Parsis remember their dear departed
10 days prior to New Year, community observes Muktad ceremony at city agiaries
The Parsi New Year is nine days away. But much before the celebrations begin, it is time to remember the departed souls. The Muktad ceremony takes place during the last 10 days, when agiaries all over the world become even more beautiful. The reason is because they will be filled (literally to the brim!) with all types of flowers. Muktad started yesterday and it will be a common sight for the next few days to see fresh flowers being sold outside all fire temples.
According to Dastur Dr. Phiroze Kotwal, “Muktad, in Sanskrit, means liberated soul. During these days, the spirit of the departed souls comes down on earth. To put it simply, it is a festival of souls. Ceremonies are performed for departed members, prayers are recited. The last five days are known as the Gathas, which are the holiest months of the year. The hymns sung during these five days can be found in the holy book of the Zoroastrians, the Yezashne.”
Yesterday, elders, middle-aged folks, youth and toddlers too, armed with vibrant, fresh flowers, made a trip to fire temples, outside which flower vendors could be seen. Since fresh flowers have to be offered everyday, these vendors will definitely make a quick buck.
Agiaries all over the city wore a look of tranquility yesterday as thousands of religious minded Parsees visited fire temples to offer flowers and fruits to the souls of the departed. To put it simply, each deceased member of a family has a silver, carved vase, which is put on a white marble table. The name of the deceased is inscribed on every vase and each agiary and atash behram will have prayers (satum) commencing from six in the morning, in the ‘Havan Geh’ (a 24 hour day is divided into five different time periods known as ‘gehs’). The second satum will start after 11:00 am, while the last one will start after 3:45 pm in the Ujiran Geh.
Once prayers are over, a diva is lit and sukhar (sandalwood) is offered. During the Gathas, Parsees are not allowed to cut their hair or nails, the reason being, they should put all their attention only on religious activities.
“According to tradition, the head of the household asks departed souls to come again next year to bless new members of the family. There are also a few fire temples, which have Mukhtad for 18 days, which end after Khordad Sal (Prophet Zoroaster’s birthday),”said Dr Kotwal. At the end of the ten days, it will be time to bring in Navroze, the Parsi New Year
Original article here