Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Everyday Parsi: Sanaya Pardiwalla

Our ninth author in the Everyday Parsi 2014 series

Sanaya Pardiwalla writes

Screenshot_2014-08-08-10-04-38As a Parsi, Muktad prayers have taken place in my family at different time points in my lifetime. I was under 3 years old when my grandpa Homi passed away. While I know that Muktad prayers were conducted at the Ranji Agiary at Grant Road in the year of his demise I do not have any memory of it given how young I was at that time. However I do remember subsequent Muktad prayers taking place at home under the careful supervision and watchful eye of my grandma Soonu. My grandma was quite a religious lady, who ensured that the majority of our Parsi customs and traditions were followed.

I do recall elements of those Muktad days where beautiful flowers were placed in beautifully carved silver vases (‘beras’), one of which had my grandpa’s name inscribed on it. She would wake up very early in the morning and clean the prayer room in our flat checking that all the photo frames were cleaned, the ‘divaas’ were ready and not a single wick was out of place. Then she and my mum would say some special prayers (S’tum prayers) during those days. I did not really understand the significance of it till much later on when my paternal grandparents, Barjor and Nergis died within a few years of each other.

Their Muktad prayers took place at Kapawala Agiary at Tardeo. I could not attend the prayers because of school but I do remember coming home from school to have the ‘chaasni’ of pomergranate (‘darum’), ‘daran’ and ‘maleedo’. My grandma’s voice still resonates in my ears where she would be telling me, “sambhaali neh darum khajje”, thereby ensuring I did not drop any of its components on the floor. When grandma Soonu passed away it was then my mother’s turn to carry on the customs and traditions for our family. I can still remember moments when she would be overcome with sadness when she prayed during the Muktad period and through her tears tell me things like “I am sure grandma would have liked these flowers” or “Your grandparents will be blessing our home”.

I left India when I was in my early 20s to pursue my education in the UK. While at university I did not meticulously observe the Muktad period, only sometimes coming up to London to celebrate Navroze with friends and extended family. Whether in India or abroad I have always looked forward to Navroze. Back in India there would have been a visit to the agiary for prayers, followed by my mum’s amazing ‘dhandaar-patio’ and ‘sev-dahi’ at home with dinner out with family and friends or even a ‘Parsi naatak’ to mix things up a bit! As a married woman now living away from my family in India, I do feel that the onus has now fallen on me not only to learn but to observe, respect and practise the traditions and customs of our religion, not only for my husband and myself but also for the children we might have some day. So here in our home in London there will be a ‘seis’, some delicious ‘rawa’ and prayers at the Zoroastrian House to welcome in the new year, but only after having remembered and thanked our dear departed for having bestowed us with so much to be grateful for.

Sanaya Pardiwalla is a Researcher in Psychology. She moved to the UK to pursue her Masters and PhD in Psychology.  She lives in London with her husband, Zubin. Sanaya is passionate about cooking (be it Parsi food or other cuisines) and has set herself a deadline of 10 years to make it to Masterchef.  She has recently developed a passion for football and is a fan of Arsenal just like her husband and loves going to the games with him.