1. According to religious traditions, Navjote is the ritual to invest a Parsi Zoroastrian child with the spiritual vestments of Sadra and Kasti so that it could then be a nav “new” jot “performer of prayers” all his life. It is a ritual of the greatest religious and spiritual importance in a child’s life. It is not an entrance into the Parsi Zoroastrian fold as is generally believed. The child is already a Parsi Zoroastrian as soon as it is born to Parsi Parents. The Navjot ritual is to connect the child with the spirit of prophet Zarathushtra, who would be his life-long guide and teacher. It is also the ritual to formally present the child with the Sadra and the Kasti which are the religious implements necessary for performing the Kasti ritual and reciting all other prayers.
2. The ritual starts with the administering of the Nahan “ritual bath” by a priest to the child. In this ritual, the priest makes the child say some prayers, then chew a couple of tender pomegranate leaves, drink a couple of drops of Nirang that is “consecrated bull’s urine”, and then take a head-bath in which Gaomez/Taro that is “unconsecrated bull’s urine” is applied on the body before bathing with water. This ritual not only cleanses the child from outside but also mentally and spiritually cleanses the child from within.
3. After the Nahan, the child is made to wear a Pyjama and a cap. A shawl or a white cloth is draped over its shoulders. The child is now not supposed to talk or touch anybody till his Navjote is completed. The child is led in a procession to the place where the Navjote is to be performed. This elaborate preparation is a reminder of the great importance of the Navjote ritual.
4. Before the child steps onto the stage or the mat on which the Navjote is to be performed, the mother of the child or any other senior lady of the family, performs the traditional āchu-michu after which the child gets onto the mat and sits on the ground on the short wooden stool (pātlo) facing east. The performance of āchu-michu symbolises the taking of precautionary steps to avert any untoward happening in the life of the child, especially before the momentous ritual which is to take place.
5. The child then recites the Patet Pashemani prayer seeking forgiveness for its previous mistakes before starting a new life and a fresh new account of deeds with Ahura Mazda. If the child is not able to say the Patet Pashemani prayer, then it will recite 21 Yatha ahu vairyos and 12 Ashem vohus. The rest of the priests sitting on the mat also recite the Patet Pashemani prayer, on behalf of the child. This step is symbolic of the starting of a new responsible life for the child when the rewards of his good deeds and the punishments of his bad deeds start accruing to him, instead of his parents, which happened prior to the Navjote.
6. The child is then made to stand facing the direction of the sun. The main Navjote ritual has to be performed by a priest who is mature and capable enough to bless the child. At the outset he makes the child recite the Din no Kalmo prayer, in which the child effectively gives the following four promises before the Anjuman “congregation”: a. Ahura Mazda is my only God; b. Zarathushtra is my only prophet; c. Mazdayasni Zarthoshti is my only religion; d. I will be faithful to my God, prophet and religion all my life. Then the child does the actual first Kasti of his life holding the little fingers of the priest. The priest keeps on blessing the child on its shoulders at the end of the Kasti ritual. The act of the child holding the priest’s little fingers is symbolic of showing the child’s willingness to be led by the teachings of the religion, all his life. This part of the ritual highlights the life-long importance of Navjote in the child’s life where the child is equipped for the battle with the evils in his life, with the blessings of the priest, the connection of the prophet, the strength of his prayers and the conviction of his promises.
7. In the final act of the Navjote ritual, the chief priest applies a red vermilion mark (kanku-no-tilo) on the child’s forehead, and keeps a few rice grains over it. Then a garland is put around the child, and the child is given in its hands a coconut, a betel leaf and sopari and an envelope of money, all symbolic of the auspicious occasion (sagan). Finally the bouquet is kept in the child’s hands or lap. If the child is a girl, a folded Sari is draped her shoulders, which may become the first Sari of her life, later on.
Thereafter the chief priest who has performed the Navjot stands facing the child and prays for the health of the child by reciting the Doa Tandarosti prayer, showering a mixture of rice, shredded almonds (rarely used nowadays), raisins, slices of coconut and rose petals on the child from a metallic tray. This part of the ritual is a symbolic way blessing the child with health, wealth, happiness, fertility, plenty and prosperity.
Afterwards the parents thank the priest with flowers and monetary gifts. Then child is dressed up in new clothes and taken to the nearby Agyari or Atash Behram where the child offers sandalwood to the sacred fire and seeks blessings from it.