Zoroastrian Rituals in Context

Zoroastrian Rituals in Context

Zoroastrian Rituals in Context

Zoroastrian Rituals in Context

Synopsis

Rituals, it is agreed, play a prominent role in Zoroastrianism, one of the oldest continuous traditions of mankind. In this book, scholars from a broad range of disciplines make the first ever collective effort to address this issue. From a historical and geographical perspective, texts and contexts studied in these pages range from antiquity to modernity, all the way from Japan, China, India, Iran, Europe to California. The essays touch on questions of theory, ritual texts, change and performances, gender and professional religion (priesthood/lay-people). The rituals studied are placed in a broad scope of social and local settings ranging from the royal court to the needy, from the rural village to the urban metropolis, from the domestic to the public.

Excerpt

Rituals and the debate on the origins of Zoroastrianism; Models and compari
sons—theories and descriptions; Ritual networL· and sequences; Priestly and
lay-rituals; Congregational rituals and the construction of ritual communities;
Imaginations and interactions

Students of Zoroastrianism generally agree that rituals are of paramount importance in that religion. Surprisingly though, except for a few comprehensive studies written by Zoroastrian priests, in particular the book The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Parsees by (Ervad Shams-ul-Ulama Dr. h.c. Sir) Jivanji Jamshedji Modi, first published in 1922 (second edition 1937, reprinted several times afterwards), but still regarded as the classic study, as well as a few contributions to the study of single rituals, this volume may claim to be the first ever collective attempt devoted to that issue.

A guiding principle in approaching the subject is that rituals need to be studied not in isolation, as if they were time- and spaceless entities, but in context. However, just as there is not just one text to be studied in isolation, the contributions gathered in this volume amply attest that there is not just one context to be addressed either. From a historical and geographical perspective, texts and contexts studied in these pages range from antiquity to modernity, all the way from Japan, China, India, Iran, Europe to California. They touch on questions of gender and professional religion (priesthood/lay-people) and are placed in a broad range of social and local settings: from the royal court to the needy, from the rural

An abridged version of this book (with an extensive introduction) has been prepared by J.K. Choksy and F.M. Kotwal but is still awaiting publication. On Modi see M. Stausberg, Die Religion Zarathushtras. Geschichte - Gegenwart - Rituale, vol. 2 (Stuttgart, 2002), pp. 106–108.

Most importantly: F.M. Kotwal/J.W. Boyd, A Persian Offering. The Yasna: A Zoroastrian High Liturgy (Studia Iranica, Cahier 8; Paris, 1991).

M. Stausberg, Die Religion Zarathushtras. Geschichte - Gegenwart - Rituale, vol. 3 (forthcoming [Stuttgart]) presents an overview of (most) rituals still practiced in living Zoroastrianism.

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