Sure, you know about Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. But what do you know about Zoroastrianism or Yoruba? A number of readers may be familiar with the Baha’i faith, but have you actually heard of the African Mami Wata religion? Chris Wary published a unique and interesting article recently on Matador Travel, profiling six unique religions that he suggests are virtually unknown in the West. Following are his overviews of two of the six religions. The entire story is definitely worth a read.
Zoroastrianism– Zoroastrianism is based on the teachings of the first millennium BCE Iranian prophet Zoroaster. There are estimated to be between 150,000 and 210,000 Zoroastrians in the world today, mostly in India and the United States.
These small numbers mask the historical importance of this religion. Both Eastern and Western religions can trace ties back to Zoroastrianism, meaning the religion has most likely had more impact on the world than any other belief system.
Zoroastrians believe in one universal God, Ahura Mazda, who is in conflict with the forces of chaos, led by Angra Mainyu. Humans need to take an active role in the conflict by performing good deeds and having good thoughts and words. The conflict will ultimately be brought to an end when Soashyant, a savior, comes to Earth and reanimates the dead.
Yoruba– The Yoruba religion is the beliefs and practices of the people located in the areas that are now Benin and Nigeria before they encountered other outside religions. There are no specific numbers documenting the number of followers, but many believe that Yoruba is the largest African-born religion in the world. It has also heavily influenced several Afro-American religions such as Lucumi in Cuba.
The main belief of the Yoruba peoples is that all humans have a manifest destiny, referred to as ayanmo, to become one with the divine creator, known as Olodumare. Our destinies are determined through our thoughts and actions in the physical world. The Yoruba see life and death as cycles in the physical and spiritual realms while the spirit moves towards union with Olodumare.