Category Archives: Rituals and practices

Funeral Rights: The Inter-Married Parsi Zoroastrian

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…

Historical 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.

Religious Facts:

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.

Legal Facts:

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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. 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.

Muktad Prayers – Ramiyar Karanjia

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.


Muktad no Namaskar 1

Frāmraot Hā. 1

1200 Ashem Vohu. 2

Five Gatha Prayers. 3

Gatha Ahunavad. 3

Gatha Ushtavad. 13

Gatha Spentomad. 21

Gatha Vohu-Khshathra. 27

Gatha Vahistoisht 29

1200 Yatha Ahu Vairyos. 31

Stum-no-Kardo. 32

Fravardin Yasht 35

Lākhi nu Bhantar 49

Muktad no Namaskar

(Introduction: This Namaskar is done during the days of the Muktād. It can either be done at the Agyari where the Muktād are observed, or it can be recited even at home.)

FAz hamā gunāh patet pashemānum. Ashāunãm vanguhish surāo spentāo Fravashayo yazamaide. Recite fully 1 Ashem vohu. E (From F to E recite thrice).

Ahmāi  raeshcha  khvarenascha,  ahmāi  tanvo  drvatātem,  ahmāi  tanvo  vazdvare,   ahmāi  tanvo  verethrem,  ahmāi  ishtim  paourush-khāthrãm,  ahmāi  āsnãmchit  frazantim,  ahmāi  dareghãm  daregho-jitim,  ahmāi  vahishtem  ahum  ashaonãm,  raochanghem,  vispo-khāthrem.  Atha  jamyāt  yatha  āfrināmi.  Recite fully 1 Ashem  vohu.

Hazanghrem baeshazanãm, baevare baeshazanãm, Hazanghrem baeshazanãm, baevare baeshazanãm, Hazanghrem baeshazanãm,  baevare baeshazanãm. Recite fully 1 Ashem vohu.

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.

Frāmraot Hā.

(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.)

Khshnaothra Ahurahe Mazdāo. Recite fully 1 Ashem vohu.

Pa nãme yazdãn Hormazd khodāe awazuni gorje khoreh awazāyād, Ardā-fravash be-rasād.

Az hamā gunāh patet pashemānum, az harvastin dushmata duzhukhta duzhvarshta, mem pa geti manid, oem goft, oem kard, oem jast, oem bun bud ested, az ān gunāh manashni gavashni kunashni, tani ravãni, geti minoãni, okhe avākhsh pashemān, pa se gavashni pa petet hom. Khshnaothra Ahurahe Mazdāo, taroidite Angrahe Mainyeush, haithyā-varshtãm hyat vasnā frashotemem. Staomi Ashem. Recite fully 3 Ashem vohu.

Fravarāne Mazdayasno Zarathushtrish vidaevo Ahura-tkaesho (Recite the appropriate short geh) frasastayaecha. Ahurahe Mazdāo raevato khvare-nanghato, Ameshanãm Spentanãm, ashāunãm fravashinãm ughranãm aiwi-thuranãm Paoiryo-tkaeshanām fravashinãm, Nabā-naz-dishta-nãm fravashinãm, khshnaothra yasnāicha vahmāicha khshnaothrāicha frasastayaecha, yathā āhu vairyo zaotā frā me mrute, athā ratush ashātchit hachā, frā ashava vidhvāo mraotu.

Ahurem Mazdām raevantem kharenanghantem yazamaide, Ameshā Spentā hu-khshathra hu-dhāongho yazamaide. Ashāunãm vanghuhish surāo spentāo fravashayo yazamaide.

 (1) Frāmraot Ahuro Mazdāo. Ashem Vohu vahishtem asti, para ahmāi vohu vahishtem chinasti, yatha khvaetave khvaetātem; vohu vahishtem asti atha tkaeshem kārayeiti.

(2) Ushtā asti ushtā ahmāi, ushtatāitya vispem ashavanem vispāi ashaone para-chinasti, yathanā stāitya vispem ashavanem vispāi ashaone para – chinasti.

(3) Hyat ashāi vahishtāi ashem, para – chinasti vispem māthrem vispem māthrāi, yatha ashāi khshathrem chinasti, yathacha zbayente ashaone ashem chinasti, yathacha khshmāvoya ashem chinasti yat Saoshyantaeibyo; thrāyo tkaesha. vispem vacho fravākem haurum, vacho Ahurahe Mazdāo.

