Our fourth author in the 2015 Everyday Parsi series is Sheroo Vispi Kanga
Thank you Parsi Khabar for giving me this opportunity to write about what the Muktad (free soul) days mean to me.
The Muktad days for me are full of loving memories that are very special; it is a bitter sweet memory of our departed loved ones. Known also by an older name, Farvardegan, the muktad days are the principal holy days for the remembrance and sacred memory of our dear departed family members.
Growing up in Bulsar, India, very close to the Udvada Iranshah Atash Behram, as a child I went to the agiary along with my parents, brother and sisters on the muktad days. At home, a room next to the kitchen was cleaned thoroughly prior to the Muktad days. Everyday fresh flowers from our garden were kept in a silver Karasyo (Vase) on a marble top round table with fresh water from our Kuwo, (Well), along with a divo and Zarthushtra’s picture frame. My mother always recited the gatha prayers at home.
My love for beautiful flowers, art of rangoli (chalk), tasty Parsi food and the soothing aroma of the sandalwood, gave me a peaceful festive feeling during the gatha days. I know back home, before the muktad days and the New Year, we began to clean the house, decorate, change curtains and do rangoli (Chalk). As the Parsi New year approached, on the fourth and fifth gatha days a solo or a group band started early morning and played some tunes, going from house to house, and we gave them money. Some kids also went from house to house and sang songs to collect money. All this made it very festive along with the religious ceremonies.
I was not much into the depth of our religion and prayers when I was growing up. I just went along with the family members and did the routine that everyone did. After college I went to Mumbai and even there I did the same thing. In fact as a child, I remember looking forward to the chasni (fruits and daran-malido), which was delivered to your home by the chasniwallas!!
After coming to the US in 1975, initially I missed the ceremonies of the muktad days. Most of my family members, (me being the youngest sibling) passed away after my coming to the US and unfortunately, I was not able to attend the muktad prayers for my dear ones. Therefore, (somewhere between 1996 and 1999) when ZAGNY (Zoroastrian Association of Greater New York) started to perform the muktad prayers I was very happy, and fortunately for me, I was also on the ZAGNY board at that time. This gave me the ideal opportunity to get very involved in organizing and arranging the muktad prayers. The gathas were also being recited at other 4 homes within our tri-state area, so people who lived far from the Dar-e-Mehr got a chance to attend the prayers close to their home. I also started to learn how to make Malido and after getting the right recipe was able to make the malido every year. I have been giving malido to all 4 homes who host the gatha prayers and at the dar-e-mehr prayer, till to date. On the gatha prayer day at the dar-e-mehr, I helped in preparing the food for the congregation.
This is when I also started to recite the “Framraot no Ha and the five gatha prayers (holy songs of Zarathushtra)” every year at home. I recite the Framraot no Ha five days prior to the gatha prayers. When I came to the US I carried my mother’s prayer books and she had this very convenient small book that just had these prayers for the 10 days, and it has her name written by her in her beautiful handwriting. By doing this every year, it brings very fond memories of my dear mother and my loved ones.
My praying is also limited to these ten special muktad days. Religion to me is believing in our three miracle words Humata, Hukhta, Hvarshta. Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds. Practice these three words and life becomes very rewarding.
Sheroo was born in Bulsar, India and came to the US in 1975 to join her husband Vispi. She is an avid gardener, lover of flowers, animals, art and Parsi cooking. After retiring as a Decision Support Specialist from GTE Corporation, (now Verizon) she has been an active volunteer with local hospitals and has raised monies for various causes like cancer research and recently got involved in raising monies for the new dar-e-mehr, in Pomona, NY. She lives with her husband Vispi, in East Windsor, New Jersey.