USHAOe-mail edition 




Mazda at moi vahista

sravaoscha shyothanamcha vaocha: 

Ta tu mananghah

ashaccha ishudem stututo 

Xamaka xathra Ahura,

ferashem vasna haithyem dao ahum. 

Then, oh Mazda, unto me the best

precepts and deeds do Thou disclose. 

These, indeed, the Good Mind,

and Righteousness do I yearningly pray for. 

May your Sovereignty, oh Ahura,

make my life truly renewed as You will. 

(Ahunavaity 7.15 : Yasna 34.15)  

Dear Reader, 

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Ervad Jehan Bagli and Ervad Adi Unwalla




erformance of any Zarathushtrian ritual is a spiritual experience that invariably involves a communion with the supreme divinity, Ahura Mazda. This uncreated entity is the primary principle of Nature, and is the source and focus of all enlightenment. Mazda is the ultimate creative essence that is absolute in its purity, creativity, strength, righteousness, kindness, and benevolence. This force of All Goodness is best conceived as an embodiment of a Mind that is infinitely supreme and beyond the comprehension of humanity. This is an aspect that Asho Zarathusht addresses in the Gathas as Spenta Mainyu – the Holy Spirit or Mentality and relates to his God saying, “I am able to perceive Thee as the Creator of all through your Holy Spirit (Mentality)”.1 

     Zarathushtrian theology teaches us of the spiritual state of Mainyava that constitute a conceptually perfect Spiritual world (Ph. Menog) that is the total harmony with the concept of Asha. Mainyava is the abode of the Holy Spirit and its attributes, a vision, ultimate in its purity and absolute in Righteousness. In contrast, the physical world (Ph. Getgi) we live in, is infected with pollution and contaminated with evil. The imperfections of the Getig world have a profound influence on the fragile human mentality. Theology dictates Zarathushtrian priests and laity alike to be conscious of the flaws and defects of the world of actuality. Performance of daily ritual through Avestan Manthras, actualizes the divine experience, that links the physical with the spiritual. This assimilation of faith and devotion through prayers assists the renovation of purity of mind and body, which is afflicted with physical flaws. This in turn, translates into the specific behavioral pattern of benevolent thoughts, words and acts. 

     It is incumbent upon Zarathushtrian priests to do their utmost to preserve the piety and sanctity of body and mind, in preparation of any spiritual experience such as Jashan, Navzote or Weddings. Affirmation of the devotion to Mazda Ahura is an essential ingredient, to transcend to an environment amenable for that Holy Communion. The conduct and manners of the participating priests must radiate the ritualistic purity to the congregation participating in that spiritual experience, A number of purificatory practices have evolved in Zarathushtrian tradition to enable the participants to realize the state of ritualistic purity. These are designed to bridge the gap between the physical and the spiritual reality and to make the communion an existential experience. 

     The simplest of all the purificatory practices is the Padyab ritual. The term is derived from Avestan Paiti-apa and is recognized as “rinsing the exposed parts of the body with water”. In its earlier understanding2 the term meant “against water” referring to the intervention of an ablution with gaomez (unconsecrated bull’s urine), before the use of water”. The practice of using gamoez has essentially dissipated over time.3 Padyab ritual constitutes the purificatory enactment for the Kusti ceremony. The participating priests must therefore perform a Padyab-Kusti ritual in preparation for the performance of any Zarathushtrian ceremony.



