Panchmasiyoo is done in the fifth month, any day is good. Basically, both sides parents do sagan (like we do on birthdays) to both the parents to be. It is generally done at one place, where the families meet to celebrate the coming of the child. Nothing is done for the coming child yet, but you may give gift to the couple.
Best wishes always, enjoy the day.
Here is an interesting article authored by Dastur Firoze Kotwal that I found in my archives. This read may probably not make any difference to those who have already given up on the tenets of our religion, but then again who knows? Enjoy this invaluable advice from a notable scholar.
Ervad Jal Dastur
RELIGIOUS IMPLICATIONS OF MIXED MARRIAGES (by Dastur Dr. Firoze Kotwal دستوردکترفیروزکوتوال)
The Zoroastrian religious tradition has always been that a girl upon her marriage not only takes the name of the husband, but is also deemed to have embraced his religion. As you are aware, there is a religious custom even amongst Zoroastrians, between those belonging to the priestly class and those belonging to the laity. In our religious prayers and ceremonies, female members of the priestly class are referred to as “Osti” and those of the laity are referred to as “Behdin”. If a Parsi girl from a priestly family marries a “Behdin”. her religious title changes from “Osti” to “Behdin” and, after her marriage, she is referred to as a “Behdin”. Conversely, if a girl from a “Behdin” family marries a member of the priestly class, the religious title of the girl changes to an “Osti” and she is referred to as such. In other words, she ceases to be a “Behdin” upon her marriage to a member of the priestly class, viz., an “Osta”, an “Ervad” or a “Dastur”. Thereafter, in all religious ceremonies, her name is prefixed by her religious title, which essentially has to be the same as the religious title of the husband she marries. It can never be different in the Zoroastrian religion.
If, according to the Zoroastrian customs, traditions and precepts, a girl takes the religious title of her husband upon marriage within the community itself, surely when a Zoroastrian girl marries a non-Zoroastrian, the same religious practice has to be logically extended, so as to deem her to have embraced the religion of her husband.
The fact that our religion puts great emphasis on the religion of the husband of a married woman, is evident from the fact that, in all religious ceremonies and prayers, the husband’s name is always a suffix to the wife’s name – for example, Behdin Mithibai Behdin Hormasji. It is also a very old religious practice never to recite a non-Zoroastrian name in any Zoroastrian prayer. Both these religious practices have been followed from times immemorial. To marry outside the fold is next to adultery, since the marriage is not solemnized according to the rites and customs of the Zoroastrian religion. A girl is given in marriage “in accordance with the law and custom of the Mazda-worshipping religion” (awar dad o ayin I din I mazdayasni), so declares the Marriage Benediction. Vendidad Chapter 18, Paragraph 62, prohibits union between a Mazdayasni and non-Mazdayasni. “Such a union hurts and distresses Ahura Mazda.” A woman who marries outside the Parsi community often claims that she wears the vestments of the Zoroastrian religion, viz. sacred shirt and girdle (Sadro-Kusti), and hence she is still a Zoroastrian and is entitled to participate in all Zoroastrian ceremonies and to the last rites on her death. We firmly hold that, from the religious point of view, her claim of being a Zoroastrian is hollow, hypocritical and full of pretensions. A woman marrying outside the community cannot observe the rules of purity as laid down by the Zoroastrian religion. She cannot perform ritual ablutions (Padyab-Kusti) and do prayers (Farziyat and Bandagi) in a non-Zoroastrian environment. When she bears children of a non-Zoroastrian seed (Tokham) and participates in Zoroastrian ceremonies, such women do great damage to the Zoroastrian religion.
Another very important point which needs to be highlighted is that when a woman marries a man belonging to another religion, she moves into his household where the religious ceremonies are performed according to the religion of the husband. Therefore, when a Zoroastrian girl marries, say a Hindu, and enters his household, she is considered part of his family and is expected to participate in the Poojas and other religious ceremonies which take place in the Hindu household. It may be possible that she may not actually participate, but that does not change the religious position since she is expected to follow the religion of her husband. It is for this reason that her children are also expected to be brought up in the religion of the father. the only exception being under Judaism which follows the matriarchal religious pattern. All other religions are patriarchal and both the wife and the children are expected to follow the religion of the male member of the family.
