Tag Archives: Rituals

Reverence for Water Among the Zoroastrians

The Yasna ceremony of consecration. Parzor Archives

Cama, Shernaz. 2019. Ava: A living tradition of reverence for water among the Zoroastrians. In Sara Keller (ed.), Knowledge and the Indian Ocean. Intangible networks of Western India and beyond, 65–85. Cham: Springer Verlag.

Asia, particularly India, needs water conservation today in every form, to support an ever-growing population and its thirst for water, may it be for drinking, for agricultural purpose or other types of development and improvement in standards of living. The area surrounding Gujarat has always supported valuable contributions, across land and ocean in varied fields. It has also supported across history, positive migrations both for trade and for shelter. The Zoroastrian refugees brought their cultural and religious concern for water to the western coast of India, contributing to a multicultural ethos, which took the best from every part and absorbed it into a new living culture. The tanka system, an offshoot of the Iranian karez contributed in the past, and continues to contribute today. Such multicultural sharing of oral traditions of an ancient society can therefore bring new perspectives and hopefully participate to the ecological understanding and the careful use of water resources in the future, not only in Gujarat but across India.

Collected Writings of Dastur Firoze M. Kotwal

Kotwal, Firoze M. 2018. The collected scholarly writings of Dastur Firoze M. Kotwal. Edited by Firoza Punthakey Mistree & Cashmira Vatcha Bengalli. Vol. 1. Mumbai: Parzor Foundation.
For over a thousand years, Zoroastrian priests in India have sustained their belief system and the ritual infrastructure of their faith, by the constant enactment of rituals with exactitude in their religious life.
It is this exactness of practice that High Priest Dastur (Dr.) Firoze M. Kotwal has strived throughout his life to support through his writings. His knowledge of priestly history and of ritual practice is unparallel. His historical insights take one to the core of a tradition well kept and sometimes hidden from even its community members.
His familiarity with Avestan, Pahlavi and old Gujarati, has enabled an understanding of the classical theology and the practices of the faith. His work has helped to sustain the relevance of the ritual tradition in modern times, and his essays illustrate patterns of differences in priestly expressions in rituals, among the priesthood in India. In doing so, he has not shied away from explaining the changes which have taken place and the influence of those who determined these changes.
His work has been published in academic journals, and he is sought after internationally, by scholars wanting to understand the traditions and comprehend the ancient manuscripts of the faith.
ervad Firoze M. Kotwal, after his initiation as a Zoroastrian Priest

The biographical note in the volume covers his life as a pious priest and reveals his early childhood, immersed in the warmth of priestly life in Navsari. His rise as a learned high priest, his position in the world of academia and the value his guidance and directives have brought to disputes and controversies that have mired the community over the last forty years, form part of the biography. As one of the foremost Bhagaria priest in Mumbai, his declarations on issues that matter within the community, have shaped decision making and have illumined the core of what the Parsis consider sacred and inviolable.

For priests, lay-people and academics, this volume provides a resource for the future study of the faith. Its exploration both in time span and in its detail reveals the choices that lie ahead for the community, which Zarathushtra so pertinently articulated in the Gathas, three thousand five hundred years ago – the clear choice which is to be made between good and evil and between the better and the best.
List of Contents of Vol. 1:
  • Zoroastrian Bāj and Drōn-I, co-author Mary Boyce
  • Zoroastrian Bāj and Drōn-II, co-author Mary Boyce
  • Some Notes on the Parsi Bāj of Mihragān, co-author James W. Boyd
  • The Zoroastrian Paragnā Ritual, co-author James W. Boyd
  • To Praise the Souls of the Deceased and the Immortal Spirits of the Righteous Ones: The Staomi or Stūm Ritual’s History and Functions, co-author Jamsheed K. Choksy
  • A Link with the Spiritual World: The Stum Ritual
  • The Jashan and its Main Religious Service: The Āfrīnagān
  • The Zoroastrian Nirangdin Ritual and an Old Pahlavi Text with Transcription and Translation
  • Initiation into the Zoroastrian Priesthood: Present Parsi Practice and An Old Pahlavi Text
  • The Parsi Dakhma : Its History and Consecration
  • Two Ritual Terms in Pahlavi: The datuš and the frāgām
  • Some Notes on the Pahlavi Visperad
  • Select Ritual Aspects of the Gāthās and their Continuity in the Later Tradition
  • Prayer, co-author Philip G. Kreyenbroek
  • Continuity, Controversy and Change: A Study of the Ritual Practice of the Bhagariā Priests of Navsari
  • The Divine and Exalted Status of the Consecrated Fire in Zoroastrianism
  • An Ancient Irani Ritual for tending Fire
  • Gãthũ Bhārvānī Kriyā: The Ritual of Preserving a Burning Knotted Billet below the Fire-Ash
  • The Ritual of Shifting the Sacred  tash Bahrām Fire from the Qibla to its Temporary Qibla

Interrelations of Religious Judgments in Zoroastrianism and Islam

Sadeghi, Fatemeh. 2018. Sin of the woman. Interrelations of religious judgments in Zoroastrianism and Islam (Islamkundliche Untersuchungen 336). Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag.

