Category Archives: Rituals and practices

Zoroastrian Prayers and Rituals

Many people regard ‘Ritual’ and ‘Reason’ as being anti-thetical. In reality, both are complementary factors in the process of spiritual growth. Prayers and rituals are born of man’s adoration for that unseen power underlying the mystery of life. Each religion prescribes its own set of practices as a means of adoration or worship or to encourage humility and surrender, resulting in spiritual purification so necessary for inner growth. History affirms that prayers and rituals never completely die out, so long as they can offer the devout a spiritual link with Divinity or at another level, a sense of security.

Prayer and Ritual is what distinguishes religion from mere philosophy. In a manner of speaking, prayers and rituals help provide the spiritual experience of the celebration of religion. The purpose of prayers and rituals is to generate a conscious awareness which, in turn, provides the devout an insight into and an understanding of the nature of Divinity. Prayers and rituals also provide a medium through which one is able to relate and bridge himself to the unseen spiritual world.

Faith, of course, is very essential. A Master once observed, ‘In spiritual life, faith comes first, then knowledge and then experience.’ Faith begins where reason falters: faith falters where there is attention without intention. Faith is necessary for gaining wisdom. Faith should not be confused with blind belief. It is rather the aspiration of the soul to gain wisdom. If faith is constant, it takes the devotee to the realization of wisdom. Indeed, the way to wisdom is through faith. Prayers and rituals, when performed with understanding, feeling and concentration, become a powerful tool in the process of religious awareness. Take, for example, the most basic and simple ritual of performing the Kusti. Each time a devotee performs this ritual, he/she makes an unswerving commitment to reject and fight evil and promote the Will of Dadaar Ahura Mazda.

Avesta is not a ‘Dead Language’ as some Parsis choose to call it. It is a ‘Divine Language’. If Hindus consider Sanskrit as the language of the Devatas (Divinity), devout Zoroastrians consider Avesta as the language of the Yazatas. Our sacred manthravani is loaded with Divine Energy which can deeply influence the devotee and his or her surroundings when chanted with faith and devotion. In fact our Avestan manthravani is Ahura Mazda’s Energy which devotees can vocalize in order to attune the spirit within with the Divine Essence of Universal Spirituality.

Just as food is essential for physical sustenance, prayer is vital for spiritual sustenance. Pray the Atash Niyaesh before a consecrated Fire and see how it energizes you – both physically and spiritually. Pray the Ardibehesht Yasht regularly and see how it heals some of your chronic ailments. Recite the Hormazd Yasht as often as possible and get a sense of Ahura Mazda’s all-round protection. Invoke Sarosh Yazata everyday and observe the enhancement in your spiritual consciousness. Invoke Behram Yazata whenever in trouble or Ava Yazata for knowledge and wisdom. The list is long……..!

And, every day, recite the two most powerful prayers of just 21 and 12 words respectively, the Yatha and Ashem.  Pray one Ashem the moment you wake up in the morning and pray one just before you fall asleep. Pray one Ashem just before and after a meal or whenever a bad thought passes your mind. Make it a habit to pray one Yatha whenever you leave your home and before starting any new work. On a personal note, everyday, as a matter of habit, I pray one Yatha before starting my computer or before writing an important letter or article. It gives me not just a sense of being blessed but it also gives me a sense of higher purpose and the inclusion of a spiritual essence in whatever I plan to do.

Regular worship is also believed to ‘keep the doctor away’. In a study conducted by the Purdue University, of 1,500 people, researchers found that 36% of those who said they regularly worship, claimed excellent health, versus only 29% of those who said that they do not regularly worship; and a higher percentage of non-worshippers claimed poor health. Researchers believe that religious people are probably able to adjust their lives better to changing circumstances and stressful situations. Doubtlessly, it is regular prayer and ritual observances which sustain the Faith. Even, the Gatha of Asho Zarathushtra have been kept alive, not through mere philosophical interpretations, but through constant ritual usage.

