Instructions on Zoroastrian ritual matters, sent from Iran to the Parsis of India.
The purpose of the Rivāyats
Many Zoroastrian texts were translated from Avestan and Pahlavi into Gujarati, Sanskrit and Persian between the 12th and 15th centuries. However, in order to maintain a knowledge of the old traditions embodied in the Avestan and Pahlavi texts, Parsi priests in India sought to establish closer links with Zoroastrian communities in Iran. Letters were exchanged between the two communities mostly in the form of questions and answers, but sometimes also asking for copies of texts. These letters termed as rivāyāt (‘traditions’) date from between the 15th and the 18th centuries and were regarded as authoritative guides on ritual practice. Although the texts were in Persian, they were sometimes, as in this example, written in Avestan script.
What is shown here?
This volume contains a number of such ‘Traditions’. The section on display discusses the question as to how the Bagh-i Barashnom (i.e., the ‘garden’ where the Barashnom, or nine-night purification ceremony, is administered) should be laid out together with a plan. The accompanying description includes quotations from the ninth chapter of the Vīdevdād. In the diagram the dots represent groups of five stones (originally pits) separated from each other by groups of three stones. The lines represent furrows enclosing the ritual space.