Navar Ceremony

by Rohinton G.N. Panthaky

Kudos to Mr. Rohinton G. N. Panthaky for this informative article on the "NAVAR" ceremony. Such traditional ceremonies are the BACKBONE of our religion - and we need Faith and Pride in these sacred ceremonies. Take away these ancient ceremonies, and you take away the very foundation of our great religion.

Navar Ceremony

The first initiatory ceremony for priesthood is that of Navar. It means new carrier of offerings or rites or one who is newly initiated in the work of offering prayers, rites and sacred things to the deity.

To initiate a person to priesthood, several stages of ceremonies have to be gone through. They are the following :- a) the Bareshnum; b) the Gewra; c) the initiation proper.

a) The candidate for initiation into priesthood has to first go through two Bareshnum purifications.The first bareshnum is said to be for his own tan-pak, ie.for the purification of his own body, the second is for the niyat of the person in whose memory he becomes Navar. Between the first Bareshnum and the second there may an interval of a few days if it is so desired, or, otherwise the candidate may begin the second Bareshnum on the same day when he finishes the first. In that case, both the Bareshnums take 19 days in all. During these Bareshnum days, the candidate is to say his prayers five times during the day. He is expected to pass his time in a religious or pious mood.The likely candidate for priesthood goes through the initiation at a very early age or before 15 or 16.

b) On the candidate completing the Bareshnum, two qualified priests (ie., two priests who hold the Bareshnum) who have to initiate the candidate, perform, what is known as the gewra ceremony, which lasts for six days. Both the priest perform the ceremony. One of the two priests who recite the whole ceremony is called Joti ie. lit. the performer of ceremonies or the offerer of offerings. The other priest who assists him in going through the ceremony is called Rathwi.

c) On the sixth day of the gewra ceremony, the priest who has taken the gewra initiates the candidate. The candidate takes his bath in the morning with all its formalities and puts on a new set of white clothes.He puts on a white turban which is the symbol of priesthood. The parents of the candidate invites friends to witness the ceremony. The candidate is dressed in his full consisting of Jama.(loose gown-like dress of white linen) and pichhori, a kind of belt put around the waist. The candidate carries a shawl in his left hand and carries in his right hand a gurz or a mace or club. In the Khorshed Nyash, Meher Yazad or the Angel Mithra, the God of Light, Justice and truthfulness is represented as carrying a vazra or mace to strike it over the head of daevas or evil powers. So he carries the gurz with him as the insignia of his coming office, in which he has to fight against the enemies of Light, Justice and Truthfulness .

The candidate goes to the Yaasna-gah where he is to perform the ceremony. The assembled priests are generally seated on the carpets spread on the floor. The candidate performs the kusti and puts on the padan (mouth veil). He is brought before the assembly by one of the two priests, who asks for the permission to initiate him. He asks "Gentlemen of this gathering (Anjuman, Avesta Hanjamana), doth it please you that this candidate may be initiated?" The Head-Priest present takes the silence of the assembly for its assent and nod his head.

The candidate then returns to the yazasna-gah to go through the ceremonies of his intiation and to recite the prayers.

It appears that the navar has been from the first, a ceremony of trial, of self-abnegtion, self denial, and self-renunciation.The following facts point to that inference :-

The candidate is expected to pass his days during the continuation of the whole ceremony which lasts about a month, in a kind of retreat, in order to be free from worldly thoughts and to be engaged in pious thoughts, he must sleep on the floor and not on a cot, and take his meals at stated hours after prayers. During the last fours days when he is regularly being initiated and perform the ceremony himself as Joti, he has to take only one meal on the second and third days, to prove that he has control over hunger and thirst and hence over other passions.

Rohinton G.N. Panthaky.


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