During the recent 10 day farvandian/muktad days I posted some observations on social media. Below is a compilation of all the posts. Many of the images were in black and white, but a lot of people requested I also post the color images. So in those cases I have posted both.
Batliwala Agiary, Tardeo, Mumbai
The muktad prayer days mean a lot of things to all Parsis. It’s the time to remember our dear departed, but also a time to treasure what we have with those we love and are around us.
To me, visiting my agiary for the prayers is like going back in time. The earliest memories of this beautiful agiary are of going there every morning with my mom to pray for my mamaijis muktad. Buying flowers for the vase and being allowed to go to the upper floor, I remember being awe struck at the beauty and Majesty of the space. A dozen and more priests praying, sandalwood fragrant in the air, flowers in beautiful vases all lined up on table after table made me realize that this was a once a year special time.
Today when I return to this place, not much has changed. It’s still the safe place it always was. The same familiar faces, many of them friends who I grew up with, praying as priests today, and everyone collectively sitting waiting for the prayers of their dear departed. But also sharing together the collective commonality that while we all grieve for those who have passed away we also acknowledge the spirit of those who we never knew but now do, as a vase with beautiful flowers on a marble table.
So as we seek blessings of our own loved ones we also are fortunate to receive the blessings of all the loved ones this agiary was home to, and are being prayed for these Muktad days.
Anjuman Atashbehram, Near Princess Street, Mumbai
One of the four #Atashbehram in #Mumbai, the Anjuman Atashbehram comes alive during Muktad. The entire upper floor is full of row upon row of muktad tables. The hum of priests praying and devotees joining in with their own prayers, makes for a fantastic aural experience. The scent of flowers and of sandalwood and loban (incense) makes one’s non visual senses come alive.
I’ve always wondered as to how our prayer ceremonies are not only visual in experience, but encompass all our senses. The prayers soothe the ears, the sandalwood smoke the nasal passage, the touch of the sandalwood to our fingers ….all of these make it a complete experience. Without any one of these, it would not be complete. The next time you go for Muktad prayers, notice for yourself.
Vaccha Gandhi Agiary, Hughes Road, Mumbai
Agiaries that are adjacent to or within Parsi colonies get more footfall than those that are not. It was the vision of our forefathers to build infrastructure in that manner. A classic example is the Vatcha Gandhi Agiary opposite the Kharegat Colony at Hughes Road in #Mumbai
Run by two generations and counting of the Dadachanji family, the agiary during Muktad is a beehive of activity. With just about standing room only you see a master class in choreographed movement as a senior Mobed through actions…a mere nod, a pointing of a finger in a direction or a slight tap on the shoulder of a devotee sets in motion a series of prayers. Hardly a word is spoken. The only thing one hears is the hum of prayers. And the touch of sandalwood. And the smell of flowers and loban.
These choreographed actions are honed over decades of practise and adaptation. The priests and the devotees seem to know their own roles and perform them to perfection.
And this differs from Agiary to Agiary. No two agaires do it the same way. But they all seem to do the same thing.
The fluidity of ritual practise has to be seen and observed to be appreciated.
And it cannot just be transplanted. As our faith spreads in the world to new lands and new diaspora emerge from the faithful of the old world settling in new places, these are the type of rituals that need to transcend oceans and continents.
Religion cannot be practised and sustained in a vacuum where prayers are the only thing. Traditions, practises, rituals…or as we call it Reeti Rivaaj are as integral as are the buildings that sustain and nurture them and make them possible. Nowhere so you see this orchestra play better and with more pomp than in Mumbai.
I feel blessed to be an active audience and participant in this year after year. May all these traditions far outlive me and the generations that follow.
Atha Jamyat Yatha Afrinami.
Continue reading this post by Arzan Wadia – on Parsi Khabar – Click Here