Everyday Parsi: Niloufer Mavalvala

Our second author for the 2015 Everyday Parsi Series is Niloufer Mavalvala

Muktad Recollected: Then and Now

Childhood memories can be sweet and not easily forgotten. I grew up in Karachi amongst a small community of 4000+ Zoroastrians. I remember my childhood being fun a one, of the happiest times of my life, and definitely worth reminiscing.

10897079_752181641556699_2815644128096632703_nMuktad, the most important time of our calendar, a time when we remember our loved ones, elders of our family and others having passed on, 10 days of prayers would be held in communion.

Held annually at The Heerjibhai J. Behrana Parsi Fire Temple, we were always proud to participate in the daily morning humbundagi prayer. Chanting the prayers in unison under the operatic voice of a Mrs Nergesh Anklesaria Dubash, followed by a sermon of an explanation of the hymn just sung by Ervad Godrej Sidhwa, it seemed to be something much-looked-forward-to by the youth of the community. Perhaps since it was another opportunity to socialise with family and friends no doubt!

And, individual Muktad prayers were done for each recently departed soul in the Fire Temple hall downstairs, by the Panthak of the respective family.

In a hall full to capacity, with 300 of us in attendance, I remember thoroughly enjoying the rare cloudy August days in spite of the hot summer month. The ride there at 6.30am was a quick one, with not much traffic on the roads but the privilege to see the streets of our city being washed down with water, hear the jingle-bells of the milkmen on bicycles hurrying with their ware, and for the odd cow, camel and buffalo cart or the familiar sight of a horse-drawn carriage trying to catch up with the motorised traffic. With the calm of the dawn and only very few shutters up, heavenly aromas of fresh breads from bakeries and tea houses opened early in preparation for the days onslaught filled the air, making us wish we had time to eat breakfast!

The cleanliness of the Behrana Fire Temple is still vivid in my minds eye; beautiful white marble slabs everywhere, freshly painted walls and an architectural layout hard to describe. The wonderful scents of Sandalwood and Lobaan greeted us with a familiarity perhaps something only our own community can be cognizant off. The rituals of Padyab (an ablution to enter the temple) was performed with pride, followed by the happy yet soft buzz of the crowd greeting one another, (regardless of friendship) the norm.

Having moved to Canada which now boasts an even larger community than that in Karachi, we continue with this old age custom in greater earnest for the most part.

Led by Kermin Byramjee and her enthusiastic team of volunteers who make this possible twice a year; for both the Fasli Muktad in March and the Shehenshahi in August. Prayers are performed thrice a day; traditional home-cooked meals are served for lunch and dinner to all attendees.

We are very proud of the many younger Navar Martabs who have recently joined the priest family. They are constantly encouraged to lead this congregation under the able guidance of Ervad Nozer Kotwal who has done an amazing job of including the youth with his constant encouragement.

The hall, with a capacity of 250, is generally full every evening and each morning while the afternoon prayers tends to welcome a smaller crowd mainly of the senior citizens who find the timing well suited. Parents are encouraged to bring their young ones as often as possible to encourage bonding.

May our traditions and rituals keep alive for future generations to come. Amen!

Niloufer Mavalvala

Author & Founder – Niloufer’s Kitchen

PrintBorn and raised in Karachi, I started to bake when I was 8 years old. I taught my first solo class at 17, which I thoroughly enjoyed and have never looked backed. Blogging enhanced my love for creating through word and picture. Travelling is my passion as  I believe it opens up a wealth of knowledge one experiences first hand.  I enjoy doing fundraisers through my demonstrations, volunteering for the community and fund raising for causes I believe in. Decades of teaching cooking prompted me to write e- cookbooks with young adults in mind. Being a teacher at heart, detailed explanation and writing as I would verbally teach is the format I have chosen. Trivia and Tips make it interesting. I like to think of it is an art form perhaps narrating my life story.   Learning is a lifelong experience; enjoying the 21st Century my next step is to start up on Webinars which I hope can make the world even closer for many of us.

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