Significance of “Paivend”
What is the significance of taking Paivend” (holding handkerchief) whilst going to “Paidest”?
Before we understand why we take ‘Paivend’ whilst walking behind a corpse for ‘Paidest’, we should know something about the procedural rituals followed when death occurs.
We are aware, that the moment a living thing dies it starts to decay and “Druj-e-Nasu” becomes stronger and stronger. As time passes by it contaminates and spreads in the surroundings.
In order to bind and reduce this ‘Druj-e-Nasu’ ‘Sachkar’ is to be done, as fast as possible in the same “Gaah” in which the person has died. In ‘Sachkar’, seven ‘bunds’ (like tourniquets) are tied on different parts of the dead body.
This is after giving the corpse a bath, which should be with ‘Gaomez’ – ‘Tara’, and not with water as it is commonly done. The corpse is then placed on stone slabs and whilst reciting ‘Ahunavar’ prayer (Yatha) three “Karsh” or circuits are drawn round the corpse with an iron nail by the ‘Nasesalar”.
After this, Avesta Manthravani is recited near the Ravan till “Geh Sarna”.
In between, “Sagdid” (Sighting by the special dog) is performed.
By all this the forces of Druj (Evil) are restricted within the boundaries of the circuit drawn and no outside Druj can attack the Ravan.
About halfway through the “Geh Sarna” the corpse is lifted from the circuit and placed by Nasesalars in the ‘Gehan’. After this pause, further recitations of Geh Sarna is done. When it gets over, the persons who are present do “Sezdo”.
Then the corpse is lifted by the Nasesalar in the ‘Gehan’ and the last journey to the Dokhma begins. Note that up-to-now the body was shifted only once after “Sachkar” ceremony circuits. Now, when the Nasesalars (Pall-bearers) lift the body in the Gehan on their shoulders, due to the movement of lifting-walking-shaking of Gehan, the ‘Druj-e-Nasu’ becomes activated and spreads out.
In order to resist this force, we walk silently joined by cloth (usually handkerchief) with another person, spaces away from the corpse carried by the bearers.
According to the canons of the Zarthusti Din each individual possesses a fire-energy within him called Atashe-Vohufryan and this is to be protected from the force of. ‘Druj’ – evil-dark side of Nature’s contamination, which is attacked, whilst walking behind a. corpse.
Hence Paivend with another person, so that two Atashe-Vohufriyan, together will be able to resist the onslaught of Druj-e-Nasu more effectively. Before going to ‘Paidest’ we have to do our Kusti, and take Baj by praying certain portion of the Manthra after doing the final ‘Sezda’. When the Nasesalars come out of the ‘Dokhma’, after placing the body inside, we have to recite the remaining portion of the Baj and then only we can disconnect the “Paivend”.
 Dini Avaz 101 Q/A, page 106, 107. Bold fonts added.
Courtesy : K.F.Keravala