Roj Din Mah Fravardin, 1379 Yz.
We normally have a bath every day to keep our body physically clean. But the human body is composed of more than just the physical parts which we see. The Avesta says that the human body is made up of nine parts (see Yasna 55.1) – which are grouped in three parts of three bodies each:
The physical group comprises of :
Tanu – the fleshy body and skeletal system
Gaetha – the internal organs
Azda – the various liquids and circulatory systems
The ultra physical group comprises of :
Keherp – the energy body where the 16 divine energy receiving, processing and transmitting centres known as Chakhras are located
Ushtan-Ap – the life breath which is joined with the life breath of Zarathushtra during the Navjote ceremony
Tevishi – the emotions body
The Divine group comprises of :
Urvan / Ruvan the original part of the Lord in us
Baodangh – Divine Wisdom (this is Vohu Mano personified and not what many believe to possess in their physical minds)
Fravashi – the spirit of implicit obedience to the will of the Lord
The ultra physical group can also collectively be called the Aipi of a person – his own personal space. Just as we have the normal bath for cleansing our physical bodies, the Zoroastrian religion enjoins different types of ‘Nahns’ for the cleansing of the ultra physical parts. Of these, the most simple one is called the ‘Sadu Nahn’ or just simply the ‘Nahn’.
Every thought, word and deed of ours is recorded at three parts in Nature. One of those three parts is our Aipi or the personal space where our ultra physical bodies reside. If we stand with our arms bent at the elbows and the hands on our hips, the expanse between the ends of the two elbows is our Aipi. This Aipi stores the records of all our thoughts, words and deeds, and several spiritually advanced persons can let you know what you have been up to by reading this Aipi space.
As the day goes by, our Aipi becomes more and more polluted with the stamps of our not so good thoughts words and deeds. Some of this is remedied by the performance of the Kusti at several times – for example after we visit the toilet. However, some part of this pollution remains and it is to cleanse this spiritual pollution that the Nahn is recommended to be taken preferably every few months. In earlier times, Nahns were taken at regular intervals by going to the family Agiary and requesting the Mobeds to perform the ceremony. This is still possible and the optimum thing to do, given the spiritually polluted state of our homes. However, for those who wish to undertake the ritual at home itself, the following is the procedure to be followed.
One day before the Nahn, either yourself or another person should collect the following ingredients from the family Agiary:
6-7 leaves of the pomegranate tree
3-4 drops of the Nirangdin Nirang (consecrated Nirang from the Nirangdin ceremony – ask the Panthaky to give you just this very small amount. Take a well washed and thoroughly dried small bottle to get it in. Do not take more, only as much as you can drink in three sips.) Please ensure that you DO NOT use public transport to carry this consecrated item. Use your own personal vehicle, as a last resort.
A small quantity of normal urine of the Varasyaji (again to be obtained from the Agiary where the Varasyaji is kept. Go in the evening, but before sunset with a clean, washed and dried glass bottle. Take enough to rub over your body – about 50 ml.) In case that is not possible, the urine of a normal bull or cow can be obtained from a nearby temple or place where generally ladies sit with a cow and some grass to feed the cow.
On reaching home arrange all these items on a copper plate or Khumchi, or as a last resort any other metal tray or plate. Also keep ready two small metal fulias or vatis in which to empty the Nirang and cow urine. Place a home-washed and clean handkerchief. The whole plate with all these ingredients should then be covered with a clean mulmul cloth and kept in a segregated place or near the Diva area of the house. A small Khordeh Avesta book should be kept ready if one does not know the Sarosh Baj, Havan Gah, Patet Pashemani and the Baj prayers by heart. Small Post-It tags should be placed on the pages where the requisite prayers are to be read from to make the whole process easy.
On the night preceding the day of the Nahn, wash and completely dry the bathroom where you will take the Nahn. This is important. The bathroom should not be used during this time. The Nahn person should be the first one to use the bathroom in the early morning. Fill a bucket with clean water. Place a small mug filled with water next to the bucket. Well water would be the best (hence the preference for taking the Nahn in the Agiary), but as a last resort tap water should be used. The fresh set of clothes to be worn the next day should also be got ready and kept near the Nahn area.
On the night preceding the Nahn, have a light meal. Do not have anything in the morning. Not even water. This is very important.
Get up early in the morning before the hustle and bustle of daily life begins (preferably around Sunrise). Do the normal bodily functions in a separate bathroom than the one where the Nahn is to be taken.
