The Parsis lived in many parts of Gujarat as farmers and craftsmen. They supplemented their income by various jobs. The Parsis of Bharuch lived on the banks of the Narmada river, which in full flow is almost like a sea. The people of Bharuch who live on the banks of the Narmada are often fisher folk who make a living from the fish found in this river and in the sea.
The boats used by the fisher folk are small and wooden but they are skillful sailors and normally bring back a good catch which helps provide income and food for their families. The Parsis and other fisher folk used to go out to sea, especially during the early rains when a lot of fish could be found both in the river and in the sea.
One morning the rain was beating strongly but the boats were being made ready with their nets and sails for the long journey up and down the river. A group of Bharuchis – Parsi, Muslim and Hindu – were all gathered to go out for the day’s fishing. The fishing boats sailed into the rain and they fished all day, and caught a large amount of fish. As they were planning to return home the waves became stronger and from out at sea they watched large black storm clouds rolling inwards. The boats were thrown up and down and the rain poured down on the fishermen. It seemed that all was lost and that the boats would soon capsize into the whirling waters.
As the boats were tossed closer by the waves, one Parsi fisherman shouted out to his brother on the other boat. “Start praying the Yatha Ahu Vairyo!” This is the prayer which asks God to help those who speak the Truth. Each of the Parsis on the boats loudly chanted this ancient prayer, which is the foundation of the religion, and one of the two short prayers taught to every child as soon as they learn to speak. The Parsis believe that this prayer has all the power of Ahura Mazda in it.
“Yatha Ahu Vairyo Atha ratush, ashatchit hacha
Vangheush dazda manangho, Shyaothnanam angheush Mazdai;
Kshatremcha ahurai, Yim dregubyo dadat vastarem”
As the prayer was recited loudly from each boat, the storm began abating. The waves became gentle and the rain stopped. The boats were now sailing on smooth water and soon they could see the old wall of Bharuch in the distance. As soon as they landed on the shore the Parsi fishermen gathered together and once again recited the prayer and gave thanks to God.
Some weeks passed the rains still fell and the fishermen went out to sea once again. This time by some strange chance there were no Parsis in any of the boats. After a day of sailing the fishermen were about to return when again a huge storm traveled up the river and the sky became black. The waves tossed the boats up and down and the fishermen were afraid that they would drown. One of the men who had been in the boats when the Parsis prayer had calmed the storm kept telling the others, “Can’t we recite the same prayer and calm the waves”. All the men tried to remember the words but all they could recall was a fragment.
In despair they called out to the elements. “O Parsi tharo thabario”. This was all they could remember and they chanted it loudly with full faith in the Truth, hoping that God would listen and help them, as he had helped the last time. It again seemed a miracle but this little chant without any real meaning, which just called out to the protector of the Parsis seemed to have worked again. The storm passed and the men came back to the shore thanking God for saving them.
It is now a legend among the fisher folk of Bharuch that if they are caught in a storm at sea they just need to remember “O Parsi tharo thabario” and like the sacred “Yatha Ahu Vairyo”, this chant uttered with full faith helps all fishermen come home safely.