Redbridge Zoroastrians honour souls of the departed in holy month

The borough’s Zoroastrian community has been commemorating the souls of the dead.

Former Redbridge Mayor Filly Maravala, who organises gatherings for the borough’s Zoroastrians, said Farvardigan, or Muktad – a 10-day period at the end of the Shenshai calender – was about “honouring” the dead through prayer and hymns.

Zoroastrians believe that souls and their fravashis – the guardian spirits of departed ancestors – come down to earth during the period, which comes to an end on Monday, August 17.

Tuesday, August 18, marks Jamshedi Noruz – the Zoroastrian new year according to the Shenshai calander, which is followed by Zoroastrians of Indian Parsi descent.

Shortly after the new year celebrations is Khordad Sal, on the following Sunday, which marks the birthday of Prophet Zarathushtra – the founder of the ancient religion in Iran.

“August is a crucially important time for us,” said Filly.

“There’s great religious activity in honour of our dear departed ones and prayers are made for the departed and their souls – we’re remembering and honouring the dead.”

During the month, Filly said communities go to fire temples and offer sandalwood to the fire – which Zoroastrians believe represents God’s light or wisdom.

Filly said: “We give to the poor, we feed them and then we have food and give each other gifts for the new year.

“There’s about 60 Zoroastrians in Redbridge and we all go out for a beer or two too.”

He added: “Charity doesn’t just stop after the new year – we try to do it all through the year. It’s about goodwill, peace, happiness and joy.”

The ex-Loxford councillor hoped to raise awareness of the faith and reflected on how his time as mayor increased awareness of the community in Redbridge.

“A lot of people found out about the faith when I was mayor – people used tell me how fascinating the religion was to them,” said Filly.

He added: “This month is about peace, joy, health, happiness, reflection and the new year.”

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