When the souls come a-visiting

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Roj Ashishvangh Mah Spendarmad, 1379 Yz.

 

Ten days before the Parsi New Year, fire temples around the city are dotted with roses and other flowers. One can see Parsi families dressed in spotless white, heads covered with scarves or caps, proceeding solemnly to their Agiaries with their hands full of floral offerings.

Parsis believe that during these ten days – called Farvardegan in Pahlavi or Muktad in Gujarati – the ruvans or souls of their dear departed visit the Earth. It is considered the duty of their living kin to welcome and honour them by the observance of various ceremonies. Each departed soul has his/her individual vase, which may be a simple copper one or an elaborately carved silver one. Families book tables at their respective Fire Temples, where these vases are kept, filled with fresh well water that is changed daily. For, it is in this water that the souls reside during their ten-day earthly sojourn.

Everyday, family members visit the temples with fresh flowers while priests recite the Afringan, Farrokshi, Stoom, and Baj prayers. Fresh fruits and vegetarian meals are offered to the souls. An atmosphere of piety and devotion fills the halls of the Agiaries where row upon row of tables loaded with an array of vases and flowers are lined up amidst the smoky haze of sandalwood fires and the aroma of incense. The high notes of the priests’ recitals complement the low drone of the faithful’s prayers. Indeed, it almost seems as if one is in paradise.

So what is the significance behind the ceremony? The word Muktad is derived from the Sanskrit mukta atma (free soul). The word Farvardegan means the days of nourishment. Together, they give us the true import of these days. According to Zoroastrianism, every thought, word and deed of an individual is recorded in Nature. As time passes, this collection of our life assumes a form called kerdar. This kerdar meets the soul on the dawn of the fourth day after death – and presents itself either in the form of a beautiful maiden or an ugly hag. It is the soul’s constant duty, in case the kerdar is a hag, to slowly work on her blemishes, which were caused by the individuals thoughts words and actions, and transform her into a beautiful maiden so that the soul and kerdar may both pass on to higher realms.

However, during the Muktad days, the souls get a “vacation” from this beautification, and descend to the Earth accompanied by the souls of very highly evolved entities, called ashaunam fravashinam who come down to cleanse the earth during this time. It’s hard work and the souls expect their kin to nourish them spiritually to recharge their persona so that they may go back to their ardous task revitalized. As the Avesta says, they come down singing: “Who will praise us? Who will offer us prayers? Who will meditate upon us? Who will love us? Who will receive and welcome us with (spiritual) food and clothes in hand and with a prayer worthy of bliss?”

The ceremonies performed for the souls during these days, combined with the coordinated use of specific metal vases, special flowers, spiritually charged well water and vegetarian meals give immense help and benefit to the visitors in their ongoing mission to cleanse their kerdars. Finally, on the tenth night, the relatives gather at the temple for the last prayers. A special hamper of food is prepared and laid out which the souls can “take back”. It is a moving sight to see relatives, some with tears in their eyes, bidding adieu to the visitors as they take off for their respective (spiritual) planes, happy and content with the gifts they have received.

Traditionally, the ceremonies are supposed to continue for another seven days, which would cover the time taken by the souls to reach their destination. These seven days are also the days when the Ashaunam Fravashinam give a spiritual bath to the entire earth, to remove the sins of the previous year. It is very necessary that ceremonies for these seven days also be observed. However, this practice has now been largely discontinued. there are today only four Agiaries in Mumbai (Banaji Limji at Fort, Boyce-Dhanapatel at Tardeo, Motlibai Wadia at Malcolm Baug (16 days), and our own Behramshah Shroff Daremeher at Behram Baug where the full eighteen days prayers are recited.

The Muktad is of great social significance since these ten days strengthen family bonds as estranged family members forget their petty differences and get together. Houses are cleaned, an atmosphere of devotion is created and a feeling of respect for elders and the departed is instilled in younger members. The Muktad days are also an important reminder to the living about the transient nature of their existence, and the need to live lives of truth so that their own kerdars do not haunt them when they pass over to the other side.

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram

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Comments

  1. Mehelly Bam  August 8, 2010

    Thank you as always for the beautiful write-up Ervad Saheb. Being originally from Malcolm Baug, it is heartening to note that it is one of the few Agyaris to continue with the age old tradition. The late Dasturji Hoshangsha Vacha was very instrumental in doing things right. He started the tradition in our colony of young boys going to the Agyari every morning and washing the vases after drawing water from the well. I believe that tradition still continus to date.

