On the extreme edge of the western Iranian desert, in and around Mumbai (India) and in many of the major cities of the world are pockets of a small religious community totalling no more than 130,000 members worldwide.
They are the Zoroastrians known in India as the Parsees or "Persians", followers of the prophet Zoroaster who lived in ancient Persia. Zoroaster called for people to live the "good life" and follow Ahura Mazda, the "Supreme Creator" symbolised by fire.
"Good thoughts, good words, good deeds" - The Zoroastrian Ideal. They are expressed in truthfulness, chastity, justice, compassion, care of the soil and natural elements, charity, education and service
Originally, Zoroastrian worship was conducted in the open air. Nowadays every community worships in a fire temple where prayer rituals are performed in the presence of a sacred fire, which is seen as a living embodiment of Ahura Mazda.
Zoroastrians will prepare for prayer by washing their hands, face and other uncovered parts of their body. The kushti will be untied and held before a source of light (sun, fire or artificial light). Two prayers, the Ashem Vohu and the Ahunavar, are said.
For this a prayer room will be required. For devotions 24 hours are divided into five sections. Worship consists mostly of prayers requesting assistance in living righteous lives. There are ceremonies for all of the important points in life.
At death the body dare not contaminate ground, fire or water so it is placed in a Dakhma (tower of silence) where it is eaten by vultures or beasts of prey. Or it may be buried in a stone casket lined with lead.
Food and Diet
There are no dietary requirements although from personal choice or sometimes deference to the wider religious population of Iran and India, many abstain from pork and beef and some are vegetarians.
Zoroastrians are meant to wear at all times the sudreh (a white sacred shirt) and kushti (a sacred cord).
No person should fast so that the spirit is exalted over the body nor should they be gluttonous and exalt the body over the soul. The health of body and soul are interdependent and should be cared for equally.
Cleaning the home, rites associated with birth, marriage and death, standards of personal hygiene are all concerned with the great cosmic battle between good and evil.
Zoroastrians try and deal with gender issues in tune with other majority communities of the country of abode. They strictly observe and marry within their own religion but find it difficult to do so due to family planning and education.
Dadistan “ I “ Dinik (A collection of stories)
Birth is a gift of God and a mark of good luck for parents.