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    (circa 600- )
    Born in Iran
    Also called Mazdayasna
    Founded by Zoroaster AKA Zarathustra
    Believes in the concept of dualism, in which good (represented by Ahura Mazda) and evil (represented by Angra Mainyu) are completely separate entities at war with each other that will result in good triumphing over evil
    Basic tenets are 'good thoughts, good words, good deeds'
    Main scripture is the Avesta
    About 200,000 adherents worldwide, with the largest percentage of Zoroastrians residing in India, where they were divided into Parsis (descendants of 9th Century refugees who speak Gujarati) and Iranis (descendants of 19th Century immigrants who speak Persian)
    Its date of foundation, as well as the year of Zoroaster's birth, is unclear and highly debated upon.
    Once one of the world's most powerful religions, it has dwindled into a minority religion.
    Over time, it incorporated polytheistic elements into its theology despite Zoroaster's emphasis on a strict monotheistic worldview.
    It generally discourages inter-faith marriages, leading to many ex-Parsi women who marry outside their religion denied access to their ancestral temples.
    Its adherents are divided on the issue of conversion; Iranian Zoroastrians living in the West accept converts while Parsis don't.
    Its funerary tradition of feeding dead bodies to carrion birds is rendered impractical by the decline in the vulture population, compelling adherents to bury or cremate their dead despite their belief that death has a polluting effect on sacred elements like earth and fire.
    It influenced the development of other monotheistic religions.
    The Magi who visited baby Jesus were Zoroastrian priests.
    It preaches gender equality, allowing more women to enter the priesthood since the 19th Century.
    It has endured Muslim persecution in its native Iran.
    Despite its decline, it continues to exert a tremendous influence on Iranian culture.
    The Parsis thrived as an influential merchant class.
    One of its adherents is Freddie Mercury.

Credit: Big Lenny

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