Sunday, 7th August, 2016 marks the first day of the holy Muktad or Fravardegan days.
The last 10 days of the Shehanshai Zoroastrian calendar (i.e., Roj Astad to Aneran and the five days of the Gatha) are very significant to all practicing Zoroastrians as these are considered to be very holy. Doctrinally it is believed that during this period, the fravashis of the righteous dead, come down from their spiritual world into this material world and bless all those who remember and pray for them.
The Muktad or Fravardegan days essentially center around the family and until a few decades ago, were observed largely at home. Today, with urbanization, small apartments and difficulty in observing ritual purity at home, the focus has shifted from the home to the fire temple.
The Fravardegan days were holidays in the true sense of the word. Parsis would cut themselves away from worldly affairs and engage themselves in offering prayers, night and day. Houses would be cleaned weeks in advance. Fire and incense would be kept burning, day and night, especially in the separate room where consecrated metal vases bearing clean well water and fresh flowers were kept atop marble topped tables in honour of the visiting fravashis.
The Fravardin Yasht (13.14) states, “In that house in which clean and pure water and vegetation is placed, the holy fravashis agree to move about.” Parsis observe ultimate cleanliness and purity during these days. Orthodox families abstain from cutting hair and nails, or shaving, as these are considered nasu (pollutants).
Traditionally, prayers should be offered in all the five Geh (watches) of the day and during the first five days, the Fra Mraot (i.e., chapter 20 of the Yasna) should be chanted or 1,200 Ashem should be offered. Parsis observe the Fravardegan days all over the world with religious fervour and piety. Every Agiary is abuzz with activity and the soothing chants of the Avesta.