The Language of Flowers in the Afringan/Jashan ceremony

by Rohinton G.N. Panthaky

FLOWERS play a prominent part in the Afringan/Jashan ceremony. If flowers are not available, leaves of any fragrant plant like "Sabza (Basil) i.e. Tulsi are used. It appears that in former times special flowers were used for the Afringan/Jashan of particular YAZATAS OR ANGELS in whose honour or whose "Khshnuman" the seperate Afringans were recited. It appears that the ancient Persians had, as it were, a language of Flowers of their own.

The "Bundehesh" (chap. xxvii, 24) gives a list of the different flowers which were said to be the special flowers of different "YAZATAS".

                   YAZATA             FLOWER              EQUIVALENT         


1                  Ahura Mazda        ... Murd Yasmin     ... Jasmine with   
                                                          leaves like the    

2                  Bahman             ... Saman-i-Safid   ... Trefoil.       

3                  Ardibehest         ... Merezan gosh    ... Sweet          

4                  Sheherivar         ... Shah-sparem     ... Basil Royal.   

5                  Spendarmad         ... Faranj mashk    ... A sweet        
                                                          Basil, lit. the    
                                                          musk of the        
                                                          Firangis or        

6                  Khordad            ... Susan           ... Lily.          

7                  Amerdad            ... Chambe          ... In Sanskrit    
8                  Daepa-adar         ... Vadruz,Vadrang, ...Orange flower.  

9                  Adar               ... Azergun         ... The Anemone    
                                                              or the Marigold.   

10                 Aban/Avan          ... Nilo-par        ... Water-lily.    

11                 Khorshed           ... Marvi-i-sped       
                                                          (French, Le Masrum)            
                                                          (German, Katzen-kraut.)               

12                 Mohor              ... Ruges           ... Rush or leek.  

13                 Tir                ... Vanaosh         ... Flowers of     
                                                              the Wan tree.      

14                 Gosh               ... Meren           ... Vine flower    
                                                          (French, Fleur de  
                                                          Vigne. German      

15                 Daepa-meher        ... Karad           ... A flower of    
                                                          the species        

16                 Meher              ... Vanush          ... Violet.        

17                 Sarosh             ... Kheri Sorkh     ... Pepper Grass.  

18                 Rashna             ... Nistarun        ... Narcissus.     

19                 Farvardin          ... Aoroz           ... Cock's comb.   

20                 Behram             ... Sisenbar        ... Water Mint.    

21                 Ram                ... Kheri Zerd      ... Yellow Pepper  

22                 Guad               ... Vadrang-bui     ... Mountain-balm.     

23                 Daepa-din          ... Shambalit       ... Fenu greek.    

24                 Din                ... Gul-i-sad varg  ... Rosa           

25                 Ashisang           ... Hamak hamak     ... Buphthalmus.    

26                 Astad              ... Hamak           ... White Haoma.       
27                 Asman              ... Nana nanu       ... Bread          
                                          sparam              Vegetable.         

28                 Jamyad             ... Kalkam          ... Saffron,       

29                 Marespand          ... Artashiran      ... A bitter       

30                 Aneran             ... Haoma dato ai   ... Haoma.          



The flowers are at first generally kept in a small tray on the left, and, on the commencement of the recital of each karde or section of the Afringan, eight flowers are taken into the principal tray containing the "MYAZD"i.e. "milk,water,wine,sherbet,fruits etc". The eight flowers are arranged in two rows. The first flower lower down in both these rows point towards the fire vase opposite. The three next are arranged face to face. The following diagram shows the arrangement of flowers.

                   ----->    <-----
                   ----->    <-----
                   ----->    <-----
                     ^          ^
                     |          |
                     |          |

The flowers are arranged as above before the commencement of each Kardeh of the Afringans. At the end of the recital of the first or the variable part of the Afringan, the Raspi or the Atravakshi gets up from his seat on the carpet and the Zoti gives him the lowest flower on the right hand side and himself holds the lowest on the left hand side. The former, while receiving the flower,utters the word "Ahurahe Mazdao raevato kharenanghato" i.e. "of the Glorious and Brilliant God". Then both recites together,holding the flowers in their hands, the second or the invariable part of the Afringans,the karde of Afrinami. This part of the Afringan invokes the blessings of God upon the ruler of the land. On finishing this second part, both the priests "exchange their flowers". This exchange symbolizes the exchange of lives between this world and the next. Souls are born and souls pass away. How do they do so ? That is indicated and symbolized by the next process in connection with the flowers.

The priests recite twice the prayer of "Humatanam" etc. wherein the reciters say that they praise those who practice "good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. Now the parsi books say that pious righteous soul passes away to the other world, to the paradise, with three steps reciting, at each stage, the words Humata, Hukhta and Hvarshta.i.e. good thoughts, good words and good deeds.

So at this juncture, the Zoti, while reciting the above words Humatanam, Hukhtanam,Hvarshtanam,lifts up the three flowers on the right hand side, one begining from the above. Then, reciting the same prayer of Humataam for the second time, similiarly lifts up the three flowers from the left hand side,but commencing from below. This process and this recital symbolize the above view,that a pious and righteous soul has to come down and to move about in this world and then to pass away from this world to the other with triad of good thoughts,good words and good deeds.

At first recital of Humatanam prayer and at the first lifting up of flower, the Atravakshi stands on right hand side of the fire-vase, and at the second recital on left hand side. He thus,changes his situation, to symbolize the change of situation on the part of the soul,after death. Atravakshi in the end, returns the flower to Zoti.He finally places them on one side of the tray.

Rohinton G.N. Panthaky

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