DRŌN (Mid. Pers. drōn, Bk. Pahl. dlwn < Av. draonah- “portion of food”; Gujarati Parsi darūn), Zoroastrian ritual term originally meaning “sacred portion” and designating a ritual offering to divine beings (Y. 33.8), for example, the portion of a sacrificial animal presented to the yazata Haoma (Hōm; Y. 11.4). In later Zoroastrian tradition, as reflected in the Pahlavi books and contemporary Parsi practice, however, drōn denotes only the flat, round unleavened wheat bread that constitutes the regular offering. According to stipulations preserved in Nērangestān (1.8.A-C), drōn must be prepared from dry, ritually clean, unleavened wheat flour moistened with pure water and kneaded only by priests or their wives (Aērpatastān, pp. 86-104; Ērbadistān, fols. 28r-34r; Nērangestān, fols. 39v-47v, 48v-49v). During preparation each drōn is marked on one side with nine shallow incisions, arranged three by three, while the words humata, hūxta, and hvaršta are recited thrice each. Frasast, unmarked wheat bread of the same type, is also made and consecrated with the drōn by the zōt “officiating priest” (Y. 8.1; Modi, pp. 279-80, 335). Zoroastrians in Persia now make drōn from leavened dough (Boyce, Stronghold, p. 38).
As one of the myazd, or votive offerings, drōn is a ritual requisite for the yasna, yašt ī drōn, vidēvdād, visperad, and āfrīnagān ceremonies. Because yašt ī drōn “service [for consecration] of the drōn” (Y. 3-8), a ceremony of worship and thanksgiving with a šnūman, or dedication, in Avestan to any Zoroastrian divinity, may also be performed as a bāj, or consecration, before eating, Parsis have come to call it by that term and know it as the bāj of panj tāy (Modi, p. 340). Zoroastrians in Persia, on the other hand, have abbreviated the name of the service simply to drōn (Boyce and Kotwal, p. 65). One drōn is requiredfor consecration during the yasna, vidēvdād, visperad, and āfrīnagān ceremonies. Yašt ī drōn services usually require consecration of two drōns and two frasasts. One exception is the service in honor of Sraoša (Srōš), which requires three drōns and three frasasts.
Parsi priests place clarified butter, representing the gōšodāg (< Av. gaoš.huδå), in the center of the drōn and consecrate them together. The bread is believed to represent the vegetable kingdom and to have been made for protection of the body and is also compared to the material world (K. J. Jamasp-Asa, p. 203), whereas gōšodāg is thought to symbolize the animal kingdom (Boyce and Kotwal, p. 63). Consecration of the drōn and gōšodāg consists of the recitation of Yasna 3-8, which takes place as part of the yasna service; the zōt, while reciting Yasna 8.4, ritually tastes (makes čāšnī of) both (Boyce and Kotwal, p. 63; Modi, p. 281). In a separate yašt ī drōn service, for which the text is the same, the frasast is also tasted (Modi, pp. 340-41). Afterward members of the congregation may partake of these consecrated foods. Four yašt ī drōn are performed, in honor of Vayu (Wāy), Rašnu (Rašn) and Arštāt (Aštād), Sraoša, and the fravašis just before the dawn following the third night after a Zoroastrian’s death and during each of the ten days of frawardīgān. The service is a basic preliminary for all other high ceremonies as well (K. M. Jamasp-Asa).
Bibliography: (For cited works not found in this bibliography and for abbreviations found here, see “Short References.”)
Aērpatastān and Nīranga-stān, tr. S. J. Bulsara, Bombay, 1915.
M. Boyce and F. M. Kotwal, “Zoroastrian bāj and drōn,” BSOAS 34, 1971, pp. 56-73, 298-313.
Ērbadistān ud Nīrangistān, ed. F. M. Kotwal and J. W. Boyd, Cambridge, Mass., 1980 (ms. no. TD).
K. J. Jamasp-Asa, “On the Symbolism of the Darun,” in The Dastur Hoshang Memorial Volume, Bombay, 1918, pp. 201-05.
K. M. Jamasp-Asa, “On the Drôn in Zoroastrianism,” Acta Iranica 24, 1985, pp. 335-56.
J. J. Modi, The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Parsees, 2nd ed., Bombay, 1937; repr., Bombay, 1986.
Nērangestān, ed. P. Sanjana as Nirangistan, Bombay, 1894 (ms. no. HJ).
(Jamsheed K. Choksy)
Originally Published: December 15, 1995
Last Updated: December 1, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 5, pp. 554-555