Understanding Our Ceremonies: The Farokhshi

Parsi Times shares excerpts from one of the all-time-classics – ‘In Search Of My God’ – which celebrates Zoroastrian history, religion and culture. What better way to rediscover the splendor of our great religion than by enriching the comprehension and exploring the brilliance of the greatest of all religions… by the grace of Ahura Mazda! In this excerpt, we share an understanding of the religious ceremony, ‘Farokhshi’.

The ‘Farokhshi’ prayer is intended to remember, invoke, and praise the Fravashis of the dead. Like the Afringan, it is generally recited over offerings such as fruits, flowers, milk, wine and water, and before fire. The Fravashi is that power or spiritual essence in a substance, which enables it to grow. It is the spirit inherent in everything, inanimate or animate, which protects it from decay and enables it to grow, flourish and prosper.

Every object in nature is believed to have its Fravashi. The Fravashis are a kind of prototype, and are analogous to the ‘ideas’ of Plato who believed that everything had a double existence, in idea and in reality. According to the Fravardin Yasht, their number is legion, and they are spoken of as protecting and looking after the Vourukasha sea (Caspian). The same number looks after the constellation of Haptoirang (Ursa Major), the body of Keresapa, and the seed of Zarathushtra. As the universe is made of innumerable objects, animate or inanimate, large or small, and as each object has its own Fravashi, or some individual, inherent, spiritual essence which maintains and supports it, it is evident that there are innumerable such spirit essences, all emanating from the great divine essence of God who has created them, and who has made use of them.

Ahura Mazda is the Great Architect of the universe. He is the Creator of the material as well as the spiritual world. The Fravashis form the creation of the spiritual world. In spiritual hierarchy, they stand, as it were, fourth in the order of supremacy. Ahura Mazda (The Omniscient, Self-existent Lord) is at the head of all; next come the Ameshaspentas (The Bountiful Immortals), who are His own creations; then the Yazatas (i.e. those who are worthy of being worshipped); and the Fravashis (i.e. the guarding or protecting spirits).

Zoroastrianism preaches veneration for the dead. It is believed that there exists some relation between the dead and the living. The channel, through which the relation continues, is the Fravashi, or the guiding and guardian spirit of the dead, who come to the help of the living, provided they live a pure and virtuous life and hold the departed ones in veneration.

Farokhshi is the recital of the praise of these Fravashis in honour of the dead.


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