Family and Community

For most Parsis Zoroastrianism is not strictly a ‘faith tradition’; rather it is membership of a community of people who have descended from Zoroastrians and have been initiated into the faith through the naujote ceremony.

Each person is unique but has a responsibility to care for others within the family and outside. As the whole of the physical creation is the work of God each person has a duty to care for it and is to refrain from polluting earth, air, fire, water and other living creatures. To harm another person or good creature is to support the destructive work of evil.

Traditionally it is thought that cleaning the home is part of the fight against evil. Each morning the traditional Zoroastrian carries a small portable fire altar through the house to purify the air with its sweet smell. Basic prayers, the sudre / kusti prayers are said on rising and a further four times during the day, as well as after ablutions. These can said both in the home and in the temple. As with most Asian communities, extended family ties are strong, even in the Diaspora.

Among Parsis in India or Zoroastrians in modern Iran, there is a very strong sense of community, partly as a minority people. In Iran they are subject to harsh treatment being seen by Muslims as unclean infidels. People are expected to marry within the community; in India for example, marriage outside of the community often means being ostracized. In the Diaspora, intermarriage happens more often but retaining community networks is still viewed as extremely important.

Until the 19th century Zoroastrians considered the home as the place where the religious rituals were carried out. It was not until the 19th century, when Parsis became wealthy and had non-Zoroastrian servants in their homes that a large temple building program was undertaken.

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