The origin of the five daily meditations/namáz, and the eternal spirits/angels associated with them are to be found in the Süd-kar Nask of Gathic commentaries on Yasna 32.16, second stanza of the third line. i should emphasize that angels in the poetic gathas and the Zoroastrian tradition are MINOO/pure consciousness and/or adorable aspects of mind/wit/spiritual wisdom of Ahurmazd.
The 5 daily prayers are known as “Gáh” in the Zoroastrian vernacular. Gáh is the persianized form of “gáthá” meaning “songs, odes, hymns. ” Compare Lithuanian giedoti “to sing.” According to Mills, the term “Geh” or “Gah” may have arisen from the practice of chanting the Gāthās at different fixed times of the day . In fact, the 5 daily prayers have their core in the poetic gathas, and were composed out of the Háðókht Nask commentaries of selected gathic charms/formulas. To pray five times a day could very well be connected to the fivefold metric division of the poetic gathas.
Before each Gah, i.e., time to meditate/pray, each Zoroastrian must perform “pádyáp” or “kushti pádyáp” ceremony. Face and limbs are washed 3 times, the first 2 times with flower extracts, cucumber juice and oils, substituted by soap and lotion at these times and finally with water. The mouth must be washed/rinsed thoroughly with a refreshing juice and/or mouthwash.
The prayers are recited in Avestan or the holy speech ONLY. They should not be murmured or said too loud, but shall be sung in a quite, melodious tone per avestan writings. Personal prayers/entreaties can be said in the native tongue of the worshiper. This is evidenced by introduction of the Pazand in farsi dari, into otherwise Avestan formulas/prayers. However, the Pazand portions or any entreats in the native language of the worshiper must be recited in an undertone/murmur so as not to break the powerful flow of Avestan Manthras and the holy speech.
The head MUST be covered during prayers and/or Avesta recitations. If prayed at home, it is appropriate to set up a shrine known as myazd/mjazd.
Myazd/Mjazd is a table with a MIRROR, fresh spring WATER and/or rosewater, sugar- coated almonds/pistachios known as NOGHL, FLOWERS of the season, fresh or dried AVISHAN. Avishan has been translated as wild marjoram, oregano, and THYME. Thyme seem to be the correct translation. Thyme because it is so pure, fragrant and lush symbolizes MINNOO/spirit. Furthermore, its commonly believed amongst us that its aroma/purity wards off all evil and nightmares. If thyme can not be found, it could be substituted by rosemary, basil or any other fragrant HERB; seasonal FRUITS/pomegranate, FRANKINCENSE, SANDALWOOD, Sacred FIRE/candle/lamp, WINE, SEVEN DRIED NUTS known as LORK, and whole wheat or any kind of hearty BREAD.
When we meditate/pray, we try to create the best existence/bihisht/heaven in our consciousness, the table or myazd/mjazd, should be a visual symbol of the scents and sights of heaven.
The worshiper is summoned to prayer by the ringing of a bell at home or in the Atash Vahram/ Agiary. The Vedic Aryans of the past and the Hindus of today also have the ritual of ringing of the bell when they perform Arti ceremony. Similarly the Church bells ring alerting the people in their parish to attend the mass. It should be added that the same EXACT bell is still used in the Iranian “Zoor-khane” or “house of strength” up to this day.
The five daily divisions are as follows:
Hávan/Sunrise; time to extract the nectar of haómá. It begins from early morning when the sun rises and lasts till noon. The divine name/angel associated with this prayer is mainly Mithrá, divine love and promise.
During sunrise, we pay homage to “áhüirím frashnem,” ahuric questioning, discovery, inquiry, quest and adventure; look at stanza 5. Stanza 5 is composed out of Yasna 43.10 in the poetic gathas. We conclude by praying for the glory and boon of our villages.
Rapithwin, Noon 12-3 pm : The world literally means the “highest path/ra.pith,” zenith or south point of the meridian. It runs from high noon or when the sun is at its highest brilliance and continues to about 3 p.m.
