The Kusti is the sacred cord that is worn round the waist by every Zoroastrian. Received through the initiation rite known as Navjote, this cord is wound thrice, always over a Sudreh - the sacred shirt, and tied with four knots.
Made of white lamb's wool or camel's white hair, the etymology of the Kusti has been subject to several interpretations by Zoroastrian priests. It may have been derived from Pahlavi 'kust' meaning 'direction', 'kosht' meaning waist, 'kosht' also meaning boundary or 'kishti' - a ship as a carrier of the Zoroastrian.
The purity ritual of Nahn is crucial to the Navjote ceremony. The ses , containing a pair of new clothes, the sudreh and the kusti, soparo filled with sweet batasa or sakar, the gulabdan filled with rose water, kankudan with vermilion and flowers, is carried by relatives. The child, then chews pomegranate leaves and sips the nirang or consecrated bull's urine.
Upon the words Manashni, Gavashni, Gunashni , the priest holding the kusti together with the child, makes two interconnected loops. The symbolism of this gesture is to remind the initiate of the two worlds - the physical and the spiritual as interdependent on each other. Upon the words Khshnaothra Ahurahe Mazda, the priest encircles the kusti twice around the child's waist and makes two reef knots.
Next, both the priest and the child together recite one Ahunavar and upon the word Shyaothenanam, the priest ceremoniously makes the celebrant wear the sudreh - symbolic of the 'garment of the good mind'. The officiating priest positions himself behind the child so they face the same direction as the sun in order to recite the Ahuramazda Khodae or the Kusti Bastan prayer.
The priest after the paiwand or ritual bonding, then recites the Doa Tandorosti while blessing the new Zoroastrian.
The initiate is now believed to be girded by the sacred armour to act always for truth and righteousness. From the day of the Navjote, a Zoroastrian becomes a 'hamkar' - Ahura Mazda's agent on the path of truth.
The craftswomen of Navsari who have shared their homes and skill with us, especially the cooperative spirit of Navaz and Erna Bamji over the years and the Late Katy Sorabji.
Parzor's first researcher, Ashdeen Lilaowala, then a student of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad did the first ever textile study of this Bronze Age Craft of Kusti Weaving in Navsari.
This research culminated into Threads of Continuity , co-authored by Ashdeen Lilaowala and Dr. Shernaz Cama available for purchase at http://unescoparzor.com/publication/.
The Late Vada Dastur Meherjirana of Navsari for explaining details of the symbolism and Late General Adi Sethna, Founder President, Parzor
Jonas Spinoy, Dushyant Mehta and Hemant Mehta, Rustom Havewala - Photography
Dr. Shernaz Cama, Director UNESCO Parzor
Vanshika Singh, Researcher, Parzor Foundation