My Little Book of Zoroastrian Prayers With Fun Activities
Rebecca Cann’s book, with illustrations by Nassim Azadi, is written for Zoroastrian children. Zoroastrianism is an ancient religion founded by the Persian prophet Zoroaster. Belief in a supreme deity and a cosmic contest between good and evil are at the center of Zoroastrianism. The first part of the book is a prayer book, and includes shortened and simplified versions of more than forty prayers from the Avesta, the religion’s sacred book. The rest is part catechism and part activity book.
Many of the activities involve reading songs and prayers that are not included in the first part of the book. Zoroastrian prayers were never meant to be easily understood by the uninitiated, so this book might be improved by children’s versions of the referenced prayers.
What Cann does very well is show the child how the tenets of this ancient religion can help them make wise choices. She notes that Zarathustra rejected the use of haoma, a plant used as a drug in his time, as it adversely affected people’s behavior. More broadly, she notes that prayer alone does not please God. Many times she refers to the triad of good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. Even a child can see that one leads to the other, and if our good thoughts and good words are not followed by good deeds, we have not done all we can to please God, our families, and others. As a catechism, this is more than just a question-and-answer method of teaching religious doctrine. People have choices, and it is possible to learn from the bad choices and start making good choices.
Although the book is written for Zoroastrian kids, I see it as valuable to anyone willing to look beyond the imagined points of contention between the world’s religions and see the points of agreement. Near the end of the book, Cann invites the child to read the creation stories of other religions. It’s no stretch of the imagination to suggest non-Zoroastrians could find something here that resonates with their own faith.
Rebecca Cann with illustration by Nassim Azadi