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A Closer look at Zoroastrians

The Holy Book

The Zoroastrians’ holy book, Gathas, written in Avesta language and often referred to as Avesta, is composed of two sections: the part belonging to Zoroaster himself and the part that was added later in Sassanid era. The Gathas which includes Zoroaster’s beliefs is the true part of Avesta. In order to perceive the Zoroastrian school of thought, it is necessary to read and study the “Gaat-ha”. The later additions also include scripture belonging to the times before Zoroaster.

Avesta has been exposed to great damage throughout history, most significantly by Alexander III of Macedonia; many of its parts were destroyed. Pre-Islamic Avesta was divided to 21 sections. Many of these sections have also been destroyed. What remains are as follows: 1- Yasna 2- Yashts 3- Visperad 4- Vendidad 5-Khurda Avesta (little Avesta)

Zoroastrian Population

The largest Zoroastrian population is in Iran and India. Indian Zoroastrians who fled after the Muslim conquest of Persia are known as Parsis (Persian) and are well known and highly regarded as Indian citizens. The majority of Iranian Zoroastrians live in Tehran, Yazd, and Kerman and are approximately 15,000 in population.

Celebrations

A significant and prominent quality of Zoroastrian religion and culture is being joyful and making others happy. This philosophy and approach to life has enriched the Iranian culture and brought about a variety of cheerful celebrations. The valuable and beautiful quality of the Iranian culture preserved by today’s Zoroastrians is having a joyful life and moral and thoughtful personal and social conduct.

“Jashn” (celebration) is derived from “yasn” and the root of “yaz” meaning praise. Our ancestors prayed to Ahura Mazda (the holy God) at the beginning of every Jashn and performed a variety of rituals for each. Among these Iranian and Zoroastrian celebrations are Weekly Jashn; Seasonal Jashn; Annual Jashn; Celebrations at the temple; and Religious Jashn.

The rest of this article is published in the 3rd number of Gilgamesh international edition

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