The Yazashne is a Pav Mahel kriya that is performed in the Urvisgah also sometimes referred to as the Yazashne Gah which is a demarcated Pavicut area in a fire temple complex and falls under the category of the inner liturgical ceremonies performed by Yaozdathregar priests who hold a valid Bareshnum. It involves recital of the complete Yasna of 72 Ha’s and pounding of the Hom twigs, thus preparing Hom nu pani.
The ceremony involves 33 Alaats, from the mineral, vegetable and the animal kingdom.
Of prime importance are :
1. The Hom ni Sali – Twigs of the Ephedra plant.
2. Urvaram – Twigs of the Pomegranate tree known as Hadhaneptam in Avesta
3. Jivam – Milk from a female goat.
4. Zaothra – Pure consecrated water from the well
5. Aiwyaonghana – leaf of a Date palm
6. Darun – Sacred bread
7. Goshudo – ghee, clarified butter
The other Alaat are the untensils like Havanim – Mortar, Tashta – plate, Mahrui – Crescent shaped stand, Fulias, Barsom – metallic wires, Lala – pestle. These are generally of Brass and at times of Silver.
Then there is the usual Dadgah Atash, Aesma-bui-fragrant wood, Khuan – Stone slabs for the Fire Afarganyu, for the Alaat, for the officiating priest and for the Zaothra.
This ceremony is preceded by the Praragna ceremony which is the preparation for the Yasna when these items are brought into the Urvisgah.
Yazashne is performed on various occasions and at the time of Dibachhe its Khshnuman (in glorification of) is recited which can be in honour of Sarosh – the Yazata, Ardafravash – departed souls, Mino Navar – Initiating ceremony for priesthood. When recited in honour of the Anoshe Ravan the Fareshto thus generated helps the soul dissolve its Kerdar for its onward progress to Frashokereti.
This is just a brief summary, in order to read in detail please refer to
“Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Parsees” – Sir J. J. Mody pg 247 – 310
The ritual for drawing water from the well and making it Pav is as follows :
Pure, clean water is fetched from a well in utensils previously washed. The priest observing the Khub goes to a well and draws the water himself. Water drawn for the first, and second time is rejected and allowed to flow into plants or the soil. At the third time water drawn is brought to the Yazashne Gah. The Handi which lies on the Khuan to the right of the Jyoti – officiating priest is filled with this water to the brim, allowing it to overflow into the Pavis reciting “Khshnaothra Ahurae Mazdao – Ashem 1”. He recites this formula three times and each time fixes his gaze on the water and allows the water to overflow thrice from the Handi. In the interval between each recital, he recites in Baj :
Yaozdathra Zareh Frakand, Yaozdathra Zareh Varkash, Yaozdathra Zareh Puiti. Zareh in Avesta means “ocean”, but as per our science of Khshnoom these are allegorical planes in Nisti where souls receive their appropriate blessings. This symbolizes the purification process ocuring in nature. All things required to be ceremoniously pure for ritualistic purposes are made pure in this way.
Zaothra or Zor is the water that is consecrated for the purpose of being used in Pav Mahel ceremonies. The word comes from Avesta “Zu” means to perform religious ceremonies. Zaothra in Avesta also refers to Alaat. Note that each Avestan word has 9 levels of meaning depending on the context where it is used. Is it no wonder that Avesta students then have to rely on the Taavil of Khshnoom to decipher the correct meaning. Here it is restricted to consecrated water.
The priest has before him two cups to hold the consecrated water. He then recites the Baj with the Khshnuman of “Aiwyo vanghubyo vispanam apam mazdadhatanam” i.e. all the good waters created by AhuraMazda. Then uttering the word Ashem he holds the empty zaothra cups over the surface of the water in the kundi and rectes the formula of Fra-te-staomaide and at the recital of different parts of the prayer, he gradually fills the cups with water from the Kundi. The water thus consecrated is the Zaothra water to be used for the ceremony. the priest then finishes the Baj.
The Zor Melavani kriya is done at the last 72nd Ha of the Yasna. Both the priests proceed to the well, where the water had been originally drawn from and carry with them the Havanim which is the Mortar where the Hom was pounded alongwith Zaothra and Jivam. Then standing before the well and sliding the lid slightly off the Havanim, they both recite a short formula, the Jyoti pours a small quantity of the liquid back into the well in three parts. He gives back to the well, a part of the water which he had taken from it, that too in a much more purified form. This unites the pure Zaothra Hom with the well water and in doing so the well water experiences so much joy, that it leaps up to reach the Havanim. This happened when Dasturji Jamshed Ervad Sohrab Kukadaroo performed the Zor Melavanu kriya.
The Zor ceremony then is intended to impress, that it is one’s duty to keep the soueces of water pure and to learn from its ritual the lesson that it is his duty to keep his mind, which is the source of actions equally pure.
Courtesy : Behram P Dhabhar
Sam Billimoria adds : For all these who are really interested in details of the full Yazashne ceremony ,there is a real authorative book by VD Kotwal , published in 90’s. I do not know where it is available in Mumbai.