Zoroastrian prayer, the Ashem Vohu, found in China


This manuscript comes not from India or Iran, the lands associated today with the Zoroastrian religion, but from Dunhuang in Central China, and is written in Sogdian, a medieval Iranian language.

It contains a short text concerning the prophet Zarathushtra (Zoroaster in Greek sources) and a phonetic transcription into the Sogdian script of the holy ‘Ashem Vohu’ prayer, composed originally in Avestan, a more ancient Iranian language. Probably dating from the ninth century, this manuscript is some 400 years older than any other surviving Zoroastrian scripture.

Originating in Central Asia, Zoroastrianism teaches the importance of good thoughts, words, and actions, in a world where the forces of the all-knowing Lord Ahura Mazda, are constantly opposed to those of the evil spirit, Angra Mainyu. The oldest scriptures, referred to as the Avesta or Zend, were, however, not written down until around the sixth century AD, many centuries after their composition.

From Central Asia, Zoroastrianism spread southwest to Iran where it was the religion of the Achaemenid kings (550–330 BCE) and their successors until the Arab conquest in the mid-seventh century. Subsequently, Zoroastrian refugees from Iran settled in Gujarat in India, where they are known as Parsis, i.e. ‘Persians’. Today, in addition to the Zoroastrians of Iran and India, there are Parsi communities worldwide.

In Central Asia, Sogdian traders, whose homeland was the area of Samarkand in present-day Uzbekistan, carried their religion eastwards to China where it survived for many centuries alongside Buddhism, Manichaeism and Christianity. Sogdian communities developed at staging posts along the trade route, and in Dunhuang, where this manuscript was found, there is written evidence as early as the fourth century for a Zoroastrian temple, which was still flourishing in the early 10th century. The Sogdian language, in which this text was written, died out some time after the 10th century, but a related dialect, Yagnobi, still survives as a minority language spoken in the Yagnob valley north of Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

How was the manuscript discovered?

This manuscript was one of 40,000 or so manuscript scrolls and fragments hidden in one of the ‘Caves of a Thousand Buddhas’  – a cliff wall near the city of Dunhuang honeycombed with 492 grottoes cut from the rock from the fourth century onwards and decorated with religious carvings and paintings. This manuscript was acquired by the archaeologist and explorer Aurel Stein in 1907 during his second expedition to Central Asia.

What does this fragment show?

This manuscript fragment appears to be the top 10 lines of a scroll. Traces of where the next sheet was attached are still visible at the bottom. The text has been written with some care in a large and calligraphic hand, with a ruled margin on the right hand side. To judge from the paper and style of calligraphy, our scribe may also have copied another similar Sogdian fragment preserved in the British Library which tells the story of the Iranian national hero Rustam.

https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/zoroastrian-prayer

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Navroz Prayers


Dear all,

The Jamshedi Navroze starts from 20th March 2018 at sharp
21 hours
45 minutes and 
28 seconds.

When Sun enters in Aries sign (Mesh Rashi) acc. to Sayan (western Astrology).

The Jamshedi Navroze day is celebrated by Mazdayasni Zarthosti in a very special way.  It does not  fall on any of the Zoroastrian Roj – Mah calendar which we follow for our other religious ceremonies.

The day commences with the advent of spring when Sun enters the sign Aries when it reaches the Nothern Vernal Equinox which occurs around 21st March.

On this particular day the Khurshed Yazad shines with its full glitter and glory and spreads its sunshine (roshni) on this Geti (earth) abundantly.
On this auspicious day the following prayer is recommended in praise of Khurshed Yazad and to get his bountiful blessings.

In Havan Geh :
3 times Khorshed Neyayesh,
1 Meher Neyayesh and
1 Vispa Humata

The above order makes one set of prayer.
Likewise one should pray 3 such sets in the same order.
This will end up in reciting 9 Khorshed Neyayesh, 3 Meher Neyayesh and 3 Vispa Humata prayers in Havan Geh.

In Rapithwan Geh: 3 Khorshed Neyayesh,  1 Meher Neyayesh
Two sets of prayers in Rapithwan Geh, maintaining the above order. That means in Rapithwan Geh one will recite 6 times Khorshed Neyayesh and 2 times Meher Neyayesh. It is important to note that in Rapithwan Geh the Vispa Humata prayer is NOT to be recited.

Note: However when Havan Geh is recited from Hormazd roj of mah Avan till the last Gatha (Vahishtoisht) instead of Rapithwan Geh, (Second Havan Geh) one should follow the prayer set given above for Havan Geh, but only 2 times, and NOT 3 times.

In Uzirin Geh :
3 Khorshed Neyayesh,
1 Meher Neyayesh
Only one set as prescribed above is to be recited in this Geh. Thus in Uzirin Geh one would recite 3 Khorshed Neyayesh and 1 Meher Neyayesh. No Vispa Humata prayer in Uzirin Geh.

