Religious Nook I:

Questions on Muktad, the Holy Hearth Fire, and the sacred Nirang

by Dasturji Dr. F.M. Kotwal

Fellow Mazdayasni Zarathushtris,

Vada (senior) Dasturji Dr. F. M. Kotwal is a highly respected spiritual leader of our community, one of the sacred high Priests of our religion. He has been known to stand tall and strong on matters pertaining to our religion. Dasturji Dr. Kortwal regularly answers religious questions in the Jam-e-Jamshed, indeed any reader from around the world can write to him there, and get their religious questions answered by a MAN OF TRUE SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY. The address to write to follows this article.

Here is the Religious Nook, Part I, by the Grace of God.


Jam-e-Jamshed, 22nd June 1997.

This Sunday Dasturji Dr. F.M. Kotwal answers two questions regarding 'Muktad'and 'Navjote on Farvardin Roj' raised by Dara Marfatia, two other questions raised by C.N. Dinshaw regarding 'good luck charms' and 'Behram Yasht' and finally a very provocative question regarding 'Nirang' raised by someone who did not have the courage to sign his/her name. Dasturji in his forthright manner has also responded to the anonymous letter.

- Editor, Jam-e-Jamshed


"Please enlighten me as to for how many years one should perform the Muktad for one's departed parents and for how many years a separate table should be kept. Please also enlighten me as to whether the dear departed souls get any spiritual benefit by having a separate table put up for them in the Muktad days?

"Please also enlighten me as to whether Navjotes, Weddings can be held on Farvardin Roj?"

- Dara T. Marfatia

Dasturji Replies :

It is proper to remember the departed souls of parents till we live in the material world. During the ten days of Muktad, one may get all ceremonies performed by priests for one year, and if satisfied, one may continue the practice according to one's own means. Our departed parents crave for ceremonial remembrance by their own loved ones, and so it is very beneficial if they remember them name by name in the hymn of praise for the guardian spirits of the departed souls called Stumno Kardo. Whether or not one keeps a separate table during the Muktad Days is not important. Sincere and devout prayers are welcomed by the departed souls. A thousand separate tables are not going to give spiritual solace to them. Our own individual sincere prayers and offerings to the departed souls give them comfort, joy and delight, and while returning to their own abodes in the spiritual world they pronounce benedictions on the household.

Navjotes and Weddings can be held on any day of the Zoroastrian calendar including Farvardin Roj. Farvardin Roj is very auspicious (Farrokh), and that is the reason why we get the Stum of Varadh-Patra performed in honour of the righteous Farohars of the departed souls of our ancestors one day before the nuptials to seek their blessings.


I shall be obliged to be enlightened on the following two points:

1. Someone asked me what is the equivalent (kaughing Buddha) we have in our Zoroastrian religion for goodluck?

2. What are the occasions when Yashth/Niyases should be prayed, e.g. I am informed Behram Yasht should be prayed in a Fire Temple (after reciting Atash Niyases) and Behram Yashth suppose to be prayed for bringing success. And at what time they should be prayed i.e. Ava Yasht has to be prayed only during day time?

- Cowasjee Nusserwanji Dinshaw

Dasturji Replies:

1. For bringing happiness, joy and prosperity in a Zoroastrian house, a permanently burning hearth fire is a desideratum. The fire protects the family from all evil,and its presence is conducive to the preservation of Zoroastrian traits and values. The guardian spirit of the house, called Hadish in the Avestan scriptures, blesses the dwellings of righteous Zoroastrians. It is a pity that Zoroastrians talk about laughing Buddha who supposedly brings good luck in the house, maybe on the Greek calends. A man-made idol with an ugly demonic face and protrusive belly can bring only misery in a Zoroastrian house where steadfastness on religion is lacking and true faith is shaky. Only Zoroastrian way of life bereft of any superstition will save Zoroastrians from spiritual ruin.

