Last weekend, on 30th January 2011, the recently-established Zorostrians’ Foundation of Holland, organized the SADEH, old Persian Festival in the city of Leiden. In the ceremony four people converted to Zoroastrianism.
Khosrow Khazaei, Presiden of Brussels-based European Centre For Zoroastrian Studies and Jaleh Daftarian, Presiden of Paris-based Association of Persian Language gave lecture there.
In Leiden, in Sadreh-Pooshi Ceremony of Sadeh Festival, four Muslim Persians converted to Zoroastrianism; one woman and three men. Shirin Ghahramani, one of the organizers, told me: “We are not going to make people Zoroastrian, it’s just an opportunity for those who are interested to became familiar with their original religion”.
Sadeh is a ancient Persian tradition celebrated 50 days before Nowruz (Persian New Year). Sadeh means “hundred” and refers to one hundred days and nights past the end of summer.
Althought Sadeh has no direct relation with any religion but in modern Persia, it’s mostly celebrated just by the Zoroastrians.
Most of the Persians (Iranians) were Zoroastrian before the Arab invasion in 7th century AD. After Muslim conquest of Persia, the official religion became Islam. Many Zoroastrians immigrated to India to keep their identity alive. The community is known now as Parsi. The legendary rock singer Freddie Mercury and the composer Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji are two famous Parsis.
According to Richard Foltz: “The establishment of an Islamic Republic following the Iranian revolution of 1979 posed many setbacks for Iran’s religious minorities. Since that time many Zoroastrians, aided by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society program, have emigrated to the US, as well as to Canada, Australia, and the UK. Together with the issues of out-marriage and low birth rates, this is leading to a steady decline in Iran’s Zoroastrian population which is currently estimated at under 20,000.”