7. QA about NAVJOT, SADRA & KASTI

NAVJOT, SADRA & KASTI. 1

Why should my Navjote be performed ?. 1

Why should I wear Sadra-Kasti?. 1

Why should I perform the Kasti ritual?. 1

Why and how many times should one perform the Kasti?. 1

What direction should we face while doing the Kasti?. 2

What does the word Sadra mean? Why is it so called?. 2

Why should the Sadra be made of nine parts?. 2

Is it okay for ladies to wear sleeveless sadras?. 3

What does the word Kasti mean? Why is it so called?. 3

What does the Kasti symbolize? How is it made? (JJ 22 & 29-4-18) 3

Can we make a knot at the centre of a Kasti if it is long?. 4

Is it necessary to wear both the Sadra and the Kasti together?. 4

Why should my Navjote be performed ?

1. The word Navjote means “a New offerer of prayers.” On this day, the child gets the gift of Sadra Kasti and with it the responsibility of offering prayers.

2. On the day of Navjote, while reciting the Din no Kalmo prayer, the child confirms the 4 Truths of his life. Every time the 4 knots of the Kasti are tied, these 4 Truths are re-confirmed. They are: a. Ahura Mazda is my God, b. Zarathushtra is my prophet, c. Mazdayasni Zarthoshti is my religion. d. I will be faithful to my God, prophet and religion all my life.

3. From the day of Navjote, a child becomes responsible for all its actions and starts collecting merits for the good deeds and retributions for the bad deeds.

4. From this day, the child has to regularly perform the Kasti ritual, in which he has to recite the prayers which are powerful, beneficial and effective and which provide physical, mental and spiritual benefits.

5. If the child understands the significance of the Sadra Kasti and basic meaning of the Kasti prayers, it provides a guide map for living a happy life.

Why should I wear Sadra-Kasti?

1. Wearing Sadra Kasti is a Mazdayasni practice started by King Jamshid, which was accepted later by prophet Zarathushtra.

2. Sadra acts as a divine armour that protects the wearer from unseen evils and negativities.

3. The Kasti marks a boundary around the wearer which protects the person from evil, on account of it being imbued with the power of our prayers.

4. The Sadra and Kasti also remind the wearer of the divine garment and girdle symbolically worn by divine beings.

5. The Sadra and Kasti gives a sense of identity and security of belonging to a Community and religion.

Why should I perform the Kasti ritual?

1. The powerful Avestan and Pazand Kasti prayers, compiled from the Gathas, the Yasna and the Vendidad, energises the performer with divine energy.

2. The Kasti ritual cleanses the performer from the negativities that he may have picked up from the surroundings.

3. When recited with a certain awareness, the Kasti prayers explain the fundamentals of my religion, like being good, sincere and responsible.

4. The power of its performance gives the strength and confidence to face life.

5. When the Kasti is performed with full concentration, it is beneficial to the body, mind and spirit.

Why and how many times should one perform the Kasti?

1. Kasti is a basic Zoroastrian ritual which physically, mentally and spiritually protects, cleanses and energises us. It also reminds us of our religious and personal duties.

2. The powerful Avestan and Pazand prayers, compiled from the Gathas, the Yasna  and  the Vendidad, first protects the person. Then it cleanses the person from negativities, and finally it energises the person with divine energy. The big bonus is, that if one understands the meanings of these prayers, they inspire, motivate and gladdens the person with lofty thoughts.

3. Kasti performed at different times serve different purposes. The Kasti performed in the morning, at the turn of each geh, after bath and before going to bed, inspires and energises us.

4. The Kasti performed after coming from outside, after coming from the toilet, after visiting places like the Dakhma or cemetery, after coming home from outside, before going to a sacred place like the fire temple, before doing our daily prayers and before attending rituals is for the purpose of cleansing.

5. When recited with a certain awareness, the Kasti prayers tell us to be good and forsake evil. They also remind us the fundamentals of our religion like charity, unity, sincerity and responsibility.

6. If one performs the Kasti ritual properly, it has to power to give health to the body, confidence to the mind and rejuvenation to the spirit.

What direction should we face while doing the Kasti?

1 While doing the Kasti we have face the east in the morning (hāvan geh), west in the late afternoon (uziran geh) and any direction (except north) where there is fire/diva/electric lamp after sunset (aiwisruthrem and ushahin geh).

2. In the afternoon (rapithwin geh) one could face either the south or west as the sun is overhead. Priests from Udwada prefer to face the South and priests from Navsari face the west while doing the Kasti in the rapithwin geh.

3. Zoroastrians are enjoined to face the sun while doing the Kasti, and that is the reason they face the particular directions at particular times in the particular gehs. One is supposed to face the sun so as to draw the khoreh (divine energy) from it, as the sun is the biggest source of khoreh.

4. There are three main reasons why one should not face the north while doing our Kasti or saying any other prayers: (a) In Avestan texts the north side is considered evil as Angra Mainyu, the evil spirit, resides there. Just as dādār-e- gehān “house of God” is in the south, Angra Minyu’s house is in the north. (b) All evils and negativities, collect towards the north and emanate from there. (c) In the northern hemisphere the sun never goes towards the north and hence one never needs to face the north while doing the Kasti.

