The Char Disha-No-Namaskar, (Salutation to the four directions) the Jamvani Baj, (Grace before meals) the Kutra no Buk, (the Morsel for the dog) and other daily actions are celebrations of the unity of the web of life. Traditionally, even before planting a seedling in the earth, man held the plant in both hands and slowly turned to the four directions, offering the plant to sun and shadow, wind and rain, moonlight and the birds and animals. The words recited were “Nemo Ve Urvaro, Mazdadathe Ashone”, “Homage to you O’ Good and sacred plant created by Mazda” and were followed by the Ashem Vohu prayer.The six Gahambars, seasonal festivals of the pastoral and farming year that invoke the blessings of all aspects of creation are linked with the seventh festival, Navroze of the Zoroastrian New Year. The Navroze or Haft Seen table, gathers in one sacred space aspects of nature in joyous welcoming of the New Year. The Gahambars with Navroze create a chain of seven feasts in honour of the Amesha Spenta and the seven creations. The importance of these feasts is that they remain Zoroastrian holy days of obligations. Their celebration was considered meritorious; the failure to observe them was a sin.
Like the Sudreh and Kusti these holy days have sustained the traditions of the community. Everyone was expected to contribute something, the rich and the poor alike attended the banquet and this was a time of great faith and communal bonding.As Ahura Mazda’s own creation, man has a special duty to the six lesser creations. The ethical code, which the doctrine embodies, gives man a unique sense of responsibility towards the earth and all created being. The duties enjoined on Zoroastrians to protect the environment, nurture trees and plants, care for animals, enrich the soil and keep earth, water and fire unpolluted can all be seen stemming from respect for the Amesha Spenta, protectors of all creations. Therefore, a comprehensive system of ethics and philosophy combines with the need for physical well being and responsibility to the environment. Zoroastrianism is regarded as a unique ecological religion.In January 2004 Parzor released a movie “Asha – The Law of Harmony” in VCD format. In “Asha: The Law of Harmony” the Bronze Age ritual of the Yasna and the Jashan ceremony are enacted and their environmental significance explained. “Glimpses” which is also available in this VCD explains the unique features of the UNESCO Parzor Project, which seeks to document for the first time in history a community in all its possible aspects. To obtain this VCD from the Parzor foundation Click here for our contact details.
During the life cycle rituals, from birth to death all aspects of creation are invoked in rituals. In childhood, at the Navjote a child chooses to be a Hamkar or fellow worker of God, a soldier of truth accepting responsibility for actions and decisions. He is invested with the white Sudreh, the shirt of the right path and the Kusti or sacred thread, the girdle, which becomes part of his armour as a soldier of Truth or Asha fighting the Lie or Druj. Fire is present at the initiation and the child receives the blessings of the plant world when rice, pomegranate seeds, rose petals are showered upon him to bless him with long life, good health and happiness. Green the color of new life is used in Iran for the Navjote cap and again calls upon nature to give its blessings to the child. (Please see The Kusti).
The bond between the material and spiritual worlds is maintained in all Zoroastrian life cycle rituals even continuing beyond into the spirit world. In the ten days before the New Year, when it is believed that the spirits of the dead descend to their family homes, (Muktad among the Gujarati speaking Zoroastrians and the festival of All Souls or Fravardigan, the Avestan Hamaspathmaedaya among the Iranian peoples), the spirits are welcomed by the scent of incense and sweet flowers, by fire and ritual offerings of food. Special silver vases each inscribed with the name of the dead family member are filled with flowers during these days of observance. On the last night of the festival, the Fravashis or spiritual essences, are bidden a formal farewell by their living relatives and are sent to their heavenly abode with prayers, burning incense and in Iran specially lighted fires on roof tops to guide them on their journey.
In daily life, purity is to be carefully maintained all impurity, nasu must be disposed of with care even hair trimmings and nail parings are contaminating and are disposed of with care so as to not pollute the earth. White lime Chalk is used at the doorstep of the house and the Parsis of India have created elaborate designs with which they decorate their homes. It is traditionally believed that white lime welcomes the spirits of Fravashis and guides them to the Zoroastrian hearth and home. In Iran lime is sprinkled from the doorstep till the hearth fire or place of the Afarganyu fire vase on ritual occasions. Thus purity and cleanliness become not just domestic virtues but acquire religious significance, thus at both levels ensuring care for the environment.
The Zoroastrian Calendar its rites and rituals, then stress environmental awareness and teach a holistic approach to daily life through the interweaving of all aspects of Ahura Mazda’s Good Creation. Reverence, care and compassion for the earth is inculcated primarily through the theology of the Amesha Spenta and Yazatas, divinities after whom each day of the month and each month of the year is dedicated.In the calendar, Ava Parab, the birthday of the waters celebrates the sanctity and importance of water. A concrete example of the transmission of Oral culture can be seen in the water harvesting system called the Tanka system of Bharuch in Gujarat. Zoroastrians there still able to harvest and store rain water in such a pure form as to meet WHO drinking water criteria. The practitioners follow the ritual prayers to Ava Yazata -the guardian of waters. In Iran the water harvesting and wind towers of the Zoroastrian settlements continue ancient traditions. (See The Tanka System). Myth and legends of the Oral tradition come together on the occasion of Tirgan, in praise of Tir Yazata who brings rain, at the time of the heat of summer. Adar Roj, honouring fire, Bahman Mahino, paying respect to the animal world are just a few examples of the interconnectedness of all being. The festivals, rituals and texts of Zoroastrianism thus exemplify Zoroaster’s holistic vision and environmental consciousness.Recording of priests is a part of oral tradition recordings. A study of the core ceremony of the Yasna & Jashan has been conducted and comparative studies with Iran have begun.