What is the significance of the Uthamna ritual (2-9-18)
- The Uthamna ritual is performed twice on the third day after death, the first time in the Uziran geh at about 3.45 pm (IST) and the other towards the end of the Ushahin geh at around 4.15 am (IST).
- The ritual can be performed either at the Doongerwadi, Agyari/Atash Behram or in any other ritually clean place. The derivation of the word Uthamnu is not very clear. It is believed that in the past, during Geh-sarna ritual, people had to sit down on mats on the floor and for subsequent rituals they could sit on chairs. Hence the word Uthamnu may have come from uthi javu “getting up.”
- Uthamna can be considered a sort of a condolence meeting where friends and relatives of the deceased attend the ritual to console the family members of the departed. In a way, this is the last day of the soul in the material world, before the soul begins its heavenly journey on the dawn of the fourth day (Chahrum ni Bamdad).
- In the past, announcement of charities in memory of the deceased was done by friends and family in the Uthamna. The benefit of this charity would accrue to the soul of the deceased, as its judgment has not yet taken place.
- In the past, if the deceased did not have a child, then the appointment of a religious heir, the Gujarati word for which is pālak, was done after the Uthamna. It would be the duty and responsibility of this pālak, who would generally be a male, to see that the minimum religious rites are performed for the soul of the deceased at least for a year. The Head Priest would give a token amount in his hand and make him pledge accordingly. This was called sos bhanvi – in which the pālak would say “I will have bist o chahr darun done.” It is said that if the deceased did not have an heir, the priests did not get up from the mat after the Uthamna till the pālak was declared.