1. The world comprises of seen and unseen elements. There are several unseen aspects of life, which only religion can explain, and which we need to know through the religion.
2. One such important aspect of Zoroastrian religion is the immortality of the soul after death in the spiritual world and the existence of Fravashis / Asho Farohars who are the “guardian spirits” who help the souls in the material and the spiritual worlds.
3. Zoroastrian religion believe that the souls of the departed ones along with all the Fravashis visit the earth during the ten days of Muktād which come during the last ten days of the Zoroastrian calendar year. The word Muktād comes from the Sanskrit word Mukta-ātmā and refers to the Asho Farohars who visit the earth during these ten days. Hence these ten days are also known as Farvardegān days.
4. Muktād is the special time to celebrate the immense contribution of the souls and Fravashis of the previous generations and fondly remember them by offering prayers along with special gifts of fragrant flowers and prayers.
5. The souls look forward to being remembered in a loving manner, especially during the Muktād days. If happy with our love and remembrance, they bless us with health, wealth, prosperity and happiness.
6. The number of days of celebrating the Muktād may be ten or eighteen depending on what tradition one follows. However, this is not as important as the fact that we remember and celebrate with gratitude the memory of the dear departed ones and the Fravashis.
For how many years should Muktād and/or the Annual Baj prayers be done for the dear ones?
1. There is no specific injunction in our religious texts as to the number of years the Muktād or Annual Baj prayers should be done.
2. Certain texts mention it as the duty of every Zoroastrian to remember the Fravashis, especially the Fravashis of their own dear departed parents and near ones, during the Farvardegan (Muktād) days. Taking this injunction along with the injunction of the desire of the souls and the Fravashis to be remembered, it was the religious tradition in the past that the Muktād and Annual Baj should performed for one generation. 3. Thus, over a period of time depending on several factors people were advised to have the Muktād performed for different durations of time. In the past the Muktādwere generally celebrated in the house and the Muktād of a dear departed ones were observed for as many as 20 to 24 years which constituted a generation.
4. During the passage of time, the duration of the observation was reduced to 10 to 12 years, as by now Muktād started being observed in nearby fire temples. As of now, depending on one’s financial condition and other circumstances and factors one has to decide for oneself how long one wants to have the Muktād or annual Baj prayers be done. By and large, in the present times and circumstances Muktād prayers for a departed person may ideally be done for about five years.
5. For whatever period of time we choose to observe the Muktād in the fire temple, it is necessary that we remember the dear departed ones at home during the days of Muktād by having some fresh flowers, keeping a divo, and if possible praying the Satum no Kardo, irrespective of whether the Muktād prayers are done at the fire temple, and more so if they are not done.
Can one have Muktād performed at two different locations?
1. Muktād are days to collectively remember souls of dear departed ones and also all Asho Farohars. This includes Asho Farohars of our dear departed ones.
2. The soul of a dear departed one can be remembered in as many places as possible. All the priests remember holy souls of people like Dasturji Kukadaru and Homaji all over the world. Hence simultaneous prayers and remembrance of dear departed ones can be held at multiple locations.
3. More than one behrā (vase in which flowers are kept on the Muktād table) can be consecrated for a departed person. However, it must be noted that individual and separate behrās are not essential to pray for a dear departed one during the Muktād.
Why are flowers connected with the Muktād? Why are they kept in the Behra and used to remember the dear departed ones?
1. Muktād are the days when the Fravashis of all creations, Asho Farohars of humans and all souls descend on earth.
2. At this time they are to be made to feel welcome amongst us and offered what they like the most – prayers, light and natural fragrance.
3. The best creations with natural fragrance are fresh flowers and hence they are kept in vases at the place where Asho Farohars are remembered.
4. Flowers belong to the plant kingdom and hence are representatives of Amardad Ameshāspand, who also looks after immortality of the soul and its just rewards. Flowers in a way remind the living and the departed souls of their immortality and of the rewards of their life’s actions.
5. A few simple fragrant flowers like rose and lily are all that is required for this purpose. We need not go overboard and offer too many exotic and expensive flowers.
Why are there 3 Muktāds, 3 Navroz, 3 Khordad Sals etc, as per the 3 Zoroastrian calendars, which are the real day?
1. Presently in the Zoroastrian tradition there are 3 sects-– the Shahenshahi, Kadimi and Fasali. People following these sects observe the religious festivals on the basis of their own calendars. Hence each festival is celebrated thrice.
2. Festivals are days of coming together, enjoyment and thanksgiving. The purpose for which they are celebrated may vary, seasons may differ – but the end result of festivals is bringing about unity, harmony, hope and joy and that should remain intact.
3. In the early Christian era, Christmas was celebrated on different days, as people were not sure about the exact day of birth of their prophet. For the sake of unity, all days were brought together and the birth of Christ is today celebrated on 25th of December.
4. Thus, all three Zoroastrian celebrations are valid. Nature absorbs the prayer and utilizes it at due time. As for the Muktād, the Fravshis and souls come to this world whenever they are remembered. Today we remember them on a few days in the year. In the past they were remembered through rituals either daily and especially on all festivals. If they are remembered any time during the year, even without a particular purpose, they come. There may be hundreds of Fravashis and souls for whom rituals may not be performed even during the Muktād. That does not mean they never come to the earth. There is total understanding and magnanimity in the divine world and they should not be compared to humans.
What prayers can the laymen (Behdin) recite during Muktād days? (JJ 2-8-2015)
1. Muktād are the days when we have to remember, thank and make happy the Asho Farohars and Ravans (souls) of our near and dear ones in particular and the whole universe in general. One of the best ways to do this is by prayers and rituals. Most rituals are generally done by the priests. However laymen also can perform a few rituals and offer prayers to Asho Farohars and souls. Below are a few such prayers:
2. The Satum no kardo is the best prayer to be recited during the days of the Muktād. During the 5 Gatha days, this prayer is recited with some modification. If it is recited with the offering of some food cooked by a Zarthoshti, it becomes the Satum ritual. It should be recited after the Kasti and daily Farazyat prayers.
3. Muktād no namaskār is a very short prayer that can be recited anytime during the days of the Muktād. The prayer is as follows: Az hamā gunāh patet pashemānom. ashaunām vanghuhish surāo spentāo fravashayo yazamaide (thrice). Ahmai raeshcha – Hazanghrem-Jasa me avanghe Mazda-Kerfeh Mozd.
4. Over and above the prayers mentioned, one can recite the Framraot Hā (Yasna Hā 20) or 1200 Ashem Vohu with the khshnuman of Ardafravash, for the first five days.
5. For the five days of Gathas, each collection of Gathas can be recited on the respective day or 1200 Yatha on each day, with the khshnuman of Gatha.
6. There is another prayer called Lākhi nu bhantar, in which a combination of 570 Yatha ahu vairyo, 210 Ashem vohu and 120 Yenghe hātām (total 900) are recited with the khshnuman of Sarosh Yazad daily for all the days of the Muktād. lain Table