(4) Mazdāo frāmraot; chim frāmraot, ashavanem mainyaomcha gaethimcha.  Chvās frāmraot fravākem, vahishto khshayamno. Chvantem ashavanem, vahishtemcha avaso-khshathremcha.

(5) Baghām Ashahe Vahishtahe yazamaide; Ashahe Vahishtahe yazamaide frasraothremcha, framerethremcha, fragāthremcha, frāyashtimcha.

Yenghe hātām āat yesne paiti vangho, Mazdāo Ahuro vaethā ashāt hachā,  yāonghāmchā tāschā tāoschā yazamaide.

Ashem Vohu 1.

(To recite in Bāj, i.e. mentally) Ahura Mazda khodāe, awazuni-e mardum, mardum sardagãn, hamā sardagãn, ham-bāyaste veãān, oem behedin Māzdayasnãn, āgāhi, āstavāni, neki rasānad, aedun bād. (To recite aloud) Recite fully 2 Yathā ahu vairyo.

Yasnemcha vahmemcha aojascha zavarecha āfrināmi, Ahurahe Mazdāo raevato khvare-nanghato, Ameshanãm Spentanãm, ashāunãm fravashinãm ughranām aiwi-thuranãm, Paoiryo-tkaeshanãm fravashinãm, Nabā-naz-dishta-nãm fravashinãm. Recite fully 1 Ashem vohu.

Ahmāi raeshcha, Hazanghrem, Jasa me avanghe Mazda, Kerfeh mozd. (Recite fully these 4 short prayers.)

1200 Ashem Vohu

(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.)

Khshnaothra Ahurahe Mazdāo. Recite fully 1 Ashem vohu.

Pa nãme yazdãn Hormazd khodāe awazuni gorje khoreh awazāyād, Ardā-fravash be-rasād.

Az hamā gunāh patet pashemānum, az harvastin dushmata duzhukhta duzhvarshta, mem pa geti manid, oem goft, oem kard, oem jast, oem bun bud ested, az ān gunāh manashni gavashni kunashni, tani ravãni, geti minoãni, okhe avākhsh pashemān, pa se gavashni pa petet hom. Khshnaothra Ahurahe Mazdāo, taroidite Angrahe Mainyeush, haithyā-varshtãm hyat vasnā frashotemem. Staomi Ashem. Recite fully 3 Ashem vohu.

Fravarāne Mazdayasno Zarathushtrish vidaevo Ahura-tkaesho (Recite the appropriate short geh) frasastayaecha. Ahurahe Mazdāo raevato khvare-nanghato, Ameshanãm Spentanãm, ashāunãm fravashinãm ughranãm aiwi-thuranãm Paoiryo-tkaeshanām fravashinãm, Nabā-naz-dishta-nãm fravashinãm, khshnaothra yasnāicha vahmāicha khshnaothrāicha frasastayaecha, yathā āhu vairyo zaotā frā me mrute, athā ratush ashātchit hachā, frā ashava vidhvāo mraotu.

Ahurem Mazdām raevantem kharenanghantem yazamaide, Ameshā Spentā hu-khshathra hu-dhāongho yazamaide. Ashāunãm vanghuhish surāo spentāo fravashayo yazamaide.

Recite fully 1200 Ashem Vohu.

Recite fully 2 Yathā ahu vairyo. Yasnemcha vahmemcha aojascha zavarecha āfrināmi, Ahurahe Mazdāo raevato khvare-nanghato, Ameshanãm Spentanãm, ashāunãm fravashinãm ughranām aiwi-thuranãm, Paoiryo-tkaeshanãm fravashinãm, Nabā-naz-dishta-nãm fravashinãm. Recite fully 1 Ashem vohu.

Ahmāi raeshcha, Hazanghrem, Jasa me avanghe Mazda, Kerfeh mozd. (Recite fully these 4 short prayers.)

Click Here for more from Ramiyar Karanjia’s website 

Boi Ceremony And The Chakra Ritual

Boi Ceremony And The Chakra Ritual

3 Nov 2019 Top of Form



Courtesy : Burjor Daboo





‘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).


Click link to continue reading : Boi Ceremony And The Chakra Ritual


Courtesy : Burjor Daboo





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.


Click here to continue reading Consecration Of Atash Behrams And Adarans_


Puglaroo karvani reet

(Written for girl child same follows for boy child too with Shirt & Pant)

In the morning:

  1. Out side the door, sweep and clean, sprinkle water and put chowk
  2. Put toran on the doors
  3. Make little sagan no rawo or sev.
  4. Baby ne thoro ravo chatarjo
  5. 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.
  6. Get one thali ready with the ladoos, you have previously made.(Recipe for Ladoos is given below or buy ready made).
  7. 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)
  8. 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.
  9. 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)
  10. Keep extra cling film ready.



