One of the world’s most ancient faiths is also one of the world’s fastest-dwindling, from millions of adherents a millennia ago to about 250,000 today. That’s thanks to rules that say only Persians may belong, and that its priests must come from a certain family line.
BURR RIDGE, Ill. – In his day job, Kersey H. Antia is a psychologist who specializes in panic disorders. In his private life, Mr. Antia dons a long white robe, slips a veil over his face and goes to work as a Zoroastrian priest, performing rituals passed down through a patrilineal chain of priests stretching back to ancient Persia. After a service for the dead in which priests fed sticks of sandalwood and pinches of frankincense into a blazing urn, Mr. Antia surveyed the Zoroastrian faithful of the Midwest – about 80 people in saris, suits and blue jeans. “We
Scholar of ancient and medieval Iran and author of a multi-volume ‘History of Zoroastrianism’ Nora Elizabeth Mary Boyce, Iranian scholar: born Darjeeling, India 2 August 1920; Assistant Lecturer in Anglo-Saxon Literature and Archaeology, Royal Holloway College, London University 1944-46; Lecturer in Iranian Studies, Soas 1947-58, Reader 1958-62, Professor 1963-82 (Emerita); died London 4 April 2006. Mary Boyce was one of the world’s greatest scholars of ancient and medieval Iran. Her house in Highgate, north London, where she received colleagues and students, was filled not only with books and articles by scholars of Zoroastrianism, but also with memories of them. Since
It is one the most poignant images in India. Muslin-wrapped mourners carry the dead up a leafy hill to a temple, conducting an ancient ceremony in modern Mumbai. They reach the Towers of Silence and the bodies are laid on slabs of marble to be devoured by vultures and bleached by the searing heat of the sun. For Zoroastrianism, one of the oldest mass religions in the world, bodies left in this manner will see their soul join the spiritual world. The trouble is the vultures of Mumbai are dying out. Their numbers have been decimated by cattle carcasses contaminated
What does Freddie Mercury have in common with the founder of the Indian nuclear programme or Israel Philharmonic conductor Zubin Mehta? The answer is that all are or were adherents of Zoroastrianism, an ancient religion that probably exerted a deep influence on Judaism, Mithraism and Christianity. Yet far from belonging to the distant archaeological past, Zoroastrianism is winning new believers and establishing new and active communities all over the world. The significance of today is that 26 March marks the birthdate of Zoroaster, the religion’s chief prophet, who occupies a theological position similar to that of Mohammed in Islam. Contrary
Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), July 26, 2003 http://www.smh.com.au/ Herald Correspondent Ed O’Loughlin visits the heartland of the Yezidis. Allow me to introduce the Yezidis, a Kurdish tribe of little wealth and eccentric taste. Scholars believe that the Yezidis’ strange and ancient religion is one of the last surviving offshoots of a faith even older then Judaism or Zoroastrianism, which it heavily influenced. Known as “the cult of the angels”, this early Indo-European faith held that there was only one God but that he created seven angels to serve him. Chief among these, for Yezidis, is the angel who disobeyed his
N.Va. Temple to Unite Followers of Faith in Which Fire Plays Sacred Role Washington Post, May 10, 2003 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A33351-2003May9.html By Bill Broadway, Washington Post Staff Writer Washington’s small but growing Zoroastrian community will add to the area’s array of international religious buildings with a Persian-style temple located beyond an alley of cedar trees just off Hunter Mill Road in Vienna. The benefactor who purchased and donated the property for temple use said the entrance reminded him of cypress trees leading to an ancient fire temple in Shiraz, Iran, said Farhad Shahryary, who will oversee construction of the $3 million facility.
http://www.thestate.com/ Associated Press, Apr. 4, 2003 MICHAEL BUETTNER, Associated Press VIENNA, Va. – One of the world’s oldest religions is establishing a new, American temple for the faith outside the nation’s capital, the Zoroastrian Center and Darb-e-Mehr. “You will see a magnificent building that reminds you of old Persian architecture,” said Farhad Shahryary, assistant secretary of the Temple Committee. “This is a really a joyful day. There’s been a lot of hard work. This has been a dream for about 20 years.” Once the state religion of an empire that stretched throughout much of the ancient world, Zoroastrianism now has