Zoroastrianism is a ritual intensive religion. Rituals are an integral part of the religious life. On the basis of their purposes and functions of the rituals, they can be divided into various groups like Thanksgiving Rituals known as Jashans; Consecration Rituals known as Visperad, Videvdad etc; Rites of Passage known as Navjote, Navar and Maratab (initiations), Marriage and Death among other various rituals.
The word “Navjote” is derived from two words Nav (new) and Zot (offerer of prayers). The Navjote ceremony is performed of all Parsi children both boys and girls, generally between the ages of 7 to 9. The ritual involves 3 stages – purification, presentation and benedictions. The main purpose of this ritual is to ceremoniously invest the child with the Sadra “the sacred shirt” and the Kasti “the sacred girdle”. The Kasti is made of 72 strands of sheep’s wool intricately woven with ritual observances. Wool symbolizes innocence. It is known to be able to absorb evil vibes and thus act as a protective shield. As shown below there are 9 parts of the Sadra.
Zoroastrian marriages are generally solemnized after sunset, as it was one of the promises given to the Hindu King Jadav Rana by the ancestors of Zoroastrians who came from Iran to India about 1200 years ago. Marriages can also be solemnized in fire temples in the morning. The marriage ritual is referred to as “the Ashirwad” since the priests give “ashirvad” (blessings) to the couple. The senior priest starts the initial part of the Ashirvad, during which rice grains or a mixture of rice, coconut shreds, pomegranate seeds and rose petals are showered on the couple. These items are significant as they all carry a meaning: coconut – symbol of utility and helpfulness to each other and society; rice – indicative of prosperity and plenty; pomegranate – symbolizes fertility and abundance of children and rose petals – indicate fragrance of happiness in married life.
The Zoroastrian mode of disposal of the dead is designed to ensure theological correctness, ecological safeguards and spiritual fortification. The Dokhma (Tower of Silence) is a consecrated circular structure built of stone. Dokhmenashini is the only valid Zoroastrian system of disposal of the mortal remains. The system upholds two of the basic tenets of the religion:
Disposing the corpse, as quickly as possible with the least possible harm to the living people as also any creations like earth, water, air and especially fire.