A sacred nirangdin ceremony was held at the historic 874 years old Vadi Daremeher, Navsari on Roz Aspandarmad Mah Tir Yezdezerdi 1385 Friday midnight of 20th November 2015. The ceremony which lasted 18 days was performed by two yozdathregar mobeds Ervad Aspandiar Rustomji Dadachanji and Ervad Darayus Parvez Bajan under the guidance of Vada Dasturji Kaikhushroo Navroji Dastoor Meherjirana and Dasturji Dr. Firoze Meherji Kotwal. The ceremony was in memory of the late Edulji Rustomji Adajania at the instance of his wife Najoo and son Kaizad. Explanation of nirangdin ceremony was given at 4 p.m. for the benefit of the audience. A jashan was held at the hall of Navsari Atash Behram on Saturday 21st November at 10 a.m. It is a unique occasion as both the Dasturji sahebs, both the mobeds and the family which requested the ceremony all hail from Navsari.
Article by Marzban J. Giara
The nirangdin ceremony is very important as nirang (= consecrated bull’s urine) is produced by transforming bull’s urine into consecrated nirang by the power of prayers which makes it free from bacteria. It is used in our rituals such as nahn, navar, navjote, wedding, death. The alat (apparatus) consists of twigs of hom plant, havanim and lalo (mortar and pestle), varasni viti a ring of varasiaji’s hair, two metal pots with lid one filled with water and the other with taro (bull’s urine), sangrez (pebbles), tashto (metal plates), khajurini patri (leaf of palm tree). Fire is kept burning all the time in an afarganyu. Varasyaji, a sacred white bull is brought from his enclosure barsingo. Two mobeds are required – one jyoti performs the ritual, the other rathvi tends the fire. The mobed sahebs have to maintain strict discipline for all the 18 days. This ceremony costs about Rs. Three lakhs.
According to Dasturji Kotwal there was a time when there were so many many yozdathregar mobeds in Navsari. They were so eager to perform this ceremony that out of Rs.18 they would offer one rupee to another priest for the favour of stepping aside and allowing the other to perform this ceremony. Some years ago WZO India felicitated yozdathregar mobeds at a function at Allbless Baug. Ervad Jehangirji Turel of Surat had the distinction of performing as many as 168 nirangdin ceremonies and was publicly felicitated at Wadiaji Atash Behram when he completed 150 nirangdins in 1994.
Unlike some other communities where the priests remain bachelors, both our dedicated mobed sahebs lead a good family life. Both hail from illustrious priestly families of Navsari. Both are students of Dadar Athornan Madressa where they underwent rigorous training. Both are blessed with supporting wives and two sons each. Both are humble and very courteous. It would not be out of place to mention some of their achievements.
Ervad Aspandiar Dadachanji (78) is currently the panthaki saheb of Vaccha Gandhi Agiary at Hughes Road, Mumbai. He has served here for 33 long years as panthaki. He has had a long innings of service to our community. This is his 68th nirangdin. He was a boewalla saheb at Aslaji Agiary. He served as a religious teacher at M. F. Cama Athornan Institute for 3 years. He was the panthaki in Sri Lanka for a year and for ten years at Nagpur agiary. He has consecrated several of our religious places of worship and varasiyajis. He is the Vice President of Athornan Mandal. He has trained innumerable navars and maratabs. He is a life member of Parsi Gymkhana, Mumbai. He is a keen sportsman and plays cricket, badminton and table tennis. He participates in car rallies with a vintage Morris 8. He along with Ervad Farokh Govadia brought the sacred fire (originally of Tavri) driving all the way from Navsari to Shapoorji Jokhi Agiary at Godrej Baug in Mumbai in December 1999. Both his sons Ervads Marespand and Hormuzd are serving as full time priests. His dear wife Dhunmai assists him and encourages him in all his activities. A successful priest, he has graduated from owning a Morris 1948 which he still retains to owning a Mercedes.
Ervad Darayus Parvez Bajan (40) is the son of Bepsy and Ervad Dr. Parvez Minocher Bajan. His family has served as panthakis of Mewavala Agiary at Byculla for six generations over 164 years and is featured prominently in the tome A Zoroastrian Tapestry by Pheroza Godrej and Firoza Punthakey Mistree. He is a student of Dadar Athornan Madressa and Dadar Parsee Youths Assembly High School. He ranks among the very few who have triple qualifications – chartered accountant, cost accountant and company secretary. Every morning he serves as a practising priest at Mewavala Agiary and then proceeds to his place of work as the Chief Financial Officer CFO of a multinational bank in Mumbai. Darayus’ dear wife Havovi brings her son Xerxes to Dadar Madressa early in the mornings before he goes to school and Xerxes has been ordained as a navar keeping up the family tradition.
Excellence does not come easily. Success comes before work only in the dictionary. The story of these two illustrious mobed sahebs reminds us of the verse:
“The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight
But they while their companions slept
Were toiling upwards in the night.”
We, the Parsi community are grateful to our mobed sahebs for their perseverance and sacrifice in preserving our rich traditions and heritage. Young Parsi girls can derive inspiration from Dhunmai, Bepsy and Havovi and marry Parsi priests. Instead of glorifying fashions and beauty contests, let us learn to sacrifice our worldly comforts of the present for a better tomorrow.
References: 1. The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of The Parsees by Shams-Ul-ulama Ervad Dr. Sir Jivanji Jamshedji Modi.
2. The Nirangdin by Marzban J. Giara 1994 Mumbai
3. Humata, Hukhta, Havarashta Zoroastrian Teleserial episode on “Nirangdin” produced by Ervad Cyrus Dastoor.