FRIDAY, MARCH 16: Zoroastrians begin the five-day festival of Ghambar Hamaspathmaedem today, celebrating the creation of human beings and, at the same time, recalling loved ones who have passed. The ancient Zoroastrian calendar contains six seasonal ghambars—the only festivals noted in the faith’s holy book, the Avesta—and during these, devotees gather with food and cheer. Often, food is prepared en masse by volunteers, for all temple attendees to share. (Learn more about ghambars from the Heritage Institute.)
Zoroastrianism began centuries before the three Abrahamic religions—Christianity, Islam and Judaism—and many scholars believe the basic ideas of Zoroastrian eschatology influenced the “big three.” (Get details on Zoroastrianism from Wikipedia.) Most Zoroastrian followers today are in India, although numbers are falling rapidly as the faith primarily remains exclusive.
San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum has been reminded of days when Zoroastrian membership was higher, as it recently acquired a rare, solid-silver Zoroastrian bowl. (Check out an article here.) The 5-pound bowl, still shining beneath lights and in excellent condition, depicts scenes from Zoroastrian mythology in 3-D detail. The bowl is estimated to have been created in 1890 CE by Burmese silversmiths. It was donated by the Zoroastrian Association of Northern California and multiple private donors.