Farokhshi Ceremony and Prayer

By Ervad Ratanshah R. Motafram. Compiled by Rohinton G.N. Panthaky

Audio recording by Ervad Soli P. Dastur

Farokhshi is a simple ceremony with the same requisites as those in the Afringan ceremony viz flowers, fruits, milk, and water. For its recitation a single priest is required.

The word Farokhshi is the variant of 'Fravashi! Farvardin Yasht in its entirety is recited together with the stum prayer which is also in praise of the guardian spirits (Fravashis), as is the Fravardin Yasht wherein the Fravashis of the departed worthies of ancient Iran are invoked.

The long prayer of Farvardin Yasht contains a description of the Fravashis - their categories, characteristics, functions etc., and it is abundantly recited on the nineteenth day Farvardin of the first month Farvardin of the Zoroastrian calender — both the day and the month being devoted to the invocation of the Fravashis.

Zoroastrian religion concedes the existence of various grades of divine spirits besides Ahura Mazda who tops them ali. Fravashis form a distinct class of divine entities permitting ali sentient beings.

The word Fravashi can be rendered "Guardian Spirit” When a man perfectly attuned to Asha (ashavan) dies, his soul is united with his Fravashis; hence, often in Avesta we come across the statement "We adore the souls of the dead who are the Fravashis of the holy." (Havan Gah - 9 and elsewhere). Also it is said that when men die the soul unites with the Fravahr which is the Pahlavi or Middle Persian equivalent of Avesta Fravashi.

It was a custom amoung the ancient Persians of adoring the spirits of the departed worthies, and among the Greeks, of worshiping the spirits of their departed "heroes," because even after death they were supposed to have protective power.

Even before man's birth his Fravashi exists in the spiritual world. The Fravashis of those still unborn are adored (Fravardin Yasht17). It is said that Ahura Mazda asked the Fravashis of men which of the two alternatives they would prefer — to live in the spiritual world unaffected by evil or descend into the material world and fight evil and attain immortality. The Fravashis opted for the latter.

Fravashis pervade the entire creation. Even Ahura Mazda has his Fravashi (Yasna 26-2) so also Amesha Spentas (Farvardin Yasht 80) and the spiritual Yazatas (Yasna 23-2). Again, the sky, the water, the earth, the vegetation and the animals have their Fravashis (Farvardin Yasht 86). Not only that, the Fravashis are the ultimate support of all creations, for it is said that men depend on cattle for strength and nourishment, the cattle depend on the vegetation, the earth supports vegetation, the air moves vegetation, water, earth and human beings, the light moves the air, and the holy Fravashis presides over light.

Fravashis are imbued with the immense energy. They sustain the sky, the water, the earth, and develop physical organs of a child when it is conceived in the mother's womb. (Fravardin Yasht 22). They are the prime source of motion, for it is said that the moon, the sun, and the endless lights are all in motion because of the Fravashis (Fravardin Yasht 57).

What is the difference between soul (Av.Urvan) and the Fravashi? The soul because of its link with the physical body is in bondage, while the Fravashi is free. Soul is tinged with the desire whereas Fravashi is purely divine and totally unaffected with desire.

The soul is granted freedom of will. It can use the mind and the five organs of perception as it likes. Fravashi is like the prime minister who administers proper advice to the soul and guides it in day-to-day affairs of the world.

As soul is endowed with the freedom of will it may heed to the advice or ignore it at its own peril, but according to the belief of Zoroastrian religion the soul alone is accountable for all its deeds performed in the material world, while Fravashi is not because it acts like a divine monitor to guide the soul in its sojurn in the transient world.

Every time a man falls a prey to evil desires and is about to do an evil action Fravashi raises a voice of caution. It is in the soul's interest to heed the warning, else it alone is responsible for the consequences arising out of its actions.

Fortunate, indeed are they who regulate their lives in response to the inner voice of their Fravashis strictly treading the path of Asha laid down by the Zoroastrian religion, for after death, their souls are united with their Fravashis.They are emancipated.

It will go a long way towards helping religious minded Zoroastrians to recite this prayer in memory of their departed souls, especially on their anniversaries, on the ninteenth day of every Zoroastrian calender month and the days of the Farvardegan.