THE NAVJOT RITUAL

compiled by Ms. Zenobia Patel


RAZISHTAYAO CHISTAYAO MAZDHATYAO

ASHONYAO DAENYAO VANGHUYAO MAZDAYASNOISH

"May there be propriation of the Just knowledge

created by Ahura Mazda, which is the holy

Mazda worshipping Good Religion."

THIS AFFIRMATION OF THE ZOROASTRIAN CREED (DIN NO KALMO) is recited first during the Navjote Ceremony when a Zoroastrian child is manifested with the ALL SACRED Sudreh-kusti.

Navjote-The initiation ceremony-it is the confirmation of a Zoroastrian child into the religion of his birth. The initiation into the religious organization Zoroastrianism involves certain rites and Ceremonies.

MEANING

The Navjote ceremony earns the Sudreh-kusti for a Zoroastrian child. A Zoroastrian may attire himself as he wishes but no matter what he MUST wear his Sudreh-kusti unfailingly at all times. The root of the word Navjot is in Pahlavi Na indicating new and zt i.e. one who offers prayers. Thus, the new one now offers prayers. Now rests a major responsibility on the shoulders of a Zoroastrian-he is now responsible for all his deeds. Upto the time a child is not initiated with the Navjot ceremony it is the paramount duty of the parents to guide the child in all his deeds. Hence, all the deeds of the child good or bad are recorded in the parent s account.

THE APPROPRIATE AGE

Seven to eleven is the age when the child can grasp religious education. However, it is always done pre puberty. In ancient Iran religious education commenced at a very tender age of five. Both, the Vendidad (XV, 45) and the Dinkard (Vol. IV, chap170) mention the age seven. If a child is not capable of grasping religious knowledge at the age of seven then, before he turns fifteen he must be invested with the Sudreh-kushti, the child is said to be claimed by drujas her own (One who does harm, deceives and speaks lies. This is personified as a female evil power). The Vendidad (XVIII, 31,54) represents the evil drujas claiming four kinds of men as her own. Among these, the fourth kind is that of persons who having past the age of 15 years go about without the sacred Sudreh-Kusti. IF ONE MOVES WITHOUT THE SUDREH-KUSHTI, he is said to have committed a sin of vashad dobarishnih or kushad davarashni (i.e.running about uncovered i.e. without the kushti)

THE NAVJOTE CEREMONY

Preparation before the investiture-Sacred bath and ceremonial requisites: -

  1. It is incumbent upon the child that he learns a few short prayers before the actual ceremony.
  2. Of these the Nirang-I-kusti is fundamentally essential as it has to be recited whilst untying and fastening the kushti at various times during the day e.g. on waking up in the morning, after a bath, after using the toilet, before retiring to bed at night etc.(we shall deal with this separately)
  3. The Nirang-I-kushti comprises of 3 parts:-
  4. Other prayers like Nirang-I-gomez (Shekaste shekaste Shetaan),Srosh Baj and Patet were at one time expected of the Navjote child.
  5. On the appointed day, a little before the time of the actual ceremony the child undergoes a purificatory bath called the Nahn.
  6. The purpose of the bath was considered as an internal as well as external purificatory rite on the part of the child to testify his faith in the importance and value of the ceremony.

    Upto a few years ago, the navjote ceremony was always performed in the morning but now it is fashionable to have an evening ceremony. Morning is preferable because it is the new day and a new spiritual beginning for the initiate who takes the pledge to continue the lineage and religion of the Mazdayasni Zarathushtri faith, through pledging obedience to Asho Zarathushtra.

  7. The ceremony was performed at dawn hence, the enjoined priest recited the HoshBaam prayer.
  8. Once the child is bathed, he is guided to a room or the stage if it is a Parsi baug where the priest, the child s family, relatives have assembled. The child at this stage wears a pair of white pajamas and wraps a shawl around his shoulders to cover the torso.
  9. The child now sits on a very low flat stool, which is covered with a white sheet of cloth. The officiating priest sits on a carpet facing the child. THE CHILD FACES EAST.
  10. On the carpet the following requisites are placed:-

    The family priest as a fee takes the money for services rendered. This fee is labeled as a fee for the giryan or the girehban.

THE INVESTITURE PROPER

Now that the tableau for the ceremony is set, the head officiating priest who is seated facing the child places the new sacred shirt (sudreh) in the hands of the child. They now together recite the patet prayer for atonement of any wrongdoing. The child generally does not know the patet hence recites the all-powerful Yatha Ahu Vairyo whilst the priest recites the patet. Having recited the patet, the head priest and the child stand up facing each other. The following are the four important stages of the main investiture:

  1. First, the child recites the Confession of Faith, after which the sacred shirt is worn. It also reaffirms that he is a M.azdayasni Zarathushtri by BIRTH and pledges to follow the tenets as revealed by Asho Zarathushtra.
  2. Recital of a part of the Hormuzd Yasht upto vidhvao mraotu followed by the Nirang-I-kusti and the girdling of the kusti over the sudreh as it should be by the priest.
  3. Now the recitation of the Mazdayasno Ahmi, the Formula of Articles of Faith.
  4. In the finale, it is the Dua Tandarosti , the final benediction.