  2. Phiroze Panthaki  August 9, 2010

    Dear Ervad Marzbanji,

    Can Saroash Patet be prayed in addition to Stoom no kardo during the Muktad days including during the Gathas
    at home for the departed souls?

  3. Delnavaz  August 9, 2010

    Lovely article. thank you

  4. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  August 9, 2010

    Dear Phiroze,

    The function of the Sarosh and Patet prayers is to keep reviving the Ruvan from its “Band Darosh” – a kind of slumber wherein the Ruvan is unable to concentrate on the task of cleansing its Kerdar. However, during the Muktad days the Ruvans, accompanied by the Ashaunam Fravashinam are in full vigour and strength. Morevoer, they are taking a break from their job of cleansing the Kerdar. Hence it is our long standing tradition, further explained as above by our Master, Ustad Saheb, that Sarosh and Patet prayers are kept in abeyance during the first 10 days of the Muktad. The Sarosh Patet prayers can be re-started from Roj Hormuz Mah Fravardin. The special prayer for the Muktad would be the Stum Kardo and the Framroat Ha during the first five days and the Gathas during the Gatha days. The Haptan Yasht is recommended for the seven days beginning from Roj Hormuz.

  5. Ruby Percy Sanjana.  August 11, 2010

    Dear Ervad Marzbanji,
    Is the Stum Kardo recited with Fravardin Yasht or without the Fravardin Yasht? In one of the prayer book, it was written that Stum Kardo is to be recited with only 31 Kardas of the Fravardin Yasht.

    Excellent article as always.
    TANDARSOTI.
    Ruby.

  6. Ruby Percy Sanjana.  August 11, 2010

    Tandorosti,
    Ruby

  7. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  August 11, 2010

    @Ruby Sanjana
    The Stum Kardo recited on its own completes the Stum ritual. The Stum Kardo along with the Fravardin Yasht completes the Farokshi ritual. The Kardo can be recited on its own (which is how it is mainly done) or added to the Fravardin Yasht.

    Best regards,
    Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram

  8. PERCY N. SIGANPORIA  August 11, 2010

    Meherban Dasturjee Saheb Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram,

    It’s indeed comendable that you narrated/explained the ethics of Muktad (Mukt-atma-prayer) in very simple but authentic way. Our Honourable Prists and Panthaki Saheb at all Agiyaries, and at all level should give short introduction of Muktad when fellow “Hamdeen” request to
    Book the table or for Prayer schedule..!!

    However.. we are at loss of word to appreciate and praise you as you are True beacon for our miscrocsopic community ..(with megascopic achievements..!!)

    Best regards and Tandarosti to you and all our community Brothers & sisters..

    Percy N. Siganporia
    Doha-Qatar

  9. Kaizer Austin  August 14, 2010

    Enlightening !
    Thank you .
    Ushta Te .

  10. Phiroze Panthaki  August 16, 2010

    Dear Ervad Marzbanji,
    Thank you for clearing the doubts. Please let me know more about the Framroat Ha. In which book will I find it and how is it to be prayed i e before or after Stum no Kardo.

    Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year.

  11. Phiroze Panthaki  August 16, 2010

    Dear Ervad Marzbanji,
    Thank you for clearing the doubts. Please let me know more about the Framroat Ha. In which book will I find it and how is it to be prayed i e before or after Stum no Kardo. Also pls explain the significance of Haptan Yast.

    Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year.

  12. Cyrus S. Saiwalla  August 20, 2010

    Dear Ervad Marzban Sahib,

    My observation during Muktad Days- Panthaki Sahibs with the consent of trustees of respective Fire temples charges for its rituals from Rs. 9000/- onwards for first year ceremony with 10 days rituals. In return what they perform rituals for Ruvans: Not performing Farokhsi for individual Ruvan, not performing Baaj which is very essential for individual Ruvan, but performing only ‘Satum no Kardo’ and Afargan.
    The cost of only Afargan per day is Rs 800/-
    On the day of Ashishavang, I have observed that no ‘Aamantran’ prayer is performed by our Priests, which is very essential for welcoming our loved ones from spiritual world to this world ‘Gaity’. Without ‘Aamantran prayer no spiritual soul would visit this world.
    We have reduced the actual ritual days from 18 days to 10 days.
    Besides, in these 10 days, our priests would not fulfill their obligations by performing complete rituals without skipping a word of our ‘Manthravani’.