Let Daddy make the baby stand on the patla and hold her from behind

  1. Mummy will do tili to the little one. First put tili on the pug and then on the forehead.
  2. Put on garland/Gajra
  3. Give her coconut and sagan nu envelope to hold.
  4. Put little sugar in her mouth.(Mithoo monu)
  5. 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.

Have fun!!!




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)


  1. 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.
  2. Put off the gas stove and add 1 cup of rice flour and stir well… will be lumpy just mix well and keep it covered, and leave to get warm 10 mins.
  3. (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.
  4. 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).
  5. Put off the gas and add cardamom nutmeg powder. Stir well and keep it aside to cool.
  6. 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
  7. As the water boils grease the colander and prepare the larvas.
  8. 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.
  9. 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 you are making one, one ball, knead well between your palm and fingers to make it smooth)
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Once done let them cool….if you pick them up hot they might break.

Enjoy the Puglaroo ceremony of your little one.

Thrity Tantra

Mumbai Muktad Diaries 2019

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

Today is Pateti

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).

Muktads start today (7/August/19)

“Muktads start today (7/August/19)🙏🌹❤
Muktads are of 10 days duration starting from Roj Ashtad (today) of Mah Spendarmad and ending on Vahishtoisht Gatha, when, according to Zoroastrian tradition, all Fravashis and souls collectively descend every year to their houses in particular and into the world in general. They remain wherever there is purity, prayers, performance of rituals and goodness.
The Muktad days are also known Farvardegan, which means “days of remembering the Fravashis.”
Every creation – spiritual or material – has a Fravashi. Human beings have individual Fravashis as their Guardian spirits.
The Fravashis helped Ahura Mazda in the process of creation and also help Him in upholding creations. They help waters to flow, plants to grow, clouds to go where needed and the sun, moon and planets to go around in their orbits. They uphold the sky and earth.
Muktad is a joyous and festive occasion to welcome and be hospitable to the Fravashis. The Muktad celebrations have a twofold significance. Firstly the festival is to thank all the Fravashis collectively as they help us in many ways. Secondly these days are to individually remember the souls and the Fravashis of our own dear departed ones.
Thus the days of Muktad are to offer reverence to all Fravashis and remembering the Fravashis and souls of our own dear ones.
In many religious traditions, the souls of the departed ones descend on the earth once a year. The Hindus refer to these days as Shradh, and the Christians as Lent.
According to Zoroastrian tradition the Fravashis descend to clean the world of its impurities at the end of each year. Unlike in other traditions, we remember not just the departed ones during these days, but all Fravashis in Nature.
Muktad are the days of enhancing communication between the physical and spiritual worlds. The needs of humans beings and divine beings is mutually fulfilled – We receive blessings of health, happiness and peace, and the divine beings feel happy on account of our hospitality, prayers and remembrance. The blessings of the Fravashis can give happiness and add meaning to our lives.
The simple ritual would be to light a divo/candle, place a bunch of flowers & some sweets
Simple Muktad Prayers include
Kusti prayers
Muktad no namaskar
(az hamā gunah patet pashemanom. ashaunam vanghuhish surao spentao fravashayo yazamaide (thrice). Ahmai Raeshcha – Hazangharem – Jasa me Avanghe – Kerfeh Mazda).
21 Yatha Ahuvaryo & 12 Ashem Vohu
Ushta te”
Courtesy: Jehangir Bisney


Since long a sect of people have been propagating a campaign of Not to stand up during the Boi ceremony, as the Priest recites ‘Dushmata-Duzhukta-Duzvareshta’ to drive out Ahriman and that standing up would be an Honour to Ahriman and an Insult to The Atash Padshah .
The other believes that we are removing the evils from the world & so the Bell ringing defeats Ahriman.