The Confession Prayer

(a)The Avesta kshnooman of the Yazata Din, Who presides over the religion (Din Yasht XVI)

(b)A Pazand formula of the Confession of Faith.

THE CONFESSION

"Praised be the most righteous, the wisest, the most holy and the Best Mazdayasna Law, which is the gift of Mazda. The good, true and perfect religion, which God has sent to this world, is that which Zoroaster has brought. That religion is the religion of Zoroaster the religion of Ahura Mazda communicated to holy Zoroaster"

It winds up with the Ashem Vohu prayer. Now the sudreh is really put over the child. The sudreh has to be worn by reciting the "Yatha Ahu Vairyo"

At this moment, the officiating priest takes his place behind the child so that both the priest and the child face East (if the Navjote is in the morning) and West (if the Navjote is in the evening). Here jointly they recite a part of the Hormuzd Yasht upto vidhvao mraotu followed by the Nirang-I-kusti and the girdling of the kusti over the sudreh as it should be by the priest.

EXPLANATION OF THE NIRANG-I-KUSHTI

"The Omniscient God is the greatest Lord. Ahriman is the evil Spirit that keeps back the advancement of the world. May that evil spirit with all his accomplices remain fallen and dejected. O Omniscient Lord. I repent of all my sins; I repent of all the evil thoughts that I may have entertained in my mind, all the evil words that I may have spoken, of all the evil deeds that I may have done. May Ahura Mazda be praised! May the evil Spirit Ahriman be condemned. The Will of the Righteous is the most praiseworthy."

GIRDLING THE KUSHTI AROUND THE WAIST

The priest holds the center of the kushti in his left hand. The two ends that hang loose are held together in the right hand. The double strings held in the right hand are held horizontally between the hands and a part of the double strings of the right hand fall vertically towards the ground BUT NOT ON THE GROUND. His posture is maintained when at manashni,gavashni,kunashni, three circular loops are formed of the kusti and on the words Kshnathra Ahurahe Mazdao the loops are let loose and the first round of the kusti is passed around the waist. On reciting the 1st Yatha Ahu Vairyo the first part of the reef knot is tied and on the 2nd Yatha Ahu Viaryo the reef knot is completed and the kusti passed to the back and the final two knots are tied by reciting Ashem Vohu. Voila! The child has been presented with his prized possession of security and identity with the alaat or sacred vesture NECESSARY for a Zarathushtri! -THE SUDREH-KUSTI.

RECITAL OF THE FORMULA OF THE ARTICLES OF FAITH

The child now recites the Jasme Avanghe Mazda, which can be briefly interpreted "O Almighty: Come to my help. I am a worshipper of God. I am a Zoroastrian worshipper of God. I agree to praise the Zoroastrian religion and to believe in that religion. I praise good thoughts, good words and good deeds. I praise the good Mazdayasni religion which curtails discussions and quarrels, which brings about kinship of brotherhood, which is holy and which, of all religions that have yet flourished and are likely to flourish, IS THE GREATEST, THE BEST and THE MOST EXCELLENT and which, is the religion given by God to Zoroaster. I believe, that all good things proceed from God. May the Mazdayasni religion be thus praised."

On self recitation of these prayers it becomes incumbent upon the Zoroastrian child to look to himself for salvation through the efficacy of his own thoughts words and deeds which at all times should be good. The pivot on which this morale structure of Zoroastrianism rotates is the purity of this triad of thought, word and deed.

THE FINAL BENEDICTION: -

The ceremony proper is now completed after the child adorns the sudreh-kushti. The officiating priest to put a mark on the forehead of the child now uses the kunkun. -A long vertical mark for boys and a round circle for girls. This tili that is placed on the forehead where usually "bhasam" or "rakhiya" is placed, symbolizes spiritual vision, to signify the 3rd eye.

On doing this the coconut, flowers, betel leaves and areca nuts are placed in the hands of the child. Here now the officiating priest invoking blessings of God upon the initiate recites the Tandarosti prayer. The summary of the prayer is "May you enjoy health, long life and spleandour of piety. May the Good Angels and Immortal Spirits (Ameshaspands) come to your help. May the religion of Zoroaster flourish. O Almighty God! May you bestow long life, joy and health upon the ruler of our land upon the whole community and upon May the child live long to help the virtuous. May this day be auspicious, may this month be auspicious, and may this year be auspicious. May you live for a good number of years to lead a holy, charitable and religious life. May you perform righteous deeds. May health, virtue and goodness be your lot. May all your good wishes be fulfilled like those of the immortal angels. Amin, Amin!"

Whilst reciting the benediction, the mixture of rice, pomegranate grains (pomegranate signifies immortality), raisins, almond and a few slices of coconut is showered over the head of the child. With this, the ceremony is completed. The elders of the family now give the priests their fees. The friends and relatives in the assembled gathering can now congratulate the child.

Now comes the most awaited moment when the guests feast on traditional Parsi food where Jarthosti sikhani salamati i.e. THE PROSPERITY OF THE ZOROASTRIAN FOLD is the TOAST of the occasion.

Compiled by Ms. Zenobia Patel

Source: The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Parsees by J.J. Modi


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