With due apologies to Martin Luther King Jr., I would like to conclude with an adaptation of his belief – ‘To be a Zoroastrian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.’ But, yes, no point praying and then not living up to what one prays. Living an ethical, value-based life must go hand in hand with prayers. It is only when we integrate the positive affirmations of our prayers with righteous actions that we truly live the religion or make the Zoroastrian religion a way of life.

…. Noshir Dadrawalla

Muktad – Hum Bandagi

Dear friends,

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

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

I have also attached a pdf file for your convenience.

May Ahura Mazda bless us all.


Rohinton K. Tarapore,

Chair, Zarathushti Association of New Orleans.


HUM BANDAGI – Prayer in memory of the departed souls


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


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

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



Kshnaothra Ahura Mazdaao. Ashem Vohu(1).

**Az hama gunah patet pashemanum,

Ashaaonaanm vanghuhish suraao

spentaao fravashayo yazamaide. Ashaone

Ashem Vohu(1).** – Recite 3 times.

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

1 Ashaaonaanm vanghuhish suraao

spentaao fravashayo staomi, zbayemi,

ufyemi; yazamaide nmaanyaao vîsyaao

zañtumaao dâkhyumaao zarathushtrôtemaao.

2 Vîspanaanmcha aaonghaanm paoiryanaanm

fravashinaanm idha yazamaide, fravashîm

avaam yaam Ahurahe Mazdaao, mazishtaanmcha

vahishtaanmcha sraêshtaanmcha, khraozdishtaanmcha

khrathvishtaanmcha hukereptemaanmcha,

ashaat apanôtemaanmcha.

3 Ashaaonaanm vanguhîsh suraao

spentaao fravashayo yazamaide; yaao

ameshanaanm speñtanaanm, khshaêtanaanm,

verezi-dôithranaanm, berezataanm, aiwyaamanaanm,

takhmanaanm, aahûiryanaanm, yôi aithyejanghô ashavanô.

4 Paoiryanaanm tkêshanaanm,

paoiryanaanm saasnô-gûshaanm idha

ashaonaanm, ashaoninaanmcha ahûmcha,

daênaanmcha, baodhascha, urvaaanemcha,

fravashîmcha yazamaide, Yôi ashaai

vaonare, gêush hudhaaonghô urvaanem yazamaide.

5 Yôi ashâi vaonare, gayehe marethnô

ashaonô fravashîm yazamaide.

Zarathushtrahe Spitaamahe idha ashaonô ashîmcha

fravashîmcha yazamaide. Kavôish Vîshtaaspahe

ashaonô fravashîm yazamaide. Isat-vaastrahe

Zarathushtrôish ashaonô fravashîm yazamaide.

6 Nabaanazdishtanaanm idha ashaonaanãm

ashaoninaanmcha ahûmcha daênaanmcha baodhascha

urvaanemcha fravashîmcha yazamaide, yôi ashaai

vaonare, mat vîspaabyô ashaonibyô fravashibyô,

yaao irîrithushaanm ashaonaanm, yaaoscha jvañtaanm

ashaonaanm, yaaoscha naraanm azaatanaanm,

frashô-charethraanm saoshyañtaanm.

7 Idha iristanaanm urvaanô yazamaide.

Yaao ashaaonaanm fravashayô, vîspanaanm ahmya

nmaane nabaanazdishtanaanm para-iristanaanm,

aêthrapaitinaanm aêthryanaanm, naraanm naairinaanm

idha ashaonaanm ashaoninaanm fravashayô yazamaide.

8 Vîspanaanm aêthrapaitinaanm ashaonaanm fravashayô

yazamaide. Vîspanaanm aêthryanaanm ashaonaanm fravashayô

yazamaide. Vîspanaanm naraanm ashaonaanm fravashayô

yazamaide. Vîspanaanm naairinaanm ashaoninaanm

fravashayô yazamaide.

