Is the worship of Paria Mai and other Sprites & Fairies allowed in Zoroastrianism? – part 1

Posted by:

Roj Jamyad Mah Fravardin, 1384 Yz.

The internet is a wonderful thing in the sense that sharing of information about almost any subject has become instantaneous and easy. But the flip side of this ease of access is that almost any information is passed around and believed as reality. Due to the inherent nature of man, conspiracy theories, alleged cures for many chronic and deadly diseases, miracle workers and their wondrous acts, and of course anything relating to religion – all these are some of the most forwarded messages around. It just needs one person to set off a series of forwards which are then forwarded to others until finally the forwarded message reaches the original sender – many times with alterations, additions and gross fiction added!

Our Zoroastrian community is also very active on the Net and there are numerous chat groups, Facebook groups, mailing lists and blogs which pass on information about our religion. Generally, I believe in letting everyone have their opinion on all things. However, when something genuinely and totally wrong is described as being Zoroastrian and if there is an added commercial element, then it becomes my duty to point out what is right and what is wrong.

Over the last few days, there has been some discussion amongst the various Zoroastrian groups and mailing lists about the ‘worship’ of somebody called ‘Paria Mai’ or a beneficent Sprite living in wells. Some Parsis have written passionately about the benefits derived from contacting Paria Mai or reciting a ‘story’ about her in return for any boon or desire one may want or have. An extract from a long message about Paria Mai is given below:

“Who is Paria Mai? She is an angel…queen angel…mother angel…big sister angel. She embodies all that is good, glorious, giving, generous… Paria Mai is worshipped every day, but Paria Mai’s power day is Tuesday. From the plane of Saturn, if her devotees ask for anything truly especially on Tuesday…Paria Mai enthrones at the door of her devotee’s house…removes physical ailments, mental problems and financial worries…she along with the tender, beautiful …Bibi Sessumbi, Bibi Haziri and Bibi Murad are beseeched… may you live and love with Paria Mai from this day…”

The following questions arise: Who really is Paria Mai? Is this a Zoroastrian phenomenon? Can such worship be called Zoroastrian? Is it correct for Parsis to follow such practices? Is there any evidence or reference in the Avesta scriptures for this kind of practice? Did our Master, Ustad Saheb Behramshah Shroff give any clarification or revelation about such instances?

The Zoroastrian religion explains that humans are not alone in this creation. Various life forms exist in other parts of the universe. These life-forms, whose progress and salvation is very different from that of humans, are called Arvahi. This Arabic sounding name is actually derived from the Avesta ‘Urvan’ – soul. The Avesta Urvan is converted into both Persian and Arabic as ‘Ruh’, in singular form. The plural of Ruh, in Arabic, is Arwah, which is also a popular name in the middle east.

In the Avesta, these non-human existences and life-forms are called Zaena (male life-forms and Pairika (female life-forms). It is from these Avesta words that the Persian and Gujarati common words ‘Jin’ and ‘Pari’ are derived. Throughout the Avesta, both Zaena and Pairika are described as evil, malevolent and mischievous. Two common epithets attached to them are Tayu  – thieves and Yatu – sorcerers. We shall explain this thief part later on. In several passages in the Avesta, the ancient heroes of Iran – Faredun, Sam, Hoshang are described as battling these evil sprites. In the Pazend prayer of Hormazd Khodae, which every Parsi recites when tying his Kusti, the first paragraph (Ahriman divan, drujan, jaduan…zad shekasteh bad!) contains a list of evil associations which have to be broken by the person tying the Kusti. The last word before zad shekasteh bad is ‘Friaan’. Friaan refers to the female Arvahi sprites that roam the earth. It is therefore very clear from the Avesta that any contact with such evil beings, by normal humans, is totally wrong, and in fact, very dangerous.

Our Master, Ustad Saheb Behramshah Shroff gave a very deep and beautiful explanation of these life-forms. Ustad Saheb expounded that our planet earth, is but an infinitesimally small part of the Mortal Universe called Nisti. The entire Nisti universe is formed of seven concentric planes (much like the peels of an onion) called Dakhyus, whose names are remembered in the Meher Nyaesh (Mithrem Aiwi Dakhyum…). Each of these planes has seven sub-planes between them. Each of these sub-planes have millions of planets such as our earth. The earth itself is situated in the fourth sub-plane of the seven sub-planes between the last two Dakhyus – Pairi and Aipi.

The Arvahi Alam – or universe of the Sprites is divided into two realms. The first realm is situated between the sub-planes of the Adairi Dakhyu, where the Sprites of the White Side reside, and is called the Arvahi-e-Ala. The second realm is situated in the sub-planes of the Pairi Dakhyu, where the Sprites of the Dark Side reside, and is called Arvahi-e-Adna. The Sprites of the White Side are called Ulvi Arvahi while the Sprites of the Dark Side are called Sefli Arvahi. Ustad Saheb further explained that the total population of earth is but a drop in the ocean compared to the population of the Sprite World. The progress of the Arvahi life-forms is very different from human progression. The Arvahi have a form but they do not carry a physical body. They can attach a temporary physical shell to appear in front of a human but their true form cannot be seen by us.

