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The Zoroastrian DiasporaReligion and Migration$

John R. Hinnells

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780198267591

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198267591.001.0001

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(p.823) Glossary

(p.823) Glossary

The Zoroastrian Diaspora
Oxford University Press

  • Adaran

    The second grade of ritual fire, used in temples but not homes.

  • Afarganiyu

    ‘Fire altar’, a vessel in which the sacred fire burns.

  • Agiary

    Gujarati ‘house of fire’, common term for temples in India.

  • Ahura Mazda

    ‘Wise Lord’, ‘Lord Wisdom’, the term used for God.

  • Amesha Spentas

    Bounteous, or Holy Immortals; seven heavenly beings or ‘aspects’ of Ahura Mazda.

  • Anjuman

    ‘Community’ or an Association.

  • Aramghah

    Zoroastrian cemetery for burials.

  • Asha

    ‘Truth’, ‘Righteousness’, one of the seven Amesha Spentas.

  • Asha Zarathushtra

    Righteous Zarathushtra, common term for the Prophet.

  • Ashem Vohu

    Prayer in praise of Asha, offered many times daily.

  • Astodan

    (of Cyrus the Great) Stone burial mound.

  • Atash

    Sacred fire

  • Atash Bahram

    First and highest grade of ritual fire, temples housing such fire, sometimes known as ‘cathedral fire temples’.

  • Atash Nyaish

    ‘Litany’ to the fire.

  • Athornan


  • Athornan Madressa

    College for training priests.

  • Avesta

    The holy book of Zoroastrians.

  • Baug

    Place, e.g. housing colony or compound for celebrating weddings and initiations.

  • Bahman Yazad

    A heavenly being to whom many Parsis pray.

  • Boi-Maachi

    The rite of feeding the sacred fire with sandalwood.

  • Bungli

    Building where corpses are taken for washing and funeral prayers.

  • Chinvat Bridge

    Bridge over which souls of deceased cross, the righteous to heaven but from which the wicked fall into hell.

  • Cusrow Baug

    Large Parsi housing colony in Mumbai, often termed ‘the queen of the colonies’.

  • Dadgah

    Third or lowest grade of ritual fire, can be tended by lay people in their home or by priests in a temple.

  • Dar-e Mehr/Dar-i Mihr

    ‘Gate’ or ‘Court’ of Mithra, term for a temple.

  • Darbe Mehr

    Term used for community buildings in the diaspora funded by Guiv Trusts, interpreted as meaning ‘place of love’.

  • Dastur

    High Priest.

  • (p.824) Deygan

    Festival celebrated by Iranian Zoroastrians in mid-winter.

  • Dhansak

    Popular Parsi food for festive occasions, with distinctive flavour and ingredients from the dish of the same name in Indian restaurants in the West.

  • Dharmsala

    Guesthouses for Parsis.

  • Divo

    Small oil lamp lit in many homes, representing the sacred fire.

  • Diwali

    Hindu festival but respected by Parsis in India.

  • Dokhma

    Tall round structure in which the dead are laid for the vultures to consume, commonly referred to as ‘Towers of Silence’.

  • Dokhmenashini

    Traditional funeral conducted in a dokhma.

  • Doongerwadi

    Grounds around dokhmas.

  • Ervad

    A male who has undergone the first stage of priestly initiation and can perform outer or lower rituals.

  • Fareshta

    Lengthy ritual, normally involving several priests, performed as an act of thanksgiving, e.g. at weddings.

  • Farohar

    The winged symbol, interpreted by some as the symbol of Ahura Mazda, by others as the fravashi.

  • Farokshi

    Prayers for the dead.

  • Farsi

    Form of Persian language common among Iranian Zoroastrians.

  • Farvardigan

    Ceremony in memory of, and invoking, the ancesters (term used by Iranian Zoroastrians, see the Parsi muktad).

  • Fasli

    Zoroastrian calendar introduced in early nineteenth century to accord with the Gregorian calendar.

  • Fravashi

    The heavenly ‘soul’ which all people are thought to have.

  • Gahambars

    Seven seasonal festivals.

  • Gathas

    The hymns of the Prophet Zoroaster.

  • Gehsarna

    Part of the traditional Zoroastrian funeral.

  • Guiv Trusts

    Trusts established by Arbab Rustom Guiv which have funded most of the Zoroastrian buildings in the diaspora.

  • Haftseen table

    See Sofreh haftseen.

  • Hambandagi

    Communal prayers commonly offered at the start of functions.

  • Hamkhara

    (Ahura Mazda's) fellow worker, in Parsi usage sometimes used for an important divine being.

  • Ilm-i Khshnoom

    Twentieth-century Parsi occult movement, influential in India.

  • Jamshedi Navroz/No Ruz

    The Zoroastrian New Year.

  • Jashan

    Traditional Zoroastrian rite, used on most occasions in the diaspora; traditionally it can be used for various purposes, e.g. blessing a new home, or honouring a new Dastur.

  • Jashan-Sadeh

    Festival popular among Iranian Zoroastrians.

  • Juddin

    A non-Zoroastrian.

  • Kadmi

    A Parsi calendar initially introduced to synchronize with the Iranian calendar.

  • (p.825) Kankash-e-Mobedan

    North American Iranian Mobed Council.

