Dear Mehlli and other readers,
Brother Kaizad has raised several interesting and valid points which show just how difficult it is to lead a pure Zoroastrian way of life today.
I think the idea of Kaizad is NOT to discourage members from doing Jashans, but rather to MAKE THEM AWARE of the strict conditions which apply to the performance of even minor ceremonies. Only when we are aware of the ideals, we can realize how far away we have come from them and where we are heading. Having said that, here are my few pointers and clarifications as a practicing priest who has performed some few thousands of Jashans.
It is important for me to begin this dialogue with a statement.
Our friends both in India and the US KNOW that I am fiercely loyal and committed to our Pegumber Zarathustra, our Religion and our our Ustad saheb. As such please consider the following remarks or questions as coming from a good friend as others may have these questions in their mind, but are afraid to ask them
The reasons why a Jashan cannot be done at home are given below;
1) Absence of a continuous hearth fire (dadgah saheb) in majority of Parsi homes. How many on this list from India have a continous hearth fire in their homes ? Most of us have Divo which we light every day in our homes and consider that place our Dadgha
Marzban: The importance of the hearth fire cannot be over emphasised since it contains within itself the collective thoughts, words and actions of the family over the years and generations. It is from this hearth fire that the embers should be taken for doing the Jashan as well as the morning and evening ritual of fumigating the house with pure Loban vapours. The properly maintained Divo [ read http://www.frashogard.com/how-to-light-a-correct-divo for details] is a poor substitute for the hearth fire.
2) Rules of Purity not followed during Menstrual cycle, cutting of nails, cutting of hair ….. in majority of Parsi homes. Non of us would have a Jashan at home if someone lady in the family is in the menstral cycle. Most of us have our hair cut at the Barbershop as not to polute the home . Most of us have learnt to put Lime on our nails where Taro is not available
Marzban: The question is not about not having a lady in her periods. The fact is that due to non observance of seclusion, the constant touch and presence of the person in periods contaminates the house and its objects. A Jashan is an invitation to Dadar Ahura Mazda and specific Yazatas to descend to the place where the ceremony is being performed. Can such great entities be invited in these polluted conditions?
3) Absence of fresh spring well water for the Jashan ritual, padiay kushti and cleaning of friuts,utensils, and making the whole house chokha(ritually pure).Bow my head in respect to all the Nahanwala Boiwala Mobed Sahebs of Shreeji Paak Iranshah AtashBehram Saheb who even today only use pure (hand drawn) well water for their daily bath,cooking,drinking water,other purificatory and ritual uses…I too bow my head to them..However,99% of us are useing water flowing from the lakes and coming into our homes in India and the US. Does this mean that we who live outside India where there are no Fire Temples, cannot have a Jashan performed in our home ?
Marzban: Free flowing, clean well water is required for our ceremonies since the Frado energies in this water is active. When water is pumped from far distances through pipes, the resultant friction and pressure destroys or negates the Frado present in that water. This only shows how far we are from being able to practice our religion when we live in alien lands.
3) Presence of Non Parsi (intermarried) family members and friends in the flat and the building. Know of an incident when a Russian couple adamantly refused to go out of the flat or even to the other room. Unfortunately the mobed sahebs did not walk out of the flat, but performed the fraudulent Jashan ceremony in front of Non Parsis. Most us including myself have never allowed an intermarried couple into our home at the Time of a Jashan
Marzban: Not only the presence of non-Parsis is prohibited, but also the taking of names of so-called Parsis “married” outside the community in Jashans is not allowed. Many Parsis argue: ‘but he is born a Parsi’ , but the fact is that by his/her actions they have disqualified themselves from being considered as members of the community. It should be noted that the taking of such names in ceremonies defeats the purpose of the ceremony. Unfortunately many priests themselves allow such names to be taken.
4) All Zoroastrian ceremonies have to be done on the ground floor. Our ancestral homes in the villages of Guajrat were best suited for these Zoroastrian Hushmordi ceremonies. How many of us and Parsees generally are living in ancestral homes in Gujarat today ? IN most cities and towns in India and in the US, the homes are multi level homes , so in these homes the Parsi Zarthosti is not allowed to have the Jashan ceremoney ?
Marzban: Another great point. Living in multi storey buildings gives us no control over the spirituality levels of the flats above and below. Hence it is preferable to have the Jashan done in the Agiary itself.
5) Zoroastrian ceremonies cannot be performed in a house which is connected with electric wires, municipal water connections and municipal sewage or septic tank connections. This precludes practically all Zoroastriens living today from having a Jashan Caermony in their home ? Jashans are performed in many Zoroastrian homes in Mumbai. Are these null and void ?
Marzban: Unfortunately, most Agiaries are also in the same state! Our Dadgah at Behram Baug is one of the few places where no electric connection is present in the consecrated areas.
So Zoroastrian were all our ancestors who resided in the villages of Gujarat, that they all kept the bathrooms and toilets (pachware, backside) out side the house(bungalows). They probably did that because they did not have the modern effective facilities of the disposal of waste we have now at that time.
Marzban: Wrong, Mehlli. The earlier method of disposal was more eco-friendly than the current where the sewage is dumped in pure water. There is a deep spiritual reason for having the toilet blocks outside the house.
No Priest No Parsis. fULLY AGREED
As far as I am concerned, although we are in the US, we have all our Jashans performed in India based Fire temples. However the rules mentioned above raises a few questions—are these rules made up now, to discourage zoroastrians in foreign countries from having any Jashan’s at home ?
—– are these rules made by the Parsees in India to force Zoroastrians in foreign countries to return to India ?
—-are these Rules made up by present day Parsees or are these mentioned any where we can read in the religious writings ?
Please do not try and make it imposible for us to practice our religion in foreign lands
Can some one in the know, educate with kindness and consideration, as to what is to be done by Zoroastrians in foreign lands
Like I said earlier, these points mentioned by Kaizad are to make people aware of the various disqualifications which arise due to our city life. By the same yardstick, most Jashans done in Mumbai city are also in contravention to our rules and regulations. In Behram Baug, I have requested members of our colony to have their annual Jashans done in the Daremeher instead of their homes, and encouraged them to do so by offrring a 30% discount in the price for a Jashan done in the Daremeher that that done at home. Some have accepted, but a vast majority still insist on doing the Jashan at home. For such persons we have devised some alternatives to ensure that minimum rules are broken, but we do not have control over things like the purity in flats above and below.
Hope this helps, Mehlli.
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram