Our fifth author in the Everyday Parsi Series.
Shireen Palia writes:
I am Shireen Palia, a Clinical Psychologist working at a school for children with special needs, in Bombay.
As I think back to what the Muktad days meant to me, memories of my childhood come to mind. Growing up in a small colony in Bombay, my earliest memory of the Muktad was buying flowers from outside the agiaries, to place into beautifully carved vases in memory of the departed souls of my family, and the memory of my house being scrubbed clean every year at this time, from floor to ceiling.
At that age, however, I still didn’t completely understand what was so special about these days, and why all the agiaries were never so crowded during the rest of the year. As I grew older, my parents made sure I learnt to read Gujarati, and would encourage us to pray from the Gujarati Khordeh Avesta at the agiary. My brother and I would playfully compete with each other to see who would finish praying the long “Faramrot Noh Haa” first. Now, as I look back at my childhood, I realise what a simple yet powerful thing it is to be able to read my prayers in the Gujarati script, and to pray in the same words that my ancestors have used for generations – it gives me a sense of continuity and completeness.
I had just finished school when my grandmother passed away, and only then did I really begin trying to understand the significance of these ten days. I remember selecting her favourite flowers to place in her vase, and laughing over how she would relish the “satum nu bhonu”, on the days when one of her favourite dishes was made. In that sense, the true essence of the Muktad for me; is knowing that the people I love will never really go away from me, and through the Muktad, I can share a loving, informal relationship with them.
Now, in spite of the pressures of work and the everyday world, Muktad still means getting up early in the morning and rushing to the agiary before work on most days. It never fails to start my day with a sense of calm & peace. Even if it means running to catch the bus from the agiary with my mother yelling “rakhiya vari karje!” behind me.
As the Muktad days draw to an end, however, the focus unintentionally but inevitably shifts to planning which natak to go to on New Year’s, and more importantly, “bhona ma su hose?” A long-standing tradition associated with the Muktad, especially for a foodie like me, is the hearty lagan-nu-bhonu that is relished at the end of the ten days!
You can follow the entire series here: Everyday Parsi