Significance of SES

In daily Zoroastrian life, many things are used in a symbolic manner. These things are more evident at auspicious occasions. The intertwining of religious precepts in the everyday life through daily practices (tarikats), rituals and customs is evident from the symbolism of these auspicious things.

SAGAN: The word sagan is used for auspicious things. It may be traced to the Sanskrit word Shagun which means auspicious.

Ses: Ses is the most prominent auspicious symbol among Zoroastrians. It is a round metallic tray of varied shapes and sizes, sometimes very artistically made, present at all times in a Parsi house, especially on auspicious occasions. The Ses for general occasions is a small one and the Ses for special occasions like Weddings and Navjote is a big one.

The Ses has a wonderful collection of auspicious items in it:

Paro:  It is a conical metallic utensil in which patasha and/or rock sugar (khadi sakar) is kept. It is reminiscent of the conical sweets wrapped in Green paper in Iran till this day. In ancient Iran sweets in the shape of a Paro were given to guests as soon as they entered the house along with sprinkling of rose water from Gulabaz. The Agharni no larvo is also a similar cone-shape sweet meat with sheets of beaten silver on it. It is a way of welcoming the new child with a paro of sweets.

Pigāni: It is a small metallic utensil with a lid in which Kanku (vermilion) is kept to put an auspicious red mark/tika on the forehead. The Parsis generally put a vertical mark on the forehead of a man and a round one on the forehead of the woman. The former signifies rays of the sun and hence energy and giving, the later signifies the moon and hence beauty and receptivity. It also signifies the gravitational force (friendship) between the sun and the moon (through the agency of the earth), an important requirement for keeping life active, alive and in order. Also the sun is seen as a fructifying agent, giving life, whereas the moon is seen as a conceiving agent receiving the rays of the sun. Rice is placed on to the red mark to signify plenty.

Gulābāz: It is a metallic sprinkler cum container which has Rose water (Gulaab-jal) in it. In Iran it was used to sprinkle rose water on guests while welcoming them and saying the words khush āmadid “welcome.” The shape of the Gulalaz is typically Persian and such liquid sprayers are found in Arab countries even today.

Miscellaneous items: Coconut, betel leaves (pān), betel nut (sopāri), dried shell almonds (badām), dried dates (khārak), rice, curd and Fish (fresh or sweet meat in the shape of a fish), other dry fruits are also kept in the tray. Nowadays metallic replicas of some of the above things are placed in the Ses instead of real ones.

Navjot ni Ses: When the Ses is prepared for the Navjote, it is all the more special. First of all the tray is a much bigger one,  as a special set of clothes are kept, which differs for a boy and a girl. If the Navjotee is a boy, then shirt, pant, dagli, socks and shoes are kept. If the Navjote child is a girl then a Sāri is kept in the Ses. This Sāri will be most probably the first Sāri that the girl would wear when she grows up.

The following is a brief overview of symbolism of the items in a Ses:

Paro Sweetness,  good nature
Pigāni Contains the red Kunku, symbolising self-sacrifice
Gulābāz Fragrance to be spread around (symbolic of good deeds)
Coconut Resourcefulness, multi-function, helpfulness.
Rice Prosperity and plenty
Betel-nut (sopāri) & betel leaf (pān) Fertility
Khārak (dried dates) Adjustment (the date tree adjusts to almost any climate.)
Sākar (rock sugar) Sweetness
Fish (fresh or sweet in the shape of a fish) Symbolic of water – life, flexibility and adjustment