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   Zoroastrianism: Symbols
   
PAGE DEVELOPED BY: Nazo Bangash 2006

 


                   

                 

 

                    

   

 

 

 

 

 

  

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Faravahar or Farohar

        The faravahar is one of many vital symbols in the Zoroastrian religion.  Each part of the faravahar has a significant meaning.                                                                        

1)The Faravahar's face represents the  face of human being, and therefore shows a connection to mankind.                                                                                

2) The faravahar has two wings, each of which has three main feathers.  The feathers indicate three things, "good reflections", "good words", and "good deeds."

3)The lower part also consists of three parts.  The meaning of these three feathers are opposite to that of the wings.  The represent "bad reflections," "bad words," and "bad deeds."  This will bring misery and misfortune to humans.

4) There are two loops on the Faravahar.  One on each side.  They represent “Sepanta Minu,” and “Ankareh Minu.”  The former is directed toward the face and the latter is located at the back.  It indicates to us that we must look forward for the good in life, and turn away from the bad.

5) There is a circle in the middle of the Faravahar’s trunk.  This symbol indicates that our spirit is in a way endless, having neither a beginning, nor an end.

6) One of the hands on the Faravahar points upwards, showing that we have to struggle to prosper.

7) The other hand holds a ring.  Some interpreters consider that it is perceived as the ring of covenant. This ring represents loyalty and faithfulness.

                  

        

 

Fire plays an important role in the religious ceremonies of Zoroastrians.  Fire is the provider of heat and light, and the source of life and growth.  It is used in many essential aspects of the world.  During the time of the early settlers, fire was seen in the form of lightning, and in volcanoes.  It had become something miraculous to the people of that time.  It was soon used as an upper hand in the animal kingdom.  Those who had to fight and compete with animals for food and shelter no longer had to put up with such a struggle.  Fire gave them protection, and sent animals wandering away.  Although fire was always there, it had now become such an eccentric addition to society, and Zoroastrians realized this.  Sun by day and fire by night, were the only sources of illumination, the Zoroastrians came to realize the brightness of this natural phenomenon.  The sacred fire must be kept burning and has to be fed at least five times a day. Prayers also are recited five times a day.
   

 

 

 

The interior of the Tower of Silence has three concentric circles.  There is one for men, one for women, and finally, one for children   The corpses are exposed there naked. Vultures must go into the tower of silence and diminish the bodies, and this usually does not take any longer than two hours. They strip the flesh off the bones, which are then dried by the sun, and are later swept into the central well.  The morning of the fourth day is the most solemn observance in the death ritual, because it is then that the soul of the dead bodies reaches the next world and appears before those who are to pass judgment over them.

 

 

 

                                    

                       Ancient Zoroastrian Temple in Azerbaijan     Zoroastrian Temple of Yazd, Iran. 

vTemples were initially built during the Achaemenian period.v  After that period, the three types of fires: Atash Behram, Atash Adaran and Atash Dadgah had a recognized place in the Zoroastrian society.v  The temples generally consist of four massive piers carrying an arch on each side.  They are roofed over with domes, but these are usually the older ones.vThere are approximately 50 fire temples related to the Zoroastrian religion in Iran.v  Most of the fire temples were destroyed through conquests of Iran by Arabs, Turks, and Mongols.

 

  • Zoroaster was the first monotheist. This means he was the first person who believed in one God.
  • Zoroastrianism has influenced Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Ideas like heaven and hell, afterlife, and coming of a savior all have roots in Zoroastrianism.
  • Zarathushtra, of the Spitaman family, is one of the first and oldest prophets of mankind's history.
  • Throughout his childhood Zoroaster spent a lot of time outdoors and was always interested about what was going on around him. He was very intelligent and energetic. He was known for always asking questions of the priests and teachers. The phrase “curiosity killed the cat” did not seem to have fazed him. There is a story that is told about his childhood of how he was invited to sit and talk with the head priest of his town. While he was there he asked the priest many questions and actually came up with some things that stumped the priest. Supposedly after Zoroaster left the priest had a heart attack and died.
  • At the age of twenty Zoroaster decided to leave home and go in search of the “truth”. It is believed that during his search for truth he was “illuminated”. This happened when he supposedly met with the angel Vohu Mana and came to believe in Ahura Mazda. Another thing that happened during his search was that he married a woman named Hvovi. Zoroaster was also a father of six children, all of whom converted to his religion. The first converts to what is today known as Zoroastrianism were Zoroaster’s entire family.
  • The God of Zoroastrianism is Ahura Mazda.  Zoroastrians had the concept of heaven and hell, the belief that a savior would be born of a virgin, the end of the world will come with fire, and that all living beings will be resurrected from the dead, and a final battle between good and evil with good winning.  The evil principle is called Ahriman.  It is said that when Ahura Mazda created light, Ahriman got jealous, and because of that whenever Ahura Mazda created something, Ahriman would put a little bit of evil into it.  Ahura Mazda and Ahriman are sometimes represented as serpents. The game of chess is based on the fight between Ahura Mazda and Ahriman, where Ahura is the white king and Ahriman is the black one.  The chessmen represent the elements of life, the sixty four alternating black and white squares represent the floor of the house of the House of mysteries.  The interaction between the chessman and the elements are as follows:  


    Kings-the immortal soul
    Queens-the mind
    Bishops-the emotions
    Knights-vitality
    Castles-the physical body
    Pawns-the sensory impulses

Related Links:

http://philtar.ucsm.ac.uk/encyclopedia/zorast/zorast.html

http://www.pyracantha.com/zoroastrianism.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroastrianism

http://www.zoroaster.net/indexe.htm

Bibliography:

"Zoroastrianism." Religion Facts. 10 Jan. 2008. 18 Feb. 2008 <http://www.religionfacts.com/zoroastrianism/index.htm>.

Bamji, Soli. "Fire Temples." Zoroastrianism. 20 May 2007. 17 Feb. 2008 <http://www3.sympatico.ca/zoroastrian/fire-temple.html>.

"In the Original Home of Zoroastrians." 2008. 18 Feb. 2008 <http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2208/stories/20050422000106500.htm>.

Varza, Bahram. "Zarathustra." 2006. 19 Feb. 2008 <http://www.religion-info.net/indexd.htm>.

 


  1. Which day is the most important in the death ritual?
    1. 3rd day
    2. 10th day
    3. 4th day
    4. 1st day



  2. What gave the Zoroastrians an upper hand in the animal kingdom?
    1. The Faravahar
    2. Fire
    3. Temples
    4. Ahura Mazda



  3. How old was Zoroaster when he went in search of the
    truth?


    1. 12 years old
    2. 16 years old
    3. 20 years old
    4. 30 years old



  4. One of the first and oldest prophets of mankind's history is:

    1. Ahura Mazda
    2. Zarathushtra
    3. Zoroastrians
    4. Ahriman 


     

    5.  How many circles are there in the "Tower of Silence?"

    1. 3
    2. 4
    3. 1
    4. 6