers.
They are presented with a Sudra, a white muslin vest with a symbolic pocket in the
front to remind the wearer to fill it up every day with good deeds. The young Zoroastrian
is also given the Kusti, a fine wool cord made up of 72 strands symbolising the 72
chapters of Yasna, the Book of Worship. The Kusti is tied
around the waist during morning and evening prayers, with three reef knots as a reminder
to fight evil and to follow the teachings of Zoroaster.
The World Zoroastrian Organisation is the global body for Zoroastrians. It brings
together a community that is now dispersed all over the world.
It was set up to give Zoroastrians a unified voice on the international stage. Their
work centres around charity; whether it is poverty alleviation, disaster relief,
medical aid, housing, or educational scholarships, it is done with a belief that
it is a Zoroastrian’s duty to act with compassion and generosity.
Bailey Irani, Founder-President of the World Zoroastrian Organisation, Zerbanoo’s
father, at the Organisation’s inauguration in Teheran, which was hosted by the Shah
of Iran in the 1960s.
A young Zoroastrian caring for the old and infirm.
Cyrus the Great’s Cylinder of Rights, now in the British Museum.