WEDNESDAY, MAY 26: For many Zoroastrians, today is Zartusht-no-diso (spellings vary), a day to remember the death anniversary of prophet Zarathustra. To remember this event, many devotees visit a fire temple and recite special prayers. The dates of Zarathustra’s birth and death are widely debated, although many agree that Alexander the Great destroyed Zarathustra’s original sacred manuscript in 330 BCE. (Read more at the London Grid For Learning, a part of England’s National Education Network.)
Zarathustra, also known as Zoroaster, lived in ancient Persia—modern Iran—and taught some of the world’s first major monotheistic principles. Zarathustra taught of one god, Ahura Mazda, and symbolized this god with a living flame. Several of the prophet’s teachings are regarded as influencing original concepts of Judaism and Christianity, including heaven, hell, the Messiah and final judgment. Scholars agree that Zarathustra spent several years in meditation in a cave in the mountains, only to emerge from his retreat with a claim of having been visited by Ahura Mazda. At age 30, Zarathustra became “illuminated,” and the prophet said that he received a message of purity, uprighteousness and truth. (Biographic points are at Zarathushtra.com.) The three primary elements of Zarathustra’s message remain the three primary tenets of Zoroastrianism today. It’s believed that, after 44 years of alerting others of his findings, Zarathustra died of natural causes at the age of 77.
Beyond his religious significance, Zarathustra had influence on other modern-day practices, too. The Greeks regarded Zarathustra as a philosopher, mathematician, astrologer and “magician.” The word “magic” derived from the word “Magi,” a caste of priests who followed Zoroastrian customs. (Find details at Wikipedia.) It’s also regarded that Zarathustra taught astrology to the Babylonians, and that the seven-day week was created by their circle, in light of (their belief of) seven planets.
(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)
(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)