Zoroastrian Earth Day

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Roj Spendarmad Mah Spendarmad, 1380 Yz.

Today is Roj Spendarmad, Mah Spendarmad, a spiritually vital and important day of the Zoroastrian calendar. Long before the shrill cries of the eco-brigade began to be heard, the practices and precepts of our ancient faith were already attuned to green living, carbonless footprint and eco-sensitiveness.

Spendarmad (Avesta Spenta Armaiti) is the Amesha Spenta specifically designated to look after Mother Earth. Through her associates and co-workers, Geush Urva and Geush Tashan, Spenta Armaiti patiently bears the weight of the immeasurable levels of spiritual and physical pollution which is generated by man over the ages.

Spenta Armaiti is also responsible for the fertility of the earth, working along with Khordad, who looks after the waters, and Amardad, who looks after vegetation and crops. These great forces of Ahura Mazda’s Divine Cabinet work silently in the background, to provide for those things which we take for granted today.

Roj Spendarmad, Mah Spendarmad is also the Day of the Farmer. A few decades ago, when many Parsis were engaged in agriculture, this day was celebrated with great solemnity and reverence. The Parsi farmers would call their family priests to their wadis to consecrate a special Baj, in honour of Spenta Armaiti, or perform a thanksgiving Jashan.

A more important spiritual practice followd by our ancestors was the writing of the special Nirang, or potent spiritual formula, called ‘Nirang-i-Khrafastar Zadan’. Spiritually evolved priests would collect some yellow paper, make special red ink using saffron and well water, take a nib pen and then sit down with all these implements in the Urvis Gah (the sacred place in the Fire Temple where the Pav Mahel ceremonies are performed). They would then take four Daran and consecrate the Baj of Teshtar Tir Yazata. After finishing the Baj, they would partake the Chasni, breaking off small bits from each Darun in a specific manner and eating them in a pure way. Then they would take the pen, dip it in the saffron ink and start writing the special Nirang in the Pazend script. Having finished the Nirang, they would hold it over the fire and fumigate the paper. These Nirangs were then given to the devotees who would affix the Nirang on top of the door of their houses.

This Nirang has great potency to stop the entry of any kind of noxious or evil influence into the house (which is why it was affixed outside the door and not inside). The words used in the Nirang describe how its sacred formula binds the mouths (that is, renders powerless) all kinds of wicked sorcerers, evil magicians, liars, cheats, evil-doers, serpent-like persons and any other evil influences. In doing so the Nirang takes the help of Shah Faridun Athavyan, the great Peshdadian monarch, Greatest Healer and Saheb of all Nirangs. Many of the Nirangs we use even today are ascribed to this very highly evolved spiritual monarch.

In addition to Shah Faridun, the Nirang calls for the help of four specific entities, which are translated by normal scholars as stars: Tir, Vanant, Satavas and Haptoiring. Ustad Saheb explained that these names may point to the physical stars of the almanac but they actually refer to the great spiritual and divine forces which are behind the working of the stars and planets. Thus, Teshtar Tir Yazata performs a vital function in the cosmos, a physical replica of which is found in the star Sirius in the East of the heavens. Similarly, Satavas works in the west, Haptoiring in the north and Vanant in the south. They are like four sentries at the four corners of the cosmos, keeping a watch on any evil activity and stepping in to ensure that things do not go out of hand.

Thus the Nirang affixed on the doors of Parsi houses invoked the help not only of Shah Faridun, but also these four great sentinels and provided the family with protection from any evil and untoward incident throughout the year. Every Roj Spendarmad, Mah Spendarmad, the old Nirang would be taken down and burnt in the house fire, or given to the priest and replaced with the new one.

Unfortunately today, this tradition has almost disappeared from our community. How many priests today can read or write in the Pazend script? How many are even aware of the significance of this day and the procedure to be followed? How many Panthakys offer this service to their Behdins?

