Death and Dying
- Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions. It was founded by the prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) in ancient Iran approximately 3500 years ago. For 1000 years Zoroastrianism was one of the most powerful religions in the world. It was the official religion of Persia (Iran) from 600 BCE to 650 CE. It is now one of the world’s smallest religions with around 250,000 followers. There are 4000 Zoroastrians living in Britain
- Zoroastrian beliefs can be summed up by “Good thoughts, good words, good deeds”. Zoroastrians believe in one God called Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord). They believe that Zoroaster is the prophet of God. Dualism in Zoroastrianism is the existence of, yet complete separation of, good and evil. They believe that the elements are pure and that fire represents God’s wisdom. The Zoroastrian book of Holy Scriptures is called the Avesta.
- The Zoroastrian calendar is full of holy days, feasts and festivals giving them the reputation of being a joyful religion full of celebration.
- Children are entered into the faith between the ages of 7 and 15 years old. On the initiation day the sacred sadra (shirt) and kusti (girdle) are put on for the first time. These garments are worn at all times and are to be treated with the greatest respect.
- An interpreter may be needed.
- The sacred sadra (shirt) and kusti (girdle) are worn at all times and should be treated with the greatest respect.
- Daily prayers are fundamental. The sacred girdle is tied and untied during daily Kusti prayers and very sick patients may need help to do this.
- Prayers are said facing the sun, fire or other source of light representing Ahura Mazda’s divine light and energy.
- The Zoroastrian has a very high standard of hygiene and running water would be preferred for washing. A bowl of freshly drawn water is an acceptable alternative.
- Zoroastrians are unlikely to accept blood transfusions or donate blood.
- No specific dietary requirements have been identified.
- It is important that the body is bathed before being dressed in white clothing.
- Most families provide a special sadra which is to be worn next to the skin under the shroud with the sacred kusti. The family may wish the head to be covered by a cap or a scarf.
- Delays to a funeral will cause distress and any reason for it must be carefully explained to the family. The family may wish to prepare the body for the funeral but in most cases a Funeral Director will be instructed.
- Cremation and burial are both acceptable, usually within 24-48 hours.
- If a Zoroastrian patient has no immediate relatives or friends a fellow Zoroastrian should be
contacted if possible.
- Orthodox Zoroastrians consider the pollution of the body is against the will of God. They are against transplants for this reason and are probably unwilling either to donate or to receive. However, the less Orthodox may agree.
- Routine procedures are acceptable.
- Post Mortems are forbidden by religious law, only the Coroner’s
legal requirement would allow a Post Mortem.