    Jashan ceremony, generally is performed by two priests. There are however, exceptions, where due to scarcity of priests, even one priest can perform it. There is no specific limitation to the number of priests who can participate in this ritual. Of these, there are two leading priests who conduct the course of this ritual. The senior priest is called Zaotar (Guj. Zoti) and the junior priest is called Raspi (Guj Rathvi). Nirangistan text4 elaborates the designation of the eight priests historically believed to partake in the Yasna ceremony. In there, Zaotar is described as the principal officiating invoker. The Avestan term Zaotar is related to Sanskrit term Hotra of Hindu priesthood.  In the Gathas5 Zarathushtra calls himself an invoker or the priest saying “I am a righteous invoker who perceives Thee through best thinking”.  Zoator is thus the one who calls upon Mazda to attune with Him, and assumes that Divine role during the actualization of the ritual. Nirangistan also describes two other priests. Atravakhsh – one who supervises the Fire, and Raethwishkara – one who is a mixer, later recognized as a priest who arranges things in order, for the ritual. In Jashan ceremony today, the Raspi performs the combined services of Atravakhsh and Raethwishkara.  He helps in arranging all the requisites for Jashan and also looks after the sacred fire, during the ceremony. Besides tending the fire by feeding it with Sukhad  (fragrant sandalwood), the Raspi also performs Atravakhshi (Guj. Atrokshi). This is an enactment when the Raspi establishes connection with the Chamach (ladle), to the Afarganyu (fire vase) and all the priests join in by holding hands. The action symbolizes the attunement of all the performing priests, through Fire, with the Divine spirit of Mazda.



     The Jashan ceremony is initiated with the recital of Atash Niyaesh. Fire is the physical perception of the Wise Lord – Mazda Ahura. Zarathushtra saw in this element absolute Truth, absolute Righteousness, absolute Justice, and the Immutable Order of Nature. The prophet realized in the divine Fire that paramount concept of ASHA, a concept that personifies the will of God. Therefore, Fire in this ceremony represents the embodiment of the Spirit of Mazda. There are three occasions in this Niyaesh when the Atravakshi (connection with the fire) is performed: 

     It is important to note that both the Gathic concept (2nd Atravkhshi) and the later evolved Younger Avestan concept (1st Atravkhsi) of fire is revered in this liturgy. This is the only Niyaesh (with the exception of Ardevi Sur Niiyaesh) of the five liturgies of this group, where a significant part of its text is composed of the Gathas and Yasna prayers. The initial khshnuman of the liturgy includes three verses taken from Gatha Ahunavaiti.7 These are the crucial prayers where Asho Zarthusht realizes the attunement with his Master. In the first verse, the sage pleads with Ahura Mazda to “Rise within him and grant him Devotion”. In the next verse he prays for the realization of the power of Divine Sovereignty, through Good Mind. Finally he dedicates his self both physical and spiritual, as well as his benevolent thoughts and actions with obedience to the Divine ruler. The main body of the text consists of the verses of Yasna8 dedicated to Fire. The liturgy terminates with the ending of khshnuman which, includes the Gathic6 verse that prays homage to the Enlightenment (Fire) of Ahura Mazda. 


     The dibache of the afringan is recited by the Zoti alone, and is like a preface to a book. The Dibache of the first afringan is the only one that is recited aloud.  In contrast, the Dibache of the later afringans is recited in Baj (low tone). The language of Dibache is Pazand, suggesting its introduction in Sassanian times (3rd century C.E.). It is traditionally believed that if the intermittent Pazand prayers are recited aloud within the Avestan prayers, it could adversely affect the vibrational enlightenment that the Avestan prayers are expected to liberate. For this reason, all the Pazand prayers, between Avestan verses are recited in low tone. Dibache liturgy essentially starts with the introduction of what is to follow. The function of this recital, is to announce the congregation, the name of the place where the offering is being made.  These declarations are made with the words, in khsnumaine (name of the offering)…be-rasad, and… hast shaherastan under (name of the place) shaherastan respectively. The name of the afringan is recited on four occasions in this portion of the prayer. 


     We now arrive at the remembrance portion of the dibache. Afringan prayers are designed to remember the souls of good humans, alive as well as departed. The living souls are remembered with words Namchesti zindeh ravan while the departed souls are remembered with the words Namchesti anosheh ravan. The name of the person requesting the prayer is recited with the words Farmayashne (name) mazdayasni be-resaad. Traditionally the names of the ordained priests are preceded by the word Ervad. The names of the members of a priestly family are preceded by the terms Osta and Osti for males and females respectively. In contrast, the names of all the members of a non-priestly family are preceded by the term Behdin. The name of an infant who has not undergone Navzote ceremony is preceded by the term Khurd.  