This set of prayers in the three different Gehs is to be recited only once in a year. It is highly recommended to a true Zoroastrian to do so and get the benefit out of it.
Some forgotten prayers

In our Mazdayasni Daen there is a wealth of prayers out of which a wise person can select some.
Yazdaan Panah baad.

From:
Ervad Yezdi M Turel
Mob: 98255-88327

Muktad – Hum Bandagi


Dear friends,

Here is the Humbandagi prayers for our Zarathushti friends who follow the Fasli calendar.

The prayer may be recited during the 10 Fasli Muktad days which start from March 11th Asman Roj to the last Gatha day which is on Tuesday March 20th.  The 5  Fasli Gatha days are from March 16th to March 20th.

I have also attached a pdf file for your convenience.

May Ahura Mazda bless us all.

Sincerely,

Rohinton K. Tarapore,

Chair, Zarathushti Association of New Orleans.

=======================================================

HUM BANDAGI – Prayer in memory of the departed souls

Introduction:

When the universe was first started by Ahu, His wish which is Ahunavar (Yatha Ahu Vairyo) was sent. Then came Fravashi. This Fravashi can be imagined as the mother of entire creation. A small portion with varied level of Ashoi does exist in everything in Universe from the Human being to the smallest of small particle. This provides a Spiritual Guiding force. The following prayer is to remember the Fravashi during the days of Farvadegan, when all Fravashis come to this Gaiti (Earth).

Translation:

For all my mistakes, I repent and promise to retreat from them. I praise and worship the Fravashi that are Asho (Righteous), good, brave, and those that help in our advancement.

  1. I get attuned, remember, pray and sing in praise of the excellent, heroic and bounteous Fravashis of all Righteous beings who bring happiness and prosperity to us. We praise the Fravashis of the High Priests belonging to our homes, cities, states and countries.
  1. Among all these Fravashis of the ancient epoch we worship here, the first and foremost is that of Dadar Ahura Mazda, which is the most exalted, the most excellent, and the best, the firmest and the wisest, the most gracious and the highest in righteousness.
  1. We remember the bounteous Holy Fravashis of the Amesha Spentas, who are the rulers, energetic eyed, the exalted and the mighty, who render help and assistance, act in accord with the Law of Ahura Mazda and who are the eternal Holy-ones.
  1. Here do we extol the life-force, the conscience, the intellect, the souls and the Fravashis of the righteous men and the righteous women of the ancient Mazdayasni faith before Zarathustra, and of the righteous men and the righteous women who were the first listeners to the religious     scriptures of Zarathushtra and who embraced his religion called Mazdayasni Zarathustrish. All these people strove hard for righteousness. We adore the soul of the bounteous Mother-Earth.
  1. Amongst those who strove hard for righteousness, we respectfully remember the Fravarshi of the righteous Gaya Maretan or Gayomard; we revere here both the Holiness and the Fravashi of Holy Spitama Zarathushtra; we venerate the Fravashi of the Kyanian King Gustasp, the Righteous; we venerate the Fravashi of the righteous Isat-vaastrahe, the eldest son of Zarathushtra.
  1. Here do we praise the Life-force, the conscience, the intellect, the souls and the Fravashis of the righteous men and the righteous women among the Nabanazdishtans (i.e. people born in Zarathusti religion, descendents of those who embraced Zarathusti religion) who strove hard for righteousness. Along with all these holy Fravarshis, do we revere those of the righteous departed souls, those of the righteous who are living, those of the heroes to be born and the heralds-of-renovation, the Saoshyants yet to come – to fight the evil and re-establish the Law of Asha (righteousness) in the world.
  1. Here do we praise the souls of the departed ones who fought for Ashoi and whose Fravashis are holy. Of all the departed souls of Nabanzdishtans, the Ervads, the disciples and men and women who have gone beyond from this fold, we here invoke the Fravarshis of these righteous men and of these righteous women.
  1. Of all the Ervards (or Gurus), we revere the Fravashis of the righteous Ervards. Of all the disciples, we revere the Fravashis of the holy disciples. Of all men, we revere the Fravarshis of the righteous men. Of all women, we revere the Fravashis of the righteous women.
  1. We praise the Fravashis of all holy innocent children of tender age; we praise the Fravashis of the holy inhabitants of this country; we praise the Fravashis of the holy inhabitants of other countries.
  1. Of men, we praise the Fravashis of the righteous men; of women, we praise the Fravashis of the righteous women. All the excellent, heroic and bounteous Fravashis of the Righteous do we revere, those right from Gaya Maretan, the first man upto Saoshyant, our last victorios savior to come.
  1. We remember and praise the Fravashis of all the righteous souls; We remember and praise the excellent heroic and bounteous Fravashis of the Holy-ones. All of them bring happiness and prosperity to us. We also remember and praise all the Yazads.

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HUM BANDAGI

Kshnaothra Ahura Mazdaao. Ashem Vohu(1).

