DE2 Scent and the Spirit Vol. 42 • December 2017 | Perfumer & Flavorist www.PerfumerFlavorist.com
are conducted before a fire. The “Faravar,” or
“Farovahar,” is the symbol of the Zoroastrian faith,
symbolizing good thoughts, words and deeds.
Ancient Persia was ruled by several tower-
ing Zoroastrian monarchs over many glorious
dynasties until the Arabs invaded, resulting in the
spread of Islam. A large number of Zoroastrians,
Members of this particular Zorastrian community
came to be called “Parsi,” one of India’s greatest
minorities who blended with its cultural mosaic
and contributed immensely to its heritage. Some
members of a minority group of Zoroastrians, “Irani
Zarthushtis,” continued living in Islamic Iran and
later immigrated to India over a century ago.
Although their native tongue was modern Persian as
compared to Gujarati of the Parsis, they blended well
with the former.
Zoroastrian rituals are complex and very ancient.
Inside fire temples, broadly termed “Agiyaari” in
Gujarati, priests conduct prayer ceremonies before
the sacred fire, or “Atash,” in which a major offering
is sandalwood, or “chandan,” a practice similar to
the Vedic Havan ceremony.
India is renowned for high-quality sandalwood,
which grows primarily in the south. Sandalwood
has been considered healing, calming and spiritually inspiring right from the Vedic era. Members of
the faith often buy sandalwood sticks from religious
shops outside fire temples and offer them to the
sacred fire. “Sandalwood is horrendously expensive.
Since not everyone can afford it, we even offer a
less fragrant, affordable wood called ‘sukhad,’”
explained Rohinton Mehta, owner of a quaint Parsi
shop outside Mumbai’s towering Anjuman Na Atash
Behram fire temple.
According to the senior Parsi, pure agarwood
or oud sheets were offered to the holy fire at Iran
Shah once upon a time. “The whole town would be
enveloped by its fragrance! Today, oud is insanely
exorbitant and this practice would be unimaginable!”
The second most important fragrant ingredient in Zoroastrian worship is “loban” resin. In
elaborate domestic prayer rituals like “Jashn,”
or even during daily prayers, loban is burnt over
charcoal in a metal urn-like incense burner called
“Afarganiyu” in Gujarati.
The charcoal is first lit and the loban, which
is either powdered or granulated, is sprinkled on
Living legend of India’s Irani Zarthushtis, Aqa Boman Kohinoor, and his son,
Afshin, offer incense sticks to the holy Faravar.
The powdered or granulated loban resin (pictured) is sprinkled on the charcoal
to be used during ablutions.