Are there any specific prayers linked to various needs, like seeking help in sickness, or remembrance of the departed ones? (TMY, JJ of 28-4 & 5-5-19)

1. The primary aim of prayer in any religion is to elevate the mind and awaken the soul. These purposes than automatically give rise to other beneficial effects like peace, health and happiness.

2. Zoroastrian prayers are also a great source of health and healing. In the Ardibahesht Yasht, where five types of healings are mentioned, healing by prayers is listed as the highest type of healing, since it heals from within. Apart from health and healing, prayers are helpful for other aspects of life too, for instance there are prayers for success, courage and confidence.

3. The following are some main prayers for specific purposes: Khorshed and Meher Nyash for intellect and spiritual energy, Māh Bakhtār Nyash for peace of mind, psychological problems, depression, lunacy, at the time of surgery and for recovery after surgery, Atash Nyash for seeking help from the sacred fire, Hormazd Yasht for positive energy and well-being, Haptan Yasht for any general planetary problems and afflictions, Ardibahesht Yasht for general health, well-being, immunity and recovery from fever and other general illnesses, Khordad Yasht for employment, job and career, Avan Ardvisur Nyash and Avan Yasht for issues related to conception, child birth, menstruation and urinary tract problems, Tir Yasht for eye strength and eye related problems, Gosh Yahst for protection and general well-being of children,  Meher Yasht for those who seek justice,  Behram Yasht for confidence, success and victory, Rām Yasht and Ā airyema ishyo prayer for seeking suitable marriage partner, Ashishwangh Yasht for wealth and prosperity, Hom Yasht for making medicines more potent, wound healing and overcoming poisoning, Vanant Yasht for countering black magic and other evil powers and spells, Hoshbam, Sarosh Yasht Hadokht and Din Yasht for spiritual development.

4. If one finds the Yashts too long and difficult to pray, the Yazads can be invoked individually by reciting a name 101 times, like Yā Behram Yazad. Alternately just the Avesta khshnuman (invocation) of the Yazad or the Setayash of the Yazad could also be recited.

5. For health and other issues, there is also a tradition of praying a particular name from the 101 names of God, a certain number of times, to seek help for specific purposes.

6. The above are not personal suggestions or recommendations, but are the time honoured traditions and practices of the religion.  Most of these have been recorded in old Khordeh Avestas, manuscripts and books, and some are transmitted orally. lsd


What is the difference between a Nyash and a Yasht? (TMY, JJ of 21-4-19)

1. In the Zoroastrian prayers, there are 5 Nyash and about 20 Yashts. The Nyash may be considered as hymns or songs in praise of a particular creation. They are primarily directed to the creation and then to the divine being (Yazad) presiding over the creation. Each Nyash is dedicated to a radiant creation, as each one of these creations is connected to Khoreh “Divine energy” in one form or the other. All are store houses and conduits of Khoreh.

2. The Nyash are made up of prayers taken from other larger texts. Thus Khorshed Nyash is from Khorshed Yasht and Yasna 68, 33, 36, 43 and 68, the Meher Nyash from Meher Yasht, the Mah Bakhtar Nyash from Mohor Yasht, Avan Nyash from Avan Yasht and Yasna 65 and Atash Nyash from Yasna 33, 34, 62 and the Siroza Yasht.

2. Since the 5 Nyash are for the 5 radiant creations, they are to be preferably prayed facing the creations. Thus the Khorshed and Meher Nyash are to be prayed in presence of the sun, the Mah Bokhtar Nyash in presence of the moon (or in the open, even when one can’t see the moon), the Avan Ardvisur Nyash near waters (preferably flowing waters) and the Atash Nyash near fire or any natural light.

3. The Yashts are invocation prayers, manly for individual Ameshaspands or Yazads. There are two Yashts – the Haptan Yasht and the Siroza Yasht, which are for collective of Ameshaspands and Yazads. Thus the Yashts are directed towards the divine beings and not to the creations.

4. Some of the Yashts are taken from the Yasna too, like the Hom Yasht from Yasna 9,10 and Sarosh Yasht Vadi from Yasna 57.

5. Most Yashts can be recited in any of the five Gehs, the three exceptions being Avan Yasht which can only be recited during day time, Sarosh Yasht Hadokht which can not be recited in Aiwistuthrem Geh and Sarosh Yasht Vadi which can only be recited in the Awisruthrem Geh. Among the Nyash, Khorshed, Meher and Avan Ardvisur Nyash can be recited only during the 3 day time Gehs. Mah Bakhtar and Atash Nyash can be recited in any of the five Gehs.

Why do Zoroastrians, especially in Mumbai, need to be grateful to Bai Jerbai Nowrosjee Wadia? (TMY, JJ of 7 & 14-4-19)

1. Bai Jerbai was born in 1852 to Navajbai and Rustomjee Wadia. From her mother’s side she belonged to the illustrious family of Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, and from her father’s side she was a descendant of the illustrious shipbuilding family of Lowjee Nusserwanjee Wadia.