The Ulvi Arvahi – the White Side of the Sprite World are highly advanced, spiritually beneficent and working for the overall progress of creation. Such Ulvi Arvahi never contact a normal human being. However, many advanced sages, the Magavs and certain very pious Dasturs of old are helped by the Ulvi Arvahi. Readers of Frashogard may perhaps remember the incident in the life of Ustad Saheb when he was first contacted by the caravan of Abed Sahebs and their leader Rashidji Saheb in Peshawar. As the young Behramshah was getting ready to leave with the Abed Sahebs to go to Iran, Behramshah’s uncle faked a telegram stating that his mother was serious in Surat and that he should return home. At that time, young Behramshah went up to Rashidji and declared his inability to accompany them because of the telegram. Rashidji closed his eyes for a second and then opened them and smiling, told Behramshah: ‘today is your mother’s birthday and she has just finished a meal of Dhan Dal, patio and sweet curd with your sister in Surat. She is hale and hearty. The telegram is fake.’

How did this happen? After his return from Demavand and his travels throughout India, when Behramshah finally reached home, he asked his mother about this incident. His mother described how she and Behramshah’s sister had been sitting in the inner room and having lunch when a very tall Mobed dressed in white suddenly walked into their room and began asking: ‘where is Behramshah?’ The mother got angry at the Mobed Saheb, asking him how dare he walk into the house and start asking questions. After having a quick look, the Mobed turned around and walked out. Even as Behramshah’s sister ran behind him to find out who it was, the Mobed seemed to have vanished into thin air. This Mobed was none but an Ulvi Arvahi, commanded to the scene by the Mithra of Rashidji Saheb, to take on a human form and find out for the noble Abed the true circumstances of the health of Behramshah’s mother. Such are the powers of the White Side of nature and ability of the Abed Sahebs to employ these ‘Khandams’ or messengers to find out any information anywhere in the world they may desire.

[to be continued…]

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram



  1. Erach Digaria  September 14, 2014

    Very Nicely explained. This article was of great interest to me, as I know somebody who has started believing in Paria Mai.

  2. Shahpur Keki Doctor.  September 15, 2014

    May Ahura Mazda Bless you for your valuable service to our True Traditional Parsi Community.

    We value your time and are very thankful to you.

    Shahpur Keki Doctor.

  3. Silloo Pocha  September 15, 2014

    Dear Er. Marzban,

    Thank you very much for educating us on this subject.

    I visit the Bhikha Behram well in South Mumbai and have always seen the photo frames of Parimai. Not knowing about the facts, even I have bowed down and taken their names. When I read the exchange of emails on the Zoroastrian mailing list and then saw your article yesterday, I was totally taken aback. There are so many parsis who will continue praying without knowing the truth.

    I truly wish your article reaches to all such people and create awareness in our community.

    Thank you for always enlightening us through your valuable articles.

    With best regards,

  4. Delnavaz  September 15, 2014

    there is a huge craze for worshipping anyone or anything who can grant us boons. Hopefully folks reading your article will realize how dangerous is this trend. after all nothing is free…. there are consequuences.

  5. Behram Dhabhar  September 15, 2014

    Dear Marzban,

    Would appreciate if you could write a similar article about the Behram Yazad Varta (woodcutter story) which is gaining popularity in our community. I find that some orthodox Parsis too have started believing in it.

  6. Mohnaz  September 16, 2014

    An eye opener indeed …. just hope many more r made aware of the REAL truth n stop the wrong practice ….. appreciate your hard work… Thanks

  7. Modi  September 16, 2014

    Dear Marzban saheb,

    Thank you for this site and the wonderful articles. I have tried to read most of them, but have never commented on any so far.

    While we eagerly await the second installment of this article, I would like to second Behram’s request about the woodcutter story, as it has become a Friday fixture amongst our community.

    Would also love if you could throw some light on the difficulty of managing ritual purity during menses and also the fashion of our ladies going to a parlor and then at best sprinkling water on their slippers, purse and mobile phones and then carrying/wearing the same to the Agiary and elsewhere. This unhygenic and dirty habit has started amongst our male members too !. who very brazenly tell me what about the hair on your head and body that falls off. (I think you will understand my pain).

    I would also like to request you to throw some light on the “vastu / building principles” of our religion as the “kharo purvano” rivaj exists before building a house surely something must be there.

    I thank you once again for your wonderful work.

  8. Jasmine Shahabadi  November 4, 2014

    Don’t agree with the tone and spirit this post has been written. The practices of Bibi sessimbi and the woodcutter story have been conducted in Iran and amongst iranis. I’m sure these hold relevance in our religion.

  9. Garothmaan  December 8, 2014

    Wow! every time I read these topics I go into a trans and start imagining it.If you were to make movies on Zoroastrianism what a great series it would be on TV.