What does the word Sadra mean? Why is it so called?

1. The word Sadra or Sudreh is derived from two Persian words Sud “beneficial” and reh/rāh “path.” Thus the word Sudreh means “a beneficial path.” The word Sadra may also be derived from the Avestan word vastra “vestment.”

2. The Sadra is the road map that leads a Zoroastrian towards his the duties and obligations of life. These duties and obligations are:

  1. To be good
  2. To be responsible
  3. To be mindful of the 2 forces – good and evil – and work towards increasing the former and decreasing the latter.
  4. To be mindful of the 2 worlds – physical world and spiritual world.
  5. To look after the 3 main creations –the plants, animals and minerals.

3. These duties are symbolically enshrined in the nine seams (Sāndhās) which make up the Sadra – 1 Gireban, 1 Girdo, 2 sleeves, 2 sides and 3 Tiris.

Why should the Sadra be made of nine parts?

1. The Sadra, is an essential religious garment, along with the Kasti, which a Zoroastrian wears since the tme of the Navjote. The word Sadra comes from the Avesta and Pahlavi word vastra  which means “a spiritual garment”.  ThePersian word for Sadra is sud rāh which means “the beneficial path.”

2. Technically, the Sadra is a ritual implement necessary to offer prayers and do the Kasti ritual. As a ritual implement, the Sadra needs to have certain specifications regarding the colour, size and number of seams (sāndhās in gujarati). The Sadra is made up of nine seams out of which the two sleeves constitute two seams.

2. Symbolically, the Sadra is a road map that leads a Zoroastrian towards his duties and obligations. The nine parts/seams are to remind him of different teachings. These are:

i)  Gireban: It is a small pocket like pouch with a perforation in the inner side situated at the font of the Sadra. It is also referred to as kisseh-kerfeh, which means “the pocket of good deeds.” It is symbolic of the goodness and meritorious deeds that a person has to do in life.

ii) Girdo: It is the seam on the nape of the neck in the shape of a crescent moon. It looks like a yoke and reminds man of his responsibilities to God, prophet, nation, society, family and his own self. There is a wrong idea that only men’s Sadras should have Girdo. All Sadras, either for men or women, should have a Girdo.

iii & iv) Two sleeves, one on each side: Sleeves are made of cloth stitched on the sides of the Sadra. The Sadras of ladies and gents, both have sleeves, but for purposes of convenience, the sleeves of a ladies sadra are smaller. The sleeves are symbolic of the Zoroastrian religious injunction of being industrious and hardworking.

v & vi) The two sides: The large piece of cloth at the front and the back, stitched at the sides, form the 5th and 6th parts of the Sadra. The two sides remind us of the two worlds – the spiritual world from where we have come and the material world where we are living presently.

vii & viii) Two slanting seams (tiris) on the either side at the bottom of the Sadra, on the right side in gents and on the left side in ladies, teach us to live in harmony with nature, and to care for and use but not misuse or abuse nature. The opposite positions of these Tiris indicate that ladies and gents should complement each other, as each have different strengths and capabilities.

ix) One straight seam (Tiri): This seam is parallel to the left side bottom stitch, on the left side in the Sadra of gents and on the right side in ladies. It teaches us to care for the mineral kingdom.

Is it okay for ladies to wear sleeveless sadras?

1. Zoroastrian religion considers Sadra a ritual implement which is necessary to offer prayers and do the Kasti. As a ritual implement, the Sadra has certain specifications regarding the size and number of seams (sāndhās). The Sadra is made up of nine seams out of which the two sleeves constitute two seams. Without them, the Sadra is incomplete.

2. The nine seams of the Sadra serve as a symbolic indicator for the important teachings of our religion. There is no difference in the number of seams of the Sadras for ladies and gents, both have to be made up of nine seams.

3. For purposes of convenience, the sleeves of a ladies sadra may be made smaller, but it is not right to entirely do away with the sleeves.

5. The sleeves are symbolic of the Zoroastrian religious injunction of being industrious and hardworking and signify the teachings of Shahrevar Ameshaspand.

What does the word Kasti mean? Why is it so called?

1. The word Kasti is derived from a Persian word which means “boundary.” The Avesta word for Kasti means “a girdle.” These two meanings signify that the Kasti is to remind man to be within the boundary of good and keep evil out of this boundary. It also reminds him to be girded, that is ready, to face and fight evil at all times.

2. The Kasti, like the Sadra, in its material and making, enshrines certain teachings of the religion:

a. To be innocent – like the lamb, from whose wool the Kasti is made.

b. To be connected to spiritual world, one of the ways for which is, by performance of inner rituals like the Yasna which has 72 chapters, just like the 72 strands of wool, that make up the Kasti.

c. To remember the two worlds at all times just as the hollow in the Kasti is a reminder of the void between the two worlds.

d. The two tassles remind us of the principle of duality existing in every aspect of the world. Only Ahura Mazda is above and beyond this duality.

e. The 3 lars reminds us of the fundamental principles of humata “good thoughts, hukhta “god words” and hvarshta “good deeds.”

f. The six laris remind us of the 6 Gahambars which make us aware of nature and seasons.