2. Sir Rustomjee Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy was her maternal grand-father. As a child of five, she performed the launching ceremony of a sailing ship called “Mary”, which was built by her own father Rustomjee Ardaseer Wadia.

2. She grew up to be a simple lady with an extra-ordinary vision. As there was no facility for English education for girls in those times, she was tutored at home by a European lady. She was adept at many other arts like knitting, stitching, sewing and Kasti weaving. She later on became a shrewd and successful investor and an expert on pearls.

2. She was married to Nowrosjee Nusserwanjee Wadia. She took keen interest in her husband’s business and supported his charities. From an early age she herself had a desire to offer an opportunity to less privileged people, especially Zoroastrians. In those days many Zoroastrians came from Gujarat to Mumbai looking for jobs and did not have a roof over their heads.

3. In 1907, her husband suddenly died, leaving her a large sum in his will. She utilised most of this amount to fulfil her desire to assist people by creating affordable and secure housing colonies for them.

 4. Jerbai arranged for land to be purchased at Lalbaug for the construction, initially, of 8 low cost rental apartment blocks (Chehlis) for Zoroastrians. She personally supervised the planning of the buildings.   She made sure that there would be a Chulā-vati (a Hearth Fire) in each kitchen for the proper maintenance of a continuous house fire, a necessary part of Zoroastrian religious life.  After this, Jerbai established the Naoriji Nusherwanji Wadia Building Trust Fund in 1917.  She named her eldest son, Khurshetji (later, Sir Cusrow) Wadia, Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, Mancherji P. Kharegat and herself as Trustees and built 24 more blocks. Thus bringing the total to 32.  This colony was named Navroz Baug in memory of her husband.

5. She herself took the responsiblity of allotting houses to needy families, who could present a valid reason to justify leaving their time-honored joint family homes in Gujarat.  She kept a close eye on the welfare, health and harmony of the families and timely repairs of the constructions. She herself, after studying the income of the tenants, fixed the monthly rents based on the size and location of the apartment. In many cases, she waived the rent, for a few months, of those who were unable to pay due to unavoidable circumstances.

6. On 19 June 1923, through unfortunate circumstances her youngest son, Rustom, died at the age of 47, leaving a sizeable amount to her in his will.  To this amount, Jerbai added some of her own, and from this sum she ordered the purchase of land adjacent to Masina Hospital to build another housing colony.  This colony had houses of different sizes, built over a period of many years, to house 168 families.  It was named Rustom Baug in memory of her late son. 

7. In the meantime, there was a smaller piece of land available on the other side of the Masina Hospital. Here, a colony of 5 blocks of smaller apartments were constructed, which could house 136 families.  Unfortunately, she did not survive its completion, as she died on 8 May 1926.  The housing colony was named Jer Baug in her memory.

8. Apart from housing, she was also very passionate about healthcare. To this end, her other generous donations include: a. The extension to the Khandala Charitable Clinic, which was built in 1902 by her late husband. b. A hostel for Nurses at the Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy Hospital in 1903. c. A charitable Hospital on the grounds of the Bombay Parsi Panchayat at Chowpatty in 1906. d. An additional block and a new dispensary for the Dr. Bahadurji Sanatorium in Deolali in 1909. e. A block at the Jehangir Marzban Convalescent Home in Khandala. f. Dr. Rustom Billimoria T. B. Sanatorium. g. She also gave regular donations to Dr. Tehmulji Nariman Obstetrics Hospital, Parsi General Hospital, Shirinbai Cama Convalescent Home at Bandra and Mahableshwar Parsi Gymkhana.

9. Jerbai’s dream of having as many low cost housing for Parsis in Mumbai, was kept alive by her two sons, Sir Cusrow Wadia and Sir Ness Wadia after she passed away. Among their many important contributions were the building of Cusrow Baug, Ness Baug and Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for Children. �

What is the Vourukasha Sea? (TMY, JJ of 24-3-19)

1. The sea known as Vourukasha in the Avesta, is referred to as Frākhvakard in Pahlavi. The word Vourukasha means having wide shores. The sea Vourukasha is originally mythical and mythological. Later when Iranians settled in the Central Asian expanses, they gave mythological names to actual geographical locations. Since the Vourukasha is said to be devoid of significant tidal movements, it is identified with the Caspian Sea.

2. The Vourukasha is mentioned in several Avestan texts like the Avan Yasht, Farvardin Yasht and Zamyad Yasht, as the place where Iranian kings and heroes worshipped different Yazads. This sea is also mentioned in Pahlavi texts like Bundahishna, Denkard, Zādsparam, Menog Khrad and Dādetān-i-Denig.

