The Zoroastrians are followers of the prophet Zarathushtra. It is said that Zarathushtra lived in the region that is now Iran or Afghanistan anywhere from 3,500 to 6,000 years ago. His basic teachings include the moral triad of Manashni, Gavashni, Kunashni -- Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds. Zarathushtra was the first prophet to speak of One God. In this respect, he was a pioneer. He received his divine revelation by a riverbank at the age of thirty, when Ahura Mazda (the One God) and six other Amesha Spentas (archangels) appeared before him. The light that emanated from Ahura Mazda was so dazzling that Zarathushtra could not see his own shadow on the ground. Initially Zarathushtra had just one disciple, his cousin Madhyoi-mangha. According to folklore, when Zarathushtra challenged the priests in the court of King Vishtaspa to a spiritual debate and won, they had him imprisoned. When the king's beloved white steed was paralyzed, Zarathushtra healed the horse, and King Vishtaspa embraced the prophet's teachings. Thus began the rise of Zoroastrianism. No one knows how Zarathushtra died. But there is no doubt that his teachings inspired an ancient Persian empire. Today, approximately 140,000 Zoroastrians remain worldwide.
The photograph shows a fire temple -- the Zoroastrian place of worship -- in Dahanu. The winged angelic being is the fravashi, a guardian spirit that encourages the soul to enter the physical world, gather experience, and choose asha over druj, the truth over the lie.