    In conclusion, what we expect from our loved ones, spiritual souls ? Would they shower blessings on us ?

    Therefore, I sincerely appeal to our Priests and Behdins to ponder serious thoughts on this important subject and find out the amicable solution for our coming Muktad 2011.
    Zarthosti Din Shaad Baad.

  13. Zarin  August 30, 2010

    This is so informative. I had a brief idea but I now know the exact details. Thank you so much!

  14. Farida  September 29, 2010

    Respected Ervadji Marzbanji
    What is the right sequence of praying char disa Nu Namashkar in Hawan Geh.
    kindly reply.
    Thanks
    FTS

  15. Dilber  May 29, 2011

    Dear Ervad Marzban,

    Thanks for the excellent explanations as always.
    I have one question, for how many years do we need to recite the Muktad Prayers for a departed soul?

    Regards,

    Dilber

  16. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  May 29, 2011

    At least 57 years.

  17. rohinton  June 1, 2011

    Dear Marazban do have some queries hope you can answer them. Thank you .

    1.sir can we pray the sarosh yasht vadi and hadokht in muktad days as our normal fradjyat. As i read above one cannot pray sarosh patet as u said above.

    2.Also as you have said that patet and sarosh prayers are not to be recited for 10 days but as per we have been taught in madressa its said that on the last day of the gatha (5thgatha vahistoisht) that is in aiwisuthrem gah one should recite the patet as its mandatory. please throw some light on this as above.Do correct me if iam wrong in my statement . Thank you.

    3. I agree that patet isnt to be recited for 10 days but can one pray patet pashemani in those 10 days . because patet pashemani is a prayer for sins and iam sure even in muktad days one may have committed that unknowingly in someway or the other as no one is perfect in this world.
    Thank you for all your explanation highly appreciable.

  18. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  June 2, 2011

    1. Yes you can.

    2. Patet ravan ni cannot be prayed. Patet Pashemani SHOULD be prayed. It is mandatory in Ushahin Gah of Vahishtoisht Gatha.

    3. As above.

  19. rohinton  June 8, 2011

    Dear marazban as per your response is Patet pashemani mandatory or ruvani mandatory in ushain Gah as you mentioned at muktad?

    Secondly wanted to ask you in some places muktad is for 10days some places 18 days so does it mean we shouldnt recite Sarosh and patet ruvani prayers for 18 days or 10 days which would you suggest ?

    Thirdly wanted to know that as you said ruvani patet shouldnt be prayed until chahrum for first 3 days when someone dies. At that time a woman asked me can she pray sarosh vadi and than the sarosh yash vadi ni nirang taking the name of deceased .That is Sarosh is that allowed ? because i read in one question above from phiroze that you said Sarosh and patet cannot be prayed for 10 days in muktad so just curious to know is that the same priciple to be followed for the first 3 days when someone expires .
    Please do correct me if iam wrong .

    Thank you as always.

  20. rohinton  June 9, 2011

    Dear marazban one more question i loved reading your article on Death and beyond responsibilities of the living towards the dead.

    Sir my most humble request is where can i find That gujarati book would love to have a copy of that book. Sir also the most important is point number 10 but i read on the site the point 10 information is missing . Sir can you please send me a link of that detailed book where it could be available .
    I wish i could have your email id or tel no where in i could contact you personally.

    sorry for the bother and thank you as always….

  21. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  June 9, 2011

    This question has already been answered. Please do not keep asking the same questions over and over again.

  22. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  June 9, 2011

    The book is not available but you can find old copies in Agiaries.

  23. rohinton  June 10, 2011

    ok Thank you Sir for your feedback in all the post. Sir can you put that missing info or scan the point 10 of that book and put it on the site if possible. As i seen and read the info from http://tenets.zoroastrianism.com/Beyond.pdf this site if you see page 35 its incomplete. Would appreciate to have your feedback . Thank you as always .

  24. Meher Kabraji  August 12, 2011

    Thank you for the informative article. Can you please advise if the soul of our departed one also visits our house or only the agiary where the vases are kept.

  25. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  August 13, 2011

    Ruvans can descend only in an environment where the laws of purity are observed.

