Agiyari or the Fire Temple is the place of worship for Zoroastrians (Parsis). When the Parsis first came to India, they settled in Gujarat and later moved to Bombay (Mumbai). They have contributed immensely to the fields of arts, science and industry. Renowned Parsis include Jamsetji Tata, the Wadias, Homi Bhabha, the Godrej family, Madam Bhikaji Cama and Boman Irani.
1. The fire-worshippers
Fire is revered by the Parsis, it represents Ahura Mazda - their supreme deity. According to 2010 reports, there are 50 fire temples in Mumbai, 100 in rest of India, and 27 in rest of the world.
2. The Faravahar
The Faravahar with a human face represents good thoughts, good words and good deeds. The circle in the middle of the Faravahar’s trunk symbolises our spirit - endless, with no beginning or end. The hand pointing upwards means that we have to work hard in order to prosper. The ring in the other hand denotes loyalty and faithfulness.
3. Parsi New Year
Navroz or the Parsi New Year is celebrated on 17th of August. On this auspicious day, the Parsis visit the Fire Temple. A burning fire is kept surrounded by wheat and water in the temple. Here, fire signifies purification and wheat signifies wealth.
4. Atash Behram or the Fire of Victory
Atash Behram is considered to be the highest grade of fire. 16 different kinds of fire are gathered from different sources - they include lightning, fires from the hearths, fire from a cremation pyre, fire from trades where a furnace is operated and so on. There are 9 Atash Behrams - Iranshah Atash Behram in Udvada, Desai Atash Behram in Navsari, Dadiseth Atash Behram in Mumbai, Vakil Atash Behram in Surat, Modi Atash Behram in Surat, Wadia Atash Behram in Mumbai, Banaji Atash Behram in Mumbai, Anjuman Atash Behram in Mumbai and Yezd Atash Behram in Yazd, Iran.
5. Archaeological discovery
Oldest remains of a fire temple, dating back to the 3rd or 4th century BCE were found on Mount Khajeh, near Lake Hamun in Sistan (Iran).
6. The Ateshgah Fire Temple
Ateshgah Fire Temple is a castle-like temple in Surakhani, Azerbaijan which is at a distance of 216 kms from Armenia. Built during the 17th and 18th centuries, it contains Persian and Indian inscriptions. This temple was worshipped both by the Hindus and Zoroastrians. After 1883, it had to be abandoned since oil and gas plants were established in the vicinity. This led to the end of the flow of natural gas to the temple and extinguished the holy fire.
Author : Vijaylaxmi Thakur