Redbridge Zoroastrians celebrate New Year with a feast

1To celebrate, Zoroastrians “break bread together” by gathering with friends and family to feast.

“Navroze Mubarak,” said the members of the Redbridge community wishing each other a happy New Year.

It is believed about 200 Zoroastrians live in the borough and follow one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions.

Zoroastrianism was founded by the Prophet Zoroaster in ancient Iran approximately 3,500 years ago.

Wednesday marked the Zoroastrian new year according to the Shenshai calendar, which is followed by Zoroastrians of Indian Parsi descent.

The celebration remembers the start of the exodus from Iran to the Western shores of India following the Arab conquests 1386 years ago.

Zoroastrians communities have traditionally lived in India, where they celebrate the New Year by going to fire temples and offer sandalwood to the fire – which they believe represents God’s wisdom.

“Fire is at the centre of our religion,” explained former Redbridge mayor Filly Maravala, who organises the annual gathering.

“Sadly in the UK such consecrated Fire Temple does not exist, instead everyone recites special prayers in their own homes and then the evening is reserved for merriment and getting together,” he said.

New Year celebrations is also a time for charity and Zoroastrians give food and alms to the poor.

“Good thoughts, good words and good deeds. That is our motto,” added Mr Maravala.

Shortly after the new year celebrations is Khordad Sal, on the following Sunday, which marks the birthday of Prophet Zarathushtra – the founder of the ancient religion in Iran.

The spring equinox, also called Jamshedi Noruz, is another important date in the Zoroastrian religious calendar and is usually celebrated in March.

Published on IlfordRecorderUK