Rituals and Food – Parsi Cuisine
March 31, 2015

Rituals and Food

inside_agiariFood plays a important and necessary role in our daily lives. Each ceremony we perform has an associated food involved.

Guests who come to share good times and bad times, auspicious and joyous occasions have to be cordially entertained and food is the most important. Guests should be made to feel welcome and a well taken care of. Care should be taken for their food allergies, vegetarian beliefs.

Events like funerals, births, weddings, navjotes, jashans, traditional ceremonies like agarni, pug ladoo, besnu, pachori, charam all have special food served.

 

 

ZOROASTRIAN PARSI RITUALS related to food:

Birth

After the birth of a child in a Zoroastrian family, the new mother is normally confined to the house for 40 days. This is to prevent her and her child from any diseases. A lamp is lit on the day of birth and is kept in the room for about 40 days to ward off any evil elements. Some families observe the Pachori on the fifth day while some observe Dasori on the tenth day of the child.

On the fortieth day , the new mother is given a ceremonial bath with consecrated water being administered by the head priest. This is done to cleanse her so that she can interact with other people.

Para Haoma

The event of giving the first drink to the newborn is called Para Haoma. It is consecrated Haoma juice and it is supposed to make the child healthy. But these days a sweet drink made of molasses or sugar is also administered.

Navjote

The formal admission of a child into the Zoroastrian fold is called Navjote. It is done between the seventh and the eleventh year of the child.

First the child takes a special bath called Nahn and then he is given a purifying drink. Then the child stands in a raised platform and his mother performs the Achoo Michoo ceremony where certain items are rotated over the head of the child seven times. This is done to invoke the blessings of the seven Amesha Spentas on the child.

Then certain prescribed texts are read and the Kushti is worn round the waist of the child. Then a long prayer is held when the child declares that he will be a true Zoroastrian and follow the rules and regulations.

Both the Parsi boys and girls are given this privilege. Finally the priest recites the Doa Tandorosoti Prayer, which calls for the well being of the child, his parents and the community in particular.

read more… (Navjote)

Marriage

The marriage involves the groom going to the bride’s house along with his relatives and friends. The priest heads the assembly and women carry the Varni – the gifts meant for the bride. Music bands accompany them.

The bride’s house is usually decorated with strings of flowers. When the groom arrives the bride’s mother welcomes him by applying Kumkum on his forehead and sprays rice grains over him.

During the ceremony the couple shower rice over each other and the priest also throws rice grains over them as a mark of blessing. A coconut is taken round the head of the groom three times, then it is broken and the water is applied at the feet of the groom. The bridegroom is made to sit on the hand of the bride. Both of them face the eastern direction. One person with a burning flame is allowed to stand near the couple as a reverence to their God of fire. A candle is also placed on both the sides and it burns for the whole ceremony.

The priest gets the consent of the couple and then joins their hands and showers rice grains over them. Then the couple is seated facing each other, with a curtain between them. The couple is made to hold each other’s right hand and a piece of cloth is passed round the chairs so as to enclose them. The ends of the cloth are tied symbolizing the marriage knot. Then the writings of the Yatha Ahuvairyo are read.

Finally the curtain is dropped and the couple shower rice grains on each other. The relatives and friends then clap approving the marriage.

Then a grand feast (lagan nu patru) is given!

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Read more... (weddings and food)

Death

When death of a person is imminent , two head priests are called. They recite the Patet – the prayer for repentance. A few drops of the Haoma juice are administered to the dying person. Nowadays pomegranate juice is also given.

According to the Zoroastrians, if the soul has left the body then it should be disposed off with minimum harm to those living. The Zoroastrians have strict ideals of sanitation, segregation, purification and cleanliness. The part of the house where the body was kept before the funeral will be washed and cleansed thoroughly.

After death a “Paydast” or Funeral Services are held in a funeral home. Friends and relatives come to pay their respect to the grieving family. Later in the day, prayers for “Sarosh nu Patru” should be done. Traditionally parsis stop eating meat for the next 3 days in respect of the departed state.

The next day is “Uthamnu” where friends and relatives come to pay their respect to the grieving family. “Sarosh nu Patru” prayers are done. The soul of the departed continues it’s journey to heaven(Behest).

On the fourth day of the passing a “Charam” ceremony is held with prayers for the departed soul. The family prepares the departed person’s favorite foods and partakes of these. Traditionally Dhansak is prepared and shared with family and friends.

Read more (Baj and other ceremonies)

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