Recreating Paradise On Earth

Almost every religious tradition observes a day or days for remembering their near and dear departed ones. They say grief is the last act of love we offer to those we loved, and that remembering them is akin to breathing life into their fading presence from our life. Most human beings by nature are ritualistic and therefore prayers and ceremonies help one to acknowledge the reality of death and emotions associated with the departure of a loved one. Death rituals help survivors to acknowledge the fact that the relationship with the person who has departed has shifted from physical presence to now just a memory.

Remembering Our Dear Departed – Fravardegan Days:

Zoroastrians observe the Fravardegan or Muktaad – the last ten days of the Zoroastrian calendar which are of great religious significance in every devout Zoroastrian’s life. During these ten days, the Fravashi or Fravahar of our dear departed are remembered with piety and devotion. This year, the Muktaad will begin from Sunday, 6th August and end with Pateti (the day for Patet or repentance) on 15th August. The Shehenshahi New Year falls on 16th August, 2023, marking the first day (Roj Hormuzd) of the first month (Mah Fravardin), corresponding to the year 1393 Yezdazirdi (YZ). Incidentally, 1393 YZ denotes the fact that 1,393 years ago, Yezdagerd III, the last Shahensha (King of Kings) of Zoroastrian (Sassanid) Iran ascended the Royal Throne.

Fravardegan Days Commemorate Fravahar, Not Urvan:

It’s important to note that the Muktaad days are in honor of the Fravashi and not the Urvan or the souls. The fravashi or farohar is the Divine essence, which is wholly pure and good. It is not to be confused with the urvan or soul. The Avestan word fravashi comes from the word Fra (to take forward) and vaksh (to grow). In other words, Fravashi is that spiritual essence or energy that takes every good creation of Ahura Mazda forward and helps it to grow.

 Fravashi is also a prototype, which is believed to have existed before all material creation. Even Ahura Mazda, the Amesha Spenta and the Yazata, are said to be having their own fravashi. Plants, animals, mountains and rivers also have their own fravashi. They are guardian spirits of the souls of the dead and protect and guide the souls of the living, as well.

Observing Muktaad (Including At Home):

Historically, the community always observed the Muktaad at home. The Muktaad or Fravardegan days essentially center around the family and until a few decades ago, was observed largely at home. With urbanization, small apartments and difficulty in observing ritual purity at home, the focus shifted from the home to the fire temple. The Fravardegan days were holidays in the true sense of the word. Parsis would cut themselves off from worldly affairs and engage themselves in offering prayers, night and day. All homes would be cleaned, weeks in advance. Fire and incense would be kept burning, day and night, especially in that separate room where consecrated metal vases bearing clean well water and fresh flowers are kept on marble topped tables. This can be observed even today. One may entrust ceremonial work to the family priest at the fire temple. But a parallel atmosphere can also be created at home with flowers, oil lamps, incense and offering of fruits.

Flowers in silver vases not only help keep the memory of a loved one green, but also create an atmosphere of peace, purity and love. With flowers, oil lamps, fire and the burning of incense, a virtual paradise is created on earth in honour of the visiting fravashis. Surely, if one creates the right atmosphere at home, the visiting fravashis will pay your home a visit and bless you.


The Rivayats recommend 6 important religious duties for a Zoroastrian, two of which include “observing the Gahambar and remembering the fravashis of the departed on the Fravardegan days. Two other duties include Raasti (truthfulness/righteousness) and Raadhi (charity). And, charity here is not just about giving food, shelter, clothing or money. What is of prime importance is being charitable in thought or what we commonly refer to as being thoughtful – thoughtful to the feelings of others, thoughtful about the well-being of others and generally being charitable in thought, word or deeds.

Fight even your enemies with righteous conduct is what Zoroastrianism preaches. Do not harm others with negative thoughts or harsh words and let your deeds not cause any harm to yourself or to others. Hence, during these holy days try to be extra charitable – in your thoughts, words and deeds.


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.” Zoroastrians observe cleanliness and purity at the highest level during these days. All staunch orthodox families abstain from cutting hair and nails as also shaving, since nails and hair are doctrinally seen as nasu (pollutant). This is all very good, but remember also to abstain from cutting off people be it in thought, word or deed. See it as a time to forgive yourself and forgive those who may have been unkind to you.

 Specific Prayers (At Home):

During the fraverdegan days, Zoroastrians can offer special prayers for the fravashis of their near and dear ones. 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) can be chanted or 1,200 Ashem (a short 12 words’ prayer) can be offered. During the five Gatha days, the relevant Gatha may be chanted or 1,200 Yatha (a short 21 words’ prayer) can be offered.

The Stum can also be prayed with offering of clean water and fruits, preferably a pomegranate. After the prayer, the water may be drunk or poured in a flower pot and the fruit eaten as Chashni (ritually offered and blessed food). It is also considered meritorious to offer acts of charity in the name of the departed and offer Patet (repentance) for the soul of a near and dear loved one. The last Gatha day is also known as Pateti (the day for offering Patet – repentance for sins of omission and commission for the year, which is to come to a close). The Patet should preferably be prayed at night. All these prayers can be offered from home or at the fire temple.


Liberate Your Spirit:

About two centuries ago, the French scholar, Anquetil du Perron observed that the Parsis in Surat “give them (i.e., the fravashi of the departed) the most magnificent reception. The houses are purified and decorated. They (i.e., the Parsis) do not go out of the house. They spend the day in prayers and in works of charity.”

This year too, let your home be filled with the soothing chants of the Avesta prayed by members of your family. Make your home wear the look of Paradise on earth and try this year to make this world a living paradise. Be charitable, kind and understanding. Start with your home, your work place, your neighborhood. Do pray, but also practice what you pray. Muktaad is about mukt atma (free spirit). Propitiate the righteous fravashis, but also liberate your own spirit. Liberate your spirit from negative thoughts, harsh words and hurtful deeds.

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