9 Vîspanaanm aperenaayûkanaanm dahmôkeretanaanm

ashaonaanm fravashayô yazamaide, aadakhyunaanmcha

ashaonaanm fravashayô yazamaide, uzdakhyunaanmcha

ashaonaanm fravashayô yazamaide.

10 Naraanmcha ashaonaanm fravashayô yazamaide,

naairinaanmcha ashaoninaanm fravashayô yazamaide.

Vîspaao ashaaunaanm vanguhîsh sûraao speñtaao

fravashayô yazamaide, yaao hacha gayaat marethnat

aa-saoshyañtaat verethraghnat.

11 Vispaao Fravashyo ashaaonaanm yazamaide,

ashaaonaanm vanghuish suraao spentaao fravashayo

yazamaide. Vispe ashavano yazata yazamaide.

Ashem Vohu(1).

Muktad Humbandagi

Kash of Paak Atash Behram Padshah Saheb

On the joyous occasion of the salgireh of Paak Banaji Atash Behram Saheb, am pleased to share the below article.

The sanctified land, divine edifice and sacred Kash of Paak Atash Behram Padshah Saheb

Disclaimers: 1. The article is a feeble attempt to encapsulate the essence of the key messages as explained in the Purso Pasokh series by the late doyen of Ilm-e-Khshnoom Seth Jehangirji Sohrabji Chiniwala. The Gujarati articles of Seth Jehangirji appeared in Parsi Avaz weekly of 27th February and 6th March 1955 (Vol. 8, Issue 35 & 36). Readers are strongly encouraged to read these beautiful Gujarati articles from the Parsi Avaz weekly in order to gain a fuller and richer understanding of the aforesaid subject.

  1. This article provides glimpses about the mystical knowledge pertaining to Atash Behram Padshah Saheb purely from a Khshnoom point of view and it is hoped that no misunderstanding gets created on account of the same. Certain technical terms in Gujarati have been translated into the most approximate equivalent term in English and readers are requested to bear in mind such limitations of the English vocabulary as also those of the translator.
  2. This article is recommended for reading by true seekers of truths of our religion who have an open, objective and unbiased bent of mind. This article is not for those who are allergic to the divine knowledge of Khshnoom and also not for those who do not have implicit faith in the time-tested tenets and traditions of our pristine religion.

Click to continue reading… Kash of Paak Atash Behram Padshah Saheb

Courtesy : K F Keravala


The Zoroastrian Celebration at Autumnal Equinox in Iran and the region since Antiquity

It was during the mid-60s in Iran, that the Afshid (sunbeam) primary school yard overflowed with hundreds of playful, nutty, and noisy K-6 students. They were quieted when the custodian rang the shiny brass bell that hung on the school’s front porch. The boys and girls of each grade lined up, left-to-right, by height. The boys’ haircuts were short and the girls’ hair was tied back as a pony tail. Nails were clipped and all hygiene requirements met. Each student wore their best outfit, on which a white circular patch of cloth was sewn onto their jacket collar. Everyone carried a segmented, compressible red, white, and green (colors of the Iranian flag) plastic cup for drinking water; a handkerchief and snacks were stuffed inside. It is Mehr 1st, the beginning of autumn, Jashn Mehrgān. The National Anthem and sorud amouzgar (the teacher’s appreciation song) were sung by the students, who were accompanied by the chirping of migratory birds winging south. The song was followed by the principal and the PTA chair’s welcoming statements to everyone on the first day of the academic year—the first day of school is on the autumnal solsticeMehrgān, the festival of friendship, compassion and love in honor of Mitra/Mehr.

School days were Saturday through Thursday and began at 8:30 and ended at 4:00, with a two-hour lunch break. Thursdays were most pleasing as we went home at noon to start our one and a half day weekend! It should be noted that Nowruz, observed at the spring vernal equinox, has and will remain the most revered annual celebration in Iran. Mehrgān is, in essence, the mirror image of Nowruz in that night and day are each 12 hours long. The other major celebrations in Iran are Tirgan and Daygan (the summer and winter solstices, respectively) and Sadeh (fifty nights and days before Nowruz).

