ĀLĀT (plural of Arabic āla), “utensils,” for Parsis the “sacred apparatus” employed in Zoroastrian rituals. Once consecrated, they function to effect contact between this physical (gētīg) realm and the holy, spiritual (mēnōg) realm. Appropriate ālāt are used for each rite. E.g., in the purificatory bath (barašnūm) the ālāt are consecrated and unconsecrated bull’s urine (nīrangdīn and gōmēz), consecrated water, ash (Gujarati bhasma) from an Ātaš Bahrām, sand, and a pomegranate leaf. Ālāt for the high liturgies are more numerous. For offering sandalwood and frankincense to the fire, a ladle (čamač, cf. Pers. čamča) and tongs (čipyō, from Gujarati čipīyō) are used. Several vase-like metal containers (the larger kahārnu and smaller karasyā, Gujarati kalašiyā) serve to take water from the well, fetch goat’s milk (ǰīwām), and pour water for purification. Placed on the ritual table (ālātḵᵛān) are metal cups (Gujarati fuliyān), saucer-like metal bowls (tašta), a mortar (hāwan) and pestle (dastag), a knife (barsomčīn), and two metal stands topped with crescent-shaped horns (māhrūy). The various fuliyān contain consecrated water (zōhr), goat’s milk, and a liquid mixture of crushed hōm and pomegranate twigs; one, called the warasdān, is used exclusively to hold a ring, on which are tied three woven strands of hair from a living white bull—a source of holy power. The various tašta contain hōm, pomegranate twigs, a flat, unleavened wheat cake (drōn), and goat’s milk. A tašta with nine holes (sūrāḵdār tašta) filters the hōm mixture. The mortar and pestle are used to crush the hōm and twigs; the knife is presently used to cut the latter and a date-palm leaf. The māhrūy are holders for the barsom, a bundle of metal wires (tāy). See also Yasn.


M. Haug, Essays on the Sacred Language, Writings, and Religion of the Parsis, 2nd ed., London, 1878, p. 394ff.

J. J. Modi, Rites2, pp. 239-45, etc.

F. M. Kotwal and J. W. Boyd, “The Zoroastrian paragṇā ritual,” The Journal of Mithraic Studies 2, 1977, pp. 18-52.

(F. M. Kotwal and J. W. Boyd)

Originally Published: December 15, 1985

Last Updated: July 29, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 8, p. 804

Cite this entry:

F. M. Kotwal and J. W. Boyd, “ĀLĀT,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/8, p. 804; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/alat-plural-of-arabic-ala-utensils-for-parsis-the-sacred-apparatus-employed-in-zoroastrian-rituals (accessed on 17 May 2014).