Why are Parsi/Irani Zoroastrians so averse to cremation? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 23-7-17)

  1. The mode of disposal of death prescribed by each religion is based on the world view of that religion. It is not just a way for disposing the body, it is also a way of following the teachings prescribed by the religion.

 

  1. For Zoroastrians, Dohkmenashini is the prescribed way to dispose the body as it is based on the following teachings of the religion – a. Causing the least possible harm to the natural elements of earth, water and air; b. Letting the body merge back into the most basic form of the elements of nature as soon as possible; c. Not polluting fire in any way by nasa (human dead matter) as fire is regarded as sacred and has a very special place in our religion.  d. Ensuring the timely release of the soul and other non-physical human constituents.
  2. However, disposing the body in the religious and best possible manner, is just one aspect of the practice of Dokhmenashini. This system is also meant to help in the speedy evolution of the soul. Zoroastrianism explains that the Kehrpa (astral body), Ushtan (animating life-breath) and the Tevishi (desire body), the semi–spiritual constituents of a human, also need to go back to their respective sources.
  3. Dokhmenashini is the only way which ensures that the semi–spiritual constituents go back to their respective sources, ensuring the speedy evolution of the soul. By opting for other modes of disposal, either voluntarily or by necessity, slows down the speed of the evolution of a Zoroastrian’s soul.

 

  1. It is generally believed that in cremation the body immediately gets disposed within a couple of hours by burning, but this is not true. What is actually meant by the disposal of the body is the ultimate merging of the physical elements of the body into the original natural elements. When a body is burnt a large part of the body is just transformed into hundreds of small suspended particles which are either caught in the scrubber or chimney or go out into the air. These are particular elements consist of flesh, muscles, bones, fat etc. which take a very long time to merge back into the natural elements. In burial too, a buried body takes several years to disintegrate.
  2. Thus Dokhmenashini, even in its present, marginally weakened form, where it takes a few weeks for the body to disintegrate, is still the fastest and best system for the disposal of the dead, and the most beneficial to the spiritual elements of a human being.
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How is the formation of rain explained in Zoroastrian religion? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 16-7-17)

  1. Tishtrya or Tir is the name of the Yazad who presides over stars in general and the star Sirius in the constellation of Canis Major in particular. This Yazad also presides over rain. The process of rainfall is described in Tir Yasht and the Vendidad.
  2. In the Tir Yasht, it is allegorically described that Tishtrya in the form of a white horse battles Apaosha the demon of drought, who appears in the form of a black horse. Finally Tishtrya overcomes Apaosha and brings rains for the people of the earth.
  3. The Vendidad offers a scientific explanation for the rains. It states that rain occurs on account of the evaporation of water from the seas and rivers, which forms into clouds between the earth and the atmospheric planes. The clouds are scattered with the help of the wind (Govad Yazad).
  4. The Farvardin Yasht informs us that the Fravashis (Asho Farohars) help in the distribution of the rainfall and dispatch the clouds to places which are needy and deserving of rains.

What are Monajats? (TMY -Jame Jamshed of 9-7-17)

  1. Monajats are Zoroastrian devotional songs. The word Monajat is from the Persian language, and the earliest Monajats were in Persian, many of them composed by Dastur Mullan Firoz bin Kaus.

 

  1. Later, Monajats were composed in Gujarati, the language understood by the majority of Zoroastrians. The earliest Gujarati Monajats were published in the mid 19th century on historical and religious subjects.

 

  1. Some well known Parsis who composed Monajats are: Kaekhushru N. Kabraji, Jivanji Modi, Behramji Malbari, Savaksha Shroff (Firozgar), Ardeshar Khabardar, Dosabhai Desai, Dara Printer, Kariman Adajania, Parvez Katrak, Kersi Mistry, Vistasp Balsara and Irach Kuka.