  26. Sarosh  September 16, 2011

    Dear Sir
    I would like to know wether paptet ravani can be prayed everyday for the soul of the departed. Further more the reason for my asking this question is because I was told patet ravani is to be prayed only for the first three days after death.

    Is patet ravani prayed during the first four days after death different from the patet ravani that we ask our respected dasturs to pray after a machi is offered to an agiary or atash behram or the one that we can pray at home in memory of the departed?

    I am listing a patet ravani below, which was given to me by someone..its been four months since her death can I still continue with this prayer. Your knowledgable answer would be of great help to me.

  27. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  September 16, 2011

    @Sarosh,
    The Patet prayer should NOT be prayed during the first three days after death. The reason is that the soul is stationed near the body where the Sachkar was done. On the fourth day, the soul begins its flight to Chinvat and then begins its duty of cleansing the burden of sins accumulated by the physical mind during its life. The Patet Ruvanni prayer gives succour, inspiration and moral courage to the soul in its long and arduous task. Hence the Patet Ruvanni should be prayed from the Chahrum day onwards for any length of time. It is the best service the relatives of the departed can give to the soul. Please continue praying the Patet Ravanni for at least 12 years after the death.

  28. Sarosh  September 17, 2011

    Sir, I have a Patet Ravani in English, since I cant read Gujerati. Actually I had attached that prayer in my pevious question, but am not sure wether that prayer is correct. Can I with your permission attach it after you reply back to check its authenticity by you before I continue. It would be of immense confidence if you could tell me wether its correct.

    Secondly you are saying I have to pray for twelve years, can I pray every day or on specific days.

    Will attach the patet in my next response, thank you very much sir.

  29. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  September 17, 2011

    @Sarosh,
    The Patet Prayer you had attached is correct. I removed it since it was taking up too much space. You can pray the Ruvanni Patet on any day, except the first ten days of the Muktad every year. You can pray it every day or on the Rojgar day – it is your wish.

  30. maharukh  October 25, 2011

    Iam looking for an English version of Patet Ravaani as i cannot read gujarati.
    Can you please help/Guide as to where I can find one.

    Thank You

  31. Yazad Karkaria  May 19, 2013

    Respected Ervad Saheb,I have a question with regards to the dates of Muktad, originally, the Iranians would add a month at the end of 120 years to ensure that the calender is in sync with the movements of planets. However, since we have skipped this after coming to India, we are drifting away from the original dates gradually, so when we say eg- Muktads are from 9-18th August do the Fravashis actually come during this period. How do we know if they have adjusted to our mistake? Also, please explain the Fasli calender, is it the most accurate one? why do we not adopt it then? What is the additional day called which they add once in every 4 years. Thank you!

  32. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  May 28, 2013

    @Yazad,

    The points about the Fasli calendar and the Muktad have been adequately explained in the series on the Life of the Master. Please read parts 22, 23, 24 of the series, available here: http://www.frashogard.com/category/life-of-the-master/page/2

  33. Hosi  July 31, 2014

    Sir, I am looking for a english version of Afargan prayers recited during the Muktad days, as I am an NRI and unfortunately not so fluent in reading Gujerati. Your assistance will be of great value to me and my family.

  34. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  July 31, 2014

    @Hosi
    Regret do not have the prayers in PDF form. There is a complete book in English of all the Afringans and Afrins which is available at the Dadar Madressa.

  35. Hosi  July 31, 2014

    Ervad Saheb, thank you so much for a prompt reply. May God bless you and your family and sincerely hope you enlighten this community like you always do.

  36. Hosi  August 1, 2014

    Ervad Saheb, since luckily I am in Mumbai right now, I did exactly what you asked me to do yesterday, went to Dadar Madressa and purchased the book ‘Zoroastrian community prayers’ which contains the Afringan prayer’s as mentioned in my previous question, but unfortunately there is something like Afringan in Dadar Hormazd,Afringan i Ardafravash, Afringan i daman, Afringan i Sarosh, Afringan in Gambhar, Afringan i gatha then something as Afrin i Ardafravash, Afrin Baname Buzorgan, Afrin i haft Ameshaspand, Afrin Gambhar,Kardeh i stoom, Nirang e Boi Dadan and Siroja Afringan and one page which says concluding passage to be recited at the end of afrin. . It is with your’s and your blessing’s alone that I have not only this book today, but with the grace of Dadar Ahuramazda and you, also found an english version of Faroksi. But now I am not sure which of the above prayers to recite and when as there are so many different kinds of Afringans and Afrin’s. The information you provide would be of great help to me, as no matter how far I may be would never want me or my children to ever loose their Zoroastrian root’s. God bless you.

