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The Wondrous Circle of Life 12: Zoroastrian rituals explained

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The Wondrous Circle of Life 12: Zoroastrian rituals explained

Roj Mahrespand Mah Ardibehesht, 1383 Yz.

There are several key requirements for a successful ceremony. One of those is creating the Taigi – or correct spiritual atmosphere which is conducive for the ceremony to be effective. The Taigi or special atmosphere is created by the presence of the following items:

  1. A properly qualified priest or an educated laity (depends on the ceremony)
  2. The recitation of correct, specific Avesta Manthras
  3. The presence of a Dadgah Fire fed with specific wood, along with Divo of a particular medium
  4. Specific fruits, food items or flowers
  5. Specific utensils or apparatus (Alat)
  6. The correct recitation of the name of the deceased in the prayer

Let us analyze these requirements. The first is a properly qualified priest, who has passed the necessary Nahns and Navar degrees. For lower ceremonies like Afringan, Stum and Farokshi, even a Behdin, once properly trained and educated, can perform the same. The second requirement is the recitation of specific Avesta and Pazend Manthras. Every ceremony has a specific set of Manthras which need to be recited at particular times. The organization of the prayer and rituals is very carefully set up and no changes can be made in this layout. Thirdly the presence of the Dadgah (properly instituted) Fire is a must in these ceremonies. The Divo is the constant companion of the Fire. It should be made from either Cow’s ghee (first choice) or Castor oil, or any other vegetable oil. At specific points in the ceremony, the Dadgah Fire is further intensified by the addition of Bakhoor (a combination of sandalwood powder (Veher) , incense (Loban) and other spices.) (Today mostly Veher and Loban is used.)

Specific fruit and flowers or food items (depending on which ceremony is being performed) are also required. For all ceremonies the presence of pomegranate or date (khajur), any wheat preparation – Daran or sweet dish, cow’s milk or preparation from the milk, and well water are mandatory. The ceremony itself is performed is specially designed vessels. For our religious purposes, copper is the best metal since it resonates to the same frequency as our Jiram. What is the meaning of the term Jiram?

Our Master, Ustad Saheb revealed the very esoteric topic of Jiram, on which the entire creation is based. Put simply, all creation – human, animal, vegetable or mineral belongs to one of 5 groups, called Jiram. Each creation of a particular Jiram has an inherent spiritual potency or frequency. In order to advance spiritually and reach the ultimate objective of Frashogard (personal and universal salvation), every part of creation should interact and use only those objects belonging to his own Jiram, as far as possible. Based on this cardinal rule, there are long standing traditions in our religion which define the use or avoidance of certain objects in our religious practices. For example, the presence of the pomegranate is essential in every religious ceremony. Similarly some produce of the cow or bull is always present. Till a few decades ago, all religious ceremonies were conducted in vessels made out of copper. The reason for these practices can be understood only when we realize the importance of the rule of Jiram. Ustad Saheb emphasized that by sticking to creations of our own Jiram, we could considerable hasten our spiritual progress. He disclosed the following creations which belong to our own Burjishi (Jupiterian) Jiram.

 

Kingdom Creation
Man Zoroastrianism
Animal Cow, bull, goat
Vegetable Pomegranate, sandalwood, bawal, Hom, date palm
Mineral Gold, silver & copper

 

Thus an essential requirement for the effectiveness of any ceremony is that the proper representatives of each kingdom should be present based on Jiram rules. If there is any discord in this area, the effectiveness of the ceremony is compromised.

It is also, therefore, very obvious that the presence of any person who does not belong to the Burjis Jiram (i.e., one who is not a Zoroastrian) in any ceremony, be it a Jashan or a Navjote or a wedding, would render the ceremony invalid. This is the reason why non-Zoroastrians are not allowed when any Avesta prayers are being recited or any ceremony is being performed. This is also why our religious ceremonies like Jashans, weddings and Navjotes should be performed only in Agiaries and Atash Behrams, where the presence of a non-Zoroastrians is completely avoided. Those of us who choose Baugs for the performance of some of the most important ceremonies of our lives would now realize their mistake.

But perhaps the most important requirement of any ceremony is the unity of thought, word and deed of the person performing the ceremony. Ustad Saheb revealed the triad of Mithra, Manthra and Yasna. Manthra is the recitation of the Avesta and Pazend formulations which are specific to each ceremony. While these Manthras are being recited, it is necessary for the priest or laity to pass very specific Mithra, or powerful thoughts which not only relate to the meaning of the Avesta being prayed but also certain very high-level and focused thoughts aimed at attracting the Fravashi of the deceased to the spot. For example, whenever the sentence ‘Nam chesti Anusheh…’ is recited, the Mithra: ‘may the Ruvan of Behdin Jamshed Behdin Rustam, which is being remembered here, attain the state of Anushehi, may it attain full consciousness and Infinite Wisdom, may it partake of the blessings of this ceremony!’ should be passed very consciously and powerfully by the priest reciting the ceremony. At the same time a very specific Yasna – or Kinetic Motion has to be performed. In this case, the Yasna is the offering of Bakhoor or Loban-veher mixture to the Dadgah Fire.