**Az hama gunah patet pashemanum,

Ashaaonaanm vanghuhish suraao

spentaao fravashayo yazamaide. Ashaone

Ashem Vohu(1).** – Recite 3 times.

Ahmai Raeshcha; Hazangrem; Jasa me avanghahe; Kerfeh mozd.

1 Ashaaonaanm vanghuhish suraao

spentaao fravashayo staomi, zbayemi,

ufyemi; yazamaide nmaanyaao vîsyaao

zañtumaao dâkhyumaao zarathushtrôtemaao.

2 Vîspanaanmcha aaonghaanm paoiryanaanm

fravashinaanm idha yazamaide, fravashîm

avaam yaam Ahurahe Mazdaao, mazishtaanmcha

vahishtaanmcha sraêshtaanmcha, khraozdishtaanmcha

khrathvishtaanmcha hukereptemaanmcha,

ashaat apanôtemaanmcha.

3 Ashaaonaanm vanguhîsh suraao

spentaao fravashayo yazamaide; yaao

ameshanaanm speñtanaanm, khshaêtanaanm,

verezi-dôithranaanm, berezataanm, aiwyaamanaanm,

takhmanaanm, aahûiryanaanm, yôi aithyejanghô ashavanô.

4 Paoiryanaanm tkêshanaanm,

paoiryanaanm saasnô-gûshaanm idha

ashaonaanm, ashaoninaanmcha ahûmcha,

daênaanmcha, baodhascha, urvaaanemcha,

fravashîmcha yazamaide, Yôi ashaai

vaonare, gêush hudhaaonghô urvaanem yazamaide.

5 Yôi ashâi vaonare, gayehe marethnô

ashaonô fravashîm yazamaide.

Zarathushtrahe Spitaamahe idha ashaonô ashîmcha

fravashîmcha yazamaide. Kavôish Vîshtaaspahe

ashaonô fravashîm yazamaide. Isat-vaastrahe

Zarathushtrôish ashaonô fravashîm yazamaide.

6 Nabaanazdishtanaanm idha ashaonaanãm

ashaoninaanmcha ahûmcha daênaanmcha baodhascha

urvaanemcha fravashîmcha yazamaide, yôi ashaai

vaonare, mat vîspaabyô ashaonibyô fravashibyô,

yaao irîrithushaanm ashaonaanm, yaaoscha jvañtaanm

ashaonaanm, yaaoscha naraanm azaatanaanm,

frashô-charethraanm saoshyañtaanm.

7 Idha iristanaanm urvaanô yazamaide.

Yaao ashaaonaanm fravashayô, vîspanaanm ahmya

nmaane nabaanazdishtanaanm para-iristanaanm,

aêthrapaitinaanm aêthryanaanm, naraanm naairinaanm

idha ashaonaanm ashaoninaanm fravashayô yazamaide.

8 Vîspanaanm aêthrapaitinaanm ashaonaanm fravashayô

yazamaide. Vîspanaanm aêthryanaanm ashaonaanm fravashayô

yazamaide. Vîspanaanm naraanm ashaonaanm fravashayô

yazamaide. Vîspanaanm naairinaanm ashaoninaanm

fravashayô yazamaide.

9 Vîspanaanm aperenaayûkanaanm dahmôkeretanaanm

ashaonaanm fravashayô yazamaide, aadakhyunaanmcha

ashaonaanm fravashayô yazamaide, uzdakhyunaanmcha

ashaonaanm fravashayô yazamaide.

10 Naraanmcha ashaonaanm fravashayô yazamaide,

naairinaanmcha ashaoninaanm fravashayô yazamaide.

Vîspaao ashaaunaanm vanguhîsh sûraao speñtaao

fravashayô yazamaide, yaao hacha gayaat marethnat

aa-saoshyañtaat verethraghnat.

11 Vispaao Fravashyo ashaaonaanm yazamaide,

ashaaonaanm vanghuish suraao spentaao fravashayo

yazamaide. Vispe ashavano yazata yazamaide.

Ashem Vohu(1).

 

 

https://sites.google.com/site/zarathushtiprayers/Muktad%20Humbandagi.pdf

Muktad Humbandagi

Daily Prayers of the Zoroastrians


 

I have recently reprinted the prayer book shown in the picture above.
It is a wonderful translation & transliteration of the Daily Zoroastrian prayers into simple English with meanings and insightful explanatory notes which, when read along with the daily prayers, gave me a new joy of understanding, comprehending and analysing, rather than simply reciting by rote the words that I knew out of habit.

I strongly feel that Framroz Rustomjee’s timelessly relevant words of advice stand good for all of us, be it parents teaching their children the Navjote prayers or adults seeking to understand the philosophy of Zoroastrianism better.

