A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Fravardigan (Hamaspathmaidyem Gahambar, festival of the fravashis, Muktad, All Souls). Ancient festival to 16 July, ten days before NoRuz and the last festival of the religious old year at the end of the Zoroastrian Kadmi (Qadimi, ancient) year. The Zoroastrian day commences at sunrise and not midnight, and so during sunrise on the first day of the festival the Zoroastrian Mobeds (Magi, priests) welcome by name the immortal souls, together with their fravashis (the guardian spirits of departed ancestors depicted as half man/half bird) that come to reside in the place of worship. For the ten days, they hover around a table of metal vases, each specific to an individual family and containing white flowers. During the festival, there are prayers with the recital of the 5 Gathas (hymns composed by Zarathushtra), cleansing of houses, incense, flowers and the daily offering during the ceremonies of the sacred foods enjoyed by the departed ancestors when they were alive. This ritually consecrated food, along with chosen fruits, is then shared by the living in a special Hamaspathmaidyem Gahambar communal feast celebrated after the ceremony. The fravashis leave the physical world after the last ceremony on the tenth evening and before the dawn of NoRuz. The priest empties the water from one of the metal vases as a farewell gesture and turns it upside down to signify that it is time for the immortal souls and the fravashis to return to the spirit world. Theologically, Fravardigan is the most important Zoroastrian festival after NoRuz and, since it deals with the departed ancestors, many Zoroastrians regard it as their holiest festival, linking the past to the present and the future and being typical of much of Zoroastrian life. Celebrated 6 August in Shahenshai Parsi year and 11 March in Iran. Image: twitter.com.
Prayer May this and all other households be happy, may there be blessing! May there be happiness among all the many people of all the religion of Zartosht! We beseech you, Lord, to grant to the present ruler, to all the community and to all those of the Good Religion, health and fair repute. May they be liberal, kind and good! May it be so and more so, may it be according to the wish of those divine beings, the Yazads and the Amashaspands! Amen
Rohini Vrat. An important fasting day observed by Jain women for a long, fulfilling life for their husbands, blessings on family members and peace and tranquillity in their houses. The women wake early and bathe, the fast beginning when the Rohini Nakshatra fourth star of the zodiac ruling Taurus rises in the sky after sunrise. Rohini is one of the twenty-seven Nakshatra (sectors along the ecliptic) in the Jain and Hindu calendar and occurs once every 27 days, there being a total of twelve Rohini fasting days each year. The women set up an idol or photograph of the Jain god Vasupujya, who became a siddha (liberated soul free of all of its karma) and an elaborate puja (ceremonial worship) is performed, followed by fasting. Devotees who celebrate this Vrat (pious observance) rid themselves of all types of sorrow, poverty, conflict and obstacles in their lives. They should observe these days, considered an easy spiritual discipline for learning patience, forbearance and harmony, over a continuous 3, 5 or 7 years. In some families, all the members observe the Vrat to enhance the quality of life in families and win the blessings of Vasupujya as a Hindu male religious teacher. Image: desicomments.com.
St Boisil (St Boswell of Melrose) (dc664). Western Churches Feast Day commemorating death of Northumbrian biblical scholar and Abbot of Melrose, an Anglo-Saxon Northumbrian branch of Lindisfarne now in Scotland. Trained as a monk by St Aidan, he was one of the first generation of Melrose monks in the late 640s and his fame is due to his connection as Prior with his great pupil St Cuthbert. It was from the Prior that Cuthbert learned the sacred scriptures, pupil and teacher becoming great friends preaching to the local people. The sick and ailing were brought to Boisil to be cured by his herbal remedies and the healing properties of two local springs. Boisil’s supernatural intuitions led to his foretelling 3 years in advance the great pestilence (plague) to which he fell victim. After his death at Melrose, Boisil appeared twice in a vision to a monk he had known, advising concentration on existing monasteries rather than missionary activity on the Continent. St Boswells in Roxburghshire commemorates his name and his relics, like those of St Bede, were translated to Durham in the Eleventh Century. Venerated in Orthodox, Roman Catholic Churches, Anglican Communion. Major shrine Melrose Abbey, destroyed. Greek Orthodox Feast Day 24 February. Western Churches commemoration of the translation of relics 8 June and Bollandist Feast Day 9 September. Image: www.christopherklitou.com.