There is no custom or usage to support marriages between Parsis and non-Parsis. A custom has legal sanctity only when it has been followed and transmitted from times immemorial. It should be definite, widely acknowledged and practiced without obstruction from any member of the community. The Parsi community has the right to enact laws for the preservation of its identity and customs which have enabled it to live and flourish so long with distinction.
While I am aware of the provisions of the Special Marriages Act, which permits persons belonging to different religions to have a legally valid marriage, I would like to stress with all the emphasis at my command that such a marriage has no sanctity in our religion. In other words, religiously, a Zoroastrian woman who marries a non-Zoroastrian is deemed to have embraced the non-Zoroastrian religion and, therefore, religiously she has ceased to be a Zoroastrian. If a Zoroastrian male marries a non-Zoroastrian under the Special Marriages Act, the marriage has no religious sanctity. In the Zoroastrian religion, a marriage can only be solemnized between two Zoroastrians when the “Ashirwad” ceremony is performed. Any other mode of marriage is not recognized in our religion. Hence, a child born in such a situation is considered to be illegitimate in the Zoroastrian religion, though in view of the Special Marriages Act, the child does acquire all the rights as, legally, the marriage is recognized. In the past. there have been controversies regarding the performance of “Navjote” of such illegitimate children. In certain cases, they were performed. However, these controversies have no bearing on the true tenets of the Zoroastrian religion which only recognizes a marriage between two Zoroastrians after the “Ashirwad” ceremony is performed.
It has to be emphasized that the Dokmenashini ceremonies at the Towers of Silence can only be performed strictly in accordance with Zoroastrian tenets, practices and precepts. The legal position emanating from the Special Marriages Act has no bearing in such a situation. If, according to religious precepts and practices, a Zoroastrian woman ceases to be such when she marries a non-Zoroastrian and is deemed to have embraced the religion of her husband, her mortal remains cannot be consigned to the Towers of Silence after performing Zoroastrian rites. I am aware of the fact that, in the past, in two or three cases the mortal remains of a Zoroastrian woman married to a non-Zoroastrian were consigned to the “Chotra”. In my opinion, this was wrong from a purely religious point of view. Therefore, it would not be correct to accept that as a past practice and continue to do the same. If religiously this is not possible, any action taken in the past would have to be ignored because that was not in conformity with religious customs and traditions.
If, according to the Zoroastrian religion, a Zoroastrian woman married to a non-Zoroastrian is deemed to have renounced her religion and accepted the religion of her husband, she has to be treated as a non-Zoroastrian from the date of marriage, irrespective of the fact that her marriage may be legally valid under the Special Marriages Act and, legally, she may not be deemed to have renounced the Zoroastrian faith. I may point out that the Dokmenashini ceremony is based on religion and not on Law. Hence, only the religious view has to be taken and the legal view has to be ignored. The religious view demands that a Zoroastrian lady married to a non-Zoroastrian ceases to be Zoroastrian upon marriage and, therefore. she is not entitled to the after-death ceremonies as per the doctrine of Dokmenashini. Hence, her mortal remains cannot be consigned to the Towers of Silence.
Issues of faith and identity of a microscopic community, like the Parsis, cannot be settled by Court judgments, but by the upholders of religion who are the High Priests. Courts have no jurisdiction over the community in matters of religion and its long-cherished customs, traditions and practices. Traditions are as important as religion. and they are duly eulogized as the Law of Zarathushtra and the good Mazdayasni religion in many places in Avestan scriptures.
It is for this reason that the priestly class, as represented by the Athornan Mandal. has rightly taken the view that a Zoroastrian woman married to a non-Zoroastrian is not entitled to the after-death ceremonies as per the tenets of Dokmenashini and, therefore, no priest should perform such ceremonies. The fact that some priests may surreptitiously perform such ceremonies, as has been done in stray cases in the past, does not mean that what was done is sanctified by the religion.
I may mention that laws made in a country are changed from time to time, sometimes depending on political pressures. Further, judgments may vary and may even be conflicting as different Judges may take different views. However, the Laws of the religion are immutable and do not change with the vicissitudes and exigencies of time. The fundamental laws of the Zoroastrian religion cannot be changed merely to serve the pressures of the so-called broad-minded and liberal Parsis of today, nor can they be changed in view of the Special Marriages Act. If there is a conflict between the legal position and the religious view, the Divine Laws of God must prevail.
