The Sih-rozag in Zoroastrianism: A Textual and Historico-Religious Analysis.

Author:Rose, Jenny
Position:Book review

The Sih-rozag in Zoroastrianism: A Textual and Historico-Religious Analysis. By ENRICO G. RAFFAELLI. Iranian Studies, vol. 20. London: Routledge, 2014. Pp. xvi + 346. $160.

Raffaelli begins his important analysis of this Avestan text and its Pahlavi versions by declaring his preference for the compound term sih-rozag--"(specific to) the day thirty" or "the thirtieth day"--rather than the more commonly used sih rozag (or its New Persian equivalent Siroza), meaning "of/ relating to the thirty days (of the month)." In using this hyphenated form, Raffaelli emphasizes the place of the prayers of the text within the ritual performed by Zoroastrians on the thirtieth day after the death of a family member (p. 3 n. 1). This is somewhat at odds with the conventional understanding, following the earliest critical edition by Westergaard in the 1870s, that the text functions primarily as invocations to the divine entities responsible for the days of the month (p. 71). The text itself, in both its shorter and longer forms, contains consecutive prayers directed to the thirty yazatas (literally "[beings] worthy of worship"; here, translated throughout as "divine entities") after whom are named the thirty days of the Zoroastrian month, plus three prayers to other divine entities not connected with day-names, including Haoma. This edition is the first by a Western scholar since Anquetil Duperron's translation (published in 1771) to present the work in its original thirty-three-paragraph division.

In looking at the structure and contents of the two versions of the Sih-rozag--identified respectively as the "Little" and the "Great" in scholarly research--Raffaelli points to the significance of the number thirty-three in the Zoroastrian tradition, including the formulaic invocation of "all the ratus"--that is, of the "patron entities" (pp. 8-9)--which number thirty-three. The author surmises that the primary function of the shorter version was within a ritual to offer praise "for the satisfaction of" each named divine and spiritual entity, whereas the context for the longer form, which includes numerous epithets for each entity and frequent use of the formulaic yazamaide ("we worship," or "we sacrifice to"), seems to have been a ritual involving group participation at some level (pp. 12-13). Raffaelli identifies this ritual as including an actual or figurative sacrifice (p. 14).

These thirty-three prayers, now incorporated as the "Siroza Yasht" into the text...

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