NAVJOTE – SOME USEFUL TIPS.
By late Mrs. Shehnaz N. Munshi
A child, of Zoroastrian parentage is initiated into the faith after he or she completes six years of age. Some perform the initiation ceremony at the age of 9 years, and in the case of boys, in exceptional circumstances the ceremony can be performed even at the age of eleven. In Iran the traditional age for initiation was 15 years. The child should be at an age where he or she understands the importance of the ceremony and can learn the prayers by heart. However, it is incumbent that the ceremony is done before the child reaches puberty.
This very important Zoroastrian ceremony of initiation is called the Navjote (Nav= new; jote= initiate), when the new initiate is taken into the faith through the investiture of the sacred sudreh and kushti.
PRAYERS TO BE LEARNT:
Yatha Ahu Vairyo; AshemVohu;-Kem Na Mazda; Ahura Mazda Khodae; Jasa me avanghe Mazda; Nirang – I Gaomez (ie Shikasteh Shikasteh Shaetan); Sarosh Baj; Ahmai Raeshcha; Hazangrem; Jasa Me Avanghe Mazda; Kerfeh Mozd; Diva No Namaskar; Doa Tandarosti; Din no Kalmo
In the past, the child was also made to learn the Patet Pashemani, but sadly this does not happen any more. It would be very beneficial if the child is also made to learn the two short, but very important Zoroastrian prayers, viz. The A Airyema Ishyo and the Yenghe Hatam. Apart from making the child recite these prayers, it is also important that the child practises the tying and the untying of the kushtiwith a piece of cord, long enough to go thrice around the waist.
The significance of the Navjote ceremony and the sudreh and kushti should be explained so that the child goes through the Navjote ceremony with confidence and awareness. It is incumbent upon the parents to involve themselves with this very important aspect of the Navjote ceremony, which is generally relegated to the family priest who merely restricts himself to making the child learn the prayers, by rote.
It will also benefit the child immensely if the various stages of the Nahn ceremony and its importance are explained to the child, beforehand.
PREPARATIONS FOR THE NAVJOTE CEREMONY:
For the Nahn: BOY AND GIRL
* Some people make red or white, silk or satin pyjamas; especially embroidered for the occasion.
** Many traditional people do not use soap for the Nahn ritual, as the nirang is meant to purify the body and the soul.
*** If you are traditional, it is nice to use sapaats instead of chappals for the occasion
- Before the child steps into the bathroom for the Nahn, the mother or the aunt or the Grandmother should do a short achhoo michhoo. The items for this are usually provided by the priest or the caterer.
- The achhoo michhoo tray should contain : Pan (betel leaf), sopari (areca nut), kharak (dried date), unshelled almond, a stick of turmeric (harad no gathio), an egg, a coconut, some rice and sugar crystals ( khari sakar), in a small tray.
- A traditional “sagan ni ses” contains:
- A “saro” (triangular silver cone) with .batasas ( sugar candy) inside.
- A “pigani” (kumkum holder);
- A “go/abdan” (rose water sprinkler), “Paan” (betel leaf),
- “Sopari” (areca nut),
- “Kharak” (dried date),
- “Badaam” (unshelled almond), “Harad no Gathio” (turmeric stick), Rice and Flowers.
- “Karasio” (beaker of water) “Garland of Flowers”
- “Sakar” (Sugar Crystal) “Pomegranate” (If Possible)
The Nirang, milk and rose water, in that order, are kept ready in the bathroom, and applied on the child’s body before pouring bath water over the child.
If you so desire, carry your own little silver glass for the child to sip the nirang from.
Make a separate Nahn nu cover (envelope) with a minimum of Rs 101/ – or as per the priest’s instructions.
An additional envelope called the Akhiyana nu cover is also made. “Akhiyanu” was the gift of grain (rice or wheat) that was traditionally given to the priest. This is now replaced by a cash gift, of a minimum of Rs 101/ –
(The above items can be carried to the place where the Navjote is to be performed in a small bag or suitcase).
The Achhu Michhu Tray
Click on the above for a better view
THE NAVJOTE SES:
For the BOY For the GIRL*
1. All the usual ses no saaman must be placed in the ses first.
2. A garland and a bouquet for the celebrant.
* Dress and other paraphenalia that goes with the dress.
6. Prayer cap or a small pagdi or pheta, and a second prayer cap
(Some people change the nahn prayer cap and make the child wear a new one after the Navjote).
7. Underwear, socks, shoes * Underwear, socks, shoes
8. A shawl (optional) for the boy, to be placed over his arm, after the Navjote
* A new sari with a matching blouse and petticoat is kept in the ses, which the girl is made to wear later in life when the sari-wearing ceremony is performed on her for the first time, at the appropriate age. After the Navjote ceremony is over and the child is dressed in all her finery, the sari is symbolically draped over her shoulders.
9. 2 sudrehs stitched by hand, (with all the 9 parts properly stitched.)
The sudreh with the kushti within its fold is to be placed on top of the pile of
clothes in the ses. while the Navjote is being performed
10. A kushti-3, 3-1/4, or 3-3/4 gaj, depending on the child’s size. (One gaj = 27″)
11. Gold buttons, gold chain, cuffelinks gold ring, watch, or a gold Fravashi is given to the child.
* Appropriate jewellery for the girl, depending on what one wishes to give and how much.
* Red Bangles
13. An envelope containing cash of a minimum of Rs 101/-; (or as the case may be) for the Gireban (which the officiating priest will take while performing the Navjote).
14. Cash gifts of a minimum of Rs 501/- for the officiating priest as well as a minimum of Rs. 301/- for the other priests who are 0n the stage. (t0 be made ready and given to the child’s father or other male member of the family who in turn presents them to the priests ). If the officiating priest is a Dastur (High Priest), apart from the cash gift, you may also present him with a shawl, if you so desire. It is courteous to extend a dinner invitation to .the priests and to send food home for them.
However, if they decline, offer them refreshments and see that some member of the family sees them to the gate as a mark of respect.
While the Navjote is being performed the family members, relatives and friends who are present are enjoined to continue reciting as many Yatha Ahu Vairyos as possible and thereby participate in this all important Zoroastrian ceremony.
May the new initiate be a proud and staunch bearer of the Zoroastrian faith and may the tribe increase.
(The ses no saaman and the rice, etc. that is showered over the child is taken to the sea along with fresh flowers, sugar candy, milk, etc. on the Navjote varovar (8th) day, after the Navjote when dhan-dar patiya, sev, ravo, and dahi are prepared, in traditional Parsi homes).
Courtesy : Ushta – a ZS publication, September 1997