Why do people sponsor a Navar – the Zoroastrian priestly initiation? (TMY, JJ of 20 & 27-1-19)

1. Priests play a very important role in every religion. In Zoroastrianism, the role of the priest is much magnified as it is a ritual intensive religion. A boy belonging to a priestly family can be ordained as priest after undergoing proper training. The ritual for being initiated into Zoroastrian priesthood is called Navar and it has to be undergone before puberty, that is before the age of about 13 years.

2. The Navar initiation is an elaborate and hence expensive process, which goes on for about 25 days, and hence there is a meritorious practice of sponsoring a child to become a Navar. A Navar can be sponsored either in memory of a departed person or by a living person for the merit of his or her own soul.

3. In the Navar ritual, the child has to undergo two Bareshnums, which are purificatory rituals, each of which is for nine days and nine nights. The first Bareshnum is for one’s own self and the second is for the living/departed person who sponsors the Navar. This means that throughout the nine days and nights, the candidate prays for the sponsor, every time he does his personal prayers – Patet Ravān-ni for the departed one, and Tandarosti for the living one.

4. As part of the Navar initiation, two senior and highly proficient priests perform the Yasna ritual for 6 days, called Gewra. This is to give spiritual power to the priests who would later ordain the child. Here too, the Yasnas are performed for the benefit of the soul of the person, living or deceased, who sponsors the ritual.

5. For the next 4 days, the boy himself performs 3 Yasnas and a Visparad ritual, with one of the priests who has done the Gewra, again for the benefit of the soul of the person who has sponsored the ritual.

6. It is customary to remember the name of the sponsor of Navar, by the boy throughout his life, whenever he performs any ritual, as a mark of gratitude to the person, who sponsors him to become a priest. Thus sponsoring a Navar is a highly meritorious and rewarding act of bringing in a new boy into the priestly fold.

7. The Navar ritual is very similar in performance to another very high Zoroastrian ritual, called Geti-Kharid. Therefore, sponsoring a Navar is as much, or even more meritorious, than having a Geti-Kharid ritual performed. fffffffffffffff

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