The Treasure of the Magi: A Study of Modern Zoroastrianism

By James Hope Moulton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
CEREMONIAL LIFE: OUTSIDE. THE FIRE- TEMPLE

Whether ye eat or drink or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

--PAUL.

IT will be convenient to detach for separate treatment religious observances which are independent of the holy places that are the scene of the rituals described in Chapter 3, and capable of performance either without a priest or with a priest not observing the Barashnum. We will follow the Parsi's ceremonial life from its beginning at initiation, through the ordinary observances, and special religious events, by way of preparing for an account of the divisions in the community, and a general estimate of the religion as a whole.

The religious life of a Parsi begins with the Naojote or initiation ceremony. The name (compare Avestan nava, 'new,' and zaotar, 'priest, invoker') describes an induction of a 'novice'. The ceremony takes place after a boy or a girl is seven, with fifteen as an extreme limit. It is the ceremony of putting on the sacred cord (kusti) and shirt (sudrah), with the wearing of which a Parsi begins to follow the religion. The prayers involved are fundamental from the great frequency with which they are repeated by every Parsi throughout life. A full description will therefore be desirable.1

A Naojote is often performed, as in the case of one seen by the writer, in an assembly-room adjoining a Fire-temple, so that the family priest may take the child when initiated to do

____________________
1
Depending as before on Dr Jivanji Modi. See his Navjote Ceremony of the Parsees, 2nd ed., Bombay, 1914.

-160-

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