Historically speaking, Mehrgān along with the three other seasonal celebrations of Nowruz, Tirgan and Daygan, are celebrated when the name of month coincides with the same name of the day. Summer harvest, after which the farmers till and sow their fields for the following spring calls for Mehrgān. It is the time to prepare for the harsh winter ahead by preserving foods, drying fruits and nuts, preserving pickles, and other essentials. It also signals the last opportunity to pick mid-fall fruits and nuts, such as persimmons, pomegranates, medlars, quince, almonds, and walnuts. It was as if the trees were programmed to the exact second to change their leaves’ colors, drop them, and be carried on the fall wind. After months of dry weather, Mehrgān also signaled the start of fall’s periodical rains, the essential component of germinations and cyclical rebirth that would arrive amid Nowruz. Mehrgānwas originally a feast held to honor the Persian Goddess Mithra, until the 4th century BCE, when it became one of the two and, later, four most revered Zoroastrian feasts. Mehrgān was celebrated in an extravagant style at Persepolis. Not only was it the time for concluding the harvests, it was also when the semi-annual taxes were collected. Visitors from different parts of the Persian Empire brought gifts to the King at Persepolis, Takhte Jamshid (the Throne of Jamshid), when all partook in an extravagant festival.

During the 7th century, Mehrgān was celebrated the same as Nowruz. There were even some efforts to elevate Mehrgān over Nowruz as the most revered Persian New Year. It remained customary for people to send presents to the King and to each other at Mehrgān. Rich people usually gave gold and silver coins; heroes and warriors gave horses, swords, and javelins; while commoners gave gifts according to their financial means—apples, persimmons, and pomegranates were acceptable gifts. Those fortunate enough would help the poor with donations and goods as gifts, as they also did at Nowruz and other celestial celebrations.

The Mehrgān spread table (Dusharm, Dream of Persia)

The Mehrgān spread table (Dusharm, Dream of Persia)

Although Mehrgān is not as elaborately celebrated in Iran as Nowruz, people still wear new wintry clothes when visiting each other. Similar to Haft-seen at Nowruz, the sides of the tablecloth at Mehrgān are decorated with dry, wild marjoram. A copy of the Khordeh Avesta(the “abridged” Avesta), a mirror, and a sormeh-dan (a traditional eyeliner or kohl) are placed on the table with rosewater, sweets, flowers, vegetables, dried wheat/barley husks, fall fruits (especially pomegranates and apples), and nuts, such as, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios. A few silver coins and lotus seeds are also placed in a water bowl scented with a marjoram elixir. A small brazier is placed on the table where kondor/loban (frankincense) and espand (Syrian Rue seeds) are burned to ward off evil forces.

At the autumnal equinox or the closest lunch time to when the ceremony begins, everyone in the family gathers in front of the mirror to hymn pray. Sherbet is drunk and then—as an omen—sormeh mascara is applied to lengthen the eyelashes. Handfuls of wild marjoram, lotus, and sugar plum seeds are thrown over one another’s heads while they embrace. In the 1960s, the Iranian Royal Postal Service issued a series of stamps to commemorate Mehrgān Festival.

Commemorative postal stamps for Mehrgān issued during the 1960s.

Commemorative postal stamps for Mehrgān issued during the 1960s.