     This prayer also invokes the spirit of prophet Zarathushtra, his family, kings, queens, warriors, deserving priests and dignitaries of the historical era. This is followed by seven verses that encapsulate the remembrance of the humanity in its entirety, everywhere, dead or alive. Interestingly, all these verses end with the words az Gayomard anda Soshyos aedar yad baad meaning ‘from the first mortal being to the last savior are remembered”. The Dibache section ends with the words Kera gah roz shaheryari khesh pirojgar baad --- “on behalf of whom and under the sovereignty of its own watch and day may the ceremony be successful”. With these words, the Zoti signals the other mobeds. The mobeds respond loudly with the words khesh pirojgar baad and begin reciting the afrigan prayer.



     This liturgy can be conveniently divided into four sections. a)  starting khshnuman, b) karda, c) the “invariable” section, and d) ending khshnuman.. 

  1. The term khshnuman means rejoicing, pleasure or satisfying of the Divine. This initial khshnuman ends with the exchange of yatha ahu variyo zaota between the Zoti and Raspi which terminates with the words … fra ashava, vidhwao mraotu.
  2. The word karda simply means a “core section”. The karda portion of afringans generally represents parts taken from the texts of other longer liturgies such as Yasna and Yashts. The sources of kardas of various afringans art described below:


Srosh Afringan (recited on the evenings of first three days after death): The karda is section 7 of Srosh Yasht Vadi, which is identical with section 2 of Srosh Yasht Hadokht. 

Gahmbar Afringan: The karda is taken from Hadokht Nask. 

Rapithwan Afringan: The karda is a special recitation composed in ancient Iran in connection with a Baj ceremony. The karda always ends with three Asem vohu. 

  1. The “invariable” section, as the name suggests, is constant for all the afringans. This section consists of three paragraphs of blessings starting with the word Afrinami  -- “I bless” – derived from Afrin meaning “benedictions”. These invocations are wishes for strength, health, victory over all evil adversaries and a long happy life in the service of Truth. This portion ends with the words Atha jamyat yatha afrinami, “may it be so as I bless”.
  2. The ending khshnuman starts with two Yatha ahu vairyo and yasnemcha prayer. The recitation of Hama Zor prayer that follows, symbolizes a hope to unite through Truth. The Zoti and Raspi perform a ritual handshake while reciting this prayer. The afringan is then ended with the Humatanam prayer confirming once again the faith in good thoughts, good words and good deeds.



                   8 3 

      7 4 

      6 5 

      2 1 

     The picking up of the flowers in the descending and ascending order  symbolizes the sojourn of the good souls between the spiritual and   physical worlds. During the Humatanm prayer the circuit formed by the Zoti and the Raspi through the paiwand with the fruit tray and the fire is the most climatic moment of the prayer. The moment epitomizes the completion of the circuit between the physical and the spiritual. This is the fulfillment of the communion, the successful realization of the beauty of the physical experience to the Spiritual Reality. These actions that attune the physical with the spiritual, radiates the Righteousness, a key attribute of the principal of ASHA. Fire, the Gathic symbol of Truth and Righteousness thus unites with Zoti, representing the attribute, in the material existence. The intonations of the Avestan verses, in resonance with this enactment, emanate the Divine brilliance to the participating congregation --- an existential experience.   

     At the invocation of the manthras of Yatha ahu vairyo and Ashem vohu that follow the recital of the pazand passage in baj, the entire creation is remembered. While reciting these words, the Zoti, through his actions, extols all that is good, in all the four corners of this world. After the ending khshnuman, and the Hama Zor, the afringan is terminated with the Humataran prayer9 confirming the faith in good thoughts, words and deeds.