3. Vourukasha was formed at the beginning of creations, when Tir Yazad made the clouds rain over the earth. It is considered the principal reservoir of rain. It is so huge that it is supposed to cover one-third of the earth. The river Aredvi is said to originate from Mount Alborz, then flows through Mount Hukairya, and into the sea Vourukasha.

4. The battle between Tir, the Yazad of rain, and Apaosha the demon of drought, for bringing rains, takes place in this sea. The hero Kersassp had killed Gandareva, a huge, deadly monster, which had hidden in sea Vourukasha.

5. When the Khvarena (divine energy) of king Jamshed fled, it hid into Vourukasha. Later the tyrants Zohak and Afrasiyab attempted to seize the Khvarena, but were not successful. The Khvarena then went to other noble Iranian kings, and then once again fled king Kae Kaus and hid into the sea.

6. Gaokerena “the white Hom”, and Harvesp-Tokhmi, “the tree of many seeds” grow in the deepest part of this sea. The white Hom is protected by a fish called kara, which fights off the noxious creatures created by Ahriman to destroy the white Hom. These trees are also protected by a special mysterious animal in the water. Innumerable Fravashis look after this sea.

What is the Fareshta ritual? (TMY, JJ of 10-3-19)

1. The Fareshta is an outer ritual, similar to the Jashan ritual in terms of composition, prayers and rites, but much longer. The word Fareshta is from the Persian language and it means “messenger of God, or angel.

2. In the Jashan ritual only a few Yazads are invoked. However, in the Fareshta ritual, all the thirty three Fareshtas, (Ameshaspands and Yazads associated with the Zoroastrian calendar) are individually invoked, followed by the recitation of the three Afrins. The ritual takes about two and a half hours to perform if there are two pairs of priests. Each pair of priests invokes 16 divine beings and lastly, Sarosh Yazad is invoked by both the pairs together.

3. For the Fareshta ritual, it is mandatory to perform 33 Baj-dharna rituals individually, corresponding to each of the 33 divine beings invoked, at the fire temple. In each Baj-dharna ritual, four darans, a boiled egg and a banana is kept. Thus collectively there are several darans, 33 boiled eggs and 33 bananas kept in the Bāj-dharnā rituals.

4. Like the Jashan, the Fareshta is generally performed for happy occasions like birthday, house-warming and thanksgiving.  However, rarely the Jashan and the Fareshta are performed also for the deceased. For the deceased, the Fareshta is especially performed on the Chhamsi (six monthly remembrance). Er. Dr. Sir J.J. Modi in his book “Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Parsis” says (p. 451) “The Fareshta ceremony is almost always performed on merry occasions.”

Who can attend a Jashan ceremony? (TMY, JJ of 3-3-19)

1. Zoroastrian religion has many ceremonies and rituals, the shortest among which is the Kasti ritual and the longest existing ritual is the Nirang-din ritual. The basic rules and regulations for all the rituals is the same, which is to maintain sanctity and ritual purity in and around the ritual at all costs.

2. The presence of non-Zoroastrians in close proximity to the ritual very largely enhances the possibility of hampering the stringent rules and regulations of ritual purity required for the spiritual success of a ritual. That is why the Zoroastrians have the tradition of not performing even the Kasti ritual in close proximity and presence of non- Zoroastrians.

3. Even a Zoroastrian who is not in a state of physical purity and ritual-purity cannot attend or be near a place where any Zoroastrian ceremony or ritual is performed. The reason is the same, that in the presence of such persons, there is a possibility of disturbing the conditions for the successful performance of a ritual.

4. In the last few decades, a misconception has been going round in the community that non- Zoroastrians can attend a Khushali nu Jashan, that is, a Jashan on a happy occasion. This is, as it were, a misconception, because a Jashan is a Jashan, whether it is for a happy or solemn occasion. If at all, due to certain circumstances, the presence of non-Zoroastrians become inevitable, they have to be requested to maintain a considerable distance from the performance.

A. In what languages are the Kasti prayers composed? (TMY, JJ of 24-2-19)

1. The Zoroastrian Kasti prayers are actually composed in two languages, Avesta and Pazand. However the Avesta language is further sub-divided into two distinct and fairly different dialects – Gathic Avesta and standard Avesta. Thus the Kasti prayers are made up of the Pazand language as well as two dialects of Avesta language.

2. The Ashem vohu, Yatha ahu vairyo and much of the Kem na Mazda is composed of Gathic Avesta. Kem na Mazda has two stanzas from Ushtavaiti Gatha, and also has a passage from the Vendidad, which belongs to the other Avestan dialect.

3. The Ahura Mazda Khodai prayer is entirely in the Pazand language, but there are a few lines at the end in standard Avesta. The Jasa me Avanghe Mazda prayer is entirely in the standard Avestan language.

4.  The Kasti prayers were compiled in fourth century AC during the Sasanian times by Dastur Adarbad Mahrespand, by selecting prayers from the Gathas, Yasna and the Vendidad.