Importance and Significance of the Sudreh and Kusti in our Daily Prayer
Posted on this website with kind permission from Manek Bhujwala
The Sudreh and Kusti are the most important equipment (Aalaats) a Zoroastrian needs in life. Ahura Mazda had first instructed King Jamshed to wear the Kusti, long before Prophet Zarathushtra came to earth.
When Prophet Sahib was just 15 years of age, his father Pourushasp decided to divide his Estate amongst his children and since Prophet Sahib was his best child he decided to ask him first what he wanted.
To every one's surprise Prophet Sahib asked for only one thing, the Kusti, which He said, would protect Him and guide Him all through His life.
This incident shows how important the Sudreh Kusti is to a Zoroastrian.
They are not just "bells and whistles". True, they do form an external dress or uniform and even dead people have been identified as Parsis through their Sudreh Kusti, but that is not their main function.
And for that matter why should we feel embarrassed to wear the Sudreh Kusti as our uniform when the Sikhs or the Arabs, or Muslim ladies do not feel embarrassed to wear their uniform? In fact we should be proud to wear our uniform. It also encourages us to wear decent clothing. We do not want our women to wear 'burkhas' but neither should they dress indecently and in a provocative manner. Sudreh means beneficent path. So we put on the Sudreh to remind us to tread on the good path. The Sudreh is white in colour. White is the symbol of purity. Hence, the Sudreh reminds us that we should be pure in our thoughts, words, and deeds and we should keep our bodies pure.
It is made of cotton reminding us to respect the plant kingdom. The Sudreh has a pocket called 'girehban' which means TRUST. So wearing the Sudreh reminds a Zoroastrian that he must be trustworthy. No wonder Zoroastrians are well known for their honesty & integrity. The Sudreh has to be of one piece of cloth symbolizing one God, Ahura Mazda.
It is stitched in a particular way and has 9 seams, which remind us of the 9000-year battle between good and evil before evil is totally destroyed.
It has to be of a particular size, reaching down almost to the knees. Just a piece of cloth with two ribbons as shoulder straps does not make a Sudreh.
The Kusti is made of lamb wool reminding the wearer to respect the animal kingdom. It is made of 72 strands symbolizing the 72 Chapters of the Yasna. The 72 strands are divided into 6 sections, symbolizing the 6 Amesha Spentas. (Bahman Ameshaspand, Ardibehest Ameshaspand, Sherevar Ameshaspand, Spendarmad Ameshaspand, Khordad Ameshaspand and Amardad Ameshaspand) Each of the above six sections has 12 strands symbolizing the 12 words of the Ashem Vohu Prayer as well as the 12 months of the year. Each end of the Kusti has 3 tassels symbolizing Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds. The total of 6 tassels symbolizes the 6 Ghambars. The 24 strands in each tassel symbolize the 24 Chapters of the Visperad, one of our Holy Texts.
The Kusti is hollow symbolizing the physical and the spiritual world. When it is completed, a priest has to recite certain prayers and it is cut and brought down from the wooden stand (the Jantar) on which it was woven. Did you know how methodical and mathematical the constructions of the Sudreh Kusti are? We tie the Kusti 3 times round the waist reminding us to think only Good Thoughts, speak only Good words and perform only Good Deeds. The 4 knots remind us that God has created the human body from the four elements Fire, water, air and earth, and that we should respect and take care of these 4 elements. The Kusti is tied in the middle of the body on the waist signifying that we should follow the middle path in life.
The Sudreh and Kusti are not just ordinary garments or external symbols. They are channels of energy. Spiritual energy. They have the power from Ahura Mazda in them. Just like the power behind a talisman. We cannot perceive this power with our 5 senses. That is why we have to learn these things through our Scriptures, which our beloved Prophet Sahib has taught us. The Sudreh & Kusti offers us protection against invisible evil. It forms a "Kash" or barrier around us, which evil forces cannot penetrate. The Sudreh & Kusti also gives us spiritual guidance.
This then in short is the significance and importance of the Sudreh Kusti.
I sincerely urge every Zoroastrian to wear these holy garments reverently and in faith, all 24 hours, instead of questioning something spiritual with a mind limited to mundane material things.