Priesthood Initiation Ceremonies: Navar And Martab

 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 and exploring the brilliance of the greatest of all religions… by the grace of Ahura Mazda! In this excerpt, we share an understanding about the ‘Navar’ and ‘Martab’ priesthood ceremonies.

The Navar Ceremony: One newly initiated into the work of offering prayers, rites and sacred things to Ahura Mazda is called Navar. The candidate for initiation must first pass through two bareshnum purifications. He is then initiated into the order by two priests. To qualify for the performance of the ceremony, these priests have to go through the Gewra ceremony – consisting of performing the Yasna ceremony for six mornings. On the sixth day, the priest who performs the Yasna ceremony, initiates the candidate. The neophyte (candidate) takes his bath with all formalities, puts on new clothes and is led to the fire temple in a procession. He then dresses in the complete ceremonial attire, wears on his shoulders a shawl and carries a mace (gorz) as the insignia of dignity and authority. When the procession reaches the place of initiation, he undresses, laying aside the insignia, and under the guidance of one of the officiating priests, presents himself before the assembly.

The initiating priest then asks the assembly, “Is it your pleasure that this candidate be admitted?” After waiting for a few seconds for a reply, he takes the silence of the assembly to signify its will and consent, and expressing his pleasure, gives his own consent. The candidate is then taken to the Yazishn-gah, i.e. the place set aside for the liturgical service, where he performs the Yasna ceremony and subsequently the Baj and Afringan ceremonies. These are repeated for four days. After this, he is declared qualified to become a priest.

The Martab Ceremony: A Navar can perform only a few liturgical services; he cannot officiate at the higher services performed in the temple. In order to qualify for these, he must go through the second grade of initiation to become a Martab, or one who has acquired the rank (martabeh) of a Director of Priesthood. In this ceremony, the initiate goes through the bareshnum ceremony for ten days, ending which he performs the Yasna ceremony on the eleventh day. Thereafter, he is fully qualified to officiate as a Martab or Directing Priest at all ceremonies

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