Returning to school’s first days: as we played in our yard and neighborhood, we witnessed the many birds migrating south—presumably from north of the Caspian Sea and from Russian Siberia—toward the warm waters of the Persian Gulf for the winter. Among them, the good omen storks and cranes were particularly fascinating as they came back to the same nests on high trees, buildings, or the cliff edges. After the harvesting and seeding were completed we, who lived in the suburbs, were excited that our country relatives would visit us soon; especially, our grandparents who often stayed for extended visits. They brought us fresh and dried fruits, mixed nuts (Ajil), and dried, pitted apricots or peaches with crushed walnuts and a bit of sugar inside and threaded as a necklace (Joze-ghand). The preserved lamb meat cooked in its own fat called ghormeh, from which we made abgoosht,the legume lamb stew, was such a delicious winter delicacy! And, as to my grandfather’s grape syrup, shireh angoor, we could not wait for the first snow to make barf shireh ices and eat them under a korsi warmed by a brazier refilled daily with charcoal. Another country gift was the trapezoid-shaped threaded dried rue (espand) and frankincense that we hung over the front door, presumably to ward off evil spirits! I vividly recall my first day at school, it was the afternoon of Mehr 1 and I was six. Under the watchful eye of my grandmother, Maryam, I struggled to crack open an almond with a rock. Missing the almond, I smashed my thumb with the rock. Six months later, on Nowruz, my blackened nail fell off and was replaced with a brand new nail! Was this a fortuitous sign of rebirth and rejuvenation?

Mehrgān also serves as a transitory juncture of retrospections for the preceding and following six months, introspection for the early fall, and prospection—with trepidations and anticipations—for what we can expect during the six months to Nowruz. During that time of reflection we enjoyed crushing colorful autumn leaves as we walked through the long, narrow, a tall mud-walled garden alleys in Evin remains among our most nostalgic memories. I shall revere the intoxicating, mixed aromas of mud, rain, leaves, and smashed fruits for as long as I live; it gives me a soothing sense of somber solitude, which I have never experienced anywhere else.

Mehrgān, Nowruz along with Tigran and Dayan are celebrated worldwide including here in diaspora. The IZA and ZAGNY at Dare e Mehr proudly host such celebrations; annual extravagantly held Mehrgān festival, this year with Sattar as the singer, is held at the Persian Untermeyer Garden in Yonkers NY, where the seats are sold from 15,000 to a modest $500 ! As to those of us fortunate enough to have been born and raised in Iran where the national festivals as Mehrgān and Nowruz have and continue to remain intertwined with our psyche and, as we breathed, inhaled, smelled, ingested, and felt these festivities on our skin, in our flesh and bone and enjoyed them immensely, the same celebration in diaspora can only go so far. Then again, that should not mean we give up these annual rituals, but, instead, we should create little Irans or Gujarats in our communities to ensure our children learn and carry on these spiritual reconnections with Mother Nature.

Cover photo: The Mehrgān table at the Persian school, operated by the Iranian American Society of New York (2011)

To Donate Or Not To Donate!

The concept of Organ Donation in our Community is as controversial as it is noble, and the past few weeks has seen a resurgence of debates and discussions about this topic. Noshir Dadrawala helps clear the air and do away with related confusions.

With respect to everyone’s beliefs, and with the main aim of shedding light on this topic, I share my knowledge and my beliefs on the concept of Organ Donation in order to provide clarity by doing away with any misinformation that may lead our Zarthostis to form opinions based on well-intentioned myths or worse, baseless fears.

So let’s start with the facts – the truth is that Zoroastrian scriptures are silent on the subject of organ donation, because surgery was not as advanced in those days. When scriptures are silent, tradition is often invoked. But, higher than tradition is the truth. And, the Truth is, our religion is based on Ushta or happiness and happiness comes to one who makes others happy. Let us never stray away from this fundamental precept. Our religion is also based on Asha or Truth and Righteousness. So first seek the truth before you fall prey to myths. Ask yourself this question, is it righteous to allow human suffering to persist or perish?

Who’s Body? Who’s Soul? The human body is all that we, in our physical form, really own in this material world – it is the cover we acquire in our mortal existence through this temporary journey called life. Our soul is eternal and theologically the soul returns to the spiritual world when we pass on and leave the mortal physical body behind. If that could be of use to reducing the physical misery of another soul, sent forth by the same Creator that sent us, would that make it right or wrong?

