How has making sudrehs and kustis changed in the centuries since Zoroastrians first started making and wearing them?
Nothing has really changed. We are weaving kustis with our hands, as per the ancient process. That ancient information has been passed down from one generation to another to make sure that it’s done properly, that it’s done the same as it was anciently.
The sudreh and kusti were worn by the Mazdayasnis even before the age of Zarathushtra. But it is believed that the prophet Zarathustra started teaching this knowledge to his followers. He is believed to have said that we should wear the sudreh and kusti to protect ourselves from the evil energy. So, from that ancient time forward, the people started wearing these.
It’s been said that the next generation of Zoroastrians may be unwilling to take interest in knowing how kustis are made. Do you foresee a time when these will only be made by machine because nobody is willing to craft these by hand, as you currently do?
Yes, actually. And as far as the kusti is concerned, it needs a dedicated time every day to make one. And, as lifestyles evolve, people don’t really have time that they’re willing to dedicate to something like this because, in India, we have a very fast paced life. So, if you want to make kustis, you need to dedicate significant time, and people just aren’t willing to do that anymore.
A sacred Alat (or “spiritual instrument”) like the sudreh can never be stitched by a non-Parsi, a non-Zoroastrian. Unfortunately, however, today most Parsi shops sell sudrehs which have been outsourced to non-Zoroastrian tailors. They justify this by saying that Zoroastrian women are unavailable to stitch the sudrehs or that the ones made by non-Parsis are more economical. All of this just shows that the sacred craft of making sudrehs and kustis is dying among the rising generation.
What else should a person know about these two sacred articles of clothing that might help them to better understand Zoroastrianism?
Probably that people really should wear the sudreh and kusti. They are legitimate, and people must know that, when you wear them, there is a sense of protection that comes to you. Angra Mainyu, or the devil, is kept away from you when you wear these.
The sudreh and kusti are such intrinsic elements of the Zoroastrianism that many (in the faith) would consider one who no longer wears them as not a “true Zoroastrian.”
For the full interview – https://www.patheos.com/religion-behind-the-scenes/how-are-zoroastrian-sudrehs-and-kustis-made