In Iran, the Council of Constitutional Experts has approved a clause naming Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism as the only minority religions that will be officially recognised.
In Iran, the Council of Constitutional Experts has approved a clause naming Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism as the only minority religions that will be officially recognised. The three religions previously enjoyed official status but the clause passed by the Council ??? allow them to exercise their religious rights within the principles of Islam.
SYNOPSIS: According to the 1976 census there are more than three hundred thousand Christians in Iran, most of them belonging to the Armenian community and some eighty thousand Jews and thirty thousand Zoroastrians who adhere to the faith of pre-Islamic Persia.
Although the vast majority of Iranians are Moslems, the Christians form a very sizeable majority. They include Nestorians, Protestants and Catholics, but the bulk are Orthodox Armenians. This Armenian couple in Teheran decided to have their wedding in the true traditional way. The Americans were converted to Christianity in 300 A.D. Although the community was originally based in Armenia and Azerbaijan, they were active traders and now there are large communities in the commercial centres of Teheran and Isfahan.
This couple is observing traditions familiar to many Westerners--the white gown, the blessing and the tossing of the bouquet are well known to Christians.
Zoroastrianism is also still thriving. The great Iranian religious reformer and prophet Zoroaster founded the religion in the sixth century B.C. Most Zoroastrians are now concentrated in the desert areas of Yazd in central Iran and Kerman in the south, though some are also to be found in Teheran.
The traditional Zoroastrian wedding ceremony is carried out by a priest who through his prayers calls on God to put the evil spirits to flight. the priesthood is hereditary, but birth alone is not sufficient qualification. All priests have to go through a series of purification and absolution ceremonies.
As in other religions a wedding is an opportunity for gifts and celebrations. This used to be very much of a tribal occasion, as inter-marriage with the tribe was the custom.
When Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, the Jews in particular feared a period of oppression, especially as some of them are wealthy traders in the commercial centres. At least sixteen thousand Jews fled the country, many to Israel, some to the United States and Europe. But many Jews were reluctant leave and write off over two thousands years of history--Iran has been their home since the days of "Cyrus the Great". For those who have stayed behind their religious freedom seems secure but their economic future remains uncertain.