Shri Rohin Noshirwan Karanjia of Surat has taken this matter up in his Gujarati article in the Souvenir of the Navsari Atashbehram celebrations October 2015. Some brief points from it:-

All religious ceremonies are done by the Ervard sahebs in a demarked area ‘A Paavi’. Religious Books states, “Any Religious ceremonies done within the Paavi the pure energies emanating while reciting Avesta Maanthras can also reach out of the Paavi region, but the foul energies of Ahriman CAN NOT enter the Paavi region. Thus Paavi acts as a protective cover & the spiritual strength emanating from it destroys outside enemy attacks. So the purity of the ceremonies done in a Paavi is not defeated”
It is true that the words ‘Dushmat-Duzukt-Duzvarsht’ do mean ‘Bad Thoughts-Bad Words-Bad Acts’ but taking grammar rules into consideration the words appended with them, ‘Oem Goft- Oem Kard-Oem Jast’ come along, which without these words the Dushmat… words remain incomplete. As per Erv. Edulji Kanga the words portray, “In my Past Life – This Life – Or the Life in Future; if I have had Bad Thoughts-Words-Or Acts; or in future If I may have them; then I am distraught, I do penance for it, I ask Forgiveness and promise to be away from such conduct in future.” So as the Ervard saheb rings the Bell during the Boi ceremony uttering these words, there is no negative vibes felt. Only positive energy is spread. Hence one should stand up during that time. Remember the Ervard saheb does the Full Boi ceremony while remaining standing.
The Kadmi Boi ceremony is a bit different from the Shehenshai one. They utter, “Saoche Buye Ahmay Namaane” (3 bells rung) “Mat Saoche Buye Ahmay Namaane” (3 bells rung) “Raochahi Buye Ahmay Namaane” (3 bells rung). Meaning, ‘O fire may you keep ever burning brilliantly in this house’. At that time there is no issue of Ahriman being present, as there are no words uttered that seem to represent Ahriman coming to douse the Atash, and so when we stand up to honour the ringing of bells, we do not honour Ahriman.
Leaving that entirely aside, let us take it up from a Non religious angle. Simple straight forward earthly reason.
We call our consecrated Atash as ‘Atash Padshah’- The King! In olden days when there was Kingship in the world, there would be a fixed time when the King would arrive in his court Room. To Mark the occasion & warn all, there used to be a Ringing of Bells to alert the genera that the King was coming to his court room. (In India There was also an announcement in the court yard before the King entered) When the King entered everyone would stand up as a mark of respect and alliance to the king.
Also to Mark the Change of Time they used to ring the bell to let the common people know of the Time. (Remember the ringing of Bells in Schools to mark the end & start of a Period or Recess)
As we consider Atash as son of Ahuramazda, (Atash Puthre Ahuremazdao) and a Padshah – (A King) When The Padshah is offered a Machi & the Boi (Actually from Gujarati KHUSHBOI -‘Fragrance’) The Fragrant offering to the Atash at the time of the change of the time -‘Gah’ from Morning to Noon & Evening to Night etc. So as a Mark of respect to The Atash Padshah & the Bringing in of the New Gah, we rise up when the bell rings proclaiming the ‘Kings’ entry.
And hence we must stand Up when the Ringing of the Bells at the time of offering Machi.


Below is the copy of a powerful speech given by Shahin Bekhradnia, President WZO, at a function organized by AIMZ on Wednesday 21st December 2011 in Mumbai. The speech not only points out the differences in practice (and perception) of the same religion by Parsees of India and Zarathushtis of Iran, but also mentions some idiosyncrasies and blind-faith mentality, practiced by some Parsees, especially by the so-called orthodox/traditional wing of the Mumbai Parsi community.

I hope you will like reading the speech.

PS. If you are in the liberal/progressive camp, you will love this article –

if you are in the orthodox/traditional camp –

let me warn you – this may come as a surprise!


by Shahin Bekhradnia

I would like to start by thanking my kind hosts for inviting me here to address you and for making this forum available for the open but civilized exchange of views. I would like to make it clear from the outset that I am not against rituals – indeed far from it as I adore the pomp, ceremony and pageant of ritual. However, it makes it so much more interesting and effective if they are meaningful to us.

Wearing white or green head covers on religious occasions is expected by Zartoshties from Iran and the choice of black hats that many Parsee men don we find contrary to our principles of colour symbolism. Black has always been seen as the colour of Islam and of negative forces so we feel that is is totally inappropriate when men cover their heads with black caps. Similarly it is a matter of some concern in terms of hygiene when we find pious Parsees, undoubtedly full of good intentions, covering their heads with handkerchiefs they fish out of their pockets which are either previously or later seen to be used for their intended nasal functions. No less perplexing is the sight of people covering their heads with their hands, sheets of paper etc. While we realise that these acts are attempts to communicate their religiosity, we do not believe that Ahura Mazda will think of us as lesser humans if we show our respect for the occasion in other ways, even with open heads if we have forgotten our scarves and hats.

