Can we wish each other Pateti Mubarak?

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Gatha Ahunavad, 1379 Yz.

 

On 19th August, we Parsis will celebrate our New Year with traditional gaiety, visiting Agiaries and Atash Behrams, going to see comic theatricals, eating Pulao Dal, sali boti, patra-ni-machhi and wishing one another ‘Pateti Mubarak’. Newspapers will diligently carry small reports on the celebrations, perhaps with a photograph of a happy family posing in front of a fire temple; some will even wish their Parsi readers on the occasion. As the 18th night turns to 19th, mobile phones will buzz with SMS activity revolving around the word Pateti. Thus for a great majority of Parsis and non-Parsis, then, Pateti is a moment of rejoicing that is synonymous with the New Year. But is this all correct?

Pateti is not, in fact, the New Year. It is the last day of the closing year, while the following day, Navroze, is the first day of the next. The word ‘Pateti’ is derived from the Pazend Patet, meaning ‘repentance’. And since Pateti is the Day of Repentance, surely it is paradoxical to wish someone ‘Pateti Mubarak’?

 

To understand this paradox, we must understand what Patet, loosely translated as repentance or regret for some act of wrongdoing or sin, really is. But how is sin defined? Given that the Parsis lay much store by ‘good thoughts, good words, and good deeds’, any action that contravenes these ideals must be deemed a sin, an offence against the good. But what, then, is the ‘good’? Is it human-defined and subject to changes of circumstance and perception, or is it divinely ordained and immutable?

The answer to that is found in the Patet Pashemani or Prayer of Repentance, as also in the Gathas. The Patet says: “Ahuramazda khodae gunah andar din paeda be kard i vehane poryotkaeshan gunah dashteh ested.” That is, “The Lord Ahura Mazda has decreed these as sins and they have been so written and followed by His lawgivers in deed and example.” The Gathas say: “Atcha hoi schantu manangha…erezush patho yam daenam ahuro saoshyanto dadat.” That is: “The Saoshyants, religious teachers, shall indeed teach the real paths of the religion, paths that have been given to them by Ahura Mazda Himself-to him (man)” (Yasna 53.2, Gatha Vahishtoisht).

Thus ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are defined by God: although eternal, their forms may change from era to era. Humans have been given the ‘real paths’ by the Lord Himself, and if they choose wilfully to go astray and come into sin, there is no alternative but to offer Patet.

The concept of Patet is also closely linked to the concept of Khuda or Khodae, loosely and inaccurately translated as ‘god’. The Khuda is the personal spiritual guide of every man and woman, nominated by the Lord to oversee his or her progress. The Khuda is the controller of a person’s destiny, deciding how to shower upon him or her that sequence of joys and sorrows, elation and frustrations that we call fate.

It is important to understand that the Khuda is not the creator or originator of destiny, which is formed by the person’s own thoughts, words and deeds. The Khuda may be seen, rather, as an accountant desperately trying to balance the two sides of the ledger, the accounts of good and evil that a person draws up along the route of life. Should the debit side prevail, the person would inevitably suffer grief; on the other hand, if the credit side outweighs the other, the entitlement of happiness results.

By offering Patet, a person says, “I admit that I have committed a sin, and that I therefore deserve and will surely be given retribution. But I pray that the retribution is such that I might easily and willingly bear it. I pray to my Khuda to grant me the spiritual strength to avoid falling into the same error again.”

Our question as to why Parsis should wish each other ‘Pateti Mubarak’ still remains unanswered. The answer to this is found in the last paragraph of the Patet, which says, “Pa neki sepasdar hom, az anai khorsand hom.” That is, “However much I thank the Lord for His goodness, it is not enough. Whatever trials and sorrows He may award, I accept happily: because in that lies my redemption.” This single sentence is the essence of Zoroastrian philosophy, the reason for the endless optimism and joie de vivre of the Parsi community.

Thus the authority and permission to wish Pateti Mubarak can be received only when the Parsi stands before the Holy Fire on the night preceding the new year, and with great humility and a feeling of abject submission, recites the Patet Pashemani prayer, owning up to the various transgressions which he may have committed during the year. He enters into a fresh covenant with the Lord, promising to live a purer Zoroastrian life in the coming year, at the same time asking the Lord for the strength and patience to bear the load of his past deeds. Having thus purged his body, mind and soul, the Parsi acquires the right to wish another Pateti Mubarak – thereby signifying that he has moved one step closer to redemption, content in the thought that his gracious spiritual guide will lead him towards the Path of Bliss and so to the Lord Himself.

May we all in the coming New Year become worthy of being called Parsi.

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram

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Comments

  1. Shaheen Taraporewala  August 16, 2010

    Thank you Sir for explaining the true meaning of the word Pateti and enlightening the readers on the importance of this process.
    Wishing You and all a Very Happy New Year.

  2. Roshan Pastakia  August 16, 2010

    Dear Ervad Saheb,

    Thank u very much for this beautiful explanation. God Bless You & Wishing u all A Very Happy & Prosperous New Year.

  3. Delnaz T.  August 16, 2010

    Respected Ervad Saheb,

    ALL your articles are worth reading and I thank YOU for your praiseworthy efforts!! My good wishes and prayers are always with YOU and YOUR family. Every article is an eye-opener for me. I try to read your articles two to three times and then make it a point to apply it to my day to day life, wherever applicable. I truly admit that YOU are one of the precious gems in our community and I wish and pray that our entire Parsi community values and treasures all your good work.
    Wishing YOU, Your family and all the readers of Frashogard a very Happy New Year!!! I reiterate the last line of your article: May we all in the coming New Year become worthy of being called Parsi.
    Sarosh Yazad Panaabaad
    Tandorosti.

