HAMĀZŌR, a Zoroastrian-Persian adjective meaning “of the same strength” (< OP/Av. hama-, AirWb, col. 1773, and OP *zavar-, AirWb, cols 1689-90; Hübschmann, Persische Studien, p. 273). The term occurs only in a formula of greeting: in Irani Zoroastrian usage hamāzōr bēm “Be we one in strength” (Dastūr Shehriyār, p. 305; Boyce, Stronghold, p. 44), and in Parsi usage hamāzōr hamā ašō bēd “Be ye one in strength, wholly righteous” (Modi, p. 382). By a custom that has died out, this greeting was generally exchanged at Nowruz, accompanied by the giving of hands: two persons, meeting, each took a hand of the other between his own two hands, placed palm to palm (see details in Modi, pp. 378-79). This salutation was also exchanged at home among family members.
Hamāzōr was also made when people gathered for public religious occasions. Thus at the end of jašan ceremonies, and at the last service for the departed (called čahārom in Persia and uthamna in India), after all had joined in reciting the Ḵoršēd Ātaš Niāyeš and Nām Setāyišn, the leading person present in the congregation (usually a priest) made hamāzōr with the person next to him; then others would follow suit, thus everyone exchanged the greeting. After the Āfrīnagān (q.v.) ceremony, however, it was customary in India for the serving priest to make hamāzōr with the celebrant, and then with each member of the congregation. In Persia instead he carried fire in a metal vase, with incense, slowly passing through the congregation, calling out hamāzōr bēm as he went; and, as he passed, people stretched out their hands and drew the fragrant smoke towards themselves, while responding with the same words (Dastūr Shehriyār, p. 305; Boyce, Stronghold, pp. 43-44).
When a priest completed his training, that is, became marāteb (Modi, p. 197), being thus qualified to solemnize the “inner” ceremonies, he went to the house of the high priest and took hamāzōr from him (Pavri, p. 205). The hamāzōr is still regularly exchanged by the two officiating priests at the end of the Yasna, Visperad and Vendidād services, after the celebrant has “left” the bāj (q.v.) of the divinity to whom the act of worship has been devoted. Likewise, and at the end of the Nīrangdīn, after they have covered the vessels containing the nīrang and consecrated water, the two priests exchange hamāzōr with each other and then with the high priest, if he is present.
On occasion (if one hand is occupied, see Boyce, Stronghold, pp. 54-55) an ordinary clasping of right hands replaces the special ritual gesture. It has been suggested (Boyce and Grenet, Zoroastrianism III, pp. 317-18) that the prominence given to such a hand-clasp in the monuments at Nimrud Dagh was in part at least an allusion to its significance in Zoroastrian observance, as a gesture of shared fellowship and spiritual resolve.
Khudayar Dastur Shehriyār, “The Celebrations of the Gāhambār in Persia,” in Sir Jansetjee Jejeebhoy Madressa Jubilee Volume, ed. Jivanji Jamshedji Modi, Bombay, 1914, pp. 302-5.
Jivanji Jamshedji Modi, The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Parsees, 2nd ed., Bombay, 1937, repr. 1986.
H. M. Pavri, Bāj dharṇāne lagtī pāwmahalnī kriyāō, Bombay, 1938, repr. 1995.
(Mary Boyce and F. M. Kotwal)
Originally Published: December 15, 2003
Last Updated: March 6, 2012
This article is available in print.
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