Whilst Khordad Sal is an upbeat occasion that commemorates the birth of the prophet Zoroaster, Zarthost No Deeso is an occasion of mourning because it signifies the day he died. Zoroastrians arrive at the Fire Temple en masse and extra mobeds are required in order to support the large influx of Zoroastrian worshippers. The event does not have any festivities in the true sense of the word. The day itself is considered a very sombre occasion. This is in stark contrast to the Christian celebration of Easter in which Jesus’ death is celebrated as Jesus dying for the sins of man. This may be because Zoroastrian scholars are not agreed in the method that Zoroaster was killed or died.
There are various conflicting stories about the way in which Zoroaster died. Although this doesn’t change the sombre tone of Zarthost No Deeso – it is worthy of discussion. Some believe that Zoroaster was killed during an invasion by the Turanian Army. While others speculate that the person who was killed was not Zoroaster and he was in fact killed by a lightning strike. The story gets convoluted even further with others suggesting that before a murderer struck Zoroaster down the murderer was struck by lightning that was conjured via divine intervention. After this Zoroaster descended into the sky. Although not all tales of Zoroaster’s death are reliant on divinity – some even speculate he just died in his sleep after living to a ripe old age.
This brings me to the next point about Zarthost No Deeso. During Zarthost No Deeso, Zoroastrian followers discuss the life and teachings of Zoroaster – whether or not this just leads to more speculation on the part of Parsis regarding Zoroaster is a point of contention. However, it does a lot to bring the community together and discuss the prophet while at the same time paying tribute to his memory. These discussions take place in the Fire Temple or in the homes of followers who open their doors to their Zoroastrian kin for the occasion.
Zarthost No Deeso occurs during the month of June on the Zoroastrian calendar. Because of the interest in Zoroaster from westerners and the world wide following of Zoroaster – his death is a symbolic occasion and it is common to find people that are not Zoroastrians mourning his death. Zoroaster was not just a prophet; he was also a philosopher who is held in high esteem by the academic community.