At our temples, our doors are open for all who wish to come there. Admittedly there may be some who come with evil intent, but even in these recent years where our community have been particularly vulnerable there have been few reasons to regret this policy. The same goes for the attendance at our All Souls memorial services of Farvardigan just after Novruz and also the gahambar period just before Novruz. Our respect for the souls of the dead is not a selfish closed matter. We empathise with all who have lost their loved ones and we welcome all who with their own free choice have embraced the same way of thinking as ourselves.

In the temples we do not prostrate ourselves and kiss the step leading to the Afrignuni nor do we kiss the railings around it. This is considered as an irrational and alien way to behave, customs adopted from other cultures which surround us. Similarly placing a dab of ash on the forehead is simply not an Iranian practice, but undoubtedly echoes the Tila which has been adopted from Hindu practice.

We all know that at our initiation ceremonies we are given the sedreh and koshti to wear as the distinct emblems of belonging to our faith group. The sedreh pushi ceremony known to Parsees as Navjote is an important rite of passage and a significant milestone for a person, whenever it may be undertaken. However Iranian Zoroastrians do not suddenly lose their validity just because their parents may never have arranged the ceremony or because they may choose not to wear these emblems of their faith all the time after they have had their ceremony. It is a fact that the vast majority of Iranian Zoroastrians both in Iran as well as outside, do not wear the sedreh/koshti as faithfully as Parsees. My priestly grandfather did not regard these symbols as issues which would make or break the community’s identity and indeed he was right. We may not be renewing our spiritual strength as some priests would maintain but that is to our detriment and does not affect anyone else.

Our community numbers have continued to grow and our identity has not weakened just because we do not all wear these symbolic garments. We are not shocked nor do we judge a person’s worth or authenticity by whether or not they are wearing these outwards symbols. I stress this because I and a number of Iranian Zoroastrian friends were denied access to some temples in India some years ago merely because we could not persuade the doorkeeper that we were true Zoroastrians. The only thing which would have convinced him was the production of a sedreh and koshti which he demanded to see and which none of us was wearing. It may not have occurred to him that anyone could quite simply put these on and produce them for his inspection, whereas it would have been a lot more difficult for someone to learn the Avesta which we recited fluently without any success in convincing the doorman that we had every entitlement to enter the temple. Nor did our ability to converse in Dari have any effect whereas an Iranian Zoroastrian knows well that Dari is the spoken language of Yazdi and Kermani Zoroastrians.

We all know that our religion is enlightened from many perspectives, one of which is the pride we take in the equal treatment of men and women which is demonstrated in the Gathas wherein the text addresses both genders. This approach establishing women as the partners and equals of men in furthering good deeds and making the earth more bountiful was practised in domestic and political life so that we had Zoroastrian queens when there were no male heirs and sometimes women ran the household even when their men folk were not absent (as evidenced in the Herbedstan). In Iran Zoroastrian girls were the first females to attend schools, go to university, become professionals and maintain a high level of literacy among women in a country where this was far from the norm.

In keeping with this tradition it should come as no surprise although when the news broke it may have shocked the more conservative participants to learn that women used to and continue to fulfil priestly functions in the absence of adequate men. This is a living tradition and in London our recently arrived Mobed from Iran is helped by his wife when performing ceremonies. The authenticity of this tradition is confirmed by lines in the Herbedestan text in which a question is asked which makes it clear that it was quite well established that both women and men might attend priestly college. And yet there are Parsees who find the thought of a female undertaking priestly duties revolting – so much for enlightened thinking and traditions supported by historical literary sources. (at the time of writing this article recently 8 female Mobedyars were confirmed in Iran)

Notwithstanding all oppression suffered since the Arab conquest of Iran from 632 AD, ours has always been an optimistic and joyous community which has celebrated life, the wonders of nature and the goodness of humankind. We have therefore found every opportunity to make music and dance, drink and eat together. Our festivals have always allowed our communities to laugh and have fun together and the most joyous of all festivals is our spring celebration of Novruz. Among peoples of Iranian origin is understood as meaning a New Day or New Year. Yet it seems more faithfully celebrated and understood elsewhere outside Iran than among Parsees and this is both surprising and saddening. Why is it that the people of Tajikistan still prepare a Haft sheen/Haftsin table, as do the Azaris and the Kurds but our Parsee co-religionists not only do not prepare a special table in a celebration of Ahura Mazda’s bounty, but fail to celebrate the significance of the arrival of spring. How could it be that that the spring equinox holds no special meaning beyond yet another visit to the temple and maybe sending cards out while they celebrate something akin to Novruz in the middle of summer.? Where is the merry making, the genuine joy and the pleasure of seeing God’s good creation renewing itself through the laws of nature, of Asha when the planets are so aligned that the life of plants, birds and animals wakes up again.