  4. Tamboli  August 17, 2010

    Thank you Sir, Your advice is truly appreciated, and by incident I really needed to know the same right now. All the best. .

  5. Rhoda  August 17, 2010

    Oh My God !!
    Thank You Sir because I was ignorant – I did not know !!
    You have brought out this realisation for millions of people like me. May God Bless You.

  6. Kaizad Kumana  August 17, 2010

    Dear Dasturji, your thoughtful and insightful articles always inspire me and I hope that you continue to share this with us all through the new year too. Wish you a very happy new year!!!

  7. zinobia vazifdar  August 18, 2010

    DEAR DASTURJI SAHEB, Thanks so much for your godly explanation, may you continue giving us good and timely advice on all different subjects especially relating to our Parsi religion & customs. Its very enlightening, your reading. Wishing you and your family a very happy & prosperous parsi new year

  8. Hoshedar Movdawalla  August 18, 2010

    Dear Dasturji, a beautiful and detailed explaination of the word Pateti indeed. I was ignorant to date of all these facts. Looking forward to your next post ! A very Happy New year to you Sir and your family as also to all the readers of Frashogard. May Ahura Mazda enlighten our souls !

  9. Dr.arnavaz havewala  August 18, 2010

    i am not an expert,but i do know that Pateti is the last day of the previous year. you have to reflect on your actions and all you have done in the year gone by and of course, try to repent for all the wrong/ bad deeds and ask forgiveness for the same.
    there is a v strong move to declare 21st march as the parsee new year.
    i am happy doing both.

  10. Abhi  August 18, 2010

    Hi Marzban, am glad to note that you continue to contribute to society & community in various ways including such highly instructive columns.

    Thanks, my friend, for this lucid explanation which is very useful and insightful even for non-Parsis such as me.

    The more I learn of your ancient and thus highly evolved faith, the more respect and admiration I accumulate for the underlying philosophies.

  11. Cyrus S. Saiwalla  August 18, 2010

    Dear Dasturji Sahib,

    Your explanation on Pateti Mubarak was apt for readers, who were unknown to its true meaning, but, your revelation on Khuda shows ignorance on the subject. The meaning of Khuda is ‘Sarvono Sahib’. As we invoke Him in 101 names as ‘Harvespa Khuda’ elaborating – The one and only one Sahib of all the mortals who take birth in this world. As Jesus said ‘I am the son of God’.
    Frashogard meaning The male and Female souls combine together finally, to become one and then, merge in to ‘Khuda’.
    For further detail, please visit my blog- cyrus49.wordpress.com

  12. Khojeste  August 21, 2010

    Thnak you Sir for this was indeed a wonderful and simple explantion of why one should not Wish Pateti Mubarak. I wish all my fellow Zarthustris Happy New Year.

  13. Nazneen P.G. / H.K.  August 30, 2010

    Thank you for enlightening us, was unaware of this fact though i remember you had mentioned in your earlier post as Aneran roj being the last day of the month and a day to repent & ask for forgiveness for wrong doings during that month.
    will correct my self hence forth.

    Wish you & your family a very Happy New Year!
    may Ahura Mazda’s blessing be upon you and your family always & through you make us ignorant parsi a little more worthy.

  14. shahzad jimmy vasaigara  December 2, 2010

    All i want to say is a BIG Thanks !
    Keep up the gr8 work 🙂

  15. Mehlli Bhagalia  April 25, 2011

    My dear Friend and Teacher,

    What can I say ? What you write always amazes me.
    This as usual came at the right time.

    Mehlli

  16. ASPY BHRUCHA  August 18, 2011

    Respected Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram saheb,
    Many thanks. I do have an impession since long that Pateti is the last day of our religious calendar, but with this lucid presentation and the way you have mentioned in most easy to understand language and meaning, Once again I thank you very much.

  17. Mehlli Bhagalia  June 8, 2012

    MY DEAR FRIEND AND TRUSTED TEACHER,

    I GO FROM TIME TO TIME TO YOUR FARSHGARD WEBSITE AND PICK UP ONE OF THE PAST ISSUES, FOR GUIDANCE.

    AS USUAL, IT HAS HELPED ME AND REINFORCED MY DEVOTION.

    THE LAST TIME, 2 YEARS AGO, IN THE FIRST WEEK, BEFORE I COULD VISIT WITH YOU, I FELL VERY SICK, DUE TO THE POLUTION AND HAD TO RETURN HOME IN CALIFORNIA.
    HOPE I WILL FARE BETTER ON MY NEXT TRIP AND BE ABLE TO VISIT YOU AND YOUR AGIARI FIRE AND PAY PERSONAL RESPECTS TO BOTH.
    THANK YOU FOR THE PRAYERS, YOU ARE ARRANGING FOR MY PARENTS AT YOUR AGIARY FOR SO MANY YEARS. PLEASE ALSO CONVEY MY THANKS TO THE MOBEDS WHO PARTICIPATE IN THE PRAYERS.

    YOU ARE NOW, FOR ME, ONE OF THE ONLY THREE BEST MEMORIES AND INSPIRATIONS OF OUR RELIGION AND OUR PEGUMBAR, IN MUMBAI, IN THE MIDST OF THE CONFUSION/POLITICS IN OUR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY .
    THE OTHER TWO ARE ADI DOCTOR, HIS PAST LECTURES/PARSI VOICE AND VADA DASTURJI K. N. DASTUR/ HIS PAST TALKS IN THE USA ON OUR RELIGION.
    EVERYTHING ELSE IS SO DISAPPOINTING.

    WITH BEST WISHES FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY

  18. Rohan  April 17, 2014

    Happy Navroz to u too bau :).its alwyz interesting to know about Parsi community.

    Rohan

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