Zoroastrianism Overview

December 20, 2005 · updated February 15, 2022

Faravahar at Persepolis
Fast Facts on Zoroastrianism
Adherents 200,000
Adherents Called Zoroastrians, Parsis, Parsees
Main Location(s) India, Iran
Date Founded estimated between 12th and 6th century BCE
Place Founded Ancient Persia
Founder(s) Zoroaster
Beliefs one God, Ahura Mazda, who has an evil opponent, Aura Mainyu; judgment after death; heaven and hell
Practices prayers; tending the sacred fire; coming of age rituals; burial by exposure in the Tower of Silence
Holidays Gahanbars (seasonal festivals), Noruz (New Year), Mehragan (festival of Mithra)
Texts Zend Avesta
Symbols faravahar (winged sun disk with human figure); adar (sacred fire)

Zoroastrianism is the ancient, pre-Islamic religion of Persia (modern-day Iran). It survives there in isolated areas but primarily exists in India, where the descendants of Zoroastrian Persian immigrants are known as Parsis, or Parsees. In India the religion is called Parsiism.

Founded by the Iranian prophet and reformer Zoroaster in the 6th century BCE, Zoroastrianism contains both monotheistic and dualistic features. Although a fairly small religion today, numbering about 200,000 adherents, it shares many central concepts with the major world religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Table of Contents