Tag Archives: Kushti

What does the Kasti Symbolize?


What does the Kasti symbolize? How is it made? (Ervad Dr. Ramiyar Parvez Karanjia)

1) The Kasti is the thin woollen waistband worn over the Sadra, which passes thrice around the waist. It is made by weaving together 72 fine threads of lamb’s wool. In the past it was prepared by ladies from priestly families while chanting manthravani prayers. Wool is known to have the inherent property of absorbing and retaining vibrations.

2) The word kasti means a boundary, and it reminds one to keep within the boundary of religious duty. The word Kasti comes from Avesta aiwyāonghana “that which is girded around” and Pahlavi kosht “boundary (of religious duty).” The word is also derived from Avestan word karsha “spiritual boundary which keeps evil away.”

3) The Kasti is to be worn thrice round the waist. The number three, among other things, represent the principles of humata, hukhta & hvarshta “good thoughts, good words and good deeds.” While tying the three rounds, two reef knots are tied, one at the front during the second round and the second one at the end of the third round. Each reef knot includes the tying of two knots – two in the front and two at the back.

4) Hence, in the Kasti there are in all four knots. Each knot is connected to the one of the four promises given by a child while saying the Din-no-Kalmo prayer on the day of the Navjot. The four promises are; I will consider Ahura Mazda as my only God. ii) I will consider Zarathushtra as my only prophet. iii) I will consider Mazdayasni Zarthoshti as my only religion. iv) I will be faithful to my God, prophet and religion all my life.

5) The Sadra and Kasti are the religious implements of the Zoroastrians. They form an invisible circuit of prayers around physical body, which if properly kept, protects one from negative forces, and leads one on the path of piety and duty.

6) Making of Kasti: Lamb’s wool is first woven on a spindle. Then threads from two spindles are combined together in one ball. The double yarn is then twisted and passed 72 times around the loom (Gujarati jantar). These 72 threads are then divided into 6 sets of 12 strands each. It is in a circle, which is then cut by a priest while saying a particular prayer. The rest of the weaving is done by hand. 1 lar and 3 laris are made on each end. Then the Kasti is flattened, washed, dried and fumigated and folded, ready for use.

7) Most of the parts of the Kasti symbolize something and remind us of a religious teaching. Lamb’s wool symbolizes innocence. The 72 threads remind us of the 72 chapters of the holy text of the Yasna which are recited in the Yasna ritual. Hence, the number 72 represents all the sacred Zoroastrian texts and the lofty Zoroastrian rituals. The six laris (three on each side) reminds us of the six Gahambars – the seasonal festivals and teach us to be in sync with the seasons and nature.

Jam-e-Jamshed of 22 & 29-4-2018

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Kusti, Kushti

Navjote Ceremony


Initiation ceremony of Zoroastrians

Irani Zoroastrians term this ceremony as (Dari) SEDRA PUSHAN =”Putting on the sacred undershirt” while Parsi Zoroastrians refer it to as (Ps.Guj) NAVJOTE=”New Born”

By.Dr. Pallan Ichaporia, Ph.D.

(Copy righted No parts to be reproduced except with author’s permission)

Zoroastrians must be properly initiated by ordained priests into the religious community. In the ancient times this occurred at the age of fifteen, the ancient Iranian age of maturity to become responsible for his or her religious, moral and communal life (See: Yast 8[Tir],13-14 and Videvdat 18.54)

According to Videvdat (Vendidad): “Then the she-demon who is the Lie replied,” O Sraosha, truthful and well formed one, of these males indeed this the fourth one, a male whore who after his fifteen year walks forth without either the sacred girdle or undershirt” (Videvdat 18,54). This warning from the Spirit of Evil underscores the emphasis placed on the proper initiation into the Zoroastrian faith.

