THURSDAY, AUGUST 19: The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to laugh, visit and share a meal with friends and family for Zoroastrians who follow the Shenshai calendar today. Primarily, Parsi Zoroastrians–who are known for being close-knit–follow the Shenshai calendar and, therefore, jubilate for Jamshedi Noruz today!
Complex astronomical and spiritual symbolism is everywhere in the ancient city of Persepolis in modern-day Iran, and today’s Zoroastrian holiday is named after the city’s noted constructor, mythic hero-king Jamshid. (London Grid For Learning has more.) Jamshid is also credited with inventing the calendar, and Zoroastrians have dedicated their New Year’s title to him. Besides gathering with loved ones, many Zoroastrians will spend time today in a fire temple and some will set up a household altar to honor the spirits of the deceased.
Zoroastrianism–an ancient religion that predates and influenced Judaism and Christianity–could be considered an “endangered” religion, and one example is in a few age-old caves in India. According to AFP News, Zoroastrians in the 14th century fled to caves to hide from a Mughal invasion, and they reportedly kept their sacred fires burning for 12 years inside the caves. Although the caves have since been a popular Parsi pilgrimage site, they are now crumbling with age. Homi Dhalla, founder-president of the World Zarathushti Cultural Foundation, has been urging everyone to sign a petition at www.zoroastrians.net, to save the caves. Dhalla has collected 3,000 signatures already, and pleads for more to sign. The petition will be sent to the Archaeological Survey of India.
(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.”)