Of Karmic Debts… According to esoteric theories, the physically impaired are challenged due to some ‘karmic’ debt. In like manner, some are poor, hungry and roofless, also due to ‘karmic’ debt. By this logic, Jeejeeboy, Petit, Tata, Godrej and the Wadia families should all have kept their wealth to themselves and let the poor and roofless endure their ‘karmic’ fate! No? Who are we to lessen the burden of those who suffer due to their past or present karma? Is being charitable putting a spoke in the karmic wheel of Divine Retribution? Is this how we will justify our lack of empathy or charity when we meet our Maker?

The real essence of charity is wilfully ‘giving away something even though we may need it’. But just as we give our wealth when alive and our estates after we depart in our will, we could contribute blood or plasma while alive to save lives, and organs when we are no more! Charity can be done as much during life as after death.

Debunking Dokhma Myths: Some believe that amputed or severed body parts should be consigned to the Dokhma, after performing the GehSarna ritual. I’m certain, like me, a number of you may have had your tonsils removed as children, or maybe an appendix or a cyst? I’m sure, like me, you wouldn’t know what your doctors did with that! An uncle had his gall bladder and appendix removed. There is high incidence of breast and ovarian cancer among Parsi women and prostrate and testicular cancers among Parsi men. I really can’t think of priests performing ceremonies over these body parts and consigning them to the Dokhma!

In fact, if one goes strictly by the scriptures, the Dokhma should be situated far away from habitation. But we don’t cater to that – and have in fact, built a Parsi colony where there was once a jungle! According to esoteric Zoroastrianism, the body should be fully disposed by the fourth day and the ‘anasaar’ (spiritual components) handed over to Daham Yazata. But, it is a fact that today, bodies take months to decompose. Would you rather have a crow or a kite peck out your loved one’s eyes or a surgeon skilfully save the cornea to light up someone else’s darkness?

Ponder This: I have a dear Parsi friend (now 83 years young) who lost vision in one eye 40, years ago. From a super active and creative Bank executive, he suddenly became a helpless, dependent individual. 17 years later, he lost vision in the other eye. Thanks to a donor, he got back his vision and his life returned to normalcy, and he’s now immersed himself in social work, thanks to which, over a thousand Parsis have visited Iran over the last two decades! Think about it – should he have accepted blindness as karmic retribution or undergone surgery and made a difference in this world with the gift of sight? Thanks to this experience, several members of his family (including his mother and wife) have already donated their eyes after death!

In Conclusion: Please let’s not make an issue of this noble and ultimate gesture of humanity – If you feel like donating blood to save a life, go ahead and donate. If you wish to donate your cornea, kidney, liver or heart after death, go ahead! You could also donate your skin and bring relief to a person who is badly burnt and in agony. But, if you do not wish to do so, that also would be alright. After all, whose body is it anyway?

This article has been written neither with the intent to fan the flame of this controversy nor to offend any orthodox/traditional sentiments. To each their own … for those who wish to donate their organs after death, no coaxing will be needed, and those who do not wish to, no argument will be convincing. From dust I came, and to dust I shall return… or from life I came and to life I shall give back and live on in someone else’s eyes or heart. That choice is entirely yours!

Noshir Dadrawalla

Parsi Times

First time Sari for a young girl

All sagan early morning chowk, toran, loban, batti, ses with kankoo, extra big haar for the young lady.  Ses should be ready with everything  – put red chital on the sòpara, saree in ses with an good luck envelope and any new/ old jewellery you wish her to wear. A small bowl of sweet curd and khari sakar.

Morning  hair bath with doodh, ful, chokha.  Get her dressed with new underwears. New, a bit long sadra to come over the saree waistline (laced bottom would b nice but optional). Keep hair clips n safety pins handy.

Get her dressed in saree blouse n peticoat and shoes and come n stand on the patla, with chowk under the patla.

Do tili first on right foot, left foot and then forehead.