Now take some clean water in a metal Karasya. Holding the Karasya with a clean handkerchief from outside in the left hand, first throw a glance at the water in the Karasya, and reciting ‘Khshnaothra Ahurahe Mazdao, Ashem Vohu 1’, pass the thought in the mind “May this water cleanse and purify my physical body and Aipi”, and first wash the right hand up to the elbows is a downward movement. Then holding the Karasya in the right hand (after putting the handkerchief over the shoulder) wash the left hand in a similar manner. Then taking some water in the cup of the hand, place it in the mouth and without swallowing any water, gargle to remove any remnants or impurities from the mouth cavity. After that wash the face taking care to clean the area behind the ears and the exposed part of the neck. Then wash the exposed part of the right leg, from the ankle down to the toes, repeating the same with the left leg. Finally wash the hand used to clean the feet and put down the Karasya. Taking the handkerchief slung over the shoulder wipe and dry all the washed parts in the same order as they were washed. This in the correct method of doing the Padyab ritual and it should be done in this manner before performing every Kusti.
Now recite the Kem na Mazda prayer up to the end. After reciting the Ashem Vohu at the end, untie the Kusti and recite the Hormazd Khodae prayer. Tie the two front knots reciting the Yatha and the 2 back knots while reciting the 1 Ashem Vohu. Then gather the three rounds of the Kusti together and place the index fingers of both hands through the front two knots on the navel and recite the Jasa me avangahe Mazda prayer till the end. Pray the Sarosh Baj and the Havan Gah. Then sit down in a clean place and with full devotion and humility recite the Patet Pashemani prayer from teh Khordeh Avesta. While saying this prayer, occupy your mind with just one thought – ‘may my Aipi be purified through this prayer and the subsequent Nahn, and may I have the strength to withstand the onslaught of evil.’
Now go over to the bathroom with the tray of ingredients. Empty the Nirang and the Taro in to their fulias. Using the clean handkerchief put in the tray as a Paiwand, or connector, in the right hand, take the pomegranate leaves with the left hand and put them on the handkerchief. Now recite the ‘Jamvani Baj’ prayer for taking food, from the Khordeh Avesta. After the Ashem prayer put the leaves in the mouth and chew them till they release their bitter juice. Swallow the juice and spit out the pulp on the side of the bathroom floor. Now lift the fulia containing the Nirangdin Nirang in your hand, and recite in Baj: ‘In khuram, in paaki-i-tan, yaozdaastri, i ravaan raa’ (‘I take this for the cleansing of the body and the purification of my soul’) Running this thought constantly in your mind take one sip of the Nirang from the fulia. Now recite this small formula again and take a second sip of the Nirang. Finally recite the formula a third time and take the final sip of the Nirang from the fulia Now keep the fulia as well as the handkerchief down (not in the plate, but on the bathroom floor). Finish off the remaining part of the Jamvani Baj (4 Ashem, 2 Yatha, 1 Ashem and Ahmai Raescha…Kerfeh Mozd).
Now without praying anything, untie the Kusti silently and then tie the Kusti again reciting the Hormazd Khodae.
Now take off all the clothes, and step into the bathroom proper and apply the normal taro all over the body, again running the thoughts of cleansing the Aipi in your mind.
Keeping the right hand over the head, recite the ‘Nahvani Baj’ (prayer for taking the bath). Use the Khordeh Avesta if you do not know the prayer by heart.
After finishing the Baj, first wash your hands using the small mug filled with water the previous day. Then use the water in the bucket to have a proper bucket bath, washing the body from head to toe in an up to down direction. Chemical soaps or cleansers should not be used. Only use water.
After finishing the bath, put on a fresh set of clothes and finish off the Nahvani Baj.
Now perform the full Padyab as described earlier and untie and retie the Kusti again. Then pray the Sarosh Baj and the Havan Gah. Once again sit down and recite the Patet Pashemani prayer, running the thought in the mind ‘may I have the good fortune to take such a Nahn again and again in my life’.
Here ends the Nahn ceremony.
Please bear in mind that this is a solemn and important ceremony and not some casual thing to do. All rules of purity and non-presence of any non-Zoroastrian or a Zoroastrian in a compromised spiritual position is absolutely essential. Invest your time properly and make sure you follow all the rules given above. Please do not run down this solemn ceremony into a spectacle for others to see and chat about.
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram