TUESDAY, OCTOBER 12: It’s a day for celebrating the creation of plants for many Zoroastrians today, on Ghambar Ayathrem. In Zoroastrianism, six seasonal festivals—known as ghambars, or gahanbars—illustrate six important times of year. Today, Ghambar Ayathrem honors plants, the sowing of winter crops and the return of herds from pasture. There may be fewer herds living near most of us these days, but that doesn’t mean we can’t recognize today’s inspiration by taking a walk in the autumn woods or sipping herbal tea!
The millennia-old Zoroastrian religion recognizes ghambars as occasions to gather a community, resolve conflicts and share meals. (More is at the Heritage Institute.) Each of the six ghambars lasts for five days, and it’s generally agreed that ghambars were begun by the religion’s founder, Zarathustra.
Controversy Over Attempts to Open Zoroastrian Membership
In this new millennium, the Zoroastrian religion is struggling to avoid extinction, partly because of its own internal rules about exclusivity. Zoroastrianism had not allowed the acceptance of converts until recently, when the UK-based World Zoroastrian Organization lifted the rule and allowed anyone who wished to convert to become a member. (Times of India has the full story.) Rifts are already beginning, however, as WZO’s India wing cut ties because its members disagree with the inclusive ruling. News reports turned up a gang of Mexican drug smugglers and a group of pedophiles claiming to be Zoroastrians—and such embarrassing developments prompted the Parsi-Irani Anjumans to draw a line. Representatives claim that the new members had abused rituals, misrepresented the peaceful religion and could begin labeling acts of terror as acts in the name of Zoroastrianism.
Zoroastrian Interfaith News
Not all Zoroastrian news is quite so controversial, this October. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams just made a formal visit to a Zoroastrian center in the UK to learn and to build more cordial relationships. Here’s one news report on the October 1 visit by Williams.