Ceremonies for Zarathustris away from India

by Ervad Marzban Hathiram

The practice of Zindeh Ruvan ceremonies is very old and finds a mention in the Rivayats. Also a learned paper by Ervad Jivanji Modi on the "Disa Pothi" of Navsari priests also gives details of this exercise as it was in existence over 350 years ago. The practice of Zindeh Ruvan is a sort of prudent planning on the part of an individual to prepare for his onward journey in the spiritual realms. Our ancestors firmly believed in the efficacy of our prayers in helping the Ruvan reach its correct destination after death and the onward progress from there over the many years after death. Hence when circumstances were such that it was uncertain whether ceremonies could be done after the death of an individual, that person would take steps to have the ceremonies performed when alive. Hence the Zindeh Ruvan. For example, a spinster, or a widower without an offspring would be in serious doubt as to who would perform his after death ceremonies. Sometimes, they would "adopt" (make a "palak") another individual and entrust him with the responsibility of doing the after death ceremonies. However, in many cases, as a measure of additional safety and prudence, many individuals would have a palak as well as perform the Zindeh Ruvan.

The basic rule for ceremonies for the Zindeh Ruvan is that all ceremonies, except those requiring the presence of a physical body can be done. Thus except for the Geh Sarna, the Sachkar and the Sagdid, all of which require a dead body, all other ceremonies relating to the first four days as well as ongoing ceremonies can be performed for the Zindeh Ruvan.

The person having the Zindeh Ruvan done can choose any Roj of his liking, or Roj Fravardin, by default (since it relates to all souls day) as the day he wants to commence the Zindeh Ruvan from. This Roj would then be considered as the Roj of "death" and all ceremonies and their timings would hinge on this Roj. For sake of convenience we shall take the Roj as Hormazd. Starting from the first day, the ceremonies would be as under:

1. A "Sarosh Baj" with 6 Chitia (small Darun) in every Gah, beginning with the Havan Gah of Roj Hormazd, stretching to the Aiwisruthrem Gah of Roj Ardibehest.

2. The recitation of Khurshed-Meher Nyaesh and Sarosh Yasht Hadokht in the Havan, Rapithwin and Uzirin Gahs of Roj Hormazd, Bahman and Ardibehest, with the name of the deceased.

3. Recitation of the Haftan Yasht and Sarosh Yasht Hadokht in the Ushahin Gah of Roj Hormazd, Bahman and Ardibehest with the name of the deceased

4. 3 Yasna ceremonies in honour of Sarosh on each of the three days (H, B, Ar) in the Havan Gah

5. 3 Vendidad (or today, 1 Vendidad) in honour of Sarosh on each of the three days (H, B, Ar) or on the last day in the Ushahin Gah

6. 3 Sarosh na Patra in the Aiwisruthrem Gah of each of the three days

7. The consecration of 5 separate Bajs in the Ushahin Gah of the third day (Roj Ardibehest) along with the complete Syav, copper vessels and other implements.

8. The Pad-Ruz (Uthamna) ceremony performed in the last 80 minutes of the Ushahin Gah of the third day (Roj Ardibehest)

9. The Daham Yazad Afringan ceremony performed on the dawn of the fourth day (Roj Sherevar)

10. The Ardafravash ceremonies on the fourth day proper (Roj Sherevar), again with full Syav.

11. Machi in the Havan Gah of Roj Sherevar.

12. Performance of the Yasna ceremony in honour of Ardafravash in the Havan Gah of Roj Sherevar.

13. Satoom prayers in each of the Gahs of Roj Sherevar

14. Performance of the Vendidad in honour of Ardafravash in the Ushahin Gah of Sherevar Roj.

15. Performance of the ancient (and today almost forgotten) "Baj Dharna ni Farokshi" in the Ushahin Gah of Roj Sherevar.

16. Performance of daily Afringan, Baj, Farokshi and Satoom prayers on all days till the tenth day.

17. Performance of the special "Dasma" day ceremonies on the 10th day (Roj Ava) with full Syav

18. Performance of the Siroza prayers on the 30th day (Roj Aneran)

19. Performance of the Masiso prayers on the 31st day (Roj Hormazd)

20. Performance of "monthly" prayers on every Hormazd Roj for 1 year.

21. If required, prayers may be said on the Fravardin roj, parab roj of every month for the first year, along with ceremonies ion any of the Gahambar days.

22. Performance of the Chamsi Siroza prayers on the 180th day, and Chamsi prayers on the 181st day.

23. Performance of the Varsi Siroza prayers on the 365th day and the Varsi prayers on the 366th day.

24. Thereafter, the person may continue with normal prayers as per his liking or financial strength till as long as he is alive.

As readers will observe, this is a very comprehensive and long list with high costs. Just the four days ceremonies would cost in excess of Rs. 40,000, if everything is done correctly, completely and competently.

Please note that no amount of Zindeh Ruvan ceremonies can compensate for the accurate and complete ceremonies done when the real death happens. It is NOT a substitute, merely an additional safeguard.

Kind regards,
Ervad Marzban Hathiram
Ustad Saheb Behramshah Nowroji Shroff Daremeher
Behram Baug Parsi Colony
Oshiwara, Jogeshwari (W)
Mumbai 400102.

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