Since the 1920s, the so-called »return to the roots«, has become a hege­monic discourse in Iran. Whereas the Pahlavi regimes (1925–1979) propa­gated the myth of the lost idyll of pre-Islamic Iran repre­sen­ting them­selves as the true inhe­ri­tors of those monar­chies, the Isla­mists adopted a respec­tive approach in regard to Islam.
As a result, a similar fairy­tale was made about the early Islamic community. Such claims, as it were, are not so much about the past as they are about the present. So is this study.
By delving into the past, it ques­tions the wide­s­p­read nost­algic notions cons­i­de­ring the pre-Islamic era as a lost utopia, wherein women were free from the restric­tions »imposed by Islam«. In point of fact such past is a fabri­ca­tion. In the majo­rity of cases, there­fore, the revival projects invent tradi­tions to legiti­mize current political agendas.

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The Coherence of Yasna

Zoroastrian fire ceremony.

Ahmadi, Amir. 2017. On the coherence of Yasna: A critical assessment of recent arguments. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 1-26.
DOI

In recent years a number of scholars have proposed more or less detailed schemas of the formation of the Zoroastrian ritual. These schemas offer accounts of the arrangement of the texts in the liturgy, the process of its formation, and even its function from an endogenous perspective. One way or another, they argue that the official Zoroastrian liturgy is an integrated ritual with a coherent text, and that the function of the ritual and the intention behind the arrangement of the texts can be determined by means of philological, literary and comparative analyses. The questions of formation and meaning of the Zoroastrian liturgy these scholars have placed on the agenda are important not only for the study of Zoroastrianism but also for the history of religions and ritual theory. I consider their accounts with respect to the texts they invoke and the methods they use, and show that their arguments suffer from fatal flaws.

The Imagery of the Ritual Landscape at Persepolis

Garrison, Mark B. 2017. The ritual landscape at persepolis: glyptic imagery from the persepolis fortification and treasury archives. (Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 71). Chicago, IL: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

There are, perhaps, no more contentious issues within the study of Achaemenid Persia than those surrounding its religion(s) and religious iconography. Owing to the role that fire plays in Zoroastrian beliefs in later periods in Iran, almost any discussion of the subject of Achaemenid religion will eventually turn to the identification of sacred fire, fire temples, fire worship, and fire altars in the archaeological, epigraphic, and literary records.

The focus of this book is a corpus of glyptic imagery preserved as impressions on two large archives of administrative tablets from Persepolis, the Persepolis Fortification archive (509-493 BC) and the Persepolis Treasury archive (492-457 BC). The glyptic imagery here published concerns representations of what have been traditionally termed “fire altars” and/or “fire temples.” Most of this glyptic evidence has never been published; many of the structures and the scenes in which they occur are strikingly original.
The goals of this study are to introduce a new corpus of visual imagery concerning religious ritual in the Achaemenid period and to explore the significance of this visual language for our understanding of ritual traditions emerging within the heart of the empire at its most critical formative period, the reign of Darius I. This study seeks also to use the Persepolitan glyptic evidence as a springboard to re-visit the most famous “fire altar” depicted in Achaemenid art, that on the tomb relief of Darius I at Naqs-e Rostam.

This study is an initial step in the development of a religious topography for the zone encompassing Persepolis and Naqs-e Rostam, both a topography on the imaginary level (through images) and a topography on the physical level (through the built space). The glyptic images assembled in this study are the most numerous, the most visually complex, and the best dated and contextualized evidence that currently exists for the study of fire in ritual, and religious ritual more broadly, in early Achaemenid Iran.

You can download and read this volume here.

Corpus Avesticum Berolinense

Today, the Institute of Iranian Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, received the confirmation of funding for Corpus Avesticum Berolinense (CAB), a long-term project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for 12 years . The goal of CAB is to edit all Zoroastrian rituals preserved in the Avestan language. This is excellent news for the institute and the discipline. The BiblioIranica team congratulates Prof. Alberto Cantera for this achievement. It is more than well-deserved.