27th September, 2020, marked the unfortunate passing of the very popular and much-loved Bahadur Hansotia, a resident of Cusrow Baug (South Bombay) for seventy years. A true Parsi, he was known to help everyone in need, a true friend to many. His nearly three-decade-long tenure at the Central Bank of India (Colaba Branch) also showcased his ever-helpful and compassionate nature. During the pandemic too, he ceaselessly stood in service of those in need, but unfortunately contracted the deadly disease himself in the process, and being asthmatic himself, succumbed to a cardiac arrest.
Late Bahadur Hansotia was married to a non-Parsi lady who had passed away much earlier, and he is survived by his children – two daughters and a son. The request to have his funeral prayers performed at the Karani Agiary, in Cusrow Baug, was turned away on the basis of his being inter-married. This led to an outpouring of reactions – some hurt and some angry – resulting in a controversy of sorts.
Parsi Time has received a large number of messages and mails sharing their anguish at the refusal for prayers of a man that was as helpful and kind as the Late Mr. Hansotia, especially in keeping with the fact, that male inter-married Parsis (and to a large extent, also the children of male inter-married Parsis) have been largely accepted into the faith. A number of letters we received cited unfair discrimination, criticizing Dasturji Aibara, Panthaky of Karani Agiary, on his decision to not perform the last prayers.
Late Bahadur’s daughter, Aafrin Hansotia’s anguish went viral on Whatsapp, where she states (excerpts), “My dad… was always running and helping people… he still continued to work for a lot of people even through COVID-19 and then being diagnosed with this incurable disease… he was asthmatic and succumbed to a cardiac arrest on Sunday. We are stuck in Australia and couldn’t even pay our last respect and say goodbye bye properly… Does the Zoroastrian faith condemn people to be treated this way? Does a well-respected and loved human like my father not deserve prayers and respects paid by people who he’s lived with/spent his whole life with? Is this what it means to be Parsi? Do men who marry outside the religion cease being Parsi?”
Well-regarded and respected for his kind demeanour and helpful nature, Dasturji Yazdi Aibara of Karani Agiary, shared his side with Parsi Times. “Let me first state that Bahadur was very close to me too and he was an extremely helpful person – and I have highest regards for him, but I am cannot go against my beliefs and my conscience and the commitments to my service as a Priest. I cannot compromise on the pledge I have made to my Dharam – these are the principles and values I have grown with and I will not do a disservice to our religious ethos. That would be wrong.
Whether a man or a woman marries a non-Parsi, both are wrong in our religion. Once you marry a Non-Parsi, you cease to be Parsi and that is the truth. I believe this to be the case for all religions, immaterial of what is being practiced, because once you marry outside, the tokham or the Zoroastrian genes become impure, and this also compromises the other person’s genes. We need to maintain the purity of our man (mind), aatma (Soul), Khorshed (energy) and shareer (body) to nurture the aatmik shakti for the progress of the soul. When we marry outside, we impede the progress of our soul, which goes against the very reason that we were put on earth, i.e., the soul’s progress.
I’m hurt myself to have refused his prayers because I have great respect for him. But religious doctrines cannot bow to wrongful and unacceptable changes, just because these are practiced more regularly now. I’m bound by my religion’s dictats and I will stay sincere to these, immaterial of what other priests practice or our community members believe. Ten or hundred or thousand wrongs, don’t make a right, simply because they are being practiced increasingly. This is not progress when you go against your Dharam na kaayda (religious rules).”
Noshir Dadrawala, known for his encyclopeadic knowledge and wisdom of Zoroastrian religion and culture, shares an insightful understanding aimed at addressing the quandary / confusion that numerous community members have communicated, based on this event…
Obsequies Of Inter-Married Parsi Zoroastrians
By Noshir H. Dadrawala
This incident is unfortunate because not only was Late Mr. Hansotia a good and helpful human being, but so also is the Head Priest who refused to do the ceremony – an equally gentle, helpful and much respected priest among devout Behdins. While every individual, be it priest or laity, is entitled to one’s own opinion and has the right to act as per dictates of one’s own conscience, it’s important to discern facts from fiction and myths from reality.
