The Navjote Ceremony
According to religious gi traditions, Navjote is the ritual to invest a Parsi Zoroastrian child with the spiritual vestments of Sadra and Kasti so that it could then be a “nav” (“new”) “jot” (“per-former of prayers”) all his or her life. It is a ritual of the greatest religious and spiritual importance in a child’s life. It is not an entrance into the Parsi Zoroastrian fold, as is generally believed. The child is already a Parsi Zoroastrian as soon as he/she is born to Parsi parents. The Navjote ritual is to connect the child with the spirit of Prophet Zarathushtra, who would be his/her life-long guide and teacher.
It is also the ritual to formally present the child with the Sadra and the Kasti, which are ‘ the religious implements necessary for performing the Kasti rit-ual and reciting all other prayers. The ritual starts with the administering of the Nahan “ritual bath” by a priest to the child. The priest makes the child say some prayers, chew a couple of tender pomegranate leaves, drink a couple of drops of Nirang (consecrated bull’s urine), and take a head bath in which Gaomez/Taro (unconsecrated bull’s urine) is applied on the body before bathing with water.
This ritual not only cleanses the child from the outside but also mentally and spiritually cleanses the child from within. The child is now not supposed to talk or touch anybody till his/her Navjote is completed. Before the child steps onto the stage or mat on which the Nav-jote is to be performed, the mother of the child or any other senior family lady performs the traditional aachu-michu after which the child sits on a short wooden stool (patio) facing east. The performance of aachu-michu symbolises the taking of precautionary steps to avert any untoward happening in the life of the child, especially before the momentous ritual which is to take place.
The child then recites the Patet Pashemani prayer seeking forgiveness for previous mistakes before starting a new life and a fresh account of deeds with Ahura Mazda. If the child is not able to say the Patet, then he/she should recite 21 Yatha Ahu Vairyos and 12 Ashem Vohus. The rest of the priests sitting on the mat also recite the Patet Pashemani prayer on behalf of the child. The child is then made to stand facing the direction of the sun. The main Navjote ritual has to be performed by a priest who is mature and capable enough to bless the child. At the outset he makes the child recite the Din no Kalmo, in which the child gives the following four promises before the Anjuman or “congregation”: a. Ahura Mazda is my only God; b. Zarathushtra is my only prophet; c. Mazdayasni Zarthoshti is my only religion; d. I will be faithful to my God, prophet and religion all my life.
The child then does the actual first Kasti of his/her life holding the fingers of the priest. The priest keeps on blessing the child. This part of the ritual highlights the life-long importance of Nav-jote in the child’s life where the child is equipped for the battle with evil in his/her ‘ life with the blessings of the priest; the connection with the prophet; the strength of the prayers; and the conviction of child’s promises. In the final act of the Navjote, the chief priest applies a red vermilion mark (kanku-no-tilo) on the child’s forehead and keeps a few rice grains over it. Then a garland is put around the child, and the child is given a coconut, a betel leaf and sopari and an envelope of money, all symbolic of the auspicious occasion (sagan). Finally, the bouquet is kept in the child’s hands or lap.
Thereafter, the chief priest who has performed the Navjote stands facing the child and prays for the health of the child by reciting the Doa Tandarosti prayer, showering a mixture of rice, shredded almonds (rarely used nowadays), raisins, slices of coconut and rose petals on the child from a metallic tray. This part of the ritual is a symbolic way of blessing the child with health, wealth, happiness, fertility, plenty and prosperity.
Afterwards, the parents thank the priest with flowers and monetary gills. Then the child is dressed up in new clothes and taken to the nearby Agiary or Atash Beh-ram where the child offers sandalwood to the Sacred Fire and seeks blessings.
JAME JAMSHED – 140822