What does the Kasti symbolize? How is it made? (JJ 22 & 29-4-18)

1. The Kasti is the thin woolen waistband worn over the Sadra, which passes thrice around the waist. It is made by weaving together 72 fine threads of lamb’s wool. In the past it was prepared by perons from priestly families, especially ladies, while chanting manthravani prayers. Wool has the inherent property of absorbing and retaining vibrations.

2. The word Kasti means a boundary, and it reminds one to keep within the boundary of religious duty. The word Kasti comes from Avesta word aiwyāonghana “that which is girded around” and  Pahlavi kosht “boundary of religious duty.” The word is also derived from Avestan word karsha “spiritual boundary which keeps evil away.”

3. The Kasti is thrice taken around the waist. Number three represents the principles of humata, hukhta & hvarshta “good thoughts, good words and good deeds.” While tying the three rounds, two reef knots are tied, one at the front during the second round, and the second at the back, at the end of the third round. Each reef knot comprises two knots.

4. Hence, in the Kasti there are four knots in all. Each knot is connected to one of the four promises given by a child while reciting the Din-no-Kalmo prayer on the day of Navjot. The four promises are: i) I consider Ahura Mazda as my God. ii) I consider Zarathushtra as my prophet. iii) I consider Mazdayasni Zarthoshti as my religion. iv) I will be faithful to my God, prophet and religion all my life.

5. The Sadra and Kasti are the religious implements of the Zoroastrians. They form an invisible shield around physical body, which, if properly maintained, protects one from negative forces, and leads one on the path of piety and duty.

6. Making of the Kasti: Lamb’s wool is first woven on a spindle. Then threads from two spindles are combined together in one ball. The double yarn is then twisted and passed 72 times around the loom (jantar). These 72 threads are then divided into 6 sets of 12 strands each. The thread thus prepared is unbroken and with an end. It is then cut by a priest while saying a particular prayer. The rest of the weaving is done by hand. 1 lar and 3 laris are made on each end. Then the Kasti is flattened, washed, dried, fumigated and folded, ready for use.

7. Each part of the Kasti symbolizes a religious teaching. Lamb’s wool symbolizes innocence. The 72 threads remind of the 72 chapters of the holy text Yasna which are recited in the Yasna ritual. Hence, the number 72 represents all the sacred Zoroastrian texts and the lofty Zoroastrian rituals.  The six laris (three on each side) reminds the devotee of the six Gahambars, seasonal festivals, and teaches to be in harmony with the seasons and nature.

Can we make a knot at the centre of a Kasti if it is long?

1. A Kasti has to be bought according to one’s size. However, very often it is generally bought bigger than one’s size as it may shrink over a period of time on account of regular washings.

2. It is imperative to buy a Kasti of proper length. The length of Kasti is measured in gaj. One gaj is approximately equal to 27 inches. Depending on the size of ones’ waist, one should calculate the length of the Kasti leaving an extra about 10 inches for the looseness around waist, knots and laris. Hence if the waist of a child is 28, the Kasti should be 28 inches X 3 (rounds) +10 inches (extrs ) = 4 inches ÷ 27 (inches to a gaj) = 3.5 gaj

3. As for knots in the Kasti, for very little children who are not able to manage a long Kasti it is okay to temporarily have a knot in the middle.

4. For grown ups who have a longer Kasti, it is advisable that the kasi should not have a knot, as traditionally it is believed to interfere with the Kasti’s power to hold the Manthras (prayers).

5. Grown ups can tighten a loose Kasti with an external knot after tying the Kasti on the waist. This serves the purpose of not having a knot on the Kasti and also having it fit around the waist.

Is it necessary to wear both the Sadra and the Kasti together?

1. It has been noticed that nowadays a few people, either out of ignorance or convenience wear just one of the two, either the Sadra or the Kasti. This is not correct. It is essential to wear both the Sadra and Kasti together. One is ineffective without the other.

2. Just to give a few analogies, when we say “a few days” it also means nights, when we say pen, a refill is also included, and when we say spectacles, both the frame and the glasses are implied. In the same way, in Zoroastrian religious texts, when just the Sadra or Kasti is mentioned, both are referred to. 

3. Both the Sadra and Kasti are invariable for the performance of Kasti ritual. Both are necessary for affording protection to the person. A child is invested with both together at the time of the Navjote and the two should always be worn together. 4. In Iran, in the not very distant past, because of severe persecution and the fear of living under alien and hostile rulers, Iranian Zoroastrians had to sometimes wear either one, and that too in a concealed manner. Even that was often at the risk of their lives, as it has been often reported that till about a century back, people were hanged by their own Kasti. Hence in Iran, for some time in the past there was a practice of not wearing the Kasti all the time. But that is not so any more.

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