At the Ustad Saheb Behramshah Nowroji Shroff Daremeher, we have continued this important tradition and even today, nearly a hundred Parsis, from Behram Baug and even outside Mumbai came to the Daremeher and collected their Nirangs. This shows that there is a great demand within our community for spiritual guidance and help, which is not being met properly by our priesthood and leaders. This is also one reason why Parsis flock to other religions and their practices.

There exists a vast treasure of Nirangs and ceremonies which can help a Parsi in any kind of difficulty. But what is lacking today is two things: the spiritual calibre of our priests; and the totally un-Zoroastrian way of living of our entire community. Our greatest spiritual gifts of the Sudreh and Kusti and mangled into fashion statements. We take them off at the slightest excuse. We do not follow simple practices which nobody can stop us from following in the comfort of our homes. How can our Nirangs and ceremonies help, when the basic infrastructure needed for their success is absent?

Take a Divo, light it and it will radiate spiritual warmth and brilliance. Place it in a jar and cover it. What happens? As the oxygen is used up, the Divo starts spluttering and will ultimately go off. Is it the fault of the Divo, or is it the oxygen-less surrounding it was placed in which caused it to extinguish? We blame our prayers and our ceremonies for having no effect, but how can they be effective when we have sucked out the Zoroastrian oxygen from our lives?

Fellow Zoroastrians! Unless we inculcate a Zoroastrian way of life in our homes, there can be no spiritual progress. On this spiritually important day, let us resolve to inculcate more and more Zoroastrian values in our lives – truth, fair dealing, compassion, ethics and great love and devotion towards Ahura Mazda and His Prophet Zarathushtra. This is the only way towards salvation. As the Avesta says:

Aevo pantao yo ashahe, vispe anyaesham apantam

There is only one path – the path of Truth and righteousness; all others are non-paths.

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram

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Comments

  1. AMARIA Lt. Col. (Retd.) BOMAN E.  July 19, 2011

    please accept the humble thanks of a soldier-officer.
    may our good Lord AHURA BLESS you.
    ameen!!!

  2. Merzush Mistry  July 19, 2011

    Ervad Saheb, it is still possible to obtain the Nirang you have mentioned?

  3. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  July 20, 2011

    The Nirang is to be applied on the specific day, Roj Spendarmad Mah Spendarmad only.

  4. rita  July 20, 2011

    Ervad saheb,
    Have heard that now a days a plaque is also available with this Nirang inscribed on it which is permanent, not requiring to be changed every year. Is this valid ? Ofcourse it has to be placed only on this particular day.
    Please advise.
    Thank u.

  5. xyz  July 20, 2011

    My personal experience is since last 9 years, I have been fixing this nirang on my door and is just fantastic. It is really very powerful. I suggest each and every Parsi to follow this tradition. Keep faith in Lord Ahuramazda. May Shah Behram Varzavand come soon and guide Parsee -Irani Zoroastrians on this earth.

  6. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  July 20, 2011

    It h as to be written. The Revayets and other sources confirm that the priest has to personally write it, while reading aloud each word. Also no money can be taken for this purpose.

  7. armaity n.daruwala  July 20, 2011

    respected ervadsaheb marzban

    i have been reading a lot of your published emails n find them very interesting n informative..i forward them to my children n other zorastrian friends who can
    gain knowledge of our wonderful powerful religion n our prayers.

    your email info on todays subject was not known earlier so we have to wait for one more year to get the nirang and hang it on the main door, as it needs to be hung on that day only……..so i will wait and spread the news to my fellow zorastians…..
    im sure more zorastrians will flock for it once they get to know its effects…….and start hanging it rather than hanging the evil eye symbol which is so turkish….

  8. Roshni R. Shroff  July 20, 2011

    I am from Karachi, Pakistan and some years back I got a photocopy of this ‘Nirang-i-Khrafastar Zadan’ in a very bad shape. I wanted to improve on this and requested my graphic desogner friend to make it in a presentable form and guess what – he made it so beautiful and presented me in two lovely forms in colour took a which, I have saved. I took a print out, and on Roj Spendarmad, Mah Spendarmad prayed, held it over the fire and fumigated the paper. Then I had it mounted in hard plastic and screwed the Nirang on top of the entrance door on outside of the house. Every year on this Roj, I pray and fumigate the same nirang and I experience its powers stated by you.

