Roj Khordad Mah Tir, 1381 Yz.
In my interaction with devotees at our Daremeher and outside I have noticed that there is a great deal of ignorance about the correct procedures to be followed when visiting our spiritual institutions. One such case in point is the procedure to be followed by a devotee after the prayers for a deceased member of the family have been done.
When a family member passes away, the relatives of the deceased generally have prayers said with some intensity during the first year. In general, prayers are said on the Roj of death (called Rojgar), the Fravardin Roj (All Souls Day) and the Parab (same Roj and Mah) of every month. In addition, prayers are done on the Siroza days and the Gahambar days. In all these cases, three specific prayers are done on the carpet – the Stum, Afringan and Farokshi; whereas the Baj is performed in the Urvisgah or Pavi area of the Daremeher. Generally a pair of priests sit down and one recites the Stum and Farokshi whereas the other will perform the Afringan. Once these prayers are over, the priests invite the relatives of the deceased to the carpet with the words: ‘Loban muko ji.’
In households where regular prayers are done over many years, the family members (including youngsters) would have got used to the procedure, but today I see even many elder Parsis getting flustered about what to do, with each pushing to other to ‘go first’ so that they may copy the motions done by the first member. So what is the correct protocol and method to be followed when the priests invite the devotee to the carpet?
The first important step (and where over 95% of Parsis err) is to NOT remove the footwear before arriving at the carpet. The devotee should walk right next to the carpet with his/her footwear on. Then removing one foot from the shoe, he should place the foot on the carpet and then remove the other shoe and get the other leg on the carpet. At no point of time should the naked feet touch the bare ground. When the foot comes into direct contact with the bare earth, the magnetic forces present in the earth ground the personal magnetism (aura) of the person which has been maintained by the performance of the Kusti. This is the reason why we say that the Kusti is ‘broken’ if the naked foot touches the bare earth. To avoid this, it is better to wear thick cotton socks while attending the ceremonies. If this is inconvenient for ladies, then care should be taken to ensure that the foot is placed directly on the carpet from the shoe, without touching the ground.
Once again it needs to be emphasized that roaming barefoot is a sin in our religion – not only in the Daremeher but also at home. A true Parsi is one whose head is always covered with a cap of two folds, the feet are covered with correct footwear and the body is enclosed in the protective folds of the Sudreh and Kusti.
Once you are on the carpet, kneel down and face the fire. Pass a look at the two or three metal plates in which the fruits, flowers, milk and water of the ceremony have been placed. Now taking the Chamach (ladle) or chipia (tongs) in the right hand, scoop a small amount of Loban from its tray and gently offer it on to the fire. In your mind’s eye picturize the departed person for whom the ceremony is being performed, along with other deceased relatives. Then putting the ladle or tongs down, recite the following prayer in Pazend:
Eshaan Behesht-Behereh baad, anoshah shaan ba oy ravaan rasaad, ba oy Behesht roshan ba aasaayaad! Pedaraan va maadaraan va beraadaraan va khaaharaan va khudaan va khishaan ham dinaan-i-man, ke bed, and, va ke vadordeh and, hamaa shaan Behesht-Behereh baad! O shaan geti behereh baad! O shaan kaar va kerfe geti behereh baad! Hamaa as manashne va gavashne va kunashne pa aane raast fraarun pa raahe vehaan pasand-i-yazdaan baad! Aedun baad! Aedun tarz baad! Ashem Vohu 1.
Now pass the following thoughts, which summarize the words of the above prayer:
May they (for whom this ceremony is being performed) attain their share of Heaven, may they become immortal and achieve salvation, may they enjoy the comforts of the Heaven of Endless Light! Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, relatives and all my fellow Zoroastrians, who will be born hereafter, or who are existing, or who have passed away, may they all achieve their share of Heaven! And may they achieve their share of this earth too! And may they achieve their share of good deeds and efforts. Through their thoughts, words and deeds, may they all arrive at the path of truth and righteousness and thereby achieve the favour of the Yazads! May it be so! May it even more be so!
This beautiful passage is taken from the Pazend prayer called ‘Namaz-i-Dadar Hormazd’. The fact that this passage is the most apt prayer while placing Loban for the deceased was first pointed out by the ace disciple of Ustad Saheb – Ervad Phiroze S. Masani, in his brilliant Pazend series (available here on the Ilm-e-Khshnoom SkyDrive ). Thereafter, many other Khordeh Avesta prayer books have heeded his words and put this paragraph at the end of the books (without giving Ervad Phiroze Masani the credit). The thoughts contained in this short prayer are not only apt for the occasion but also explain to the us the real purpose of the soul.
The prayer hopes that the soul (Ruvan) attains the state of Anushehi – a state of blissful activeness, where it can hear the celestial song of Ahura Mazda and take giant steps in its onward progress. After many years of this state, the soul will finally achieve the Highest Existence (called Vahishtem Ahum in the short Vispa Humata prayer we recite every day). The prayer then hopes for this exalted stage not only for the Ruvan of the deceased or the whom the ceremony has been performed, but for all relatives – including those who will be born in the future, those who are existing now and those who have passed away.
Not content with the family, the devotee wishes the Highest Existence for all Zoroastrians, wherever they may be. The devotee fervently hopes that the Ruvan (and its physical, human body) will leave all paths (which lead nowhere) and come onto the straight path of truth and righteousness, which is the only path which will lead it to salvation. Once the Ruvan (and its physical human body) adopt the path of Truth, they will find the favour of the celestial beings – the Yazatas who will themselves guide the Ruvans on to their journey and ultimate destination.
This brilliant prayer will not only give succor and hope to the departed soul, it also imparts important lesson to the living who recite it. The prayer explains to them the temporary nature of physical life and reminds them that their day too will come. On that long and arduous journey (which we are covering in our series the Wondrous Circle of Life), no physical belongings, money, wealth and assets will help them. Only their ‘kaar o kerfeh’ – their righteous efforts and their pious deeds will be their constant companion till the destination is reached.
I am uploading an Acrobat file which contains this beautiful prayer, along with its free rendering in Gujarati and English. The file is formatted in such a way that the Gujarati and English both will fit onto one A4 page. The printout can be taken in which ever language you are more comfortable with and then the quarters folded such that the prayer appears on one side and the translation on the other. This can then be laminated to form a small pocket sized card, which can be used when attending the ceremonies at any Daremeher. Maybe a reader of Frashogard can have some of these printed and laminated and then distributed in the Daremehers.
I am thankful to Frashogard reader and our Behram Baug resident Mr. Adil Motafaram for originating this idea.
Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram