What does the Kasti Symbolize?
1) The Kasti is the thin woollen waistband worn over the Sadra, which passes thrice around the waist. It is made by weaving together 72 fine threads of lamb’s wool. In the past it was prepared by ladies from priestly families while chanting manthravani prayers. Wool is known to have the inherent property of absorbing and retaining vibrations.
2) The word kasti means a boundary, and it reminds one to keep within the boundary of religious duty. The word Kasti comes from Avesta aiwyāonghana “that which is girded around” and Pahlavi kosht “boundary (of religious duty).” The word is also derived from Avestan word karsha “spiritual boundary which keeps evil away.”
3) The Kasti is to be worn thrice round the waist. The number three, among other things, represent the principles of humata, hukhta & hvarshta “good thoughts, good words and good deeds.” While tying the three rounds, two reef knots are tied, one at the front during the second round and the second one at the end of the third round. Each reef knot includes the tying of two knots – two in the front and two at the back.
4) Hence, in the Kasti there are in all four knots. Each knot is connected to the one of the four promises given by a child while saying the Din-no-Kalmo prayer on the day of the Navjot. The four promises are; I will consider Ahura Mazda as my only God. ii) I will consider Zarathushtra as my only prophet. iii) I will consider Mazdayasni Zarthoshti as my only religion. iv) I will be faithful to my God, prophet and religion all my life.
5) The Sadra and Kasti are the religious implements of the Zoroastrians. They form an invisible circuit of prayers around physical body, which if properly kept, protects one from negative forces, and leads one on the path of piety and duty.
6) Making of Kasti: Lamb’s wool is first woven on a spindle. Then threads from two spindles are combined together in one ball. The double yarn is then twisted and passed 72 times around the loom (Gujarati jantar). These 72 threads are then divided into 6 sets of 12 strands each. It is in a circle, which is then cut by a priest while saying a particular prayer. The rest of the weaving is done by hand. 1 lar and 3 laris are made on each end. Then the Kasti is flattened, washed, dried and fumigated and folded, ready for use.
7) Most of the parts of the Kasti symbolize something and remind us of a religious teaching. Lamb’s wool symbolizes innocence. The 72 threads remind us of the 72 chapters of the holy text of the Yasna which are recited in the Yasna ritual. Hence, the number 72 represents all the sacred Zoroastrian texts and the lofty Zoroastrian rituals. The six laris (three on each side) reminds us of the six Gahambars – the seasonal festivals and teach us to be in sync with the seasons and nature.
Jam-e-Jamshed of 22 & 29-4-2018