    I even have this nirang written in English which can be prayed. If any one needs this Nirang in Pazend next year for fixing on their door, they may feel free to contact me and I will send them on e-mail provided, it’s OK to do so since is it not easily available for every one.

    I will appreciate if you could kindly tell me where is the Ustad Saheb Behramshah Nowroji Shroff Daremeher? Next when I visit India I make sure I go at this particular time to get it in original.

    Thank you for such an interesting article.

    Regards,

    Roshni R. Shroff

  9. Rémi  July 20, 2011

    This really reminds me of the Jewish mezuzah. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mezuzah
    Nice to see how different religion traditions can lead to similar practices.

  10. Roda Farokh Dholoo  July 20, 2011

    COULD I PLEASE GET THIS NIRANG TODAY OR ELSE WILL HAVE TO WAIT FOR ANOTHER YEAR. COULD SOMEBODY JUST SEND A SCANNED COPY OF IT.
    PLEASE
    THANKS
    RODA

  11. Roda Farokh Dholoo  July 20, 2011

    MY OTHER EMAIL ID–[email protected]

    PLEASE SOMEBODY DO SEND IT TODAY

  12. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  July 20, 2011

    Regret it cannot be scanned and sent. I am sorry.

  13. Delnaz  July 21, 2011

    Respected Ervad Saheb,
    Thank you! We feel blessed and lucky to have you as our guide. It is because of your informative articles that we are able to know the minute details of our Religion. We Zoroastrians are unaware of so many things of our religion and this Frashogard blog helps us to increase our knowledge. May our entire community live the true Zoroastrian way!! May our Saviour, Raenidar Shah Behram Varzavand Saheb come soon and bring about Mazdayasni Zarthushti Deen Renaissance!

    Regards,
    Delnaz Taraporewala

  14. Ruby Percy Sanjana  December 7, 2011

    Ervadji Marzban,

    Jashan and Vendidad are mandatory ceremonies performed before moving into a new house. Could you throw some light on this topic.

    Tandarosti,
    Ruby

  15. Siroosh Yazdani  December 10, 2011

    Ruby
    Both ceremonies are highly advisable, but it is completely up to the owners of the property if they would like to have them performed. The Vendidad is usually not performed but is very powerful and potent. It rids the property of any negative energy and makes the environment completely holy and pure. The ceremony is performed before moving into the house and settling in by a qualified priest. The jashan can be performed soon after settling down and is a simple thanksgiving/ blessing ceremony. The Vendidad is performed during Ushain geh and may take up to 4-6 hrs. Note that the Vendidad will only be recited (known as Sadeh-Vedidad); no preliminary ceremony will precede it. If you are opting for the Vendidad I would highly suggest you ask if priest from the Anjuman Atashbehram perform it. Reason being that only Yozdathregar Bhagarsaht priest perform inter-liturgies at Anjuman Atashbehram, hence the ceremony will be extremely fruit-full and potenet.

  16. Ruby Percy Sanjana  December 19, 2011

    Thank you, Siroosh for the explanation. Have already gone ahead and spoken to Panthaki Saheb Kersi Bhada of the Wadia Agiary, Lalbaug. He will be performing the 7 Karda nu Jashan in the morning and Vendidad the following night at my place.

    Tandarosti,
    Ruby

  17. Farida Jehangir Gilder (D/o Mr. Nariman Rustomji Kotwal-grandson of Ustad Sahebji)  February 11, 2012

    Ervad sahebji, I would like to have this nirang for my house. Can you pls have one made for me. Also would like to have the same every year replaced. Pls let me know as to what is to be done.

  18. Saroosh Yazdani  February 15, 2012

    Could you please give me one nirang to help my young brother concentrate on his studies. Please post it as a comment if u can i am unable to access my yahoo account.

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