“Rapithwin” occupies a special place in the Mazdean Mythology, It was at “Rapithwin” or during a state of highest splendor that ahurmazd with the auspicious immortals or aspects of his wit/mind performed a spiritual YASNA ceremony, thereby creating all the creation. ‘ (11). And he infused the wisdom of all-knowledge into mortal men, and bade them choose whether or not to be born into the material world to contend against druj/lies (12). It was still Rapithwin Gah when mortal men made their choice; and it was in Rapithwin Gah, Day/Ruz of Ahrmazd, Month/Māh of Farvardin/archetypes, that the deformed and afflicted Spirit/Ahriman attacked out of jealousy. (13)” The above para is from the Greater Bundahishn III 3, 23, Translation by Behramgore Tehmuras Anklesaria, From digital edition copyright © 2002 by Joseph H. Peterson.]
Rapithwin is associated with “ashá.vahisht” or “a higher, more wondrous reality” and “áthrá” or spiritual fire. áthrá is realted to Greek. aither from aithein “to burn, shine,” from I.E. base aidh- “to burn,” Old Irish. aed “fire,” Latin. aedes, edify. In ancient cosmology, the element that filled all space beyond the sphere of the moon, constituting the substance of the stars and planets is ether. and was conceived to be a purer, more brilliant form of fire or air, an amazing fifth element of sort.
During this Gáh; the five metric gathas, the victorious, amazing power of manthrá, Yasna 28.5, the third line and the entire good creation are revered. Stanza 8 of this prayer is taken from the ancient exegesis of Yasna 30.9, the second line.
avat vyákhnem cha hañjamanem cha
yat as ameshaná(n)m speñtaná(n)m
bareshnvö avanyghä ashnö ghematem,
“From the assembly of the Auspicious Immortals (Avestan Hañjaman, Farsi Anjuman, literally coming together, coming to the same place,) in the most brilliant space whence is their they coming and going.”
The Auspicious Immortals are like a new light/vision, each time, filling the world with a new wonder and theme, (ancient exegesis, Yasna 30.9, the third line,) For the delight of Mazdá is in the deed of making, and in the things most amazingly made, wherefore he passes ever on to some new brilliant work.
The jashn/festivity of Rapithwin is celebrated on the day/ruz Asha.vahisht or higher, more amazing reality of the first month, or the third day of the first month of the year. The Yasna of Rapithwin is performed at high noon. It is recited with the khshnúman/delight of Ardibihisht, for the sake of hame anjoman/all the congregation.
After Yasna, either the zoot/invoker or the rāthwi/conductor recites the vāj of Rapithwin, consecrated with 4 daruns (sacred whole breads), with the khshnúman/delight of Ardibihisht.
The Rapithwin begins on the third day after the gahanbār of “Hama.s.path.maädaya” or vernal equinox/March 20th. “Hama.s.path.maädaya” is an avestan term that refers to the the equinox. “Hama-s-path” alludes to when the paths are equal/hama or at same distant from each other; maädaya means in the middle. The time of equinox refers to the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes/hama night and day. At the time of the equinox, the sun is observed to be directly over the equator, and the north and south poles of the Earth lie along the solar terminator; sunlight is evenly divided between the north and south hemispheres. And it/the Rapithwin ends on the last day of that of Ayāthrima/Oct 16, at the time of driving cattle/herds home to their winter quarters.
According to the tradition; when Rapithwin is above the ground, he gives warmth to the world, and ‘ripens the fruit of the trees.’ As Ayāthrima ends, winter, invades the world, to rule it for the next five months; and Rapithwin retreats below the earth in order to give warmth to the roots and waters so that the cycle of regeneration may begin on the first day of Spring, Nauv.rooz. Hence we pray for the expansion and growth of fertile lands during this Gāh.
During the third day following “Hama.s.path.maädaya” or vernal equinox, winter, whose force has been waning, in turn retreats, until in his own gāh, lasting from noonday till mid-afternoon Rapithwin again becomes master of the earth, to be welcomed and honoured once more.
Rapithwin Gāh is the smallest (3 hours only out of 24) and a part time (7 out of 12 months only) Gāh; however, it has been given a very prominent place in our religion. During the 5 months that Rapithwin is absent, Hávan prayers are recited for a second time instead.
Uzayäirin, Afternoon to Sunset; It runs from about 2 hours before the sunset and lasts to the time when the stars begin to appear. Literally it means the time that the stars appear or rise in the sky. This watch is associated with the brilliant spirit of the waters/berezañtem….apám.
Avestan berezañtem; Skt. bhrajate “to shine, glitter,” Lithuanian. breksta “to dawn,” Welsh berth “bright, beautiful” Old High English. beraht “bright; splendid; ; beautiful; divine,” Old.Norse. bjartr, from Proto Indo European bhereg- “to gleam.”
