Pre-Islamic Persian religion founded by the Persian prophet Zoroaster in the 6th century BC
, and still practised by the Parsees
in India. The Zend-Avesta
are the sacred scriptures of the faith. The theology is dualistic, Ahura Mazda
(the good God) being perpetually in conflict with Ahriman
(the evil God), but the former is assured of eventual victory. There are approximately 100,000 (1991) Zoroastrians worldwide; membership is restricted to those with both parents belonging to the faith.
Humanity has been given free will to choose between the two powers, thus rendering believers responsible for their fate after death in heaven or hell. Moral and physical purity is central to all aspects of Zoroastrian yasna
or worship: since life and work are part of worship, there should be purity of action. Fire is considered sacred, and Ahura Mazda believed to be present when the ritual flame is worshipped at home or in the temple. It is believed that there will be a second universal judgement at Frashokereti
, a time when the dead will be raised and the world cleansed of unnatural impurity. The Parsee community in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is now the main centre of Zoroastrianism, but since conversion is generally considered impossible, the numbers in India have been steadily decreasing at the rate of 10% per decade since 1947. Parsee groups, mainly in Delhi and outside India, have been pushing for the acceptance of converts, but the concern of the majority in Mumbai is that their religious and cultural heritage will be lost.
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