Mixing money with sandalwood

Posted by:

Roj Asman Mah Fravardin, 1381 Yz.

Devotees carrying sticks of sandalwood as offering to the Padshah Saheb is a common sight in our Agiaries and Atash Behrams. Behdins having prayers for their dear departed also carry sticks of sandalwood to handover to the priest before he begins the ceremony. This is a good practice, much recommended. Offering good quality sandalwood is the prime method of approaching the Padshah Saheb.


But a disturbing trend is seen in all our Agiaries over the last few years – the practice of wrapping currency notes along with the sandalwood sticks and then putting the same in the metal tray at the doorstep of the Kebla. The same practice is also seen when devotees handover sandalwood for their family prayers, along with currency notes wrapped around the sticks towards the Ashodad for the priests performing the ceremony.


To make it very clear – this practice is totally wrong and doctrinally invalid. One can never mix sandalwood with currency notes. Why?

Firstly, from the view point of hygiene, this is a disgusting practice. A recent newspaper report revealed that tests conducted by a reputed private health laboratory found traces of coliform, E coli and Staphylococcus aureus on currency notes. Traces of pseudomonas, another family of bacteria, too were found. The laboratory studied the microbes which stayed on a currency note from a random sample of notes collected from shoppers. Notes of all denominations from Rs. 2 to Rs. 1000 were tested. E coli, coliform and pseudomonas were swarming on Rs.10 and Rs.100 notes (which are the most common and most heavily transferred denomination of notes). The Rs.50 and Rs.10 notes also had Staphylococcus aureus.


The head of the laboratory which conducted this study pointed out that finding pseudomonas on the notes was alarming since it can cause severe infection if it enters an open wound. He also cautioned against that most unfortunate practice of wetting the fingers using the tongue while counting notes, since it greatly aids in spreading the infection. Another doctor remarked that people must wash their hands thoroughly after counting notes to avoid infection. It is also observed that many banks have now equipped their cashiers with hand sanitizer bottles.

This detailed study should immediately alert Parsis that mixing notes and sandalwood is very wrong. We take great pains to ensure that sandalwood is dry, has not been touched by any person in an impure state or is not mixed with noxious items. Then why do we insist of wrapping notes around the pure sandalwood? The notes would have passed through several hands, which may have been contaminated through various deeds. Worse, the imprint of someone’s saliva, while counting the note might still be remaining (in a minute quantity) on the note. How can we wrap such a dirty, impure and contaminated object along with the sandalwood? Does it not totally destroy the purity and negate the value of the offering to our Holy Padshah Saheb?

There is also a great and deeply spiritual reason to stop this practice. Our religion has explained the concept of Aipi, or personal aura, which is carried by every person. The Aipi is like a blank canvas on which imprints of our daily thoughts, words and deeds are pasted every second. The Aipi needs to be cleansed of these undesirable imprints on a regular basis, through the performance of the Kusti ritual. This is the main reason why there is a Baj prayer to be recited along with the Kusti ritual before and after each toilet visit. Ustad Saheb cautioned that Parsis, before starting their personal prayer routines should always perform the Kusti ritual, so as to cleanse their personal Aipi of such negative imprints. Once in that state of heightened purity, a person should avoid any contact with any object which can reduce the level of high purity obtained by performing the Kusti. This is the reason why we do not touch old clothes, the bed, unwashed vessels etc. after performing the Kusti or starting prayers.

When we enter the Daremeher and perform the Kusti, our Aipi is relatively much cleaner than it was when we were outside. It is therefore desirable not to touch anything which can reduce that level of purity. When we touch our wallet and take out the currency notes, we are totally destroying the purity which had been built up by the Kusti ritual. Wrapping the notes, which are abounding not only in physical impurities but which may also have the Aipi imprints of undesirable persons left on them along with the sandalwood is akin to spiritual suicide.

Notes and coins should NEVER be placed in the Chamach or the tray in which the sandalwood is placed. The Head Priests of Agiaries and Atash Behrams should ensure that there is a separate box in which currency notes and coins can be deposited by the Devotees. Similarly, Devotees wishing to offer Ashodad to Priests doing their family prayers should not mix the money with the sandalwood, but can always handover the cash after the prayers are completed. Better still, the Ashodad can be placed in a small 3×2 envelope and then presented to the Mobed Saheb. It is a much more dignified way of offerring Ashodad. The current practice debases the sacred role of the Priest and brings him down to the level of a car parking valet, being handed over a tip. Such crude practices should be avoided.

