What to do and pray during the Muktad – part 1

Posted by:

Roj Ram Mah Spendarmad, 1382 Yz.

The holy days of the Muktad will soon be upon us. What are the specific prayers to say during these days? How should a Parsi conduct himself during this extremely auspicious period? What guidelines should we bear in mind, both in our day to day conduct in the house as well as at the Agiary? Are there any special points revealed by Ustad Saheb and Khshnoom regarding the Muktad?

The word Muktad is a derivation of the Sanskrit ‘mukta atma’ – or free soul. The correct Zoroastrian term for these days is ‘Farvardegan’ or ‘Parvardegan’the days of nourishment. As we have been reading in the series on ‘The Wondrous Circle of Life’, a Zoroastrian Ruvan, after the physical death of a person, goes to the area of the ultra-physical universe called Chinvat. Within this vast area, the Ruvan moves through different ‘daz’ or spiritual universities where specific training is given to the soul and it passes through various stages of progress, undoing the effects of the bad thoughts, words and deeds committed by the person in his physical life.

However, during the days of the Farvardegan, the Ruvans are given a short time out, a spiritual vacation from their daily routines. At this time, the Anusheh Ruvans, under the guidance and protection of highly advanced souls called the Ashaunam Fravashinam, leave their appointed places in the Chinvat areas and descend on to our earth. The individual Anusheh Ruvans are attracted to those places where their names are recited, where their relatives remember them and where special Pavi areas are demarcated for them. In olden days, when Parsis used to live in large houses where the minute rules of purity and Ashoi were followed, the Muktad were conducted in the houses. However, today the whole scene has shifted to Agiaries throughout our country where individual tables are set apart for Ruvans belonging to a particular family and prayers are recited in the Agiary precincts, which given the sorry state of today’s Parsi homes, is a much better alternative, although it does have  certain spiritual negatives.

The very first thing to bear in mind is the fact that the complete Muktad period is of 18 days, not 10. Our ancestors and forefathers always used to observe the Muktad for 18 days. Unfortunately, in the last 60 years, a section of priests, aided and abetted by certain motivated individuals, decided, in their infinite wisdom, that the correct Muktad were of only 10 days. In their wisdom, which implied that their ancestors and forefathers were all ignorant and illiterate persons, these worthies, made the change to observe the Muktad for only 10 days. Despite many protests, both from traditional priests as well as Behdins, almost all Agiaries shifted to this shortened version.

Our Master, Ustad Saheb Behramshah Nowroji Shroff explained that the correct and compete Muktad is always only of 18 days. The first day of the Muktad is Roj Ashishvangh, which is called the Ijan no Divas, or day of welcoming. On this day, the Muktad rooms are washed and cleaned, the tables are laid out in the morning, and the vases and karasyas are put on them. However, no water is filled and neither are any flowers put. But special welcome prayers are recited. As the Ushahin Gah of Roj Ashishvangh sets in, the Anusheh Ruvans, who have begun their descent under the protection and guidance of the Ashaunam Fravashinam, slowly find their way to the vases and karasyas which have been specially consecrated for them. At this highly auspicious and spiritually charged time, the Muktad vases are filled with water and fresh fragrant flowers of the Burjis Jiram (mainly Roses and Tube roses) are placed in the vases.

The 5 day period from Roj Ashtad to Roj Aneran is known as the Panj-i-Keh, (the smaller days) and during these days the normal Baj, Afringan, Farokshi and Stum prayers are recited in honour of the Ardafravash.

The next 5-day period, from Gatha Ahunavad to Gatha Vahishtoisht is called the Panj-i-Meh (the greater days) and is the most auspicious period of the Muktad. These five days are also the period of the Hamaspathmaidyem Gahambar. During these days, special Baj, Afringan, Farokshi and Stum prayers are recited in honour of the Gatha as well as the Gahambar. Special Gahambar Jashans are also conducted during these days.

