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.