Our seventh author in the Everyday Parsi 2014 series
Rayomand J. Patell writes
I grew up in a fairly small, liberal family at Altamount Road, which meant i didn’t have too many Parsi friends while growing up whether around me in the area or at school. My experience with death was first brought home when my paternal grandfather passed away in ‘87, followed ten years later in ’97 by my maternal grandmother & my paternal grandmother and my aunt in ’00 and finally my maternal grandfather in ’06. To me the Doongerwadi and the agiary visits were my only experience with death at that time.
I write about their deaths but not of my experience with the Muktad days because i came to experience the Muktads through my wife’s family, rather than my own at a much later stage in my life. It was for her grandmother and father, that i first experienced the beauty both literally and conceptually of Muktad.
Till then, i had never been to the Princess Street Atash Behram, to see the rows of tables laden with flowers and little divos. The concept itself, of venerating those who had gone before you, was new and sweet and that for just a little while they would offer you their blessings for one more time and you could feel their presence, was beautiful. During those prayers, i would think of all of my family as well as hers and i have to admit, choke up a bit.
I must relate one moment. Since both my elder son and i were so to speak Muktad novices, and exploring this tradition for the first time, i had to define it for him, which was possibly a little harder given i was finding my own way. I thought for a while and said, “ok Jehaan, you know how God is always in the sky looking at you? With God, are all the people who are good from your family, like Grampapa and Great Grandma. And just before New Year, we make it really beautiful on Earth just like it is up there in the sky and that’s why they come down one more time to be with us and that’s how you will feel their presence for one more time and you’ll feel very very happy because you’ll know it’s really them.”
So his question after that was, ‘will you also come down when you’re gone?”
So i said yes, i’ll be watching if you’re a good boy or not all your life.
I don’t know if that comforted or worried him to be honest at the time.
But it comforted me. That we’re never truly alone and that while the soul may cast off its body some day, it will always return to those it loves deeply.
My very best wishes to you and your family for a beautiful New Year.
Rayomand J. Patell VP & Sr. Creative Director, Contract India.
Thank you for this vignette; as I sit witnessing the Muktad Prayers at the Zoroastrian Centre in London and let the prayers wash over me I have a similar feeling. A reader’s kindest good thoughts and very best wishes for you and your family in the year ahead.