Zoroastrianism is an ancient Iranian monotheistic religion with a history spanning over 3,500 years, that survives to the present day. It was founded by Zoroaster, also known as Zarathrustra, though many of the traditions in the religion have roots that go back centuries earlier.
From 650 BC to 600 AD, Zoroastrianism was the dominant religion in Greater Persia and influenced both the Abrahamic religions to the west and the Indic religions to the east. Zoroastrianism gradually declined after the Islamic conquest of Persia in 651.
Today there are two main communities of Zoroastrians: the Parsis of India who fled and sought refuge in Gujarat once they became a minority and persecuted in Iran, and the Iranian Zoroastrians who have remained in Iran and Central Asia but continue to face discrimination and persecution. Many Zoroastrians have now emigrated and live in Western countries.
Cities and other destinations
- 1 Persepolis.
- 2 Yazd. Yazd has remained a relative Zoroastrian stronghold as the rest of Iran converted to Islam. Between 5 to 10% of the population are Zoroastrian. The fire temple of Yazd is believed to have been continually burning since the 5th century.
- 3 Mumbai. During British rule, many Parsis moved to the big city and became a part of the elite entrepreneurial and business class. Many of India's richest Parsi families, including the Tata and Wadia families, are based in Mumbai. The city is also full of Parsi cafés, a legacy of their cuisine and culture.
- 4 Sanjan. The landing point of the first wave of Parsi refugees in India and therefore the town with the oldest Zoroastrian presence in India. The Parsis named the town Sanjan after the its namesake in Greater Khorasan, now in Mary Province, Turkmenistan.
- 5 Udvada. The Udvada Atash Behram (fire temple) is the holiest in India and the oldest continually used fire temple in the world. It has become an important pilgrimage site for Zoroastrians all over the globe.
The holy book of Zoroastrianism, the Avesta, is written in Avestan, a language related to Old Persian and Sanskrit, and more distantly to Latin and Ancient Greek.
- Persian Empire
- Yazidism is a belief system among the Kurdish people, with a dualism similar to that found in Zoroastrianism. As with Zoroastrianism, it became a minority religion after the introduction of Islam. A number of shrines in Lalish, Iraqi Kurdistan are considered to be the holiest in the Yazidi faith.