Our fifth author in the 2015 Everyday Parsi series is Ervad Vispi Jehangir Mirza
18 days of Muktad in Udvada
Ervad Vispi Jehangir Mirza writes
The preparations of Muktad started on Aspandad mahino and Aspandad roj, which was called Vis ma di nu Parabh. The marble tables with metal stands were brought out from the house and kept into open backyard where they were washed by heavy rains. It was in the year, when Farvardin mahino and Hormazd roj happen to fall on the first day of September. The preliminary preparation ended on Aspandad and Behram roj which was known as Panch ma di nu Parabh.
The white shining newly painted tables were lined in our big hall of our Udvada house. I, as a small boy with my sisters and brothers and my parents stayed there for years with our Grand father, Ervad Dorabji Dastur Peshotan Mirza.
The scenario was ready to welcome Asho Farohar and departed Souls of our beloveds young and old.
We all anxiously waited for the early morning of Ashshwang roj when among the chanting of prayers by my Grand father, souls entered our house.
All these days we enjoyed the aroma of fresh roses, sandlewood and sweet smelling food prepared by my mother in the kitchen.
Then came five Gathas. Besides morning prayers Jashans in Ujiran geh started. Two High Priests from Udvada Atash Behram, Dastur Firozji Dastur Khurshedji Dastur and Dastur Dr. Hormazdiar Dastur Kaioji Mirza walked briskly and elegantly through the unpaved narrow but clean lanes, passersby of all communities stopped, on both sides of the road and bowed, in return Dasturjis blessed them. The Jashans were performed for five gathas.
I hoped and prayed God that one day i should be one of those two Mobeds giving Aatervaxi to these learned Priests.
My wish was granted within two years and I attained my Navar with the help of my Father, Ervad Jehangirji Dorabji Mirza.
It was a day of joy and fulfillment as I found myself dressed in freshly washed and starched Jama and Pichhori around my waist and Paghdi on my head, standing in front of Dasturji.
Then came new years day and a local band (we called them Vajawala) went from one house to another playing loud rhythmic tunes. Farvardin mahino, Ardibehest roj, Geh Rapithvan started in place of Biji Havan. Special prayers were offered for the occasion. On Khordad Roj, Zarathushtra’s Birthday was celebrated wishing each other Khordad Sal Mubarak. And the next day, warm goodbye was bidded to our beloved Heavenly Souls with tears in our eyes.
During those 18 days our windows and doors were kept open believing that the Souls like freedom of movement all the time.
Most of the houses had Muktad and the tables were full of silver vases and karasyas, there were no Chors (thieves) and no Chories (robberies) and yet the Gram Panchayat with Parsi Sarpanch employed watchmen to keep watch. Still remember one of the watchmen shouting in the middle of the night (jagta rahejo, Chor avta se) it was big joke. Today most of the houses are locked and some of the houses occupied by one or two senior citizens who feel unsecure as lots of burglaries happen in Udvada and lives of old people are threatened. There is no police station and no safety to for the people living there.
Coming back to Udvada roads, whether narrow or wide, and old houses whether on sides or in the middle of the road tell history of Udvada. lots of damage has been done which cannot be undone. Any further attempt of alteration will be detrimental to our rich heritage.
i finish this article by the following lines written by a Parsi teacher, years ago.
jug jug ma tapo he Iranshah,
jug jug ma tamaru Tej, raho sada ej
tapo he Iranshah.
Ervad Vispi J. Mirza was born in Udvada on January 30 1939. He completed his schooling in Udvada. Vispi had some sight till i was 14 years old. Doctors diagnosed the problem as retinitis pigmentosa and the prognosis total blindness in future. After attaining his navar at Udvada atashbehram Vispi worked as a Mobed. After many years he came to Bombay, learned Braille and got admission in St. Xaviers college where he passed his B.A. He continued on to Elphinstone College for M.A. In the meantime Meanwhile he was offered Fullbright travel grant to study in Boston, USA. He came to the U.S. and stayed at the Perkins School for the Blind and got a Masters degree in teaching the Blind from Boston college.
On returning back to India after one year he worked as a teacher at the V.M. School For The Blind in Tardeo, Mumbia; India. Vispi has been living in Bombay for the last 40 years with his sister Perviz who is also blind.