The next 7-day period from Roj Hormuz to Roj Amardad of the Fravardin Mah are known as the Haft Ameshaspand days. During these days, the spiritually advanced souls called the Ashaunam Fravashinam, who had guided the Anusheh Ruvans to the earth, begin their specific work of cleansing the entire world of its accumulated evil. These highly auspicious days are of special prayer and worship. During this time, normal Baj, Afringan, Farokshi and Stum prayers are recited in honour of the Ardafravash. Roj Khordad of these days is specially auspicious as it is the birthday of Prophet Zarathushtra, and is celebrated as Khordad Sal.

Finally on the nights of Khordad Sal and Amardad Sal, special farewell prayers are conducted in the Ushahin Gah. At this time, Baj, Afringan, Farokshi and Stum prayers are recited in hour of Ardafravash and the visiting Anusheh Ruvans are requested to end their vacation and begin the slow ascent back to their designated areas of Chinvat. As the last Humbandagi is done, one vase or Karasya is emptied of its flowers and water, signifying the end of the Muktad period. As Behdins stand, many with tears in their eyes, the Anusheh Ruvans begin their journey, showering their special blessings on all those who have fulfilled their spiritual obligations during this period. The Ruvans reach their destination in the Chinvat area by Roj Fravardin Mah Fravardin.

In this manner, the complete Muktad period is of 18 days – the first day of welcome, the five smaller days, the five Greater days and the 7 days of Haft Ameshaspand.

The following are the general guidelines to bear in mind during these special days:

  • The Muktad days are spiritually auspicious days. They are days of prayer, worship and devotion towards those of our family who have left us. As such, it is the duty of every Parsi to make sufficient time in his schedule to allow for the spiritual activities to be properly performed. All other work, studies, deadlines should be adjusted and the first priority should be given for the Muktad. For those employees whose organizations insist on block leave, the Muktad is one of the best periods to take the block leave.
  • Keeping in mind this auspicious period, all Parsi homes should be cleaned, dusted and e properly maintained during these days. A perpetual Divo during the 18 days is mandatory.
  • If your house has a small place designated for prayers or Divo, the same should be cleaned every day and the new Divo lit from the existing Divo, thereby maintaining continuity.
  • Fresh flowers should be purchased and placed in the altar area.
  • If possible, the Loban ritual should be performed both in the morning (immediately after the bath) and in the evening (at sunset).
  • Use of distractions and negative vibration inducing implements like televisions, music players etc. should be minimized.
  • If Muktad prayers are being conducted for the family at any Agiary, members of the family should make time to visit the Agiary and be present at the time of the prayers.
  • The Chasni which is given at the end of the prayers should be properly eaten and the peels etc. properly disposed as per the post how to dispose of religious items.
  • The annual amount of charity (about one-twelfth of our total income, or 8%) which every Zoroastrian is enjoined to give away should be distributed during these holy days.
  • Ladies who may unfortunately get their periods during these holy days should take special care to not touch any of the items either to be taken to the Agiary or got from the Agiary. In such houses, the Divo should be covered, by keeping a greeting card upright in front of the Divo so that the direct vision of the lady does not fall upon it.

We shall talk about the specific prayers to be recited during these days in our next post.

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram

3 August 2013.

Related posts:

21

Comments

  1. Zenobia Patel  August 3, 2013

    How to do loban at home? Should we only use coal? What to pray whilst doing lobaan at home?Regards, Zenobia

  2. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  August 4, 2013

    @Zenobia
    Loban at home can be done using sandalwood chips (tacho), which should be lit from the existing, pre-burning, perpetual Divo kept in the house. The use of coal is not advised since it has to be activated using the gas stove. Therefore it is better to keep sandalwood Tacho, or even Kathi Tacho which is available at a very reasonable price. Once the Tacho has been lit using the perpetual Divo, Loban, which has been pre-mixed with sandalwood Veher (powder) should be put on it and then the Afarganyu can be moved through the house.