  • Karachi Zarthoshti Banu Mandal

    Zoroastrian Women's society in Karachi which undertakes much charitable work.

  • Keeblah

    A Muslim term occasionally used by Zoroastrians to indicate the prayer room.

  • Khandiars

    Corpse-bearers at dokhmas.

  • Kusti

    Sacred lambswool cord worn around the waist after initiation, thought of as the swordbelt of the faith.

  • Loban


  • Machi ceremonies

    Ceremonies to feed the fire used in temples, or diasporic prayer rooms.

  • Maidhyarem Gahambar

    One of the seasonal festivals observed by Iranian Zoroastrians.

  • Majlis

    Iranian Parliament.

  • Manthra

    Word used by Parsis for spiritually powerful prayers.

  • Maratab

    Second grade of priestly initiation, qualifying a male to perform higher or inner temple liturgies.

  • Mazdayasni

    Literally, ‘worshippers of Mazda’, a common term in the community for ‘Zoroastrians’.

  • Mehragan/Meheragan

    A popular seasonal festival associated with Mithra, celebrated particularly by Iranian Zoroastrians.

  • Mobed


  • Mobed-e-Mobedan

    The senior mobed among Iranian Zoroastrians.

  • Muktad

    Annual ceremonies celebrated by Parsis in honour of ancestors, see Fravardigan.

  • Najesh

    Muslim term referring to impurity.

  • Nasakhana

    Place where nassersalas live.

  • Nassesalas

    Professionals who prepare the body for the funeral.

  • Natak

    Gujarati play; Parsi nataks typically have baudy humour.

  • Naujote/navjote


  • Navar

    First grade of priestly initiation, qualifying a man to perform outer or lower ceremonies.

  • Nirang/Nirangdin

    Consecrated cow's urine, and the ceremony of consecration.

  • Nirangistan

    Ancient text of priestly instruction.

  • Nirangs


  • Niyayesh

    A litany.

  • No Ruz

    Zoroastrian New Year.

  • Ohrmazd

    Later term (Pahlavi) for Ahura Mazda.

  • Padan

    Mask worn over priest's mouth when tending the fire.

  • Pahlavi

    Ancient Iranian language in which many theological texts were written; and the name taken by the last royal dynasty in Iran.

  • Panthak

    An area, like a parish, where one senior priest (Punthaky) allocates rituals to fellow priests.

  • (p.826) Parsi-panu

    Parsi culture or ‘Parsi-ness’.

  • Parsi Shamba

    (Swahili) Parsi colony or baug in Zanzibar and Mombasa.

  • Pateti

    Parsi New Year.

  • Pavis

    Grooves or marks on the ground defining a sacred space.

  • Punchayet

    A traditional form of leadership or governing body among Parsis; Bombay Parsi Punchayet is commonly seen as the senior Punchayet.

  • Pundolites

    Followers of a twentieth-century Parsi occult teacher.

  • Punthaky system

    System whereby a group of Zoroastrian priests are assigned duties by a senior member, the Punthaky.

  • Purity laws

    Religious laws on purity and impurity.

  • Qadmi

    See Kadmi.

  • Ratu

    A Zoroastrian teacher. The term appears in the Gathas and is emphasized as the role of the key figure in the Zarathushtrian Assembly.

  • Rivayets

    A series of letters and explanations of religious practice sent by Iranian Zoroastrians to the Parsis in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

  • Roj

    Day of the month; each roj is associated with a particular heavenly being.

  • Sagdi

    Place for prayers at Zoroastrian funerals.

  • Samast anjuman

    A community meeting to discuss key issues.

  • Saoshyant


  • Sasanian

    Iranian empire, Iran from third to seventh century CE.

  • Sedre pushi

    Iranian Zoroastrian term for initiation.

  • Setayesh Gah

    ‘Inner sanctum’ of prayer room.

  • Shahenshai

    The oldest of the three Parsi calendars.

  • Shah Name

    Multi-volumed story of ancient Iranian myth and legend.

  • Siroza

    Prayers for departed souls

  • Sofreh haftseen

    A symbolic table-setting of seven objects used by Iranian Zoroastrians.

  • Sudre

    Sacred white cotton shirt with which the child is invested on initiation.

  • Tirgan

    Festival preserved by Iranian Zoroastrians, not much celebrated by Parsis.

  • Uthumna/uthamna

    Funeral prayers at which charitable bequests are often made in memory of the deceased.

  • Varasya

    Consecrated white bull whose hair and urine are used in rituals.

  • Vendidad

    Text in the Avesta detailing purity laws.

  • Yasht

    Long hymns in the Avesta, some pre- and some post-Zoroaster.

  • Yazata/yazad

    Heavenly beings to whom devotion is paid.

  • (p.827) Yasna

    Literally ‘worship’, used as name of an important ceremony, and forms a text in the Avesta.

  • Yezidis

    Members of a Kurdish group originating from a twelfth-century Muslim teacher, deploying much ancient Iranian imagery; condemned by Muslims as heretics and devil worshippers.

  • Zarathushti/Zarthoshti

    The term Zoroastrians emerged from Greek usage, but many diaspora ‘Zoroastrians’, especially in North America, prefer the Iranian-based ‘Zarathushti’.

  • Zarathushtra

    The Iranian form of the Greek term for the Prophet ‘Zoroaster’.