 

  1. Some popular Monajats are Khudavind Khavind, Nekini Kharidi, O Daadgar O Daavar, Sanjan March etc.

 

  1. What is the meaning of the song ‘Chaiye Ame Zarthoshti’, which is generally regarded as the community anthem. (JJ 11-6-17)
  2. The song Chaiye Ame Zarhtoshti is based on an English tune “Blue bell” composed by Theodore F. Morse in 1904. Later that tune was adapted in a song for a Parsi play. It has four verses and a chorus. The Gujarati song was written by poet Firoz Batliwala. His first name appears as the last word of the last line of the lat stanza of the song.
  3. The first verse of the song eulogises the characteristics of good Zoroastrians who live with dignity as friends of the whole world. Though being just a handful, they adorn the whole world, and hence all men and women are expected to sing its praises.
  4. The 2nd stanza talks about the world famous Zoroastrian virtue of charity. It praises the Parsis as active and efficient who did not forsake their religion even amidst great calamities, which in fact was their secret of receiving God’s help. The 3rd stanza is about education among Parsi girls, which brings out the best in them. It is a combination of skills and goodness, which helps keep her family happy. Even her sense of dress is well appreciated in the world, and these qualities make them proud ladies of this Community.
  5. The last stanza lauds the faithfulness of the Parsis to their rulers. The Parsis would fight like lions for their country. They would be grateful to their benefactors and sympathetic to a right cause. The poet Firoz says that the community is happy today because of its sterling qualities.
  6. The chorus is the most powerful and meaningful verse of all. It talks about the world famous Kayani lineage (Guj. tokham) of the Parsis is the cause of their virtues, and which has led them to prosperity. The poet exhorts the Parsi Community to always maintain its strength and vigour and remain prosperous.

What is a Gahambar? (TMY-Jame Jamshed of 2-7-17)

  1. The Gahambars are a special 6 sets of 5 days in a year to thank God for His 6 Good Creations – Sky, Water, Earth, Vegetation, Animal & Man – in their evolutionary order. The word Gahambar comes from the Pahlavi gāsānbār which literally means “the time for collection.”  The ‘collection’ here refers to collecting Nature’s Blessings. It is the time when nature is most generous in distributing her blessings.

 

  1. The celebration of Gahambar includes two components: a. Performance of rituals like Afringan, Baj, Visparad and Yasna, and b. Feasting, where traditionally rich and poor eat on a common platform, without barriers of rank and class. Hence Gahambar is a time for community bonding.

 

  1. Presently, in India, a Gahambar is celebrated as a community event where Zoroastrians congregate for a thanks giving lunch or dinner generally preceded by the performance of a ritual. The feasting may be sponsored either for a living person, in memory of a dear departed or simply as an act of spiritual merit. Generous Zoroastrians sponsor a Gahambar in memory of their dear departed ones as an act of spiritual merit. In Iran the Gambars are still celebrated in the original spirit, with prayers and communal food.

 

  1. Each of the six Gahambars is celebrated during the Zoroastrian calendar year for a period of five days each. They are celebrated on 5 particular roj (days) in the months of Ardibahesht, Tir, Shahrevar, Meher, Dae and on the 5 Gatha days.

 

  1. Religious texts consider the celebration of Gahambar an act of highest religious merit. And one of man’s religious duties. Since some Zoroastrians may fail to celebrate Gahambars when they are alive, Gahambars are also celebrated in their honour after their passing away.

 

6. The celebration of Gahambar can foster the spirit of unity and harmony in the Community. It can lead beyond the rich and poor divide, beyond the rank and class barriers. Its celebration is an opportunity for the community to come together forgetting the differences and work towards the common end of progress and prosperity.

Who was Dasturji Jamshedji Sorabji Kukadaru? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 18 & 25-6-17)

  1. Dasturji Kukadaru (also known as Kukana) is one of the most revered Zoroastrian priests of recent times. People devoutly remember him. His blessings and help are sought, especially on his death anniversary on Roj Behram of Mah Farvarden. He is also remembered on his birthday on Roj Zamyad of Mah Avan. He was born in Surat, but spent most of his life in Mumbai. His name and fame has spread far and wide.

 

  1. He was simple and humble man, who was engrossed in religious studies and prayers for most part of his leisure hours. His needs were frugal. He would eat just one meal a day – usually ghee (clarified butter) and khichdi (yellow rice), which he would himself cook. He used to wash his clothes himself. He preferred to walk and rarely took vehicles to go from one place to another.