     A jashan ceremony is performed to celebrate happy occasions as well as for the memory of the departed souls. The afringans performed for these jashans vary with the type of the ceremony. Jashans may be performed for a festivity occasion, for a house warming, for a new business venture, for Gahmbars, for Gathas, and for the memory of departed souls. All Jashans include three afringans that vary depending upon the type of jashan. The following table shows the afringans recited for specific jashans. The afringan of Dahaman is included in all jashans except that of Gatha. However, if one wishes to recite the afringan of Dahman in the Gatha jashan, one may do so by reciting it between the afringan of Gatha and Srosh. 



     Spendarmad (Avesta: Spenta Aramaiti) is the Ameshaspenta (Bounteous Immortal) representing peace and tranquility that is essential to life on earth10. In later tradition, this Ameshaspenta is associated with earth, as its guardian, It is the duty of the humans as stewards of the sacred creation, to look after and maintain the purity and sanctity of the earth. The recital of the afringan of Spandarmard during house warming jashan, expresses the devotion and dedication of the people to nurture the land and the structures on it, in a righteous and just manner.    

     Behram (Avesta Verethraghna, Pahlavi Vahram) is a Persian term for the pre-Zarathushtrian Indo-Iranian divinity Verethraghna that symbolizes victory. The recital of Afringan of Behram expresses the manifestation of the spirit of victory and success in any venture in life. These sentiments signify the recitation of this liturgy during the jashan blessings, for the initiation of a new enterprise. 

     Dahman and Dahm: It is important to understand that afringan of Dahman, which is recited in almost all the jashans propitiates the pantheon of divinities that are recognized in the later Zarathushtrian tradition as Yazatas. These Yazatas together with six Ameshaspentas and Ahura Mazda constitute the 30 days of the Zarathushtrian calendar. The Avestan khshnuman dahmayo vanghuyao afritoish ughrai damoish upamanai is recited for the liturgy, invoking the Blessings of these Divinities. The afringan of Dahman is distinctly different from the afringan of Dahm yazata, which is prayed during the dawn of the fourth day after the death of a person. In this afringan Daham yazata is invoked, with the words Daham yazad vispesha ardafravash be-resad. 

     Jashan-e-Gahambar is performed during the high festival of Gahambars, which are celebrated during the days and months of the Zarathushtrian Calendar as shown in the table below. These seasonal festivals are significantly displaced by the Shenshai and Kadmi calendars. Their true seasonal harmony is preserved by the Fasli calendar. 

     Traditionally jashan of Gahambar is performed during the Havan, Uziran and Ushain gahs (daytime watches), as can be seen from the text of afringan of Gahambar. This afringan is not recited during Rapithwin (midday) and Aiwisruthrem (early night) gahs.



     These are the Pazand prayers that are recited by the Zoti alone, after the three afringans are concluded. The word Afrin means Benediction. These are the liturgies of blessings from the divinities. During all jashans, except for that of Gahmbar, afrins of Ardafravash, Buzorgan and Haft Ameshapand are recited. For the jashan of Gahmbar the afrin of Gahmbar is recited.. 

     Afrin of Ardafravash: Most verses of this afrin start with the words Hama Zor Bad meaning  “May we be united”. Here, union is sought with all the goodness in the world, starting with the religion of Zarathushtra, and the knowledge of Mazda worship. Homage is paid unto all the gahs, the gahambars, the Gathas, and the faithful of the seven regions of the world. The righteous fravashis of all those who have existed, those who are existing and those who will exist are revered, from the time of the first mortal Gayomaretan to the last savior Saoshyant.  