It is available for Rs 200 at the Parsiana bookshop, Zoroastrian Studies bookshop and & Minoi Meher outside the Anjuman Atashbehram in Mumbai. Or contact me by email: jiloob@gmail.com

Proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to charity.

Jiloo Billimoria

What is Ardibahesht Yasht?


What is Ardibahesht Yasht? (Ervad Dr. Ramiyar Parvez Karanjia)

 

Ardibahesht Yasht is the shortest among the ‘shorter Yashts’. It is also one of the most favourite among Zoroastrians, perhaps because of its length and efficacy.

 

Ardibahesht Ameshaspand: He is the divine being who presides over fire. In Zoroastrian understanding fire does not only mean physical fire but also all energies. So Ardibahesht Ameshaspand, on a physical plane presides also over different types of Energies – Physical, and spiritual (Khoreh). Ardibahesht Ameshaspand also presides over health, as the real source of health and healing is divine energy

 

The word Ardibahesht comes form the Pahlavi words Ard Vahisht (Av. Asha Vahishta “the Best Truth”). The word Asha is understood in several ways: divine law, order, beauty, truth, righteousness, holiness, piety, purity, etc. Each of these meanings are inter-connected.

 

The words Asha Vahishta also imply the “Divine Plan” of Ahura Mazda which all of us need to understand and follow. Ardibahesht is the 3rd roj of the month and the 2nd mah of the Zoroastrian calendar.

 

From an ethical viewpoint, Ardibahesht represents the truth and from a metaphysical viewpoint he represents The (Ultimate) Truth which is manifested when one can understand Asha, that is one’s “Life’s Purpose” and subsequently reach Asha Vahishta – the “Divine Plan” of Ahura Mazda. this is the only way to get Ushta “inner happines. This is also the message of the Ashem Vohu prayer.

 

Ardibahesht Ameshaspand on the Cosmic plane is the Cosmic Plan that God put into motion with all its attendant laws, especially the law of cause and effect.

 

Ardibahesht Ameshaspand is the chief divinity of the Rapithwin Gah. Winter is considered evil (druj-e-zimistan) in Zoroastrian tradition. Ardibahesht Ameshaspand fights winter. That is why in Iran during winter Rapithwin Gah was not recited as it was believed that Ardibahesht Ameshaspand had gone underground to give warmth to the earth. He would surface after winter, hence Rapithwan Geh could be recited once again from Farvardin mah.

 

Co-workers:

 

The Hamkars “co-workers” of Ardibahesht Ameshaspand are Adar Yazad who presides over fire and Khvarena “divine energy”, Sarosh Yazad who brings intuitions and divine guidance, and Behram Yazad who presides over victory and success. The two grades of fire – Atash Adaran and Atash Behram are associated with Ardibahesht who as an Ameshaspand looks after fire.

 

The Associates of Ardibahesht Ameshaspand are the Yazads Airyaman and Saoka. Airyaman is for harmony as also for repelling diseases, physical and mental illnesses, negativities and death. Through Saoka Yazad comes all happiness that is destined for the world. He keeps back the demons inflicting more than necessary punishment on the souls.

 

Druj

 

“lie, deceit” is the adversary of Ardibahesht. It is responsible for evils resulting from chaos, disharmony and lies. On a physical plane, it brings severe winters.

 

Asha Vahishta is one of the most basic concepts in Avesta. The three short Avestan chants– Ashem Vohu, Yatha Ahu Vairyo and Yenghe Hatam – revolve around Asha Vahishta. Ahura Mazda, Zarathushtra, Amesha Spentas and all other divine beings are referred to as ashavan, that is “in accord with Asha – The Truth.”

 

Ardibahesht Yasht:

 

In the beginning of the Yaht, Ahura Mazda tells Zarathushtra that among the Ameshaspands, Ardibahesht is the foremost for adoration and veneration. Zarathushtra agrees to venerate Ardibahesht as the foremost Ameshaspand (1-2). We are told that it is possible to reach Garothman “the Highest Heaven”, the abode of Ahura Mazda, through the help of Ardibahesht Ameshaspand (3-4).

 

Thereafter the prayer of Airyaman Yazad is mentioned as the most powerful against all evils including Angra Mainyu (5).

 

Five types of healing are mentioned: 1. Asho baeshazo“Healing with Asha/Truth” (this may also mean healing as per the divine Plan), 2. Dāto baeshazo “Healing with Law / justice”, 3. Kereto baeshazo “healing with surgery”, 4. Urvaro baeshazo “Healing with herbs”, 5.Mānthro baeshazo “Healing with prayers.” Among these, healing by prayers is considered best as it heals from within. (6)

 

Thereafter powerful autosuggestions are given against evils. A desire is expressed that may evils like sickness, demons, opponents, snakes, inimical persons, evil women and harmful north-winds perish (apa-dvarata) (7-9). The devotee then urges Ardibahesht Ameshaspand to smite (jainti) the above mentioned and similar other evils for him. The devotee has the confidence that Ardibahesht Ameshaspand will smite (janat) thousands of demons, the worst of the demons including the arch demon Angra Mainyu. and drive them away towards the north (10-16).

