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Molloy’s Elements of Religion Among Zoroastrians


Shaun Walker’s article titled “The Last of the Zoroastrians” gives a glimpse of the manifestation of Molloy’s eight elements of religion in Zoroastrianism. The community has a strong belief that they must make peace with the dead before disposing of the body. They unite to pray for the dead before the burial or cremation of the corpse. Essentially, every aspect of Zoroastrians’ life is tied to religion.

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Zoroastrians acknowledge the need for unity among community members, enabling them to cooperate in times of difficulties, as was the case following the grandfather’s death: Pestonjee Pader. The narrator notes that the attendance group comprised of the family and community members of the Parsis Zoroastrians who came to participate in funeral prayers. The cooperation demonstrated during the burial preparation process is a clear pointer that Zoroastrians’ religion is anchored on social unity.

Central Myths

Zoroastrians attach significant value to the mythical belief that a powerful deity exists. This belief is based on Zarathustra’s teachings, who is a prophet presumed to have lived several thousand years ago, although there are hardly any records to prove it. Importantly, Zoroastrians cling by the myth that they need to observe a strict prayer schedule to evade evil spirits and draw close to their deity called Ahura Mazda (Walker). They would do anything, including avoiding interactions with their mixed-heritage children, to avoid compromising their religious beliefs.


Zoroastrians observe religious rituals following the death of a community member. The grandfather’s corpse is “lain atop a rickety wooden stretcher as three priests in white robes intoned an Avestan, the long-dead language of their scriptures” (Walker). The fact that Zoroastrians do not pray loudly at any other time except during burials is a remarkable observation. Loud prayers symbolize the value attached to the death ritual meant to avoid the wrath of the deceased evil spirits.

Material Expression

Pestonjee Pader, the grandfather, grew up in the Gulf city of Aden, which attracted industrious Parsis. Apparently, being unproductive is a sin against Ahura Mazda. The grandfather took over his family’s food supplies company from a tender age. The family reaped great profits from the initial food supplies business, which enabled them to venture into several other industries (Walker). Hence, the pursuit of material wealth is acknowledged among Zoroastrians, as can be deduced from the narrator’s account of his grandfather’s industrious early life.


The concept of sacredness is apparent in Zoroastrianism since followers need to preserve their purity. The religion is founded on the belief that “an epic battle between a powerful deity and an evil spirit” persists by the day (Walker). Followers must do everything within their means to support the deity. Walker notes that a follower’s deeds must conform to the religious standards of holiness and sacredness. The grandfather murmured prayers several times a day throughout his life in his pursuit of sacredness.

Characteristic Emotional Experience

Zoroastrians have a strong emotional attachment to their religious beliefs and rituals. The Parsi would not attempt to recruit converts into Zoroastrianism, just as they did not want anyone to woo them into other religions. Walker notes that a typical Zoroastrian is a happy and joyful rather than a destructive and vengeful person. However, Zoroastrians’ emotional experience, which is inscribed in their scriptures, allows and encourages them to engage in charity and help the less fortunate in society. These attributes are an important reflection of the Zoroastrians’ emotional experience.

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Zoroastrianism is anchored on strict social norms and ethics, although followers are seldom compelled. People must be mindful of each other’s welfare to promote social welfare and unity. The Zoroastrian approach to business gives a perfect overview of the people’s view of ethics and morals. Walker notes that Zoroastrians applaud hard work, wealth, and generosity. However, everyone should strive to live a decent life by making money through socially, morally, and ethically acceptable means.

Work Cited

Walker, Shaun, “The Last of the Zoroastrians: A Funeral, a Family, and a Journey into a Disappearing Religion.” The Guardian, 2020, Web.

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