See the institute’s announcement for more information.

A Compendium of Zoroastrian Life & Culture

Cama, Shernaz (ed.). 2016. Threads of continuity: Zoroastrian life & culture. New Delhi: Parzor Foundation.
Threads of Continuity Focuses on the philosophy and cultur of the ancient Zoroastrian faith from its origins i Central Asia, tracing a geographical and chronological continum till the present. This philosophy became a part of the lived heritage of the Zoroastrian community — both in India and Iran.
Of dpecial interest are the cross-cultural influences of the comunity in India. To highlight these, Gujarat and the Deccan will be examined in detail for the first time.
A part of this compendium also studies the contribution of the community to the making of modern India. The programme envisaged, attempts to explain the Zoroastrian philodophy of a sacred thread linking all creation.
 Table of Contents:

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Ritual and Ritual Tradition in Zoroastrianism

“Homo Ritualis: Ritual and Ritual Tradition in Zoroastrianism”

A talk by Shervin Farridnejad (Berlin/Vienna).

Monday, 23 January 2016, 06:30 PM, Österreichische Orient-Gesellschaft Hammer-Purgstall Dominikanerbastei 6/6, 1010 Wien.

This talk is the third and last of a talk series “Kulturwissenschaftliche Iranforschung“,  organized as joint events by the Institute of Iranian studies (IFI) at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) and the Österreichischen Orient-Gesellschaft Hammer-Purgstall, Vienna. The talk will be in German.

Abstract

Rituals play a prominent role in Zoroastrianism, one of the oldest continuous religions of humanity. The importance and practice of the Zoroastrian rituals extend over a wide range of social and local environments, from houses to fire temples as well as from antiquity to modernity. While the sources for exploring Zoroastrian rituals in pre-modern times are predominantly confined to traditional and priestly texts, we have a broader set of sources for modern and contemporary times, including the living ritual tradition of priests and laities. The lecture deals with the presence and importance of the rituals as well as the ritualistic traditions in Zoroastrianism.

You can download the whole program of this talk series here.

Shervin Farridnejad is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Lecturer at the Institute of Iranian Studies (IFI) at the Academy of Science (ÖAW) in Vienna and at the Institute of Iranian Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin.

Achaemenian Palaces and the Zoroastrian Ritual Surfaces

Cylinder seal impression from Daskyleion with royal audience scene, inscribed “Artaxerxes.” Drawing by B. Mussche of Daskyleion inv. no. Erg. 55. After AMI 22, 1989, p. 147, fig. 1 © Encyclopædia Iranica Online

The Old Iranian Absolute Frame of Reference.
To the Orientation of Achaemenian Palaces and the Zoroastrian Ritual Surfaces“.

A talk by Kianoosh Rezania (Bochum).

Monday, 9 January 2016, 06:30 PM, Österreichische Orient-Gesellschaft Hammer-Purgstall Dominikanerbastei 6/6, 1010 Wien.

This talk is the first of a talk series “Kulturwissenschaftliche Iranforschung“,  organized as joint events by the Institute of Iranian studies (IFI) at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) and the Österreichischen Orient-Gesellschaft Hammer-Purgstall, Vienna.

Abstract

For the orientation in space and the linguistic expression of spatial relations of objects, different coordination systems can be used. One of these systems utilizes fixed cardinal directions. The four compass points north, south, east and west constitute the cardinal directions of our absolute frame of reference. Did the Old Iranians employ the same frame of reference likewise with these compass points?
After the representation of different coordination systems, absolute, intrinsic and relative, the paper addresses the Old Iranian absolute frame of reference. By means of the orientation of Achaemenian palaces, the order of countries in the Old Persian list of nations as well as Avestan linguistic evidence, it will be demonstrated that the Old Iranian people did not used our todays compass points for their orientation in space, but employed a different absolute frame of reference. The paper will present the cardinal directions of this system.

You can download the whole program of this talk series here.

Kianoosh Rezania is a professor of Western Asian Religious Studies at the Center for Religious Studies (CERES) of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum.

Multilingualism, Communication and Social Reality in Pre-Modern Eurasia

Multilingualism, Communication and Social Reality in Pre-Modern Eurasia: Linguistic, Ritual, and Socio-Economic Aspects

International Workshop, organized by the Institute of Iranian Studies (IFI) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) and Vienna Linguistic Society and the Austrian Academy of Sciences Press

13.12-15.12.2016, Institute of Iranian Studies, Austrian Academy of Sciences

The Cyrus cylinder © The Trustees of the British Museum

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