Weddings are another example of things done differently. Our wedding celebration does not consist of much reciting of prayers in a language that is pretty much incomprehensible to most Farsi/Dari speaking Zoroastrians. Of course the preservation of the ritual language has its place but it is not interminable. Instead the majority of time is spent by the celebrant of the wedding giving prescribed advice (andarz) to the young couple in an intelligible language so that their lives may be lived according to true Zoroastrian values and principles. It is a truly inspiring liturgy which is lost on those who cannot understand the language and therefore it has now been translated noy just into Farsi but also into English and French and is used for ceremonies where the couples (usually living in Britain or North America) no longer speak Farsi as fluently as they do English or for mixed weddings.

There is nothing reprehensible about updating the liturgy so that it can be really meaningful and communicate an important message as it was intended to do. We do not see it as a cardinal principle to remain entrenched in the past and not change. Our religion is supposed to be based on rational enlightened thinking and we need to take sensible steps to ensure that the dynamic message of the Gathas is not lost through sticking to languages and practices that were developed for different times and different conditions. After all much of the Avesta that we recite is actually merely a translation or commentary on an older language – eg in our koshti prayer. Humata hukhta hvaresta, meneshni govenshni koneshni but here the second triad is merely a translation of the older first triad, and then we have tani ravani giti mainyu where the first pair are the more modern version of the second

Another example of difference is minor but some may find it interesting to know that in Iranian weddings we don’t sprinkle rice upon or hold a coconut over the couple but a green scented herb similar to oregano – obshan – which conveys the concepts of fertility, health sustaining and fragrant happiness. We do have in common the symbolism of tying the thread but we represent it differently and so on. We certainly do not ever use the SEJ(?) tray.

The principle of dynamic evolution can also be seen at work in discussing the use of dakhma and cremation. In Iran the use of dakhma or the Tower of Silence was given up as a result of social change in the late first half of the 20th century. As cremation became available, many Iranians opted for this sort of disposal rather than purification within the earth which was seen as un –Zoroastrian since the earth was provided to give forth life-sustaining crops and flowers etc. There was no question of defilement of fire as nothing can defile something which is inherently self purifying by its very nature. However where cremation is not an option, then burial has to be the alternative.The change from dakhma to other forms of funerary rite was not resisted by the majority of the population and clearly did not cause major traumas for the community. There was/is no condemnation of the use of cremation rather than burial, and certainly no comments that failing to use the dakhmeh as the means of disposal, will consign one to hell as we have heard said apparently from the mouths of so called scholars. This is in contrast with the continuing Parsee practise of Dakhma disposal even though the Dakhma in Bombay and other towns is now dangerously close to if not in the midst of urban populations and regularly gives rise to embarrassing incidents of body parts dropping onto nearby residents’ properties. It is clear that what may have been appropriate for past times, can no longer be relevant in a changed social context. Please remember that Dakhma disposal was designed for and applied in an arid desert climate that Iran has, not for a monsoon humid climate such as that of Bombay.

Iranians do not get very excited about whether the fire in their temples is fed by natural gas or sandalwood and recognise that if there is shortage of one material, then a sensible rational solution must be sought through a new channel of thinking. Indeed judging by the large logs of sandal wood I have seen here ready for the holy fire, I would think the environmentalists among us would have plenty to worry about, although the natural gas solution also poses its own environmental issues. Replacement planting at the ratio of 1:10 cut down trees would be a way forward of course. Meanwhile, there are no messages being put out by any Iranian priests or sages to the effect that we will be condemned to hell for not using sandalwood again as I have heard claimed by some Parsee scholars? .

Some Parsees appear to be very passionate about the use of Nirang, or consecrated bulls urine whose use in Iran was referred to in the Rivayat texts about which I will speak shortly.. In fact it was still in use at the time of my grandfather and even my mother’s childhood. So there was no loss of tradition during the downtrodden period of our history. . There was however a re-thinking of its real function ( which at a certain époque acted as a disinfectant) and it was agreed that it was not perhaps no longer as essential in keeping the religion alive. Some priests now use pomegranate juice instead for ritual symbolic purposes.