  37. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  August 1, 2014

    @Hosi
    Performing the Afringan is a specialized skill which requires in-depth training and practice along with practical guidance and hand-holding. I thought you were already aware of the basics of the ceremony, but obviously you are not. You should learn under a good and experienced priest the various types of Afringans and their proper methods. This cannot be done on email.

  38. Hosi  August 1, 2014

    Dear Ervad Saheb, inquired a lot, said would like to learn to quite a number of priest’s, but no one got back to me or bothered to reply unfortunately. Just want to follow my religion and the prayer’s for my parent’s no matter where I am, came here to seek help, but got none except guidance from you. Would still like to know, but unfortunately at a dead end. My journey, my faith and my effort’s are about to go in vain 🙁

  39. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  August 1, 2014

    @Hosi
    If you were in Mumbai at a different time I would have been able to guide you but just now we are neck deep in Muktad preparations. Suggest you inform me next time when you are here and we will meet.

  40. Hosi  August 1, 2014

    Ervard Sir, I will be here for some time, dont want to go back empty handed, will have nothing to carry along with me. Please it would be a request if you could help me at a date and time of your choosing. You would be a blessing in disguise for me.

  41. sarosh  September 2, 2014

    Dear marazban saheb , i have a few queries.
    1. when someone dies for first 3 days as u mentioned one cant pray patet ruvanni . But can i pray patet pashemani near the ruvan for whatever sins i may have done during my lifetime to him/her as no one is perfect.

    2. When some one dies for the first 3 days can Sarosh Yasht be prayed taking the name of the deceased? I understand patet Ravanni cant be prayed does that also apply with Sarosh too? as i read ur reply from Phiroze tht sarosh and patet are kept in abeyance in muktad does that apply for first 3 days after death too?

    3. Also When some one dies for the first 3 days doing any normal fradjyat , can i take the name of the deceased while doing bhoi agal nu bhantar for that ruvan taking his name in any nyaish or yasht as you have mentioned in one posts on how to take name of deceased in any prayer? can his/her name be taken?

    thank you

  42. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  September 2, 2014

    @Sarosh
    1. Patet Pashemani can be prayed only during the last moments of the life. Never after one has passed away.

    2. Yes, both Hadokht and Vadi can be prayed with the name of the deceased. Sarosh Vadi can be prayed in Muktad too. Please read my reply carefully.

    3. Yes you should.

  43. Sarosh  November 7, 2015

    Dear Marazban,
    Have some urgent queries for which iam looking forward for your reply .

    1. When a person dies and his/her body is in the bungli . What prayers CAN’T be recited when bhoi agal nu bhantar should be prayed. As a few mobeds have told me that Atash Nyaish , Ava Nyaish ,Ava Yasht ,Patet ,stum no kardo, Fravadin yasht All these cant be prayed while doing bhoi nu bhantar. I need your opinion on this subject. I wanted to know the reason for not praying the same if possible like why ava ,atash nyaish cant be prayed.?

    2. If iam attending a Uthamna ceremony or 3rd day sarosh no kardo at DONGERWADI where body isnt present in bungli than after it is done if i have to perform a boi ceremony in adarian or dadgah do i again need to take a bath ?is bath mandatory even after attending or performing the kardo or uthamna in order to perform boi in any agiary?Pls Guide.

    3. If uthamna or sarosh kardo is done at an agiary or atash behram than again is bath necessary for performing boi at any other adarian or other dadgah after attending or performing the uthamna or kardo ?

    4. If uthamna or sarosh no kardo is done at an agiary than is bath again necessary if i have to perform a boi ceremony in the same adarian or dadgah where uthamna /kardo is performed?

    Pls enlighten me on this . Thank you.

  44. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  November 8, 2015

    @Sarosh
    1. Everything except Patet Ruvan ni can be prayed.
    2. Yes, you should have a bath, in all cases. If you step outside the Agiary premises, you must have bath before Boi, unless you have performed small Khub and maintained it.
    3. As above
    4. No.

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