This video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly shows Farzad Aidun sharing his family’s celebration of Norooz, or Nowruz, at their home in Maryland. Norooz, the ancient Zoroastrian spring festival of the New Year, celebrates the symbolic victory of light, goodness and fire in a two-week festival that begins on the spring equinox. The video shows Aidun laying an elaborate table of apples, garlic and wheat, and describing the role of fire and light as signs of knowledge and wisdom.
Zoroastrianism, one of the world's oldest monotheistic belief systems, was founded about 3,500 years ago by a prophet known as Zoroaster (or Zarathushtra) in what is now Iran. While still practiced today, its number of followers is dwindling. Zoroastrianism is thought to have influenced other religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam because it features many of the same concepts, including the existence of Satan, the hierarchy of angels, reward or punishment in an afterlife, the final resurrection of the body on the Day of Judgment, and a belief in evil and an immortal soul.Zoroastrian belief can be expressed in the following terms: good thoughts, good words, good deeds. Duality is a key aspect of Zoroastrianism. For example, good and evil exist, but are in continuous conflict. There is also a focus on the duality of day and night, happiness and sadness, truth and deception, and life and death. In Zoroastrian thinking, man -- given free will by God -- is always faced with a choice. Individuals must choose the path of good or evil, and can eliminate evil forces in the world through good words, deeds and actions. Zoroastrians believe individuals are judged at the time of their death by the amount of good in their thoughts and actions. Zoroastrianism's followers believe their god, Ahura Mazda, created the world and continues to express himself through good spirits. Zoroaster, who is considered one of the first monotheists of the western religious traditions, explained that Ahura Mazda should be worshipped by good thoughts and actions. Many of the ritualistic traditions of Zoroastrianism reflect the importance of light and purity. Zoroastrians pray many times a day, always facing the sun, fire or another light source. No ceremony takes place without fire, which is a symbol of purity, representing the "original light of God." Zoroastrians consider it a sin to pollute water, which is recognized as a symbol of purification. The Avesta is the Zoroastrian collection of holy texts, and the most sacred sections are the Gathas, or Hymns of Zoroaster. Some believers, both male and female, wear a kusti while praying. Today the number of Zoroastrians is decreasing, with only about 115,000 remaining in the world. While 50,000 still live in Iran, a vast majority live in India, where a large number of followers settled more than 1,000 years ago to avoid Muslim persecution. In India they are called Parsees (Persians). Conversion to the faith is not emphasized today, but there is a significant interest among religious historians and linguists in studying and preserving the religion.
FARZAD AIDUN: Happy Norooz! Norooz is celebrated at the precise moment that spring arrives. The Prophet Zoroaster's message was very universal, centered around the tenets of good thoughts, good words and good deeds.
The Haft Seen table is central to the Norooz celebration. "Seen" is one of the letters of the alphabet. Items beginning with the letter "seen" are traditionally put on the table.
(Chanting the Ashem Vohu) There's a misconception amongst many that, you know, Zoroastrians are fire worshippers. Traditionally, it's customary to pray in front of the fire or pray towards a light source. Light is very significant in the Zoroastrian religion, and it's a sign of knowledge and wisdom. Now look in the mirror… We offer the mirror. It's essentially a sign of light. You look in mirror and you get some rosewater, which is very aromatic. You also get to see yourself and see how you look at the beginning of the year. Good thoughts, good words, good deeds.
I believe in one God, Ahura Mazda. My God allows me to think and to choose what's right and wrong. "Asha" is the law of nature. And as long as you strive to always follow the path of Asha, to make sure that you're considering everything in the universe, you will make this world a better place for future generations to come.
Academic standards correlations on Teachers' Domain use the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) database of state and national standards, provided to NSDL projects courtesy of JES & Co.
We assign reference terms to each statement within a standards document and to each media resource, and correlations are based upon matches of these terms for a given grade band. If a particular standards document of interest to you is not displayed yet, it most likely has not yet been processed by ASN or by Teachers' Domain. We will be adding social studies and arts correlations over the coming year, and also will be increasing the specificity of alignment.