The Zoroastrian Ritual of Blessing

copyright 1989, 1990, Joseph H. Peterson


This description of the Zoroastrian Afrinagan ritual was initiated as a tool for teaching English-speaking students the correct pronunciation and ritual details. It is not intended to supersede materials already in use for that purpose, nor should it be considered an authorized version. It started with a friend's request to print the Avestan/Pazand texts in Roman script for certain students who couldn't read Gujarati. The first version consisted only of texts from Geldner's Avesta and Antia's Pazand texts. Since then I have added additional texts, rubrics, footnotes, an introduction, and finally translations.

As this text has expanded, so has the number of questions and issues raised. Some of the issues arise because of the limitations of the materials available to me. Several Mobeds helped by patiently answering my many questions, and by pointing out my more serious blunders. Many issues, however, still need to be addressed, and all comments are welcome. Some of the issues concern variations in practice. I have attempted to report variations without judging their religious merit. Choices had to be made for which usage is placed in the body of the text, and which variants are relegated to footnotes. I can only state from the outset that this is unavoidable.

One goal of this project is to preserve the rituals with as much accuracy as possible. At the same time, I would like to present enough background material to examine variants with the eventual goal of encouraging standardization within the Community. Religious practices can be described, explained, and judged on multiple levels. For example, there are many people who derive social benefit from public liturgy. This doesn't mean that the performance has no inspirational value to them or others. When we reject something by labeling it "myth", we miss its value as a teaching story. When we reject something by labeling it "superstition" we risk losing its merit as drama, or its social benefit. Likewise, we can examine religious practices from other points of view: educational, historical, philosophical, psychological, dramatic, aesthetic, and so on. If we are at all able to make sound judgments on these levels, we still may be unqualified to judge its cosmic merit. Collaboration is needed to address all important concerns, take advantage of insights from people with different perspectives, and to gain commitment. The issues are too important to resolve by competing, compromising, avoiding, or accommodating.

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