 

In the end a desire is expressed that may the evil perish and flee towards the North, so that the rest of the world may not be harmed (17). This thought is expressed even at the end of the Kem nā Mazdā prayer. The Yasht ends with Avesta and Pazand passages similar to other Yashts.

 

After the Yasht, the Nirang is recited, which is held to be very efficacious. It is recited even as a prayer by itself and is often prayed over people who are not well. In the Nirang, Ahura Mazda is extolled and Ahriman is referred as ignorant and wicked, who should be defeated and destroyed. Zoroastrian religion and Ahura Mazda are praised at the end.

 

It is advisable to recite the short Airyaman prayer immediately after reciting the Ardibahesht Yasht and its Nirang.

 

There are two traditions firmly associated with Ardibahesht Yasht in our Community. Both these traditions underlie two of Ardibahesht. Ameshaspand’s basic characteristics, the first is its association with health and the second is with truth.

 

The first tradition is Ardibahesht ni picchi, in which, a devotee prays for a dear one or for self in case of ill health. Whilst praying the Ardibahesht Yasht, passes are made either by hand or by a handkerchief over the person’s body from head to toe and then the negative energy is shaken off.

 

The other tradition is Ardibahesht ni chavi which means moving a key with the help of Ardibahesht ameshaspand. It has to be done by a pious, adept person to identify a culprit in case of loss or theft. For this purpose, an iron key is kept in a Khordeh Avesta over which a Kasti is tied. Then fire is lit in a small Afarganyu and a person prays the Farajyat prayers followed by the Ardibahesht Yasht. Then the key is supported on the fingertips and the list of suspects is read out. On the name of the culprit the key is supposed to turn round and the Khordeh Avesta falls down. If this happens on the same name for 4 to 5 times, it is believed that the particular suspect is the culprit. Performing the Ardibahesht ni chhavi presupposes a certain level of spiritual statue, regular practice of the religious tariqats and a certain level of abstinence in the person who performs it. Without these, one may not get the correct results. Hence in present times there is a risk in doing this practice or else an innocent person may be unnecessarily be blamed.

Image may contain: fire

 

Prayers after Death


Pad-ruz Yane Uthamnani Mahan Kriya, a 1916 Gujarati book by Mr. Beheramshah Naoroji Shroff (પાદ-રૂઝ યાને ઉઠમણાંની મહાન ક્રિયા: ગુજરવા બાદ પહેલા ચાર દિવસની ક્રિયાઓની મોતેબરી – સચકાર, ગેહસારણું, તથા પાયદસ્તના અસલ કાયદાઓ તથા પાદ-રૂઝ યાને પાછલી રાતનાં ઉઠમણાંની ક્રિયા.

Click Here for – 2015.249383-Pad-ruz-Yane

The Gathas – A Compilation


The Holy Gathas Of Zarathustra – Jimmy Wadia

Presented as a recitable prayer in English compiled from the following publications which give different versions of the Holy Gathas as per links below, (a compilation by Jimmy Wadia ( jjwadia@aol.com:

The Holy Gathas of Zarathustra by Behramgore T. Anklesaria M.A.

The Life of Zoroaster in the words of his own Hymns – The Gathas, by Kenneth Sylvan Launfal Guthrie – published by the Comparative Literature Press, Brooklyn, New York, USA in 1914

The Gathas of Zarathustra- by Stanley Insler-1975, Acta Iranica IV, Leiden: Brill

The Heritage of Zarathushtra – A New Translation of his Gathas by Helmut Humbach and Pallan Ichaporia, published in 1994

The Gathas – The Hymns of Zarathushtra by DJ Irani

Translation of the Gathas – The Holy Songs of Zarathushtra by Mobed Firouz Azargoshasb

Thank you Jimmy for sharing.

MUKTAD PRAYERS STARTS ON 7TH AUGUST 2017


Zoroastrians all over the world celebrate the last ten days of their religious Calendar Year, that is, from Roj Ashtad Mah Asfandarmad to the Vahishtoisht Gatha, as the Muktad. The word Muktad is also referred to as Muktāt, which is closer to the Sanskrit word from which it is derived – mukt ātmān. It is the Sanskrit rendering of the Avestan word ashāunām.

Muktad is a joyous occasion for remembering and welcoming the Fravashis. We need to show our love and gratitude to them, as they help us in many ways. We have to thank both the types of Fravashis – those helping Nature and those helping souls of men (living as well as departed ones). In old books, among the list of duties of a Zoroastrian, the duty of celebrating the Muktad is foremost.

According to Saddar Bundahishn during these days the Souls of the Departed too come down to the earth. The Fravashis, who are the Guardians of the Soul, accompany them. All Souls are liberated, from wherever they are, even from hell. The Souls of the pious make merry as if a traveler has returned home. The Souls of the evil do not experience much joy as they are in the dread of returning back.

