Roj Gosh Mah Fravardin, 1379 Yz.
My previous post on Parsis and religious adultery got many responses and some queries. One of the questions asked was: “if you say not to visit the Agiary only for a purpose, like an exam, then on which days is it necessary to visit the Agiary?”
My simple answer: “On the day you feel it is not necessary to offer thanks to God for all that He has given you, don’t visit the Fire Temple!” (If such a day exists)
My detailed answer: A visit to the Agiary cannot be laid down as a time table, since it depends on every individual’s lifestyle and time constraints, as well as the distance the Agiary or Atash Behram is situated from the person’s residence. Parsis in Mumbai are spoilt for choice as they have over 45 Agiaries and 4 Atash Behrams to choose from! Most of our Baugs or colonies have Agiaries within the complex or very close to the Baug. Those living in cosmopolitan surroundings are not so fortunate.
Ideally, every devotee should try to develop a strong spiritual and emotional relationship with a particular Padshah Saheb of any Agiary or Atash Behram. This relationship should be strengthened by repeated visits by the devotee to the particular Agiary and an attempt must be made to make a regular scheduled visit at a specific time either every day, or a particular day of the week. This makes the visit into a habit forming thing and the devotee will get used to the schedule and a pattern will emerge which best suits him or her. In my Daremeher at Jogeshwari, I see several of our Baug residents who have developed such a habit and never miss a day.
For those who cannot make this work for whatever reason (although I strongly feel that a daily visit habit should be inculcated) there is a simple solution. All Parsi houses have the Parsi calendar hung up. If you observe the calendar closely, you will see that in every month, 5 days (Hormazd, Ardibehesht, Adar, Sarosh and Behram) are marked in red, while the remaining are marked in blue. Why is this done? Perhaps we can understand Hormazd, since it is the first day of the month and hence auspicious, but what about the others?
The persons who first developed the Parsi calendar for printing were persons of great religious wisdom. The first seven days of the Parsi calendar are Hormazd, Bahman, Ardibehesht, Sherevar, Spendarmad, Khordad and Amardad. These are known as the 7 Amesha Spentas, or the 7 Supreme Ministers in Ahura Mazda’s Divine Cabinet (note that Hormazd, the first day is for Ahura Mazda Himself, just as the Prime Minister is part of the Cabinet). Each of these 7 Divine Ministers is given 3 or 4 junior ministers, who are categorized as Yazatas (ex. Behram Yazata, Adar Yazata), Mino (ex. Mino Ram, Mino Ashishvangh), Dae (ex. Dae-pa-Adar) or Farrokh (only one, Farrokh Fravardin). These junior ministers are called the Hamkaras (co-workers) of the 7 Amesha Spentas. Let us see how the work is divided.
- Hormazd has three Hamkaras: Dae-pa-Adar, Dae-pa-Meher and Dae-pa-Din.
- Bahman has three Hamkaras: Mohor, Gosh & Ram (hence Parsis do not generally eat meat on these days, known as “unrojas” since Bahman looks after cattle and animals)
- Ardibehesht is assisted by Adar, Sarosh and Behram
- Sherevar is assisted by Khorshed, Meher, Asman and Aneran
- Spendarmad is assisted by Avan, Din, Ashishvangh and Mahrespand
- Khordad is aided by Tir, Fravardin and Govad
- Amardad is helped by Rashne, Ashtad and Zamyad.
While we will not go into the intricacies of who does what work, for our topic, the important Amesha Spenta is Ardibehesht, who is the divine Minister in charge of Fire. It is for this reason that his co-workers – Adar, Sarosh and Behram are marked in red, since those are the days when all Parsis should visit the Agiary! Thus the first day of the month, and the days of the Amesha Spenta Ardibehesht and his co-workers are the days when it is essential to visit the Agiary, which was denoted by our clever forefathers by marking those days in red on the calendar! An important side effect of this practice will be that you and your children will be more aware of what Roj it is every day, and children will develop the habit of reading and understanding the Parsi calendar and not look blank when someone says “Today is Behram Roj”.
To this list I would add one more day – the last day – Aneran. This is the day when every Parsi is supposed to go to the Agiary and give an account of the entire month to the Padshah Saheb, and draw up his monthly Balance Sheet to see what asset (good thoughts, words and deeds) was created and what liabilities (bad thoughts, words and deeds) were piled on. Aneran is also the specific day for reciting the Patet Pashemani prayer, which is the prayer to acknowledge our wrong doing, offering remorse for the same, and resolving not to repeat the wrong doing again.
My fellow Parsis! We don’t even realize how lucky we are to be born in to the Parsi faith. After thousands of attempts and millions of years of progress, a soul EARNS the right to be born in to our faith! And yet we are so ignorant that we take our faith and its institutions for granted. I see so many Parsis while away their time doing nothing, watching soaps on TV, chatting for hours on the phone, browsing the net or just letting the hours and days go by, but they do not seem to have any time to visit the Agiary. Those that live in colonies and Baugs with Fire Temples right on their doorstep seem to be least interested, while Parsis who live far away or in other countries yearn to get a glimpse of the Padshah Saheb!
I keep on repeating this in almost every post, and I will say it once again. The times are changing and things will get progressively worse, specially for our community. At that time, the only thing which will protect us is not the colony security or the video door phones! It is the Sudreh and Kusti which we MUST have on all the time, our sacred institutions – Agiaries and Atash Behrams, Dokhmas and Varasiaji, and our all powerful Avesta Manthravani. Invest in these assets and start saving for that day in the not so distant future when we will all need their protection. That is our only hope and in them lies our only chance of survival and redemption.
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram