On Adar Roj – Adar Mah, which falls on the 22nd of April, 2019 as per the Shahenshahi calendar, Parsis celebrate the ‘Feast of the Fire’, better known as ‘Atash-nu-Parab’. The feast actually begins the day before (Daepadar Roj – Adar Mah, on the 21st of April this year), when the women of the household celebrate the Chulah nu varas, which literally means birthday of the hearth fire over which food is prepared through the year. The kitchen is cleaned and the area around the cooking stove is decorated, the stove itself is garlanded with marigold flowers. The stove is not used from early evening (Uzirin Gah) till the next morning.
For those who wish to celebrate the rituals as has been followed traditionally for centuries, we bring you a detailed understanding of how you could go about it:
Check-list of Samagri or items of preparation include:
- Any form of Indian sweets – like peda or any other of your choice
- 3-4 fruits of the season, especially a mango.
- Few flowers (including marigolds) and a small bunch of 4-6 roses.
- Garlands – one for the ses and one for each stove you possess.
- 2 large garlands – one for the kitchen door and one for the entrance-door of your home.
- Paste of kum-kum (vermilion powder) and haldi (turmeric powder) in water in a small bowl.
- Rose water.
- One Afarganyu (fire-vase) with coal/sandalwood and loban.
- One ses with the soparo, gulabdan, kum-kum holder, a fish made of silver metal, a divo, rice, sugar crystals, a green betel leaf with dried sticks of turmeric, dried dates, betel nut and a coconut.
- One Coconut.
How to go about revering Chula-nu-varas leading to Atash-nu-Parab:
- Clean the kitchen and make it spotless on the morning of Daepadar Roj, i.e. the day before the birthday of the Fire. After Uzirin Gah, clean the kitchen with a clean cloth again.
- Heat the coal until it glows and put the burning embers in the Afarganyu. Keep the fire burning by regularly nurturing the fire with small kathis (logs of wood) and sandalwood.
- Sprinkle water round the stove (choola) and wipe with a clean wet cloth. Decorate with chalk patterns or rangoli round the stove or fire place, making 7 or 9 designs.
- Then put a tilie. mark the stove or fire place on the wall, with kum-kum paste, making a mark similar to the rays of the sun.
- In the kum-kum and haldi powder paste, insert your right thumb and write, ‘Pak Dadar Hormuzd Ni Madad Hojo Ji’ or ‘Khshnaothra Ahurahe Mazdao’, and then do as follows above the stove on the wall but below the inscription.
- Also draw a fire in an afarganyu, a chippyo (tong) and a flat chamach (ladle) and then draw a small square with a diagonal cross as shown below. Some people also draw a farohar on the wall. These are symbols of the fire service i.e. boi ceremony and the square with diagonals is an ancient Iranian symbol found on a 7th century ossuary in Sabz Shavar in Central Asia.
- Place a vase of flowers near the Afarganyu.
- Put a small beaker of water in the ses.
- You can also put small beakers of milk and wine.
- You can also put auspicious foods like papri-malido, ravo, sev, etc.
- Fill the afarganyu with more coal and wood and keep it burning. Leave sukhur and loban near it so that every hour you can feed the fire and keep it going. It does not need to have flames; it can be just be burning embers. The fire should be kept burning until the following morning.
- In a tray (khumcho) put the fruits and sweets (mithai) and the loose flowers.
- Prepare a full ses containing a soparo, gulabdan, kum-kum holder, silver fish and grains of dry rice, saakar (sugar crystals), rose water in the gulabdan and a divo near it.
- At 3.45 p.m. in the afternoon take a bath, do your kusti, light the divo, give sukhur and loban to the fire in the afarganyu.
- Place a tray with fruits, mithai and loose flowers near the afarganyu.
- On the other side of the stove put the ses with a few flowers and the divo, coconut and food such as papri, malido and halwa.
Prayers: Do your kusti, recite Srosh Baj, the Gah Prayers, Ardibehesht Yasht and Atash Niyaish and any other prayer you may wish to recite. After reciting the prayers, offer sukhur and loban to the fire and shut the kitchen door. Ensure family members enter the kitchen at regular intervals to keep the fire in the afarganyu burning and that you also enter at night to recite the evening prayers before going to sleep. In the olden days, women would stay awake at night in order to ensure that the fire was kept burning. The door otherwise is kept shut till the next morning i.e. till Havan Gah of Adar Roj – Adar Mah, when the kitchen is re-opened. It is believed that Ardibehesht Ameshaspand and the Yazata Adar visit the fire to bless the house and its family members at night.
Please note that nothing is to be cooked on the stove and the kitchen is not used, from Uzirin Gah on Daepadar Roj, to Havan Gah of Adar Roj. The stove is rested, and the family keeps the kitchen closed, and they have dinner in a restaurant or eat cold food. The stove has a garland, so does the ses, the kitchen door and the front door.
On the next day, on Adar Roj-Adar Mah, the stove is used to make tea or warm up milk and then it is used for cooking. The Divo is allowed to burn and the fruits and food blessed by Ardibehesht Ameshaspand are eaten at breakfast on Adar Roj.
Courtesy Zoroastrian Studies . .