Take end of the saree in hand (the corner u will tuck in first. In that corner put very few grains of rice and then put little drops of Rose water/plain water and tie a knot. Take care that water does not fall on the saree to spoil it. This is called Chhero thando karvano.

Drape the saree, keeping the saree for sor overhead before you pin on the shoulder.

Do tilli again, put a tiny bit of tilli, just a touch, on the red Bangles and slip them through her hands. Put on jewelry, if any.  Put on the haar. Put little curd and sakar in her mouth. Give her coconut with envelope. Stick chokha on forehead n take overna. Give her gifts  and let everyone in the family meet her. Let her come down the patla with right foot forward. You may dprinkle little water on the patla after she gets off the patla is optional depending on your family tradition.

Pin her saree in such a way that she should b able to do kasti with your little help in agiary.

Take her to Agiary/ Atashbehram to take the blessings of Ahura Mazda n Atash Padshah.

Come home n enjoy the whiskey peg with chicken leg.

Thrity Tantra


If there is one piece of our daily attire that has practically disappeared in the last century, it is headgear. And nowhere is it more noticeable, than the Parsis. Every single picture of Parsis right up to the early 1950’s saw the men with headgear. Mostly the paghdi or pheta adorned the crown of every respectable Parsi gentleman. Sadly that concept today is completely lost. Headgear is now worn only on major ceremonial occasions like navjotes or weddings. And that too mostly by the immediate family.

A few years ago, one of the last Pheta makers passed away. Or so one thought….more on that later.

Burjorji Mistry who lived above Kala Niketan on Queens Road, Marine Lines; Mumbai was a pheta maker of repute. Sadly he did not pass on his craft to someone.

But Burjorji was not the only Mistry when it came to phetas and paghdis. There was the legendary Dinshaw B. Mistry who also made phetas and pagdis that still survive today and have become family heirlooms that get passed on from generation to generation.

As was widely thought of at the time of Burjorji’s passing away, the art of pheta making still continues.




In a two part series Parsi Khabar will feature the two ladies who are keeping the flag flying and making phetas (and pagdis) today.

contact-arminAt a recent summer barbeque party at a friends home in New Jersey, my dear friend Jasmin Kotwal introduces me to some friends of hers who were visiting from India. And she casually mentions that the friend also makes pagdis and phetas. This friend turns out to be Armin Pooniwalla. I was fascinated to meet Armin and more importantly thrilled to know that there was someone who makes phetas in this day and age. Armin most vehemently told me she does, and I had to sheepishly accept my ignorance, and thank her for continuing the amazing craft of pheta making.



On Armin’s website, she writes

imageThe Paghdi is a majestic looking headgear worn by the Zoroastrians at the time of their wedding and other social events. The groom wears white trousers with traditional Iranian overcoat called “Dagli” also white in color and carries a shawl over his arm. On his head he wears traditional Parsi “Paghdi” or “Pheta”. In ancient times the Paghdi was also worn by boys after their Navjote Ceremony.

This ancient heritage of wearing the Paghdi is followed by most of the well known members of Zoroastrian families like Sir Jamsetji Jeejeebhoy, Pirojsha Godrej, Jamsetjee Nassewanji Tata, Jamsetjee Bomanjee Wadia, Dadabhoy Navrojee and others.

I learned this dying art of making the Paghdi to revive our traditional ancient heritage of wearing it. The Paghdi is made on a mould with different types of materials such as cardboard, cotton, cotton silk etc. They are made in black and maroon color for wedding and in red color for Navjot boys.

For keeping the Paghdi in a good condition it should be always kept wrapped in a mulmul cloth or sadra and put in an inverted position in the box.

Armin’s contact is

Armin F. Pooniwalla
12 Gulnar Bldg, Ground Floor, Hill Road
Bandra (West), Mumbai 400 050

Phone : +91 22 26423026
Mobile : +91 9819968419

Email :


Courtesy :  Arzan Wadia – Parsi Khabar

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