Zoroastrians erroneously believe that Muktad are the days of remembering just their departed ones. In fact, Muktad are the days for the collective worship of all Fravashis, followed by the individual remembrance of Souls and Fravashis of one’s dear departed ones.

During the days of Muktad, the Fravashis come collectively to this world and go to their respective houses. Whenever the Muktad are properly celebrated and the Fravashis are duly propitiated, the affairs of those people are successful, and there is all round prosperity. People are blessed with health, strength, happiness, protection and abundance of waters. The Fravashis even bless the city and nation in which they are remembered.

PREPARATION FOR MUKTAD:

In the past, especially when Muktad was mainly celebrated in the house, preparations were made in the house. The full house or a particular room was cleaned and white-washed. Provisions and fuel were stocked at least to last the days of Muktad and New Year. This was done so that one did not need to go shopping during these days. People, as far as possible do not go out of the house, as Souls and Fravashis come home, and it is not proper to leave them and go. Sometimes night long vigil was also kept by people. People of the house, especially women who were actively involved with preparations, took a Nahan.

All family members used to contribute their share towards buying house-hold items. This sharing gave rise to the term Behru, a Persian word, which means “share”. Today, what we understand by the term Behru is the consecrated Vase or Karasya in which water and flowers are kept during the days of Muktad. The Behru is symbolic of the unity of the family and does not necessarily represent the departed person.

MUKTAD IN THE HOUSE:

It is advisable to observe the Muktad in the house. If not the prayers, at least some arrangement can be done to welcome the Fravashis home. The main requirements for observing Muktad in the house are fresh water, flowers, a metallic Vase or a Karasyo, a metallic or stone table, fire, divo and chanting of prayers. Flowers can be arranged in a Vase filled with water and kept in the prayer room or a secluded corner of the house. Water and flowers in the vase have to be changed daily. Flowers and water are the visible emblems and symbolic reminders of the invisible souls and Fravashis. Water and flowers are representatives of Khordad and Amardad Ameshaspand. They are the carriers of reward for the Soul of the Deceased . They also uphold life and so do Fravashis. Moreover, all the three are also carriers of divine blessings. Hence, water, plant and Fravashis are remembered together at several places (Yasna 26, Farvardin Yasht 23 etc.)

DURATION – 10 OR 18 DAYS:

Today generally we celebrate 10 days of Muktad, starting from Roj Ashtad of Mah Asfandarmad and ending at Vahishtoisht Gatha. Zoroastrian texts have references to 10 Farvardegan days. (dasa pairi khshafnao in Farvardin Yasht XIII, Phl Vd.VIII.22, Sdr Bnd, 52.1-3, Persian Revayats, Dhabhar).

Since a long time in India, Muktad was celebrated for 18 days. It started on Roj Ashishvangh of Mah Asfandarmad and ended on the dawn of Roj Amardad Mah Farvardin. The earliest evidence of 18 days Muktad is through references in a book which relate such celebrations since the 15th century.

The reason Muktad were lengthened to 18 days was that the 7 days after Vahishtoisht Gatha are important since they belong to 7 Amshaspands: Hormazd Roj is Navroz, Ardibahesht Roj is Rapithwin consecration, Khordad Roj is Khordad Saal. Hence these six days were clubbed together to form 18 Muktad days. It should be noted that though the Muktad are said to be of eighteen days, on Ashishvangh Roj and Amardad Roj hardly any prayers are done.

In the early seventies, especially due to the initiative taken by Dasturji Khurshed Dabu and others, Muktad were once again gradually reverted back to 10 days.

Hamaspathmaedhem Gahambar: The later five days of the 10 day Muktad are also the days of the sixth and the last Gahambar, Hamaspathmaedhem. According to Zoroastrian Religion, each of the 6 creations was created during one of the Gahambars. Mankind was created on the last Gahambar.

PURPOSE OF MUKTAD:

In most religious traditions, the departed ones are specially invoked once a year. The Hindus refer these days as Shradh and the Christians as Lent (before Good Friday). According to Zoroastrian tradition the Fravashis descend at the end of the year.

During the Muktad, one has to keep away from routine work, devote time to the remembrance of Fravashis and do works of charity. Fravashis comes whenever they are invited. However, during the days of Muktad all the Fravashis descend. When they come to the house they have to be remembered and worshipped. If they are happy, they give blessings of prosperity and happiness. They should not go back dissatisfied. Great rewards can be obtained by the observation of Muktad.

Muktad is a time of REPAYING the debt of gratitude to our ancestors – those whom we know and the countless others whom we don’t know, but who have made a difference to our lives.

These days also help us to renew the MEMORY of our dear departed ones. They also help us realise our RESPONSIBILITY for the future generations. Just as we reap the rewards of the actions done by our past ancestors, we should do something for the future generations.