     Afrin of Buzorgan: By definition this afrin eulogizes the strong and powerful attributes of the monarchs of the Peshdadians and Kyanian dynasties. Blessings of bounteous character are showered on to the master of the house together with wishes of enlightened progeny who will protect the community and earn greatness and fame   

     Afrin of Haft Ameshaspand: This afrin is also known as afrin of Dahman or Hamkara. This liturgy pays tribute and seeks oneness with Mazda, the attributes of Ameshapentas and the later evolved Yazatas, also known as Hamkars (associates) of Ameshapentas. The prayer also seeks spiritual communion with the good creations of Mazda, with the ancient mountains and the rivers that bear the brilliance of the Lord of Wisdom. In the later part of this liturgy the fravashis of those who gave their lives in the perpetuation of the religion of Zarathushtra are remembered.  

     Afrin of Gahambar: This afrin is recited in the Gahambar Jashan. The afrin begins with the wishes of communion with the righteous, virtuous, brilliant and majestic Ahura Mazda and Ameshapentas. Righteous Fravashis and Mazda worship are venerated and the hope to attune with all that is good is expressed. Verses five to ten describe the names of the High Festivals of Gahambar, and clearly define the duration of the days and the month of the Zarathushtrian religious calendar, when they should be observed. The connection between the creation of the heavens, water, earth, plant, animal and man with these six High Festivals that evolved in the later tradition, are also described. The liturgy ends with reverence for the souls from the spiritual domain and hope that their presence will enrich the Good in this world. 

    As mentioned at the beginning, jashan is a ritual where the divinities and fravashis are invoked to establish a communion. This aspect is reaffirmed at the end of the afrin with the words dahaman ke pa myzad frajrasid hend – “May the merit increase due to the arrival of the pious ones” and evil be defeated. At these words both priests recite to pay homage to Righteous souls in their return to their Divine abode in the House of Songs. The service ends with the praise to good thoughts, good words and deeds for the last time. 

     As you recall we commenced this ceremony with the purificatory ritual of Padyab-kuhsti to prepare for the Holy Sacrament of the communion in this spiritual environment.  Traditionally in Zarthushtrian theology, the practice of realizing a “ state of ritual purity” is recognized as “taking a Baj”. In order to leave that “state of ritual purity” (leaving the Baj) both priests recite Yatho ahu vairyo 21 times and Ashem vohu 12 times. It is interesting to note that the prayers of Yatha ahu variyo and Ashem vohu have 21 and 12 words respectively. It therefore appears that the number of times they are recited is once for each word contained in these prayers. This is followed by the full recital of the four fold prayers of Ahmai Raescha to Kerfeh Mozda. 

The Jashan ceremony is then brought to a close with the recital of Tandorasti prayer. This liturgy simply showers the blessings of health, wealth and prosperity on the family and friends of the person who has requested the services to be performed.


  1. Ys. 44.7
  2. M. Boyce, “History of Zoroastrianism” Vol. I p. 296
  3. J.K. Choksi, “Triumph Over Evil” p.54
  4. Nirangistan, Book 11 Ch. XXVII
  5. Ys. 33.6:
  6. Ys.34.4
  7. Ys.33.12-14
  8. Ys.62.1-10
  9. Ys.35.2
  10. Ys.47.3

On Zarathushtra’s Path to Ahura Mazda 

Through righteousness the Best,

Through righteousness the Highest

May we see Thee,

May we be with one with Thee.

(Yasna 60.12)



Thou art, O God! the life and light

Of all this wondrous world we see:

Its glow by day, its smile by night

Are but reflections caught from Thee.

Where’er  we turn, Thy glories shine

And all things fair and bright are Thine

When day, with farewell beam delays.

Among the opening clouds of even;

And we can almost think we gaze

Through golden vistas into heaven;

These hues, that make the sun’s decline

So soft, so radiant, Lord, are Thine.

When night, with wings of starry gloom

O’ershadows all the earth and skies,

Like some dark, beauteous bird, whose plume

Is sparkling with unnumbered eyes;

That sacred gloom, those fires divine,

So grand, so countless, Lord! are Thine.

When youthful spring around us breathes,

Thy spirit warms her fragrant sigh;

And every flower the summer wreathes,

Is born beneath that kindling eye.

Where’er  we turn Thy glories shine.

(Tom Moore)