During the initiation ceremony the candidate wears a sacred white undershirt (Phl. SHABIG; N.P. SHABI,SUDRA; Dari.SEDRA; Parsi Guj. SUDRA, SUDRE), and a sacred girdle (Av. AIWYANGHANA; Pz.AIWAYANGHANA; Pahl. KUSTIG; N.P and Parsi Guj.KUSTI) (Note: Av. AIWYANGHNA (AIWI+YANGHANA(AIWI+YAH)) =to girdle). The initiation seems to be based on the ancient Indo-Iranian custom of investing only the male members of society with a sacred girdle as a sign of their membership within the community.

A similar practice persists to-day among Hindus where male members of the three upper castes (Skt. VARNA) are ceremonially invested with a sacred cord at the time generally called the ceremony of the Second Birth (Skt. UPANAYANA) conducted between the ages of eight and twelve (See: Gonda: Vedic Ritual, 1980, 42, 153-154). The sacred cord is knotted by an ordained Hindu priest and worn under the clothes diagonally around the body over the right shoulder and under the left arm. Hindus never untie this cord but slip it aside and step out of it when necessary.

The pre-Zoroastrian origin of the rite of initiation is found in ‘Dadestan-i-Denig’, where it is clearly stated that king Yima Xshaeta (Jamshid) introduced the sacred girdle, centuries before Zarathushtra (See D-i-D:39, 18-19). This initiation rite has been practiced since the the earliest years of the faith and there can not be any second opinion about it. The age of initiation into the faith of Zarathushtra was gradually lowered with the present day Irani Zoroastrians undergoing it between twelve and fifteen and with Parsi Zoroastrians initiating their children at the age of seven. This may be due to influence of Hinduism. Irani Zoroastrians term this ceremony as (Dari) SEDRA PUSHAN =”Putting on the sacred undershirt” while Parsi Zoroastrians refer it to as (Ps.Guj) NAVJOTE=”New Born”

As in Hindusim, the Zoroastrian initiation symbolizes spiritual rebirth or second birth. After their initiations, Zoroastrians must ritually untie and tie the sacred girdle very time they pray or perform Padyab-Kushti. Sadra and Kustig must be worn every day and night during the life time of each and every individual. It is a grievous sin for an initiated Zoroastrian to abstain from wearing the girdle (Kustig) and undershirt (Sadra), a condition termed “SCAMBLING AROUND NAKED” (Phl. AISHAD DWARISHNIH). According to SHAYEST-NE SHAYEST (4:10): “The sin of scrambling around naked, up to three steps, is a FRAMAN [for] each step; at the fourth step [it becomes] a TANAPUHL.

The Padyab-Kustig is performed before a Zoroastrian can engage in any religous activity as it ensures the purity of his body and soul. It is enjoined that this ritual be performed early each morning on rising from sleep, prior to religious act of eating, before ablutions, at the beginning of each of the five periods of the day and after urination and excretion. (Although this may be hard to follow but one will still find most ordained Zoroastrian priests and devout Zoroastrians still true to this ancient tradition). ALL ZOROASTRIANS do undergo the ablution on entering the premises of a fire-temple, to ensure that every religious act they perform is done so in the state of purity of body and soul. The Padyab-Kushti ritual, because it involves the performance of a purification rite, differs from the simple Kushti ceremony, in which a ritually clean person unties and reties the KUSHTI without first performing ablutions; the simple Kusti ceremony is referred as “MAKING NEW THE SACRED GIRDLE” (N.P.:KUSTI NAW KARDAN ) or “TYING THE SACRED GIRDLE” (PGj.: KUSTI BASTAN).

The main principle underlying this ceremony is to providing religious purity for the performance of religious functions as praying, approaching the sacred fires, attending funeral ceremonies (before and after), eating etc. This simple and beautiful rite thus ensures a Zoroastrian to maintain a state of socio-ritual purity of his/her body and soul at all time.

Best regards,

Dr. Pallan R. Ichaporia.

Initiation ceremony of Zoroastrians

By.Dr. Pallan Ichaporia, Ph.D.

(Copy righted No parts to be reproduced except with author’s permission)

Reproduced With permission from the Author