SPECIAL PRAYERS FOR MUKTAD, ESPECIALLY FOR LAITY:

  1. For the first five days, Framraot Hā (commentary of Ashem Vohu) or 1200 Ashem Vohu in the khshnuman of Ardafravash has to be recited. Notes prepared by Er. Dr. Ramiyar Parvez Karanjia for Ahunavar Academy 3

  2. For the five days of Gathas, each Gatha on the respective day or 1200 Yatha in the Khshnuman of Gatha has to be recited.

  3. Muktad no namaskar.

  4. Lākhi nu bhantar 570 Yatha + 210 Ashem + 120 Yenghe (total 900) in the khsnuman of Sarosh – is to be recited daily for 10 days.

CUSTOMS FOR MUKTAD:

1) Not to cut hair and nails, so as not to create naso and impurity.

2) Not to stitch clothes or other such avoidable chores, so that one could devote time to prayers and remembrance of Fravashis Men should not engage in activities except doing their duty and performing meritorious deeds, so that the Fravashis may return with delight and pronounce benedictions.

3) To keep fire in the house and offer fragrance to it, praise Fravashis, recite the Fravarden Yasht, perform Afringan and recite Avesta prayers so that the Fravashis experience comfort, joy and delight and confer blessings.

Some customs arose out of ignorance and were later discontinued. For instance, a Jama (long white robe) was hung on sugarcane sticks to remind of the presence of the souls of departed persons. There was also a custom of cleaning the corners of the house with a broom immediately after Muktad to make sure that all the souls and Fravashis depart, lest some may stay back and take back the soul of a living person as company.

Presently there is a practice of going from Agyari to Agyari to pay homage to Muktad. This practice is not in agreement with the spirit of Muktad, wherein we need to stay at home, pray and invite the Fravashis in our houses. Moreover, in the past Muktads were mostly celebrated at home and not in Agyaris.

IMPORTANT DAYS DURING MUKTAD:
1. Roj Marespand – Din Beh Mino Marespand: On this day the Zarathushtra was accepted as a prophet by King Vishtasp.

  1. Hamaspathmaedhem Gahambar days: To consecrate Gahambar preferably on Ahunavad Gatha or any of the five Gathas.

  2. Vahishtoisht Gatha is known as Pateti – day of Repentance. On this day, preferably in the Ushahin Gah, Patet has to be recited to seek forgiveness for sins committed knowingly or unknowingly during the year. The night of Vahishtoisht Gatha is also referred to as Valāvo, that is, send off (for the Fravashis).

Muktad are the days of heightened communication between the material and spiritual worlds- our need of health, happiness, peace and prosperity is fulfilled through the blessings of the souls and the Fravashis, and their need for our remembrance is fulfilled by our sincere prayers and invocations.

(By Er. Dr. Ramiyar Parvez Karanjia)

MUKTAD FAQs – Ervad Dr. Ramiyar Karanjia


Why we should celebrate Muktad?
The world comprises of seen and unseen elements. There are several unseen aspects of life, which only religion can explain, and which we need to know through the religion.One such important aspect of Zoroastrian religion is the immortality of the soul in the spiritual world after death and the existence of Fravashis “guardian spirits” to help the souls in this world and the next.Muktad is the special time to celebrate the contribution of the souls and Fravashis of the previous generations and fondly remember them by offering prayers along with special gifts of fragrant flowers and prayers.The souls look forward to being remembered in a loving manner, especially during the Muktad. If happy with our love and remembrance, they bless us with health, wealth and happiness.The number of days of celebrating the Muktad may be ten or eighteen depending on what tradition one follows. However, this is not as important as the fact that we remember and celebrate the memory of the dear departed ones.
For how many years should Muktad and/or the Annual Baj prayers be done for the dear ones?There is no specific injunction in our religious texts as to the number of years the Muktad or Annual Baj prayers should be done.Certain texts mention it as the duty of every Zoroastrian to remember the Fravashis, especially the Fravashis of their own dear departed parents and near ones during the Farvardegan (Muktad) days. Taking this injunction along with the injunction of the desire of the souls and the Fravashis to be remembered, it was the religious tradition in the past that the Muktad and Annual Baj should performed for one generation. Thus, over a period of time depending on several factors people were advised to have the Muktad performed for about 20 years in the past.As of now, depending on one’s financial condition and other circumstances and factors one has to decide for oneself how long one wants to have the Muktad or annual Baj prayers be done. By and large, in the present times and circumstances prayers may ideally be done for around five years.It is necessary that we remember the dear departed ones at home by doing a divo, and if possible praying the Satum no Kardo on their Baj day and during the Muktad, irrespective of whether the prayers are done at the agyari, and more so if they are not done.

