The Persian Nowruz

By : Iraj Bashiri

Introduction

The oldest of Iranian traditions, Nowruz (also referred to as eyd-i sar-i sal and eyd-i sal-i now) recalls the cosmological and mythological times of Iran. Its founder is a deputy of Ahura Mazda on earth, a position that imparts to him and the celebration a spiritual dimension and a particular sense of secular authority. The celebration is organized according to the dynamics of love between the Creator and his creation, the material world. The annual return of the spirits of the departed to their homes is celebrated by their offspring according to primordial rites of which only a faint trace remains among the Persians and the Parsees of today. But that in no way diminishes the importance of the bond which is refreshed at every Nowruz. Continue reading The Persian Nowruz

About Society and Culture – Part 1

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The Egyptian civilization was one of the great civilizations that had deep-rooted values and persistent traditions. Despite the succession of different political rules, the Egyptian people kept their customs and traditions, most of which are still prevalent in daily life and social behaviors.

Being religious and acknowledging God’s grace is a common phenomenon in Egyptian society. Religious rituals are habitually practiced at home. In ancient Egypt, there were special mihrabs, or prayer niches, for the pictures of idols. In the Coptic era as well, pictures of Christ and the Virgin Mary were found in every house.

During the Islamic Age, verses of the Holy Qur’an, written in beautiful Arabic calligraphy, were popular in the homes. Adherence to religion, however, does not mean the Egyptians avoided the pleasant things in life; on the contrary, Egyptians joyfully embraced life, as evident in their jokes, songs, love chants, and folk arts. Continue reading About Society and Culture – Part 1

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Omar Khayyam,
The Astronomer-Poet of Persia.

Omar Khayyam was born at Naishapur in Khorassan in the latter half of our Eleventh, and died within the First Quarter of our Twelfth Century. The Slender Story of his Life is curiously twined about that of two other very considerable Figures in their Time and Country: one of whom tells the Story of all Three. This was Nizam ul Mulk, Vizier to Alp Arslan the Son, and Malik Shah the Grandson, of Toghrul Beg the Tartar, who had wrested Persia from the feeble Successor of Mahmud the Great, and founded that Seljukian Dynasty which finally roused Europe into the Crusades. This Nizam ul Mulk, in his Wasiyat–or Testament–which he wrote and left as a Memorial for future Statesmen–relates the following, as quoted in the Calcutta Review, No. 59, from Mirkhond’s History of the Assassins. Continue reading Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Zoroastrians and Judaism

Fall of Assyria’s Empire and Rise of the Moses Legend

Assyria’s great empire lasted no longer than would the empires that began in the late nineteenth century — about seventy-five years. Assyria weakened itself economically by continuous wars to maintain its empire, including defending against invasions by an Indo-European tribal people, the Cimmerians, who came upon the Assyrians from the northeast. The Assyrians spent themselves expanding into Egypt and in quelling the rebellions of Egyptian princes. The Cimmerian menace increased, and more rebellions occurred within the empire. Assyria was burdened by the expense of maintaining its army. Soldiers had to be paid. Massive numbers of horses had to be cared for and fed. Siege engines had to be moved against rebellious cities. Continue reading Zoroastrians and Judaism

Manichaeism : The Prophet Mani

Manichaeism, a Universalist Faith

The Prophet Mani

An artist’s concept of Mani the Prophet

from Wikimedia Commons

The Prophet Mani

Persia was between India and the Roman Empire, and the Silk Road ran through it, making Persia a crossroad of ideas. It had Jews who had had fled from their homeland. After the Jews came Christians. Buddhist ideas were imported from India, and there was the indigenous Zoroastrianism. And into the mix of religious ideas arose a blend the various religions into a universalist faith:Manichaeism (pronounced mani-KEY-ism).

The founder of Manichaeism, Mani, is believed to have been the son of Parthian royalty, born in a village near Ctesiphon and a boy when Ardashir overthrew Parthian rule. As a young boy, Mani might have been taken by his father into a cult called the “Practitioners of Ablutions” — a cult that believed in washing away sins in baptisms. Or the group may have been the Elkesaites, a Jewish-Christian sect that arose around the year CE 100, a group believed to have celebrated the Sabbath, practiced vegetarianism, believed in circumcision, condemned the apostle Paul and criticized what it called falsehoods in Christian scripture and Mosaic law — a sect that died out around the year 400. Continue reading Manichaeism : The Prophet Mani

ZOROASTRIANISM

: A short overview

Zoroastrianism is the ancient religion of Persia. It was founded about 3500 years ago by the prophet Zarathushtra. Arising out of the polytheistic traditions of ancient India and Iran, he was one of the first monotheists in human history. Zarathushtra preached that there was one God, whom he called Ahura Mazda. Ahura means “Lord,” and Mazda means “Wise,” so Zoroastrians call God the “Wise Lord.” Zarathushtra has been known in the West as Zoroaster, from the Greek transliteration of his name; in Persia and India he is known as Zarthosht.
No one knows exactly when Zarathushtra lived. Zoroastrian tradition places him at around 600 B.C.E., but this date is thought by modern scholars to be far too late. The modern estimate of Zarathushtra’s date is anywhere from 1500 to 1000 B.C.E.
The basic scripture of Zoroastrianism is a set of 5 poetic songs called the _Gathas_, which were composed by Zarathushtra himself and have been preserved through the millennia by Zoroastrian priests. Over the years many other scriptures have accumulated around these Gathas. Much of these scriptures were destroyed by the Greek, Muslim, and Mongol invasions, but some remain. The Gathas are still the core text of the faith. They are composed in a very ancient language known as Avestan, which is closely related to Sanskrit. The evidence scholars use to give a time reference to Zarathushtra is linguistic: the language of the hymns composed by the Prophet is similar to the Sanskrit of the Rig-Veda, an ancient Hindu text which has been dated to the period of 1500-1000 B.C.E. Continue reading ZOROASTRIANISM