2. The Niyayeshes, five in number, are litanies in honour of the sun and its accompanying light, moon, waters and fire. They are recited, either daily or on appropriate occasions, as devotional prayers by the faithful. The Khorshed-Meher and Awan Niyayeshes are recited during the three daylight periods (Gaahs), whereas the Maah Bakhtaar Niyayesh is said especially at the three important phases of the moon, viz., the new moon, the full moon and the dark of the moon. A Zoroastrian may recite all five Niyayeshes at their proper time everyday.

The Yashts, twenty-four in number, are hymns of praise in honour of the divinities for seeking boons and favours. They are also recited to ward off the evil influence of planets. The prayer of the righteous is always answered, not that of the unrighteous.

Almost all Yashts may be recited during all five watches of the day except the Awan Yasht, Sarosh Yasht Hadokht and Sarosh Yasht Wadi. Awan Yasht is said only during the daylight Gaahs as mentioned in the Yasht itself. If it is prayed at night, it strengthens the forces of evil "who run and clap their hands in joy, and leap and shout" (Awan Yasht, paragraph 91). Sarosh, being the representative of Ahura Mazda on this earth, is honoured with two Yashts dedicated to him, viz., the Sarosh Yasht Hadokht and Sarosh Yasht Wadi. Since he is the chief of Ohrmazd's creation (saalaare daamaan-e ahuramazda) and is to be venerated in all five watches of the day, the faithful are instructed to recite Sarosh Yasht Hadokht in Hawan, Rapithwan or Second Hawan, Uzerin and Ushahin Gaahs, and Sarosh Yasht Wadi in the Aiwisruthrem Gaah only. The latter is also termed "Hymn to Srosh to be recited at the beginning of the night" (srosh yasht sar shab) in the old Avestan manuscripts.


Your talk about bull's urine (Nirang or taro) to be drunk in three gulps for the purification of body and soul in Nahn ceremony (Jam-e-Jamshed Weekly 25th May 1997) is all bull-shit.

Who has authorised you to tell the laity what should or should not be drunk?

All urine therapists are crackpots.

At my navjote, my family priest specifically told me not to drink bull's urine but only to touch the vessel to my lips. That man had more sense, than what you have.

- Anonymous

Dasturji's Rejoinder :

Whatever I said,about Nirang and Taro in the Jam-eJamshed Weekly of May 25, 1997 has the approval Of Our sacred scriptures. It is a very ancient and long-cherished custom of Iran to sip in three gulps the consecrated bull's urine (Nirang) for the purpose of inner and outer purification. This practice is based on the command of Ahura Mazda, and not on the authority of priests. In this world a person comes in contact with all sorts of pollution, and Nirang is the only remedy prescribed by our religion to remove them from the body and soul. The Vendidad Chapter 7, the Pahlavi Epistles of Maanushchihar Goshnajam, the High Priest of Pars and Kerman who lived in the ninth century A.C., and the Pahlavi Text of the Shaayast Ne-Shaayast enjoin all Zoroastrians to use Nirang for cleansing purposes. It is to be drunk three times by the candidate as a reminder to follow throughout his life good thoughts, words and deeds and eschew bad thoughts, words and deeds. The man in the street may take a fiendish delight in throwing mud at the age-old beneficent command of Ahura Mazda, but a devout and faithful Zoroastrian counts every drop of Nirang worth its' weight in gold. Please note that 1 shall continue to tell the merits of Nirang to the laity till the last breath of my life.

I am not at all concerned with what your family-priest has told you at the time of your Navjote. I am concerned only with what the religion says. The juggling priest may have more wordly sense than a man of God, but his heretical stance puts him in the category of apostates who abandon their religious faith to appease a handful of heteredox Zoroastrians. Such Priests are indeed wolves in sheep's clothing.

I expect you at least to be respectful to our holy scriptures and refrain from using derogatory terms for religious prescriptions which have nurtured the faith of our people since millennia. Please remember that a voice higher than ordinary man's speaks in the holy Avestan scriptures. It carries its own evidence with it and it speaks for itself to the open mind.

- Dasturji Dr. F.M. Kotwal.


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