Freddie Mercury holding a microphone: India

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Within the Freddie Mercury biopic, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” there’s a scene by which a member of the family scolds Mercury.


“So now the household title shouldn’t be ok for you?”

“I modified it legally,” Mercury responds. “No wanting again.”

It’d come as a shock to some that Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara. He got here from a Parsi household that had roots in India and he was a Zoroastrian by religion.

UNSPECIFIED - :  Photo of QUEEN; Posed studio group portait L-R Brian May, Freddie Mercury, John Deacon and Roger Taylor  (Photo by John Rodgers/Redferns)

UNSPECIFIED – : Photograph of QUEEN; Posed studio group portait L-R Brian Could, Freddie Mercury, John Deacon and Roger Taylor (Photograph by John Rodgers/Redferns)

On the earth faith programs I educate on the College of Florida, we focus on Zoroastrianism.

Fleeing spiritual persecution from Muslims in Persia someday between the seventh and 10th centuries, the Zoroastrians settled in India, the place they got here to be referred to as “Parsis.”

Like Freddie Mercury, they labored to combine into their new environment. But additionally they stayed true to the values, beliefs, and practices of their faith, which many students say had an affect on Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

A precursor for Christianity?

The Zoroastrian religion is among the world’s oldest religions, one that would date again so far as 1200 BCE.

Zoroaster, a prophet who lived in modern-day Iran, is considered because the founding father of Zoroastrianism.

We’re unsure when Zoroaster lived, although some say it was round 1200 BCE. He’s thought to have composed the Gathas, the hymns that make up a good portion of the Yasna, that are the liturgical texts of the Zoroastrians.

In accordance with the Zoroastrian custom, Ahura Mazda is the supreme lord and creator; he represents all that’s good. On this facet, the faith is among the oldest examples of monotheism or the assumption in a single god.

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TOWERS OF SILENCE, YAZD, YAZD PROVINCE, IRAN - 2017/04/19: At the Towers of Silence, traditional Zoroastrian burial circles where bodies were left to be eaten by scavenger birds, outside of Yazd, Iran. Yazd was a centre for Zoroastrianism during pre-islamic Sassanid times. Known locally as dakhmas, these towers were still in use up until the 1970's. Burials are now illegal due to hygiene reasons. (Photo by Leisa Tyler/LightRocket via Getty Images)

© 2017 Leisa Tyler
TOWERS OF SILENCE, YAZD, YAZD PROVINCE, IRAN – 2017/04/19: On the Towers of Silence, conventional Zoroastrian burial circles the place our bodies have been left to be eaten by scavenger birds, outdoors of Yazd, Iran. Yazd was a centre for Zoroastrianism throughout pre-islamic Sassanid instances. Recognized regionally as dakhmas, these towers have been nonetheless in dissipate till the 1970’s. Burials at the moment are unlawful on account of hygiene causes. (Photograph by Leisa Tyler/LightRocket through Getty Photos)

The principle tenets of the religion centre on the opposition between Ahura Mazda and the forces of evil that are embodied by Angra Mainyu, the spirit of destruction, malignancy, and chaos. This evil spirit creates a serpent named Azi Dahaka, a logo of the underworld, not not like the Biblical serpents of Judeo-Christian traditions.

Inside this cosmic battle we see the strain between “asha,” which roughly interprets to “reality,” “righteousness,” “justice” or “good issues,” and “druj,” or deceit.

Fact is represented by mild, and Parsis will at all times flip to a supply of sunshine after they pray, with hearth, the solar and the moon all symbolizing this non secular mild.

Certainly, students have famous the robust historic affect that Zoroastrianism has had on ideas seen in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, whether or not it’s monotheism, the duality of excellent and evil, or Devil.

At the moment Zoroastrianism has a small however religious following, although it’s been shrinking.

In 2004, it was estimated that there have been between 128,00zero and 190,00zero Zoroastrians dwelling world wide, with 18,00zero residing within the US.

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Like sugar in milk

The “Qissa e Sanjan,” which interprets to “The Story of Sanjan,” was composed across the 17th century. It describes how the Zoroastrians, fleeing spiritual persecution from Muslim invasions of their Persian homeland many centuries earlier, head to Gujarat, in western India.

As soon as they arrive, they attain out to the native king, whom they name “Jadi Rana.” He agrees to present them land in the event that they undertake the native costume, language, and a few customs. Nevertheless there’s by no means any query about spiritual religion: They nonetheless apply their faith, and Jadi Rana is elated that these newcomers worship as they please.

Parsi historical past has two variations of what occurred.

In a single, when the Zoroastrian refugees arrived in Gujarat, the king sends them a jar of milk stuffed to the highest—his approach of claiming that his kingdom is full and there’s no room for any extra individuals. In response, the newcomers stir in a spoonful of sugar and ship it again to the king. In different phrases, not solely do they promise to combine with the native inhabitants however that they’ll additionally improve it with their presence.

Within the different model, they drop a gold ring into the bowl to point out they’ll retain their identification and tradition, however they’ll nonetheless add immense worth to the area.

Freddie Mercury biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ debuts at No. 1 (Offered by FOX Information)

These are each compelling narratives, although they make barely completely different factors. One extols the combination of immigrants, whereas the opposite highlights the worth of various cultures dwelling collectively however in concord.

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Parsis in India—and wherever they’ve gone—have completed each. They’ve adopted among the customs of the land they reside in whereas sustaining their distinctive tradition, spiritual rituals, and beliefs.

They’ve additionally made extra cultural contributions than the preliminary wave of refugees to Gujarat may have ever imagined.

Regardless of their small numbers, Parsis can rely various well-known musicians, scientists, students, artists, and entrepreneurs amongst their ranks.

Past Freddie Mercury, there’s Zubin Mehta, the director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra; Jamshedji Tata, the founding father of the Tata Group, the biggest enterprise conglomerate in India; Dadabhai Naoroji, the primary Indian elected to the British parliament; Harvard professor Homi Okay. Bhabha; and nuclear physicist Homi J. Bhabha, to call just a few.

German scientist Dr Rudolf Schulten (1923 - 1996, right) explains a model of the 'Schulten reactor', a high-temperature atomic reactor, to Professor Homi J. Bhabha (1909 - 1966), President of the Atomic Energy Commission of India, in Mannheim, Germany, 16th May 1960. Bhabha is on a visit to Germany at the invitation of the German government. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

German scientist Dr Rudolf Schulten (1923 – 1996, proper) explains a mannequin of the ‘Schulten reactor’, a high-temperature atomic reactor, to Professor Homi J. Bhabha (1909 – 1966), President of the Atomic Power Fee of India, in Mannheim, Germany, 16th Could 1960. Bhabha is on a go to to Germany on the invitation of the German authorities. (Photograph by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Photos)

Freddie Mercury’s household have been migrants. Their first dwelling was in India. Then they moved to Zanzibar, earlier than lastly settling in England.

Like his ancestors, Freddie Mercury built-in into a brand new tradition. He modified his title and have become a Western pop icon.

But by means of all of it, he remained immensely pleased with his heritage. “I feel what his Zoroastrian religion gave him,” his sister Kashmira Cooke defined in 2014, “was to work onerous, to persevere, and to observe your goals.”

Gallery: In pictures: Remembering Freddie Mercury (Offered by Photograph Providers)



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