Avestan apá; Farsi áb, Latin. aqua “water,”Skt. ap “water,” Lithuanian. uppe “a river.” Proto Indo European akwa- “water”. Proto Germanic. akhwo, source of Old.English. ea “river,” Goth.ahua “river, waters,” O.N. Ægir, name of the sea-god.
The prayers of “Uzayäirin” are associated with the “Yasna” ceremony and the eight classes of priests that perform the Yasna ceremony. Stanza 5 has been taken from the poetic gathas the first line of Yasna 33.6 and Vispered 3.1. Stanza 7 has been taken from the first and second line of Yasna 32.16. In stanza 7, we hail and salute “aparem cha tkaäshem,” all the wise teachings that came afterward. It is a fundamental tenet of Mazdyasna/Zoroastrianism to respect and acknowledge all the wise teachings and spiritual/divine element in all religions.
In this prayer we pay special tribute to the light of the stars, moon, the sun and BOUNDLESS LIGHTS; stréush cha mawnyg.hem cha hvare cha raóchaw yaza.maidä, anaghra raóchaw yaza.maidä.
The hymn to the sun is recited in this watch as the two previous watches. But it especially appropriate to recite the hymn to the WATERS at this Gah. The Avestan Hymn to the WATERS has been formulated from the poetic gathas, the second line of Yasna 51.15. In this prayer, we pray for the prosperity and advancements of all the districts and boundaries.
Aiwi-srüthrim, Nightfall, literally time to sing/recite (the holy word,) this Gāh enters when the stars become visible and continues till midnight.
During Aiwi.srüthrim, ALL GOOD LIFE is celebrated; the first line of Yasna 33.10. It is a time to invoke the GREAT VARAHRAM, the VICTORIOUS ONE; it is a time to call upon victory in thoughts, words and deeds. It is also an auspicious time to recite the hymn to the MOON. The hymn to the moon has been composed in the special Háðókht Nask style from the gathic poetry of Yasna 34.4, the second stanza of the second line.The rest of the prayers are associated with FRAVASHIS/SPIRITUAL ARCHETYPES/GUARDIAN ANGELS. Also, there is mention of Yasna 53.4 and Vispered 3.3 in prayers associated with this Gāh concerning the profound concept of “khvaät.vad,” “to wed/forge a bond/marry, among own selves.” It counsels us to wed those that have the same spiritual beliefs, disposition and energy as ourselves.
úsha.hin, stretches from Midnight until Dawn. “úsha.hin” is related to sanskrit ushah/ushas meaning Dawn. Old.Norse. austr “from the east, the direction in which dawn breaks. ” Proto Indo European aus- “dawn.” Old.Irish. usah, Lithuanian. auszra “dawn,” lit. “to shine.” In the enchanting gathas fourth line of Yasna 44.5, there is mention of 3 divisions namely: i) úsháw Dawn ii) arémpithwá High Noon iii) and khshapá Night or time to sleep/repose.
From the content of the daily prayers as it appears in the Khorde Avesta, it becomes clear that the úsha.hin Gāh and hávan Gāh are closely related. For example the praise of Ahurmazd and the 7 MOST PROMINENT Ameshá speñtá is started in úsha.hin Gāh by praising 5 of the Ameshá speñtá, and is concluded by praising the last 2 during the hávan Gāh. The separation of the aforementioned Gāhs seem to have stressed the importance of late night/pre-dawn prayers. Also, Uzayäirin and Aiwi-srüthrim prayers could be said shortly after each other, thereby reducing prayer/meditation times to 3 major sessions of fivefold prayers.
This Gāh is associated with seraóshá, inner voice, intuitive feeling, understanding and wisdom. During this Gāh the brilliance and splendor of dawn are praised. It is a time to quite our surface minds and open our consciousness to intuitive knowing and inner understanding of things.
Although there is no fasting in Zoroastrianism, but the month of Bahman or the 11 month of the year has similar connotations wherein all the behdins are counseled to particularly abstain from MEAT. The month of Bahman is a month of celebration, a month of delicious vegetarian dishes. The opinion of the ancient dastoors vary on the consumption of mid to small sized fish during this month. A small minority counsel a complete vegan like diet. The majority however argue that during the month of Bahman, foods that are good for intelligence/brain hence fish are particularly suited/appropriate. One thing is certain, this month is a month to celebrate our emotional intelligence and honor our bond with animal kingdom more than ever.