The Jashan Ceremony Explained
A Jashan is a thanksgiving ceremony performed by 2 or more priests. The officiating priest is known as the Zaotar, i.e. the invoker, and his assistant is called the Raspi, i.e. the helping priest. The Jashan is derived from the Avestan word ‘yasna’ and it denotes a ceremony with offerings.
A Jashan ceremony is enacted for the well-being of both the spiritual and physical worlds. The living thank Ahura Mazda and Amesha Spentas (the Holy Immortals) and pray for their blessings from the spiritual world.
There are different types of Jashans: (1) religious (b) seasonal (c) historical. Some are performed on special holy days of the month.
Religious Jashans: These jashans are performed especially for thanksgiving to Ahura Mazda and the benign holy spirits on auspicious days like birthdays, jubilees and house warming occasions. They are also performed on death anniversaries in honour of the righteous Farohars or the holy guardian spirits and souls of the departed persons. There are monthly jashans called Parabh which are celebrated when the Yazad of the day is the same as Yazad of the month; like Khordad Mahino and Khordad Roj. The term ‘Parabh’ (Guj.parva) simply means ‘festival’
Seasonal Jashans: These are the Gahambar Jashans in a year performed to invoke the Creator Ahura Mazda for His bountiful blessings showered on mankind by means of the changing seasons of the year. On these seasonal festivals the Zorastrians are exhorted to offer thanksgiving prayers to Ahura Mazda and hold community feasts to nurture the spirit of brotherhood among fellow beings, both rich and poor; e.g. Jashans in honour of Tir yazad are performed for rains during the seasonal festival of mid-summer i.e. the Maidyoshahem Gahambar.
Historical Jashans: in order to commemorate the days of historical importance, the ancient Iranians established these Jashans. The Meheragan jashan falling on Roz Meher of Mah Meher, commemorates the victory of King Faredun over the tyrant King Zohak and his subsequent accession to the throne of Iran. King Hooshang founded the Jashane Sadeh, falling on Roz Ashtad of Mah Adar, which commemorates the discovery of fire by him, and the Navroz Jashan , commemorating the coronation of King Jamshed. The Parsis of India have established the Sanjan jashan on Roz Bahman of Mah Tir, on which day their ancestors first landed in Sanjan more than a millennium ago.
Symbolism of the Jashan ceremony:
The materials and implements used in the Jashan ceremony symbolically represent the Seven Amesha Spentas:
Ahura Mazda (Ohrmazda) presides over the righteous man represented by the priest who is His counterpart in the material world.
(b) Milk is represented by Vohu Manah (Bahman), the Amesh Spenta who is the power of Good Mind or Purpose and who presides over the animal kingdom.
(c) The fire is represented by Asha Vahishta (Ardibesht) who is the power of Best Righteousness, truth and Cosmic Order.
(d) The metal vessels used in the jashan ceremony represent Khshathra Vairya (Shehrevar), the Amesha Spenta who is the power of Desirable Dominion and well-experienced authority.
(e) The clean place on which the ceremony is performed represents Spenta Armaiti (Spendarmad) the Amesha Spenta who is trhe power of holy piety and devotion.
(f) The water on the metal pot represents Haurvatat (Khordad), the Amesha Spenta who is the power of Wholeness & perfect health.
(g) Fruits and flowers represent Ameretat (Amardad), he Amesha Spenta who is the power of immortality.
In a jashan, these above 7 Bounteous Immortals along with the righteous Farohars of the departed souls are invited down to the earth through the prayers and rituals to grace the jashan and bless mankind.
A Jashan is generally enacted in 3 main parts during which the Yazats, worthy of worship and adoration are propitiated.
Part I is dedicated to Ahura Mazda, the Creator
Part II is dedicated to Dahmna, the presiding Yazata of the day with his or her co-workers
Part III is dedicated to Sraosha, the Vice-regent of Ahura Mazda on this earth.
The 3 Afrins or prayers of blessings are then recited.
The first Afrin is dedicated to the righteous Farohars, the second to the Buzorgan or celebrated personages of ancient Iran and the third to the Amesha Spentas.
Finally, the Tan-Darosti prayers recited for the health and well-being of the community and also for the health, happiness and prosperity of those members who have arranged for the jashan ceremony.
The communication with the spiritual world is thus brought about through the proper enactment of this fascinating ceremony which can be performed in the clean and ritually pure place, including a home or a school.
Courtesy : Roshan Pastakia