And the question of the segregation of menstruating women had an equally practical reason which no longer applies today – women are no longer in need of a well deserved break from the heavy lifting and carrying work they used to do in the villages of Iran (e.g carrying pitchers of water up dozens of steps, carrying heavy wood, iron implements and cooking vessels, sweeping and cleaning etc ), nor are they likely to experience embarrassing situations in a public space. I do not say that some people do not still observe the custom of not entering sanctified areas at a certain time of month but on questioning my friends, family and acquaintances, I can say that it is rare .

The point is that such matters were not spelt out in the Gathas, but became the obsession of a priestly caste that wished to keep the people in its thrall, ironically exactly what Zartosht himself denounced in the Gathas when Karapans (priests) were using their powers to get a hold over people How do we know what is or was the message of our founding prophet? Well, apart from oral transmission and handing down of tradition through families, some texts were secretly preserved. These were usually among priestly families such as my own which yielded a chest full of faithfully copied manuscripts, saved despite the many public burnings in front of the priests’ eyes in Islamic Iran. Textual specialists have translated both the oral and written texts. Having spoken with some Parsee priests, I was informed that in their madressa training, they did not study the meanings of the texts but were merely taught the correct recitals and rituals pertaining to them. Interestingly, the primacy of the Gathic texts were not discussed either. Now this is a critical matter because any serious student of Zoroastrianism is well aware that the Gathas constitute the fundamental core of Zoroastrian philosophy. They are admittedly difficult for several reasons : language, content, dating. Nevertheless the maybe 20 different translations (among which Stanley Insler’s is considered the most authoritative and from which Dastur Kotwal has quoted – on account of his outstanding linguistic competence and his deep empathy with Zoroastrian values), all reveal consistently that Zoroaster believes he must spread the message he has had revealed to him by Ahura Mazda. His mission is therefore to extend the community of Ashavan ie those who want to become happy by making others happy – propagating good and overcoming negative energies – encapsulated in the Ashem Vohu prayer.

. The Videvdat which developed the purity laws and which was the precursor of the Vendidad only appeared towards the end of the fist millennium about one thousand years after the divine revelation of our prophet. Later, at the time of the fall of the Sassanian dynasty (closely associated with the priesthood), there was certainly an unhealthy concern among priests about retaining the power they wielded through the further imposition of a whole host of religious dogma and ritual introduced by Kartir a couple of centuries earlier. Among the many theories for the success of Islam in Iran, is one that states that many people gladly gave up the overbearing ritual requirements made on the laity by the priests which involved economic demands , and sadly there are still some similar ego obsessed priests in our midst even today who impose their views on the laity as to what is or is not correct practice and belief..

It may be a little known fact to most Zoroastrians that with the passing of several centuries after their arrival in India, the Parsees had lost a lot of their knowledge about the practice and beliefs within the religion. It is nevertheless a fact that cannot be challenged. Furthermore there is good written evidence of all of this in documents known as the Rivayats which are accessible to all of us translated into English in 1932 by B N Dhabhar. The Parsee communities of Surat and of Navsari sent envoys to Iran to ask for guidance because they had lost confidence. They first sent out a brave Parsee named Nariman Hoshang over to Iran twice in 1478 and 1487 to seek advice on the correctness or otherwise of a number of issues.

The questions asked on behalf of the Parsee community included the right to recognition of Zoroastrians who had converted into the faith or who have been forced to espouse Islam but want to return. The responses from the Iranian priests on these occasions and all future exchanges right up till the last visit in the late 18th century constantly confirm the views of the Zoroastrian clergy of Iran that it is right, proper and meritorious and fully in the spirit of the message of Zoroaster that our faith should welcome those who have chosen of their own free will to heed the message of our religion.

“If slave-boys and girls have faith in the Good Religion, then it is proper that kusti should be (given to them to be) tied [that is, they should be converted to Zoroastrianism], and when they become intelligent, attentive to religion and steadfast, they should give them barashnum and it is also proper and allowable to eat anything out of their hands”!

They went further by expressing disapproval of the hypocritical Parsee tendency to treat their servants as if of the faith when it suited them and to deny them appropriate funerary rites. We also have the 1599 Kaus Mahyar Rivayat whose question includes categories from even lower-deemed persons:

“Can a grave-digger, a corpse-burner and a darvand become Behdins (i.e. be converted to the Mazdayasnian religion)?” gives as an answer: “If they observe the rules of religion steadfastly and (keep) connection with the religion, and if no harm comes on the Behdins (thereby), it is proper and allowable”!