When this triad of Mithra, Manthra and Yasna (MMY) is performed, a unique event happens. The combination of the MMY, along with the Taigi or special atmosphere created by the presence of all the requisites explained above, attracts the Fravashi of the Ruvan in whose memory the prayers are being recited. As the Fravashi appears (unseen to the human eye, of course), it waits and observes the progress of the ceremony. As critical points in the ceremony are reached, slowly but steadily, a very sublime and ethereal form begins to take shape. This ethereal form, which is again unseen to the human eye, is called the Fareshta of the ceremony. (This word should not be confused with the Fareshta ceremony which is a major ritual.) The Fareshta is the sublime, spiritual form which contains the spiritual elements of all the various items which have been placed in the ceremony. Thus the fruits, the Daran, the flowers, the Dadgah Fire, the Avesta Manthras along with the requisite MMY, all get together to form this sublime Fareshta. The shape of the Fareshta can be imagined as being somewhat like the so-called Farohar which Parsis love to stick on all places, including their car windshields! (What a tragedy! From sublime to ridiculous!)

As the ceremony progresses, the Fareshta gains more strength. We should not make the mistake of imagining the Fareshta as merely a shape or a form. It is a real, living, throbbing entity. As the Manthras of the prayers infuse through the Fareshta, it attains consciousness. The Fareshta of the ceremony comprehends the reason why it has been created. It becomes eager to hold the hand of the Fravashi, which is waiting nearby and to fly off to the region of Chinvat where the Ruvan awaits, hoping to attain the stage of Anushehi and to be relieved from the dredges of Seshab. As the ceremony comes to its logical conclusion, the Fareshta joins hands with the waiting Fravashi and they prepare to begin their flight to Chinvat to deliver the benefits of the ceremony to the Ruvan of the deceased person in whose memory the ritual has been performed.

But before they start the flight, a dialogue occurs between the Fareshta and the person performing the ceremony. This dialogue is very important and critical to understand, especially for priests.

[to be continued...]

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram

Title image credit: http://www.vladstudio.com

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Discussion

  1. Porus Jemi Dumasia  October 17, 2013

    1. What should be prayed by the relatives of the deceased at the time of performing ceremonies like Afringan, Stum and Farokshi,through priests.

    2. Many priests performing the above ceremonies pray facing the North. Is it that only Behdins cannot face north while praying.

    3. The paragraph in all our prayers ( which is to be prayed in baj ), is to be prayed silently or is it to be prayed by making sound without whispering.

  2. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  October 17, 2013

    @Porus Dumasia
    1. We will be covering this point in a later post.
    2. It is not correct. The prohibition for praying towards the north is for everyone, not only for Behdins. However, in a Jore (Joint ceremony) where the main priest is facing the south, the Rathwi may face the North. It is not desirable but if there is lack of space etc. it may be countenanced.
    3. The Baj part of our prayers should be prayed in a voice whose volume is audible only to us. It should not be heard by anyone. Baj prayers should NOT be recited in the “Mind”, nor should they be recited in a humming tone or as ‘un-ku-ku’.

  3. Shahnaz Irani  October 17, 2013

    Ervadji,In addition to the Muktad prayers,what are the prayers which could be perform for my deceased relatives in hope for them to attain the stage of Anushehi and early relieve from Seshab.Also ,I would like to know if there is any possiblity of Muktad prayers being able to recontinue after they have been stoped for more than 5 yrs.

  4. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  October 18, 2013

    @Shahnaz Irani
    The normal Rojgar prayers of Baj, Afringan, Farokshi and Stum are ideal for attaining the stage of Anushehi. In addition, the Sarosh Patet prayer is highly recommended. To be done in Aiwisruthrem Gah only, it involves recitation of the Sarosh Yasht Vadi and its Nirang, taking the name of the deceased within the Nirang in a specific manner and then reciting the Patet Ruvanni.
    Muktad prayers can be re-started at any time. It does not matter whether they have been stopped.

  5. Farokh Balsara  October 21, 2013

    I have always being disturbed when the priest pray IN KHSUMAINE instead of IN KHSHNOOM(while praying afringaans of adrafravash dahm and sarosh and all others too –what is the correct word?? –also what should be correctly said in Afrin Bujorgni wherein the priests pray Iran shaher e Mumbai instead of Hindustan shaher e Mumbai–y this anomaly continues unnoticed since so long?/

  6. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  October 21, 2013

    @Farokh Balsara
    The correct term to pray IS “in Khshnumaine” and NOT “in Khshnoom”.
    For the Afrin the correct term is pa Iran sheher Mumbai. The meaning is this prayer is being said in this city as it was said in Iran since ancient times. It has nothing to do with the country we are in right now.

  7. Porus Jemi Dumasia  October 23, 2013

    What benefit do the ruvaan of the deceased get by offering maachi in our fire temple in the name of the deceased on the rojgar day

  8. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  October 23, 2013

    @Porus Dumasia
    The Patet recited after the Machi leesens the load of Seshab on the Ruvan. The Machi offered to the Padshah propels the Patet benefits towards the Ruvan.

  9. Hutoxi Irani  October 26, 2013

    Can we offer the maachi in the name of the deceased on any day or is it to be on rojgar day only.

  10. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  October 28, 2013

    @Hutoxi
    Machi can be offered on any day but it is preferable to offer on Rojgars, Parabs, Fravardian, Gahambars and birthdays.

  11. Percy  December 3, 2013

    Dear Marzban

    Thank you for the detailed explanations.

    I would like to ask on a practical note, as you have mentioned earlier, that the ruvan “undoes” its sins by actualy bearing the pain while in seshab condition (if I may say).

    And this is all being done during the fourth day after death (right?). So, a whole life time of sins, being rewinded in front of the ruvan and the ruvan has to “undo” it! HOW?

    So you mean to say that all the Karmic debt is erased while these prayers?