Baj, the anniversary of one’s death.

Avesta — Zoroastrian Archives

by Joseph H. Peterson

Baj, the anniversary of one’s death.

We will now speak of these different significations. Baj is the name of one of the liturgical services which form the funeral services after one’s death. The first three days after death are the principal days when these ceremonies are performed. [355] After this period of the first three days, the principal occasions during the first year after death are, as referred to in the Pazand Dibache of the Afrinagans, the following: 1. Chehârum, or the Fourth day. 2. Dehûm, or the Tenth day. 3. Sirouz, or the Thirtieth day. 4. Sâlrouz, or the Anniversary.

During the first year, the Baj ceremony is performed every month on the ruz or the day of the month of the death of the deceased and the day is known as pehlâ mahinâni Bâj, bijâ mihinâni Bâj, i.e., the first month’s Baj, the second month’s Baj, and so on. After the first year, the Baj ceremony is generally performed on every succeeding anniversary, which anniversary is known as the Baj of the deceased. Just as an Englishman would say, “Today is the fifth or sixth anniversary of the death of A or B,” a Parsi would say, “Today is the fifth or sixth Baj of A or B.” At times, he would speak a little more definitely and say, “Today is the Baj of the fifth or sixth year of A or B.” It is considered to be the duty of the son or the nearest heir to perform the Baj ceremony in honor of the deceased person. The name of the deceased person is recited in the Baj prayers.1 The name of the person who gets the ceremony performed is also recited as Farmâ-yashnî, i.e., as that of the person giving the Farmân or the order to get it performed. At times, persons in their lifetime, or by their wills, set apart certain sums, out of the interest of which such ceremonies known as the Baj-rozgâr ceremonies are performed. There are cases known of deceased persons whose Bajs have continued to be performed, i.e., whose death anniversaries have been religiously celebrated every year, for more than hundred years. In the case of some great worthies who have done yeoman’s service to their towns, their Bajs or death anniversaries are celebrated by public subscriptions. For example, the anniversaries of the deaths of Dastur Meherji Rana and of Desai Khorshedji of Naosari are [356] observed with religious Baj ceremonies by their townspeople even now, about 300 years after the death of one and 150 years after the death of the other person. After the ceremonies, solemn dinners are held in which the subscribers participate.  

II. Baj, the offerings made for the celebration and recital of the Baj.

In the celebration of the Baj, certain offerings are necessary. These offerings, when placed in an utensil or vessel, are also called a Baj. The utensil containing the offerings is called the Baj of the particular deceased whose funeral ceremonies are performed. For example, suppose that a certain day is the anniversary of the death of more than one person. Then for each such person, such vessels with offerings are prepared. Then each of the vessels containing these offerings is said to be the Baj — or, to speak more correctly, the vessel containing the Baj — of A, B, or C as the case may be.

The requisites of a Baj.

The most essential requisites of the Baj, i.e., of the offerings are (a) the dron, or the sacred bread, (b) some kind of fruit, (c) some kind of animal production.

(a) Of the Dron or the sacred bread, we have spoken at some length in the description of the Yasna ceremonies.2 The Rivayats say that each of the named Drons, i.e., the sacred breads with the sacred marks, must be about 31 tânks3 in weight, and each of the unnamed drons or Farshasts, i.e., the sacred breads without the sacred marks, must be about 33 tânks.
(b) As to fruit, it is generally the practice to place in the Baj some fruits of the season. In India, where plantains or bananas are plentiful and are obtainable throughout the whole of the year, they form an essential requisite. One plantain or banana is placed in each Baj. Ordinarily, it is believed that for the poor or for those who cannot afford much, one or two dates [357] or a few grains of the pomegranate are sufficient as representative of the offering of the vegetable creation of God.(c) As to some products of the animal creation, in India, an egg is considered to be an essential as easily obtainable. But for those who cannot afford, a very small quantity of ghee or clarified butter as representing an offering of the animal creation of God is sufficient.

Complete explanation of several Baj ceremonies are given by Joseph H. Peterson at: http://www.avesta.org/ritual/rcc5.htm

 


 

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