Goodness and pureness are strongly linked in Zoroastrianism (as they are in many other religions), and pureness features prominently in Zoroastrian ritual. There are a variety of symbols through which the message of purity is communicated, primarily:
- Haoma (a specific plant commonly associated with ephedra today)
- Nirang (consecrated bull urine)
- Milk or ghee (clarified butter)
Fire is also prominent in Zoroastrian eschatology, when all souls will be submitted to fire and molten metal to purify them of wickedness. Goodly souls will pass through unharmed, while the souls of the corrupt will burn in anguish.
Fire TemplesAll traditional Zoroastrian temples, also know as agiaries or "places of fire," include a holy fire to represent the goodness and purity toward which all should strive. Once it is properly consecrated, a temple fire should never be allowed to go out, although it can be transported to another location if necessary.
Keeping the Fires PureWhile fire purifies, even consecrated, holy fires are not immune to contamination, and Zoroastrian priests take many precautions against such an action occurring. When tending to the fire, a cloth known as a padan is worn over the mouth and nose so that breath and saliva do not pollute the fire. This reflects an outlook on saliva that is similar to Hindu beliefs, which shares some historical origins with Zoroastrianism, where saliva is never allowed to touch eating utensils due to its unclean properties.
Many Zoroastrian temples, particularly those in India, do not even allow non-Zoroastrians, or juddins, inside their boundaries. Even when such people follow the standard procedures for remaining pure, their presence is considered too spiritually corrupting to be allowed entrance into a fire temple. The chamber containing the holy fire, known as the Dar-I-Mihr or "porch of Mithra," is generally positioned so that those outside the temple cannot even view it.
Use of Fire in RitualFire is incorporated into a number of Zoroastrian rituals. Pregnant women light fires or lamps as a protective measure. Lamps often fueled by ghee – another purifying substance – are also lit as part of the navjote initiation ceremony.