Our next author in the Everyday Parsi series
Khushnood Viccaji writes:
I’m Khushnood Viccaji, staying in Mumbai, India with my wife and teenaged son. We are quite religious and traditional in our outlook, and like most Parsis we enjoy a healthy dose of fun, food and laughter.
From childhood I’ve always associated the month of August with an extra dose of religiosity, visits to the Agiary or Atash Behram, and a generally happy feeling of anticipation for the Navroze celebrations. This feeling and thinking was ingrained in all of us in the family by my mother and other elders in the family.
We would eagerly look forward to Navroze day, and all the things that make the day so special – breakfast would be sev-dahi with fried dry-fruits sprinkled on top; a head-bath and new clothes before going with the whole family to our local Agiary and at least one Atash Behram (usually Banaji’s at Charni Road), in a taxi ! Then home for dhun-daar ne tareli machhi, and finally going out for a natak or movie in the evening with our extended family !
It also helped that we stayed in Grant Road, where there are at least 4 Agiaries within walking distance, and most Atash Behrams are just a bus ride away.
The muktad days assumed greater significance for our family after my father expired in the mid-1980s. Then we realised the importance of the prayers for our dear departed family members, especially during these days, when their souls come to visit us. That was also the time I saw how our priests made extra efforts during these days to say the prayers for all the families who stayed in the vicinity of the Agiary.
I remember at my first job, there were many Parsis at work. Some of them would plan their annual leave around this time, so that they could devote time for the important prayers without being rushed through the morning routines to reach the office on time.
Sadly, in today’s fast-paced world, with its many attractions and distractions, these important rituals and prayers are not given their due importance. Perhaps it has to do with the advent of consumerism, materialism and rationalism, which makes people consider these things as ‘unproductive activities’, or even a ‘burden’ that they don’t wish to take upon themselves.
Also, due to shortage of priests and lack of dedication from mobeds, as well as some behdins, I feel that these ceremonies are now treated as commonplace and some of the ceremonies are even skipped.
However there are still a few dedicated mobeds who ensure that nothing is compromised, and all the ceremonies and rituals are conducted with full dedication.
For the believers and the faithful among our community, there can be no greater act of faith and love than to remember our dear departed, especially during the muktad days, and organizing the prayers and rituals in their memory.
You can read the entire series here: Everyday Parsi