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Navjote Ceremony

Anil Saigal

One of the most important events in the life of a young Parsi child is the Navjote Ceremony. Rutty and Adi Guzdar recently celebrated this event for their grandchildren Simonne and Gabriel. Adi Guzdar is a charter member of TIE-Boston and very actively involved in its activities. Simmone is 11 years old and Gabriel is 7 years old and they live in Cincinnati. Their mother is Zerlina, daughter of Rutty and Adi. Zerlina is a Research Scientist in the Beauty Care Products Division of Proctor and Gamble. Phil, their father, works in Cincinnati as and Independent Financial Consultant.

It was a proud day in the lives of Adi and Rutty as the performed the Navjote Ceremony The word Navjote is made up of two concepts: Nav, meaning new, and Zote, meaning one who offers prayers. In preparation for the ceremony, the children are told the story of Zarathustra. Through this life-story, the children are taught the fundamentals of the religion -a very rare and free religion, where nothing is imposed on one except the advice of good thoughts, good words, and good deeds, along with the great traditions of charity towards all, kindness, consideration to the less fortunate, and the care of and respect towards the elements and the environment. The child is taught that there is only one God and that He is all knowing, all wise and everywhere. God is in all the good souls of humankind. The concept of freedom of choice - to choose between right and wrong - is introduced and the child is taught that God wants us to choose the good path of our own free will.

Basic prayers, which are said during the Navjote ceremony, have been learned by the children. The ceremony consists of a sacred shirt called the Sudrah and a sacred thread called Kusti. The Sudrah is made out of white cotton cloth. White is the symbol of purity and cotton is used to show that in God's eyes rich and poor are equal. It has a V-shaped neck in front. The tip of the V is the most important part of the Sudrah, called the Gireban. This is the pocket of good thoughts. It has a slit in the center for the good thoughts to enter and is a one-inch square piece of the same cloth. The Kusti is made of wool from lamb, which has pure white fleece.

Just before the ceremony starts, the children are given the Nahn, or the purification bath. The children enter the room with their family. The family will carry a Ses containing the new clothes to be worn after the ceremony. The children are led to the place where the ceremony is to be performed. The stage is covered with a white sheet and a fire is lit. There is also a tray filled with rose petals, rice, and pomegranate seeds, which will be sprinkled on the children.

At the end of the ceremony Simonne and Gabriel's parents and grandparents wish them well. The children leave to put on their new clothes and then return to social segment of the ceremony.

A final thought from all present - we can all live richer lives if we have:

Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds.

Perhaps this is the very essence of all religions.

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