  3. Phiroze  August 5, 2013

    Dear Marzban, as our current Parsi calendar has not been adjusted for the leap year for the last many centuries, is the month of August the right time when our dear departed souls visit us. Do they also keep to this wrong schedule?

  4. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  August 5, 2013

    @Phiroze
    The Fravashis of the departed are attracted wherever and whenever the names of the deceased is recited. Ustad Saheb has explained that it is absolutely correct and right to carry on performing the Muktad, even as per the un-adjusted calendar. The efficacy may be slightly reduced but it is better that removing the connection with this Pav Mahel of several centuries. When Shah Behram Varzavand comes and corrects the inadequacies of the current calendar, the efficacy will revert back to the original, if not more, level.

  5. BEHRAMSHAW JAL KALIANWALA  August 5, 2013

    It is said that our deceased relatives are reborn after some time. In that case, would the original spirit still remain in the Universe to be welcomed at Muktad time ?

  6. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  August 5, 2013

    @Behramshaw
    The minimum time for rebirth for normal individuals like us would be around 700 years, so the question would not arise.

  7. kainazamaria  August 9, 2013

    Hello Ervad Hathiram. Lovely post. Can you please credit my image that you used to illustrate it. I’m fine with you using it to illustrate the story but it’s always good practice to credit people for their work. Many thanks. Cheers, Kainaz Amaria

  8. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  August 9, 2013

    @Kainaz
    Sorry for the error. Did a quick Google search but did not check the ascribing.

  9. Jasmine  August 9, 2013

    Respected Sir

    Your article mentions Divo which has to be glowing everyday and the lady of the house if she is in her menstrual cycle has to keep away. Is it possible nowadays with nuclear families and small children the Divo to be lit. What if the husband is travelling? How can the lady do the Divo???

  10. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  August 9, 2013

    @Jasmine,
    Good query. But rather than giving the reasons why something cannot be done, we need to find ways of getting it done. Children right from the age of 5 onwards can easily be taught how to light a Divo from an existing one. When you are aware that the time is close, a number of glasses can be filled and kept ready. Alternately a big bowl can be filled with oil and using a strong wick, it can easily be kept burning for three to five days. The choice to have a nuclear family is ours, so the attendant disadvantages are also ours. How can religion be blamed for that? Pray to God and He will guide you to the right solution. Think positive.

  11. Firdaus  August 18, 2013

    Thank you for an extremely informative blog. Could you please clarify the following two questions?

    1. Since most agiaries have muktad ceremonies for 10 days, where do the Anusheh Ruvans stay after Vahishtoisht gatha till Roj Farvardin?

    2. What happens to the Anusheh Ruvans who have passed away just two, three days or a week before muktad?

    3. Do the Anusheh Ruvans also assist the Ashaunam Fravashinam in cleansing the entire world of its accumulated evil?

    Thanks
    Firdaus

  12. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  August 19, 2013

    @Firdaus
    Good questions!

    1. The Ruvans of those unfortunate persons whose relatives have forgotten them, or whose Muktad have stopped or those who suffer due to misbehaviour or unethical deeds are all looked after by the Abed Sahebs.
    2. If the Chaharum of the person falls before Roj Asishvangh, the soul arrives at Chinvat and is then brought down along with the others by the AHsaunam Farvashinam. For those whose CHaharum falls after the comencement of the Muktad, they remain on the earth under the protection of the Ashaunam Fravashinam and then begin their departure along with the other souls.
    3. The job of cleansing the world of its evil is solely that of the Ashaunam Fravashinam – who are perfected entities. The Anushe Ruvans are still progressing and hence do not have the power to help them.

