Everyday Parsi: Shazneen Rabadi Gandhi


August 11, 2013

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Our fourth author in the Everyday Parsi Series.

Shazneen Rabadi Gandhi writes:

A Personal Muktad

My first memory of muktad is that of the one that followed my grand-uncle Sapal kaka’s death. That was the first death in my family that truly registered with me. He was a dear old man, who seemed to always be having a heart attack. Finally, one of those did him in. I was too young to attend the funereal and other ceremonies. But I knew he was gone by the sight of his empty bed. And a few months later, I went to the Vatcha Gandhi Agiyari with my mother, who kept saying something about special prayers for Sapal kaka, and muktad.

I can see it in my mind’s eye now. Crossing the large intersections of Hughes Road in a hurry. Mummy in a white dress and headscarf. Entering the agiyari property. Washing hands and dabbing eyes. Pagay paro-ing at the entrance, thankful to be out of the glare of the hot Bombay sun. And then, instead of going to the usual area to pray, mom led me to the large back room. It was full of tables filled with row upon row of flowers in metal vases. Dasturjis prayed away. Parsis prayed away. The fragrance of roses and sandalwood mixed with the song of the dasturjis filled the air. It was ethereal.

When we moved to North America, the local associations in the cities I have lived in always observe muktad prayers, for most days in the homes of local Zarathushtis and then for at least one day, at their local Darbe Mehr. We seldom go.

Now, I have children of my own. They are too young to appreciate what muktad represents. I don’t pretend to know too much about it. But I know that during these days, the souls of our dearly departed are near and we pray for their well-being, we remember them, we welcome and honor them with our gifts of flowers and sandalwood. Life has been too crazy for us to go to the designated location for the prayers. We tell our anjuman priests to take the names of our dear ones in prayer. And we say our own prayers at home, lighting the divo, and placing some flowers in a metal vase.

We follow the traditions we know. We may not know them all. We may not be able to replicate the ethereal air of Bombay of years gone by. But our own personal acknowledgement of these special days creates a feeling of serenity in the house. We feel the blessings of those who went before us, and still send us their love and watch over us.

Shazneen Rabadi Gandhi

You can follow the entire series here: Everyday Parsi