The Zoroastrian priestesses of Iran


Giulia Bertoluzzi over at

Founded by the Prophet Zoroaster around 3,500 years ago, the religion claims around 190,000 followers. The official religion in Iran for 1,000 years, its adherents are now a dwindling minority within the Islamic Republic.

Middle East Eye paid a visit to their fire temple (or Agiary), the site of daily services led by Zorastrian priests. The visit coincided with the third Gambahar, one of the six annual festivals designed to celebrate the creation of the Earth.

Mobediar Sarvar Talapolevara enters the temple dressed in a long white dress on top of which a white veil is pinned, and sits close to the small but vigorous fire that crackles in the middle of the temple.

Talapolevara’s immaculate threads are transcendentally laundered, flawless white throughout. Her one accessory is the traditional koshti, a long belt which represents the Zoroastrian basic principles of “good thoughts, good words and good actions”.

“My father was a Parsi, that is a Zoroastrian from India,” she says. “I recall him fastening his belt every day before breakfast and telling us about his childhood in India, where Zoroastrians cling to conservative traditions and kids must wear the koshti from the age of eight.”

“It was my father who encouraged me the most. At first Indian Parsis opposed the idea of the female priests,” Mobed Talapolevara said. “That’s why I was pleasantly surprised upon my initiation as a priest four years ago to receive messages of support from those same Indian Parsis. They even published articles in Indian newspapers and at the International Congress of Zoroastrians.”

More here.