 

Can one have Muktad performed at two different locations?Muktad are days to collectively remember all Asho Farohars. This includes Asho Farohars of our dear departed ones along with the souls.The soul of a dear departed one can be remembered in as many places as possible. All the priests remember holy souls of people like Dasturji Kukadaru and Homaji all over the world. Hence simultaneous prayers and remembrance of dear departed ones can be held at multiple locations.More than one behra can be consecrated for a departed person. However, it must be stated that individual and separate behras are not essential to pray for a dear departed one during Muktad.
Why are flowers connected with the Muktad? Why are they kept in the Behra and used to remember the dear departed ones?Muktad are the days when the Fravashis of all creations, Asho Farohars of humans and all souls descend on earth.At this time they are to be made to feel welcome amongst us and offered what they like the most – prayers, light and natural fragrance.The best creations with natural fragrance are fresh flowers and hence they are kept in vases at the place where Asho Farohars are remembered.Flowers belong to the plant kingdom and hence are representatives of Amardad ameshaspand, who also looks after immortality of the soul and its just rewards. Flowers in a way remind the living and the departed souls of their immortality and of the rewards of their life’s actions.A few simple fragrant flowers like rose and lily are all that is required for this purpose. We need not go overboard and offer too many exotic and expensive flowers.

 

Why are there 3 Muktads, 3 Navroz, 3 Khordad Sals etc, as per the 3 Zoroastrian calendars, which are the real day?Presently in the Zoroastrian tradition there are 3 sects-– the Shahenshahi, Kadimi and Fasali. People following these sects observe the religious festivals on the basis of their own calendars. Hence each festival is celebrated thrice.Festivals are days of coming together, enjoyment and thanksgiving. The purpose for which they are celebrated may vary, seasons may differ – but the end result of festivals is bringing about unity, harmony, hope and joy and that should remain intact.In the early Christian era, Christmas was celebrated on different days, as people were not sure about the exact day of birth of their prophet. Still for the sake of unity all days were brought together and the birth of Christ is today celebrated on 25th of December.Thus, all three Zoroastrian celebrations are valid. Nature absorbs the prayer and utilizes it at due time. As for the Muktad, the Fravshis and souls come to this world whenever they are remembered. Today we remember them on a few days in the year. In the past they were remembered through rituals either daily and especially on all festivals. If they are remembered any time during the year, even without a particular purpose, they come. There may be hundreds of Fravashis and souls for whom rituals may not be performed even during the Muktad. That does not mean they never come to the earth. There is total understanding and magnanimity in the divine world and they should not be compared to us humans.

 

What prayers can the laymen (Behdin) recite during Muktad days? (JJ 2-8-2015)Muktad are the days when we have to remember, thank and make happy the Asho Farohars and Ravans (souls) of our near and dear ones in particular and the whole universe in general. One of the best ways to do these is by prayers and rituals. Most rituals are generally the domain of prests. However laymen also can perform a few rituals and offer prayers to Asho farohars and Ravans. Below are a few such prayer:The Satum no kardo is the best prayer to be recited during the days of the Muktad. During the 5 Gatha days, this prayer is recited with some modification. If it is recited with the offering of some food cooked by a Zarthoshti, it becomes the Satum ritual. It should be recited after the Kasti and daily Farazyat prayers.Muktad no namaskar is a very short prayer that can be recited anytime during the days of the Muktad. The prayer is as follows: Az hamā gunāh patet pashemānom. ashaunām vanghuhish surāo spentāo fravashayo yazamaide. (thrice) Ahmai raeshcha – Hazanghrem-Jasa me avanghe Mazda-Kerfeh Mozd.Over and above the prayers mentioned, one can recite the Framraot Hā (Yasna Hā 20) or 1200 Ashem Vohu with the khshnuman of Ardafravash, for the first five days.For the five days of Gathas, each collection of Gathas can be recited on the respective day or 1200 Yatha on each day, with the khshnuman of Gatha.There is another prayer called Lākhi nu bhantar, in which a combination of 570 Yatha ahu vairyo, 210 Ashem vohu and 120 Yenghe hātām (total 900) are recited with the khshnuman of Sarosh Yazad daily for all the days of the Muktad.

 

YENGHE   HĀTĀM

The Yenghe hātām is the prayer of Divine Love, Unity and Harmony. Though it can be recited independently, generally it is not found separately in prayer books. However, it is part of most larger prayers. In Yasna Ha 61 it is said that this prayer takes one’s veneration forward in a better way. Yasna Ha 21 is a commentary on this prayer.

 

Text of the prayer:    Yenghe hātām āat yesne paiti vangho

Mazdāo ahuro vaethā ashāt hachā yāonghāmchā

Tāschā tāoschā yazamaide.

Meaning: Among the living ones, we venerate those men and women whom Ahura Mazda has known to be better in their worship on account of their Righteousness.

Free translation: Practice of righteousness makes humans better. Such men and women who have reached a higher state of awareness of life through their righteous conduct spread peace and harmony in the world. They are beloved of God.