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Initiation ("Nowzūdi") as Moobed |
The candidate for priesthood must have all the religious information and pass the final examination in the Initiation ceremony, which in fact is a graduation ceremony. The candidates who want to join the spiritual fold and to practice as priests, must work for years under the tutorship of expert and experienced mobeds. In addition to learning Avesta, religious teachings, and the subtleties of rituals, they should also refine their character and manners. The religious teachings include the Khordeh Avesta, Darun, Fravashi, Yasna with the rituals of Gahanbar, annual, days, jashans, and other ceremonies. They should also learn through these years about the Zoroastrian Religion, its Founder, and other problems concerning the religion so that when they practice mobedship, they can teach the behdins and answer their questions.
A meeting is arranged to test the candidate. It is presided by the Head Mobed and attended by other mobeds. They test his religious knowledge and also see his spiritual and physical soundness and his good manners. After passing the examination, the candidate is allowed to go through his initiation and take up the profession of mobedship.
A number of mobeds meet at the house of the candidate one day before the initiation. They prepare a crown and a "vars". The crown is a turban wound to fit the candidate's head. It is decorated with gold and silver chains with hanging coins and has other ornaments that make it look like a crown. It has "panām" (mouth veil) hanging to cover the nose and mouth when worn. The panam has also the chained coins attached to it. The "vars" is made of six twigs of pomegranate, fig or willow tree. Each twig is wrapped with colored wool to make the vars multicolored. The twigs are made to make a circular pyramid in a plate. It is covered with a thin net. Four mirrors, dry fruit, candies, and a pomegranate are also kept in the plate. The "vars" is carried on head by the "vars-bearer," who is the person who teaches the candidate as how to go through the initiation ceremony.
The Head Mobed and other priests are seated on a platform erected in the yard of the candidate's house. Other guests are seated around and still others stand in the balconies and on the rooftop. A large blazing fire-vase is kept in the middle of the yard. The candidate stands next to the Head Mobed.
The Head Mobed reads the Initiation Advice. The candidate is advised, among other things, to repent for his past sins and to begin a new religious life of doing good to people, always have God in mind, and remember the Sayings of the Prophet.
Next, all stand and the candidate is helped by the "vars-bearer" to go around and shake hand with the Head Mobed and other mobeds and say: "Hama-zūr bīm - Let us unite." Then, all of them join hands and go round the fire three times as they recite the Atash Niyayesh. The candidate carries a T-shape metallic object whose T is swirled by him with his finger. The "Village Mobed" recites the Initiation Poem in praise of the occasion. Meanwhile the guests shower the candidate with flowers, rice, and eleagnus and thyme leaves.
The candidate and the vars-bearer enter the "Yazashn-gāh." They keep the crown and the vars in a corner. They are joined by two other mobeds. These four persons and the mobeds seated outside the "Yazashn-gah" are united by a koshti. The group recites the Yasna from section one to nineteen.
The entire Initiation ceremony with its intervals lasts for four days. The candidate recites the Yasna on each of the four mornings and recites the Afaringan in the afternoons. After the conclusion rite, the newly ordained mobed can now participate with other mobeds in all the religious matters and rituals for one year. After that, he is permitted is to practice on his own.
(Translated and condensed from "Marāsem-e Mazhabi va Adab-e Zartoshtiān (Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Zoroastrians) by the late Moobed (Dastur) Ardeshir Azargoshasp (President of the Mobeds Council, Tehran), Tehran, 2nd. Ed. 1979 (in Persian).)