Before I venture to express my opinion, I wish to clarify that personally I too am not in favour of inter-marriages and neither am I inter-married and nor is any member of my immediate family.
Here are some Historical, Religious and Legal facts…
Several Achaemenian, Parthian and Sasanian Kings were inter-married. But we continue to invoke their names with great pride and reverence – Khusro – I, also known as Anosharavan or Noshirwan-e-Adil, (531-579 AD) was married to a Roman Princess. The marriage was a political alliance to usher peace. The fact remains that it was a formal marriage but we still remember and invoke the name of Noshirwan-e-Adil reverently to this date. Just as we do the name – ‘Khusro – II’, or Emperor Khusro Parvez (590 AD) who married the Roman Princess Maria, as a political alliance to neutralize the rebellious General Behram Chobin.
Marriage from a Zoroastrian point of view is a religious duty/discipline. It is an institution that pleases Dadaar Ahura Mazda, according to the ‘Vendidad’. A number of religious texts, in particular, the Avestan ‘Vendidad’ and the Pahlavi ‘Dinkard’, have proscribed mixed marriages. These texts have considered ‘mixing of the seed’ (intermarriage) as sinful. But, no where does any Avesta or Pahlavi text explicitly or categorically state, that on inter-marrying, a Parsi Zoroastrian ceases to be a Parsi Zoroastrian.
The Vendidad lists out a number of sins and some sins are forgivable and some are unforgivable. But, no where does the Vendidad or the Dinkard or any other religious text state that if a Parsi Zoroastrian inter-marries, he should be excommunicated or not considered a Parsi Zoroastrian, once he or she marries outside the community.
Justices Dinshaw Davar and Frank Beamon, (as reported in (1909) 33 ILR 509 and 11Bom.L.R. 85), after hearing evidence led before the Bombay High Court by some of the most leading scholars, priests and High Priests of the period, arrived at the conclusion that the Parsi community consists of: (a) Parsis who descended from the original Persian emigrants and who are born of both Zoroastrian parents and who profess the Zoroastrian religion; (b) Iranis from Persia professing the Zoroastrian religion; (c) children of Parsi fathers by non-Parsi mothers who have been duly and properly admitted into the religion.
While this so-called definition of ‘Parsi Zoroastrian’ is obiter dictum (i.e., a collateral opinion/observation of the judge, which is not binding) it formed the basis of the judgement why the French wife of Ratanji D Tata was not to be considered a Parsi Zoroastrian, despite her Navjote.
Much as this definition is gender-biased, it has not been legally challenged by any priest or High Priest for over a century.
The religious texts do not approve inter-marriages. But there is not a single scripture which states that on inter-marriage, a Parsi Zoroastrian ceases to be one.
There are several other sins including murder, cruelty and speaking untruths listed in the scriptures. So, one wonders, historically, would priests then have to deny prayers to Parsi murderers, sadists or liars?
One also wonders if such policy applies to those who are inter-married, then what about live-in couples and those indulging in illicit sexual activities with non-Parsis?
In the past and in the present, many priests perform ceremonies for the intermarried rich, be it a Tata or a Wadia – and their portraits adorn their Agyari wall! So, why do the rules change when it comes to the ordinary Parsi?
One is neither questioning nor condemning the decision of our priests – it’s their choice. But the question remains, if this becomes a new trend, will this become one more issue for challenge in the courts of law? We need a unified answer from our learned High Priests in this matter, to undo the confusions of our community members on the most integral aspect of religion. As a community, we need to discuss, debate and decide thoughtfully.
These are prayers which any Parsi Zoroastrian in a state of ritual purity can recite at the fire temple or in the house, at any time of the day or night during the 10 days of the Muktād. The Local Time from midnight to 2 am should be avoided for all prayers, except for the Kasti.
Jasa me avanghe Mazda, jasa me avanghe Mazda, jasa me avanghe Mazda ! Amahe hutāshtahe huraodhahe, Verethraghnahe Ahura-dhātahe, Vanaintyāoscha uparatāto, Rāmano khāstrahe, Vayaosh uparo-kairyehe, taradhāto anyāish dāmãn, aetat te Vayo, yat te asti, Spento-mainyaom, thwāshahe khvadhātahe, Zravānahe akaranahe, Zravānahe daregho-khadhātahe. Recite fully 1 Ashem vohu.
