Can rituals be performed for animals like a pet dog? (TMY – JJ of 10-6-18)

1. In Zoroastrianism, animals are divided into two groups – the Gospand (benign) and the Khrafastar (harmful) on the basis of their instincts and basic nature. Cattle and most domestic animals belong to the former category, whereas wild animals, reptiles and insects belong to the latter category. Man is advised to protect the Gospands and guard against the Khrafastars. Though the Khrafastars may be helpful in a limited way, their worth to mankind is less than the danger they pose.

2. Zoroastrian religion considers several animals like the dog, cow, bull, rooster, camel and horse as beneficial and useful. However, there is no tradition to offer prayers for living or dead animals by taking their names. In all Zoroastrian prayers it is necessary to take the religious title of the person (like Behdin, Osta, Osti etc.) before the name. Animals do not have such religious titles.

4. The only known ritual for an animal is the Geh-sarna ritual for a Varasyaji (sacred albino bull) after its death. This is because the Varasyaji is consecrated during its lifetime so that a hair from its tail can be used as a ritual implement for inner rituals like the Yasna and Vendidad. But in this ritual too, the name of the sacred animal is not taken.

5. Prayers are done for the soul of a person. For the deceased, the prayers serve as a catalyst for the progress of their souls. In Zoroastrianism it is generally believed that animals do not have a soul (faculty to make conscious choices and decisions). They only have an elementary consciousness (Baodh) and a Fravashi. Animals operate mainly by instincts and not by conscious will.

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