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From: Peter McGuinness
Date: 10 Dec 1999
To any Zoroastrian, God is Ahuramazda, a name that means “Wise Lord”. He is Truth and Light, Justice and Order. Ahuramazda is the Creator, who made all the universe and all the good that is found in it: the Earth, the plants, the animals, the humans -- and beyond them he made all that is good but unseen. The evil in Creation was the prouct of Ahriman, or Satan; an independent spirit of evil. Sin is the result of human beings failing to resist Ignorance, Wrath, Jealousy, etc. things produced by the action of Ahriman. The main ritual of Zoroastrians is prayer, which is preformed 5 times daily. Part of the ritual of prayer involves the sudreh and kusti. The sudreh is a white shirt and the kusti is a cord which is tied around the believers waist during prayer. When a Zoroastrian child is about 8 years of age the are ceremonially given the sudreh and kusti to wear in a ritual known as Navjote, or Sudrehpashn. Afterwards they are supposed to preform the rituals of prayer everyday, and keep the sudreh and kusti pure and clean. Today many Zoroastrians do not wear the sudreh and kusti. Other important rituals are preformed by mobeds, or preists. The most important is Jashn, or worship, which consists of a recitiation of the Avesta in the presence of fire. Almost all Zoroastrians are born into their religion, and there is great controversy among believers as to whether a person may convert or not. I am a beliver in conversion, and was not born within the religion. The most imporant thing in my conversion was Zoroastrianism’s answer to the problem of evil. The scripture’s and teachings of Zoroastrianism are ancient; so ancient in fact that few can read and understand the original language in which they are written. Consequently people rely on interpretations. Some of these are recent, but claim to represnt the “original” message of the Great Prophet Zarathustra. Others follow traditions of more or less antiquity. Many of these traditions are written in books, such as the Yashts, Visperad, Vendidad and Denkard, as well as in the central scripture the Avesta, and its commentary or Zand. Other traditions are handed down orally, or at least modified through teaching. No matter what stripe the Zoroastrian, he or she must try and follow a central teaching “Good thoughts, good words, and good deeds”. One cannot claim to be foolwing this religion if one does not attempt to practice this everyday. When a person dies, there is a judgement. Both the good and the evil a person has preformed are considered. Traditionally, the soul is believed to come to Chinvat Peredu, or the Bridge of the Separator. If the soul has been good, it is led across a wide bridge to heaven. If it has been evil the bridge becomes as narrow as the edge of a knife and the evil it has done attacks it and drags it down into hell. But Hell is not the premanent destination of the human soul. Eventually there will be a final victory for Ahuramazda in His conflict with Ahriman, and at that time, the souls of the damned will be restored and purified by Him.