Kerfeh mozd, gunāh guzāresh-nerā kunam, ashahi ravãn dushā-ram-rā, ham kerfeh hamā vehāne hafta keshvar zamin, zamin-pahānā, (here, pay homage to mother earth by taking your hand towards the ground, but not touching it) rud-darānā, khorshid-bālā, bundehād beresād, asho bed derji. Atha jamyāt yatha āfrināmi. Recite fully 1 Ashem vohu.
(Introduction: This prayer has to be done only during the first 5 days of the Muktād, that is, from Āshtād roj to Anerān roj of Aspandād māh. It is actually the 20th Hā of the Yasna, which is a commentary on the Ashem Vohu prayer. It one is not able to pray it, then one can pray the 1200 Ashem Vohus as given later on. It can either be done at the Agyari where the Muktād are observed, or it can be recited even at home.)
(Introduction: This prayer has to be done only during the first 5 days of the Muktad, that is from Āshtād roj to Anerān roj of Aspandād māh. It has to be done if one is not praying the Framraot Hā prayer. If one is doing the Framraot Hā prayer, there is no need to do this prayer. It can either be done at the Agyari where the Muktād are observed, or it can be recited even at home.)
RITUAL OF ‘BOI-DAADAN’ OR MAACHI OFFERING AT CHANGE OF GEHS IN ATASH-BEHRAMS AND ITS GREAT SIGNIFICANCE
‘In the period of Haavan Geh, Haoma Yazata approached Zarathushtra (who was then) cleansing the fire (stand) from all sides and reciting the Gathas.’ – (Hom Yasht 1, 1)
Note: This chapter is based on our late revered Dasturji Saheb Khurshed S. Dabu’s Gujarati booklet on this subject. Comments within brackets are my own-
(Ahura Mazda is omnipresent and He is mysteriously present in all His Creations, as a Ravaan/Fravashi in each one of us, and as an unseen fire energy instrumental in the creation and renovation of everything. As the ‘Son of Ahura Mazda’ and as his resplendent symbol the enthroned fire is worshipped. It has a soul in addition to its material counterpart and hence it is an independent, conscious entity).
The Sacred Fire is metaphorically spoken of as a King, having a spiritual jurisdiction over the district round about. The stone slab or stand, on which its censer stands, is considered and spoken of as its throne (takht). Its chamber is in the form of a dome, giving an idea of the dome of the heavens. It is just under the center of the dome that the censer stands on the slab. From that center hangs, high above over the fire, a metallic tray which is spoken of as the crown (tap of the Sacred Fire, which is looked at as the symbolic representation or emblem of a spiritual ruler- One or two swords and one or two maces are hanging on the inner walls of its chamber. They serve as symbols of the Church militant, and signify that the faithful should fight against moral evils and vices, just as they would fight against their enemies, and thus make it, in the end, triumphant.
(Written for girl child same follows for boy child too with Shirt & Pant)
In the morning:
Out side the door, sweep and clean, sprinkle water and put chowk
Put toran on the doors
Make little sagan no rawo or sev.
Baby ne thoro ravo chatarjo
Get the ses ready with diva. Put 3 red bengals on the Sopara (if girl), pan, sopari, kharek, badam,sakar and a bit of sugar for putting in Baby’s Coconut with a tili so that it dries up before you do sagan and does not stain the dress.
Get one thali ready with the ladoos, you have previously made.(Recipe for Ladoos is given below or buy ready made).
Give her bath and dress her up in any NEW nice dress will do. Socks too( remove socks while doing tilli so her feet does not gather dust)
Put her chain and pendent and if possible Bangles too (it is a sign of good luck for little girls to wear Bangles and chain and earrings) but your wish, all this is optional.
Put chalk where you intend to do the sagan. Baby should be facing East. Put a patla (small flat stool for baby to stand on- DO NOT PUT CHALK ON THE PATLA)
Keep extra cling film ready.
SAGAN NI TAYARRI AFTER YOUR GUESTS HAVE ARRIVED:
Let Daddy make the baby stand on the patla and hold her from behind
Mummy will do tili to the little one. First put tili on the pug and then on the forehead.
