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Daruwalla, Kerman Dadi (2022) Becoming an Athravan: A study of the training of Zoroastrian priests in India. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The Zoroastrian tradition distinguishes between the priestly class (Athornan) and the laity (Behdins). Only sons belonging to a priestly family are eligible to be initiated as priests, and upon initiation, gain the right and qualification to perform the rituals and ceremonies for the community members. There are two stages of initiation, the Nāvar and the Marātab, for which the candidates are required to memorize the texts in Avestan language and learn the accompanying ritual actions. Based on Gujarati language sources and on extensive fieldwork conducted in India, including filming the contemporary training at the Dadar Athornan Institute in Mumbai, this thesis documents the training of the Zoroastrian priests in India and its evolution over the past two hundred years. The core of the thesis examines the methods employed to commit to memory the large corpus of Avestan texts which is required to qualify as a full ritual-performing priest. The study contrasts the training methodology used at the only two resident priestly seminaries, the Athornan Institutes, with that employed outside of these schools

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Almut Hintze
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 03 May 2022 16:04

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