 

  1. He was also a reputed astrologer. He had accurately predicted the day and time (to the hour) of the deaths of Dastur Peshotan Sanjana, Queen Victoria and Sir Dinshaw Petit. He had tremendous inner strength. He had outwitted a Muslim pir who had challenged him. Once, when a marriage procession was passing through Chira Bazaar in Mumbai, he sent word asking the procession to halt for an hour, but no one paid heed. Within a short time, a building collapsed and the bridegroom was crushed on the spot. Had they waited for an hour, the accident could have been averted.
  2. Dasturji Kukadaru had deep knowledge of Avesta, Pahlavi and Persian languages. He served as a chief instructor at Seth Jijibhai Dadabhai Zand Avesta Madressa at Fort from its inception till it closed down. He translated a few volumes of the Denkard and regularly contributed religious articles to the weekly magazine Yazdan Parast from 1868-1889. He had also published a few booklets on religion and community matters.

 

  1. As an erudite priest, he was invited to deliver lectures on religion as well as on social issues like the census. He commanded tremendous respect as a priest at the Kappawalla Agiary in Mumbai, which he served as a Panthaki right since its inception.

 

  1. Till 1861 he was referred to as Ervad, however since 1862 he was referred to as a Dastur, which was given to him on account of his piety, knowledge, simplicity and the deep understanding of Zoroastrian religion, rituals, history and spiritual practices.

 

  1. Dasturji Kukadaru also knew the art of healing by prayers which he acquired through his ashoi (righteousness) and manthravani (prayers). He was able to cure jaundice, which was quite a fatal ailment in those times, by placing a brass bowl full of clean well water near the ailing person. As he prayed, the water in the bowl turned yellow and the person began to recover.
  2. Dasturji Kukadaru is most remembered by the miracle connected to the establishment of the Anjuman Atash Behram in Mumbai. He was a member of the managing committee of the Anjuman Atash Behram during the time of its construction. Dasturji Kaikhushru Jamaspji, while raising funds for the Atash Behram, approached Dasturji Kukadaru for his contribution. Dasturji Kukadaru requested Jamaspji to go to the next room and sell the item found there. The item happened to be a gold brick, which fetched close to ten thousand rupees. He was publicly thanked for this munificent gift. For this magnanimous gesture, it was decided that the ground floor hall be named after him. He was also presented with a shawl at the time of the opening of the Atash Behram, as a mark of respect.
  3. Today, his portrait adorns the walls of several Atash Behrams, Agiaries and homes. His Fravashi continues to bless those who remember him in prayers. Spiritual men like Dasturji Kukadaru constantly remind us of the great power in Zoroastrian religion and spirituality and the immense possibilities it offers.

What is the meaning of the song ‘Chhaiye Ame Zarthoshti’, which is generally regarded as the community anthem? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 11-6-17)

  1. The song Chhaiye Ame Zarhtoshti is based on an English tune “Blue bell” composed by Theodore F. Morse in 1904. Later that tune was adapted in a song for a Parsi play. It has four verses and a chorus. The Gujarati song was written by poet Firoz Batliwala. His first name appears as the last word of the last line of the lat stanza of the song.
  2. The first verse of the song eulogises the characteristics of good Zoroastrians who live with dignity as friends of the whole world. Though being just a handful, they adorn the whole world, and hence all men and women are expected to sing its praises.
  3. The 2nd stanza talks about the world famous Zoroastrian virtue of charity. It praises the Parsis as active and efficient who did not forsake their religion even amidst great calamities, which in fact was their secret of receiving God’s help. The 3rd stanza is about education among Parsis girls, which brings out the best in them. It is a combination of skills and goodness, which helps keep her family happy. Even her sense of dress is well appreciated in the world, and these qualities make them proud ladies of this Community.
  4. The last stanza lauds the faithfulness of the Parsis to their rulers. The Parsis would fight like lions for their country. They would be grateful to their benefactors and sympathetic to a right cause. The poet Firoz says that the community is happy today because of its sterling qualities.
  5. The chorus is the most powerful and meaning full verse of all. It talks about the world famous Kayani lineage (Guj. tokham) of the Parsis is the cause of their virtues, and which has led them to prosperity. The poet exhorts the Parsi Community to always maintain its strength and vigour and remain prosperous.