A better option would be to make it a practice of having a separate bundle of new currency notes at home in a separate, clean place. These notes should be used only in the Agiary. This would lessen the impurity to some extent, although even such notes should not be mixed with the sandalwood.

Dear readers, the bedrock of our religion is purity – physical, mental, spiritual and emotional. But the basic physical purity is the foundation on which everything else can be built. In our modern times, we Parsis seem to have lost our sense of chokhai which was so prevalent in our grandparents and which was drilled into by our elders. The present generation does not have the benefit of that advice and hence we fall prey to such simple, but grave spiritual errors.

It is hoped that readers of Frashogard will think twice before mixing a pure, holy offering to the Padshah Saheb with the bacteria laden and spiritually inappropriate currency note.

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram



  1. Dilnavaz  September 23, 2011

    This site is only for those who are interested in Zoroastrian Mysticism, which no-one has dared bring forth before. Those combative and aggressive individuals who are obviously not yet evolved enough to understand this, should not be visiting this blog. There are a lot of other Parsi sites out there for those who wish to drag the conversation down to the mundane levels of everyday discourse, where they can let the dogs loose. Tarikat is good and necessary for all of us human beings, not just Parsis. Everybody should be aware of basic social formalities and procedures that are expected of them/to be performed in public places and in private practice. One should be giving thanks to people like Ervadji Marzbanji, who take the time and trouble to educate the laypeople. They are the blessed among us, keeping the religion alive amid the turmoil of our times, with hardly a sustainable wage/income to raise families on. This should be and is, a well-respected profession, and our Mobeds should be paid well as in any other community. Anyway, if this is about the economics of a temple and those who manage it, please address your grievances to policy-makers and not our humble priests who do such a spiritually-uplifting job of making us feel better every time we visit an agiary. If Ervad Marzbanji does post a blog to educate us on discontinuing a crude practice like wrapping currency notes around the sandalwood stick, it is his right to do so. It is his blog. Those who do not like it are probably the ones doing it, anyway, and so resent the implication that they are being disrespectful, which they clearly are. If I were a priest engaged in a sacred duty like making offerings to the sacred fire, I too would be disgusted at having to first peel off a currency note. It amounts to inserting materialism into a spiritual act, which are not compatible within the same action at the same time. There is a time and place for each, separately. Mouthing off and abusing the very people engaged in perpetuating our spiritual practices, is wrong, wrong, wrong. Please try and inculcate some humility to learn from those who are in the know of such things, and try to curb the ego, if you wish to progress spiritually on your own personal path.
    Ervadji Hathiramji, all through history, the enlightened have always been persecuted by the ignorant. Please ignore posts by such individuals, and let us, your grateful readers, take up cudgels on your behalf. There must be a way to block such individuals from this site, as they should not be allowed to drag Ilm-e-Khshnoon down to their level for the rest of us readers.
    Thank you.

  2. Percy Madon  September 24, 2011

    What an example ” THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL” money? or greed for money? 52 posts. But let all the views be posted, good and bad. Let there be equality. Parsis must not hush away their own community members, whatever the case may be. IMO- its not modest to move out people who seem negative. By splitting the people we are just going away from the community. Let us bring them all together, by accepting their views, by hearing their insults, taking their brick bats, their hammerings and their humiliations ALSO. Lets be more tolerant. Lets keep patience, just as someone said here earlier. And instead tell the person, wait “DIKRA/DIKRI(son/ daughter)” lets have another approach, lets see it from our eyes also. I am sure this kind of actions will bring improvement. Dont punish people with CAPITAL punishments by these words VIZ= “get Lost”, “go else where”, “find your worth”, “get out”. By doing this we are splitting our own people. The Best way to keep a Parsi together is to say the magic words “LETS PARTY” and in a few weeks you will have realy good parsis thronging your place. You need not ask Caterers for food, they will bring their own and say willingly “JARA CHAKHI NAY JOVNEE” (taste a little) . Moderators must surely delete such sentences from posts because these words are not bringing us together but are splitting us. If this blog’s first intention is to bring parsis together, then why……….. ?

  3. johan  October 26, 2011

    dastoorji u speak abt disease on money but what about all the disease in bulls urine(taro)
    can man bring out good out of evil?
    can the same tongue (of priests) usuing expletives pray holy prayers?

  4. sarosh yaazdaani  October 13, 2014

    Dear marazban a query as i would wish to know that its seen that most ervads in muktad or even on normal days place money in their pagri .is that correct ? even when putting their padan on top of pagri is that correct because our spit comes in contact with padan and same is put on top . IS this practise all correct ?want your opinion on these 2 issues . Thank u .