  13. Yasmin  August 2, 2014

    Ervadji, In your post you have mentioned the first five day’s are smaller day’s and the last five or the Gatha day’s are the bigger day’s. In some agiaries or atash behram’s I still wonder as many Ervad’s have a mixed opinion on this subject, some pray Afringan Ardafrash all ten day’s and some pray Hamaspathmaidyem Gahambar in the gatha day’s. So which is the correct practise. In one of your post’s you have provided with a Baj of Ardafravash so does that same Baj be recited in the Gatha day’s as well or the baj is different in the Gatha days and if so is there a pdf version of the Baj that need’s to be prayed during the gatha day’s. Thanking you in advance.

  14. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  August 2, 2014

    @Yasmin
    There are many differences in practice among the Mobedi tolas. Ustad Saheb used to say that these differences don’t matter so much since the ultimate end result is the same – the progress of the soul. However, the Master did reveal the correct method of performing the ceremonies and many priests still perform the ceremonies as per Ustad Saheb’s advice.

    For the Afringan, the following Kardas should be performed in the first five days: Dadar Hormazd, Ardafravash, Dahm and Sarosh, followed by the 3 Afrins – Ardafravash, Nam Buzorgan and Haft Ameshaspand.

    During the Gatha days, the Dahm Karda is not done. Instead the order should be: Dadar Hormazd, Gatha, Ardafravash and Sarosh. When doing the Gahambar Afringan, the Kardas should be Dadar Hormazd, Gahambar, Ardafravash and Sarosh. Instead of the three normal Afrins, the Gahambar Afrin should be prayed in the order Ardafravash,Nam Buzorgan and Gahambar.

    The Baj of Ardafravash is not an individual prayer but a Khshnuman and is used while praying the Lakh Bhantar or the Framroat. It has already been provided in the PDF files given earlier. During the Gatha days, the Khshnuman of Gatha is used. The same is found in the beginning of the Gatha prayers PDF files provided earlier.

  15. armin  August 4, 2014

    Sir we believe in rebirth , reincarnation.. so what about the Ruvan who has taken rebirth suppose in the same family… than how can their soul come on earth during muktad?

  16. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  August 4, 2014

    @Armin
    Your question has already been answered below. Please check the question asked by Mr. Kalianwala below. Rebirth for a normal soul takes around 700 years in the present time.

  17. Yasmin  August 5, 2014

    Ervadji, thank you for your response. I have read as much as I couldrelated to the muktad. What is the difference between a Jashan prayed during the gatha days and a normal afringan ceremony and if it actally the afringan prayed, then why is it known as jasan and why is it held deparately arent jasan and afringan prayer’s the same. Looking for your valuable information as alway’s

  18. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  August 6, 2014

    @Yasmin
    In the Afringan, the Kardas of Ardafravash, Gatha and Sarosh are recited followed by three normal Afrins. In the Gahambar Jashan, the Kardas of Gahambar, Gatha, Ardafravash and Sarosh are recited along with the Gahambar Afrin and the Tandorasti at the end. One is a Jashan, the other is an Afringan. They are not the same. Their efficacy and utility to the Ruvan is much different.

  19. Yasmin  August 8, 2014

    Ervadji, there is so much to learn from lay people like me, who actually are amazed at the technicality of every prayer in our religion. Ervadji, when you state three kardas are to be recited in the afringan, does it mean three different afringan’s are played in full or its just one Afringan prayed but with just the karda’s of other afringan’s. For example if the Dibache of Ardafravash is prayed during the Afringan of Ardafravash, in the same Afringan is the karda of Ardafravash prayed, followed by Dadar Ahuramazda, Dahm or complete afringans of Dadar Hormaz and Dahm are prayed after Ardafravash Afringan.

    Secondly I was going through avesta.orgn if there is a three karda afringan do we use 8 or 24 flower’s

    Thirdly when the Ervads exchange flowers during the recitation of three Ashem Vohu’s after the karda, does it mean that after every karda rcited in thee above scenario the Ervad’s exchange flower’s or this flower exchange is done after completing all three karda’s example mentioned above just once or for every karda there is a flower exchange. Thank you

Leave a Reply