Put on garland/Gajra
Give her coconut and sagan nu envelope to hold.
Put little sugar in her mouth.(Mithoo monu)
Now let Daddy pick her up REMOVE BABY’S SOCKS and mummy will put two little feet of larva on the patla, when Daddy lowers baby see that her feet fall on the larva, they will get smashed you may wash and wipe her feet well afterwards or if you don’t like the idea you may put the larva on the cling film and cover again with another cling film without smashing the larva) this will not spoil baby’s feet. Since baby is unable to stand on her own, hold her gently from behind from her waist. Hug and kiss her and take overna, let daddy also kiss her.
(Alternately what you could do is put the first cling film on the patla and keep it ready, then take a piece of aluminum foil and put on the top. On the foil put the larva and lightly cover with a piece of cling film. On this make Baby stand. So after you have given her little sugar to sweeten her mouth, you can pick her up a little and pick up the whole aluminium foil with the cling film larva and all. Make baby sit down on the patla comfortably)
Now let everyone meet her, give her lots of Gifts and kisses.
Take plenty of photographs and video.(tell your friends to do so too)
Serve larva, snacks drinks lunch and enjoy
It’s all fun so don’t worry if you forget something or people comment….nothing is compulsory. Keep baby comfortable and happy.
Puglaroo na larva
Please practice once before for perfection
You will need, One thali, measuring cup, colander or boyoo (or you can use the steamer), one big dekchi on which the boyoo can fit, one small frying pan, tooth pick, spoons, and plates to cover. A piece of muslin cloth to cover the colander.
1 cup grated fresh coconut
1 cup finely grounded rice flour (basmati)
1 cup water (should be same proportion as rice flour)
½ cup chopped Jaggery (or sugar)
2 tabsp. Pure ghee or little more
One big pinch salt
½ tsp. Cardamom-nutmeg powder
1 tabsp. Finely chopped almonds
1 tabsp. Finly chopped cashews
½ tsp. sesame seeds
½ tsp. poppy seeds
1 tsp full cornflour (binds better)
Take a big vessel on which your colander will fit. Add 1 cup water, 1big pinch of salt and 1 tsp.full ghee and bring to a rolling boil.
Put off the gas stove and add 1 cup of rice flour and stir well…..it will be lumpy just mix well and keep it covered, and leave to get warm 10 mins.
(In a frying pan on a med. Fire….cook the the mixture on slow gas). Add 1tsp ghee and as it melts, add sesame and poppy seeds, add dry fruits and coconut.
Stir for a while and add Jaggery and let it melt on slow flame. Do not cook too long, or else the Jaggery hardens. (if you are using sugar let sugar melt and stir a little longer).
Put off the gas and add cardamom nutmeg powder. Stir well and keep it aside to cool.
Take a big vessel on which your colander will fit. Add 2-3 cups water, on a slow flame bring water to a rolling boil. In the meantime
As the water boils grease the colander and prepare the larvas.
Take the flour out into the big thali Sprinkle corn flour over it, and knead the dough very well, you may sprinkle very little water and little ghee on your fingers and palm, to make it into a smooth ball.
Grease your palm with ghee and make small ball and flatten between your palms. (Do not do all the balls together as they tend to dry up..as you are making one, one ball, knead well between your palm and fingers to make it smooth)
Dip your thumb and fingers in ghee and make a small cup out of this ball to fill in the coconut mix. Make it as thin as you can make Carefully bring the ends together to cover the filling, remove the top part, or else it will become too thick. making it into a ball. Flatten very slightly.
For the tiny feet make it little oblong and fill, close and cut the tiny toes with sharp knife or tooth pick dipped in ghee. Press and make the shape. cut the toes at one end…keeping the thumb toe little bigger. Take care of the right and left foot. J Big toes.
Arrange them on greased colander and put it for steaming. Cover with moist muslin cloth, or any clean dish cloth will do. and steam for 15-20 mins.
Once done let them cool….if you pick them up hot they might break.
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.
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Today is Pateti the day of Patet or repentance. The past is behind us and we can only accept where we were wrong and learn from it. We cannot wipe it off. But, the future is a clean slate ….Let us write our future with the pen of Asha (Truth, Righteousness and in sync with the Divine Order).