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Zoroastrian Heritage

Author: K. E. Eduljee

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Contents

Pateti - Parsi New Year's Eve

The Significance of Pateti

Customs

Home Threshold Decorations

Fragrances

New Clothes

Food

Other Customs

Muktad

Patet Prayer


March 21

Nowruz (New Year)

Introduction

Nowruz - a Quick Overview

New Year's Greetings in Persian

The Seasons

The Significance and Symbolism of Nowruz

Nowruz as a Cultural Festival

Is Nowruz an Iranian or Persian New Year?

Nowruz as a Zoroastrian Festival

Alternative Spellings and Pronunciations for Nowruz


Pre-Nowruz Festivities and Observances

Spring-Cleaning or Khaneh-Tekani

All-Souls or Farvardigan Days

Growing Fresh Sprouts

The Feast of Remembrance or the Hamaspathmaidyem Gahambar

Hamaspathmaidyem Gahambar and the Zoroastrian Calendar

The Feast on the Last Day of the Gahambar

The Rite of Fire or Chahar-Shanbeh-Suri

Similarities with Halloween?


Nowruz Day Customs & Observances

Nowruz Customs - The Nowruz Spread or Sofreh

The Nowruz Spread or Sofreh in Zoroastrian Homes

The Nowruz Spread or Sofreh in Islamic Homes

Nowruz Day Customs and Foods

Nowruz Prayers

Socializing

The Outdoors and Sizdeh-Bedar

» Suggested additional reading: Nowruz


The Significance of Pateti

Pateti is, on occasion, called Papeti.

Pateti is New Year's eve for orthodox Parsis who follow the Shenshai calendar. The next day, Nowroz*, is New Year's Day. However, many Parsis call Nowroz (the first day of the month of Farvardin) Pateti, effectively eliminating the day of repentance and changing the meaning of the word Pateti to mean New Year's day.

[*Note: On this page we use the spelling Nowroz to mean the Shenshai New Year and Nowruz to mean the Iranian or Fasli New Year.]

The word pateti comes from patet, the Middle Persian word for repentance. Pateti is therefore a day for a person to reflect on their thoughts, words and deeds of the previous year and to repent those that were not good. The repentance allows dedicating the new year to good thoughts words and deeds in a process of ethical growth. [For a verse of a patet prayer see below.]

For the orthodox, Pateti is meant to be a day of repentance, and the day following, Nowroz, New Year's Day, is the day for celebration. Nevertheless, as we have noted above, Pateti as the last day of the year and as a day of repentance, has now largely been replaced by Nowroz celebrations and the name Pateti is used to mean Nowroz day.

Presently, Pateti falls in August of the Gregorian calendar. This will change in the future, as the Shenshai calendar does not allow for a leap year.

Zoroastrians who follow the Kadmi (from the Persian Gadimi meaning old or ancient) calendar celebrate Nowroz a month earlier and those who follow the Fasli (meaning seasonal) calendar celebrate Nowroz or Nowruz (see the pages on Nowruz) on the spring equinox or March 21 of the Gregorian calendar.


Customs

Many of the customs for Pateti parallel the customs for the Persian/Iranian/Fasli Nowruz (see the pages on Nowruz). The principle difference is cultural. The Fasli/Iranian Nowruz customs are based in the Iranian Zoroastrian culture while Pateti customs are based on the Indian Parsi Zoroastrian culture.


Home Threshold Decorations

The front door thresholds on Parsi homes are decorated with powdered chalk designs, often in the shape of a fish, with red powder placed for the eye of the fish. The designs are produced by stamping a tray containing the chalk and perforated with the design. Additional coloured powders like the red eye of a fish, are contained in individual compartments within the tray. Strings of flowers, especially tuberoses and marigolds, grace the top of the doorway.


Fragrances

Agarbatis, or incense sticks, are lit. The the previous custom of burning sandalwood and incense in a censer and walking around the home and filing the air with a light smoke and fragrance, has been replaced by sprinkling sandalwood powder on glowing coals placed on the censer. Together with the fragrances imparted by flowers such as tuberoses and special dishes cooked for the occasion, Pateti celebrated in a Parsi has a special combination of associated fragrances.


New Clothes

New clothes are a frequent Pateti gift, especially for children in a family, since first thing in the morning, Parsis bathe and wear new clothes before visiting a temple.


Food

Preparing special foods and sharing them with family and friends, forms an integral part of the Pateti customs.

A traditional breakfast includes Ravo made from suji (semolina), milk and sugar, and Sev - fried vermicelli cooked in sugar syrup and garnished with raisins and almond slivers.


suterfeni
Suterfeni

Lunch and dinner dishes include pulao dal (rice and lentil sauce) - often plain rice and moong dal, sali boti (meat in sauce with fried potato stings placed on top), and patra-ni-machchi (fish prepared in leaves).

Sweet eats include suterfeni (fine vermicelli swirls) and jalebi (an orange coloured deep fried, sugar syrup soaked batter, shaped like a large pretzel).


Other Customs

Other customs include making charitable donations, sprinkling visitors with rose water as they enter a home, and watching a humorous satirical play about Parsi lives, where available, is also a part of the Pateti festival.