The final quote I wish to bring to your attention comes from the last rivayat exchange known as the Ittoter Rivayat of 1773 Mulla Kaus was sent from India and asked 78 questions among them: “Concerning the acquisition of young men and women who are juddins as servants, the mobeds and behdins must first of all show care for their own religion, for their own rituals, for their personal property, and for their own soul so as not to face losses. TEACHING THE AVESTA TO THE SONS OF THE JUDDINS WHO HAVE BEEN ACQUIRED AND CONVERTING THEM TO THE DIN-I VEH-I MAZDAYASNAN EARNS ONE GREAT MERIT”

It is apparent when today comparing the varying complexions of Parsees, that some interbreeding with local indigenous people certainly did take place, since there were few women accompanying the courageous pioneers immortalized in the Qissa Sanjan and even as late as the 18th century since the question was posed then, it is evident that it was going on. The message is that all our welcome within our community, provided they have had proper instruction.

The fact that the Parsee community continued to send envoys to Iran over 3 centuries to seek guidance is adequate indication that they must have accepted the Iranian tradition as both correct and acceptable.

Knowing about this long background of toleration helps explain how Iranian Zoroastrians have kept this true Gathic spirit alive throughout the centuries. Thus it should come as no surprise to learn that our late High Priest, Mobed Ardeshir Azargoshasb whose erudition and authority as Head of the Iranian Mobed’s council is indisputable despite efforts to undermine our High Priests’ learning and knowledge, published a newspaper statement in 1991 in Parsiana (despite the evident dangers of doing so) “WE MUST PERSEVERE TO PROPAGATE OUR RELIGION AND ACCEPT PERSONS WHO WANT TO EMBRACE IT.”

Naturally he could not say this in Iran, and today because of the prevailing circumstances our mobeds still cannot publicly condone this stance officially. Interestingly this Iranian perspective was shared by Parsee mobeds as recently as in the 20th century when a number of eminent Parsee dasturs (Ervads Bharucha, Modi and Kangaji) who held a similar view, stated publicly and unambiguously that our initiation ceremony contains a declaration of faith including the statement that Zartosht came for the propagation of God’s message. Other eminent Parsee Dasturs who shared the same view were Dasturs Framroze Bode, Anklesaria and Kaikhosro Jamaspji.

The choice to propagate the religious message of Asho Zartosht has continued even despite the severe hardships which have been the unfortunate experience of Iranian Zoroastrians to undergo in the years following the Islamic revolution. Working with the Home Office and Immigration Appellate in the UK I have been surprised and impressed by the Zoroastrians who have had to flee Iran because they have chosen to continue the tradition of propagating our religion to those who seek information. They have chosen this path despite the obvious personal danger they put themselves into because they are clear about the several explicit verses in the Gathas which exhort followers to undertake this mission which can be found explicitly in Yasna 31.3 and 47.6

This Gathic message was echoed in the inscriptions of both Darius and Xerxes with clear indications that they both felt a compulsion to spread the religion, even by force if need be, by eliminating competing religions in the lands they conquered. The same attitude was practised by a number of Sassanian monarchs and well attested. This willingness to spread the religion whenever possible is a consistent approach which has continued unabated within the Iranian Zoroastrian tradition when opportunities have arisen.

In keeping with the Zoroastrian Iranian authorities referred to earlier which in turn have their reference from the Gathas, we have always welcomed into our community a spouse from a different background and naturally the children of such unions. A similarly welcoming approach applies to children who are adopted of non-zoroastrian birth and who are raised within a Zoroastrian household to go on to marry within the community. Our priests have never had a difficulty with this matter and have only refused to conduct such marriages if it is evident that problems will arise from such a union – a view voiced back in 1599 in the Mahyar Kaus Rivayat. We certainly find it quite inhumane and unnatural that some Parsees are so dogmatic as to prefer to reject their own children and grandchildren by cutting off relations with them rather than using the Zoroastrian qualities of wise thinking to accommodate them into the community. And what is worse, to differentiate in the acceptance of offspring between sons and daughters.

In ignoring our history reflected in textual sources, and by reference simply to what has been done in living memory, and by failing to bring clarity of rational thinking to the debates, and instead relying on mindless dogma, certain priests do us all a disservice in misrepresenting our beautiful forward thinking philosophy which uplifts the soul and offers a way forward with gender equality, environmental concern and positive philanthropic messages for all humanity. How then could we justify restricting it only to those who think they have some superior genetic/racial composition? They are the backward thinking benighted souls of our community and yet their voices have held sway and bullied us just as they did in Sassanian times, and even recently, much to our shame, they have resorted to violence as we read and hear. . They should not be allowed to prevail as they corrupt the really radical optimism of our religion.

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