Our eleventh author in the Everyday Parsi 2014 series
Fareeza Doctor writes
For much of my life, the onset of August has meant the start of preparations for Humbandagi, and Mukhtad prayers, and of course one of the most auspicious days in the Zoroastrian calendar, Navroze. As kids we would wake up excitedly by 6am to be at the H. J. Behrana Parsi Dar-e-Meher in Karachi to attend the Humbandagi prayers, which would promptly start at 7am.
The fragrance of the Atash at the Kibla and the sweet smell of Loban could be smelt as far as the entrance to the Agiary. We would first go do our Kusti prayers, and light a Divo before entering into the hall upstairs where Humbandagi prayers would be held. Two ladies afterwards, dressed immaculately in saris, would come up to the podium and say, “bano nay ghraesto, aajey hamey pehlo, beeho nay teejo fakro bhansoo,” and then lead the congregation by reciting the verses to be prayed for the day. The prayers, resonating in unison with voices of adults and children, would last 15 minutes, and upon their completion, late Ervad Godrej Sidhwa would briefly talk on a topic of the day. By 7.30am, people would be rushing either to school or to work.
During the last 10 days of the Zoroastrian calendar, the inside hall of the Agiary is filled with tables of beautiful white gladiolus flowers, whose aroma is spread throughout the well-lit hall, with small water filled “Karasiyas”, Divos lit, and cloths of “Malmal” neatly wrapped in plastic in the name of each departed soul, and for whom special prayers are to be held each day by revered priests of our Karachi Parsi community.
Till today, my family has a Jashan and special prayers held for my grandparents, and while I strongly believe that they are watching over us each day, these 10 days remind me that this is a special time to remember them, revive old and fond memories of them, and to pray for their souls.
Fareeza was born in Karachi, Pakistan. She studied in Karachi, Pakistan, from where she did her BA and then moved to England to study law. Upon returning to Karachi, she works as an in-house legal counsel at United Bank Limited.