Muktad

Muktad table at the Zoroastrian Society of BC, Canada Darbe Mehr
Muktad table at the Zoroastrian Society of BC, Canada Darbe Mehr
On the first Gatha day: Ahunavaiti, August 15th, 2007. Note
that the vases have labels bearing the names of the souls being remembered.
Click this link to view additional photographs of the ceremony.

The Muktad are days dedicated to the remembrance of souls of the departed. Muktad is the Parsi name for the Farvardigan days and according to Ervad Soli Dastur and Dastur Dr. Phiroze Kotwal, the name Muktad meaning liberated soul, is derived from the Sanskrit words mukt meaning free or liberated and atma meaning soul.

As with the Farvardigan days, the Muktad can be regarded as all souls days, when the fravashis of the departed are welcomed to the join the community of souls in the physical world especially with members of their families. Prayers are recited over specially prepared foods, fruit and flowers to invoke the blessings of the fravashis as guardian angels.

Prior to the 1970s, the Muktad observances in India normally lasted for eighteen days, being made up of the last six days of the last month (mah) Asfandarmad from day (roj) Ashishvangh to roj Aneran, plus the last five intercalary Gatha days, plus the first seven days of the new year's first month (mah) of Farvardin from day (roj) Hormuzd to Amordad. Then in the 1970s, the Vada Dasturs (a group of high priests), suggested that the Muktad observances be brought in line with the traditional ten-day Farvardigan observances consisting of the last five days of the last month plus the five intercalary Gatha days. The last of the five Gatha days is Pateti.

The change to a ten-day Muktad has not been universally accepted and some sections of the Parsi community continue to observe an eighteen-day Muktad observance. The justification for an eighteen-day observance can be found at tenets.parsizoroastrianism.com (pdf document).


bouquet

As with the Khaneh Tekani customs, houses are thoroughly cleaned in the month prior to Nowruz, the cleaning being completed before the Muktad observances. A table at which, or beside which, the Muktad prayers are held is often prepared in homes or at places of worship. In India, marble topped tables are often used as the Muktad table. Alternatively, as with a Nowruz table, a white sheet or sofreh is used to cover a designated table, on top of which are placed vases of flowers bearing the name of the deceased being remembered. Traditionally, a metal water holder called a karasya was used as a vase and the name of the person or individuals being remembered was inscribed on the karasya. Fruit and prepared foods are also placed on the tables.

During the reading of the Muktad prayers, the names of those who have passed away (usually family members, dear friends or any individual being remembered) are recited at the appropriate place. If the prayers are being conducted outside the home by a priest, each family provides the priest with the names, and the names are recited on each day of the prayer ceremony. The fruit and food on the tables are shared by the participants at the conclusion of the prayers.

Individuals or families have the choice of conducting the ceremonies privately at their home or communally at a place of worship. Family members usually sit in attendance during the prayers at a place of worship but this is not always the case. In India, Agiaries and Atash Bahrams schedule prayers in three shifts commencing with the Havan geh (a day is divided into five gehs) at six in the morning, and then from 11:00 am. The third set (satum) of prayers are held in the Uziran / Ujiran geh starting at 3:45 pm. Places of worship in small communities may have just one set of prayers each day. For instance, at the Darbe Mehr in Vancouver Canada, prayers have been scheduled to start at 6:30pm on weekdays and at 11:00am on weekends. The sharing of food follows the conclusion of the prayers. During the last watch of the last Muktad day, that is during the Ushahin gah of the fifth Gatha day, Vahishtoishti, an Afringan ceremony is performed to bid the fravashis farewell.


Patet Prayer

Middle PersianEnglish
Az hamah gunah patet pashemanoom;From all my sins with contrition* I turn back;

* contrition = repentance: deep and genuine feelings of guilt, remorse and shame.

Az harvastin duzhmata, duzhhukhta, duzhhvreshta mem pa getiFrom every evil-thought, evil-word, evil-deed, I have in this existence
Manid, oem goft, oem kard, oem jast, oem bun, bud ested;Thought, or said, or done, or has been, or will be;
Az an gunah manashni, gavashni, kunashni, tani ravani geti minoani,From those sins I have thought, I have said, I have done, to body, soul, the corporeal, the spiritual,
okhe avakh pasheman pa se gavashni, pa patetoom.I acknowledge, I turn back with three words, with repentance.
Khshnaothra Ahurahe Mazdao taroidite angra mainyeush;(To aid) Ahura Mazda's (God's) Dominion (and) the downfall of the destructive spirit;
Haithya varshtanm hyat vasna fershotenem*The fulfilment of a (God's) Will to make the world anew.

*Fersho-tenem = complete renovation (world's renewal) cf. frasho-kereti.

Staomi Ashem.I honour Asha.

(Asha is the Law of God, goodness and righteousness)

Ashem Vohu, vahishtem asti, ushta asti.Ashem Vohu is the highest, it is everlasting peace.
Ushta ahmai, hyat ashai, Everlasting peace comes to those (who choose) goodness for its own sake (without expectation of reward)

(Ushta is everlasting peace and happiness)

Vahishtai ashem.(This is) the highest Asha.
Translation by K. E. Eduljee with the assistance of Ardeshir Farhmand


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