|Iranshah Atash Behram|
|Festivals||Salgiri, Bahram roj, Zoroastrian New Year|
The Iranshah Atash Behram, also known as the Udwada Atash Behram is a sacred fire housed in a temple in Udvada, Gujarat on the west coast of India. It is the first of the eight fire temples (holy place of worship) of the Zoroastrian religion in the country. The Atash Bahram, meaning "Victorious Fire", is the oldest fire temple in India, dated to the eighth century, and represents the historical cultural and religious links with Iran. The current temple housing the sacred fire was built in 1742 by Motlibai Wadia from Bombay. The temple structure, built spaciously, is well decorated and contains the Dasturji Kaiyoji Mirza hall and a museum. The main hall of the temple is accessed through a two-stage staircase. The temple attracts Zoroastrian pilgrims from all parts of India, Pakistan, and from around the world.
The Udvada Atash Behram, also called the Iran Shah, 2 square kilometres (0.77 sq mi) area, is on the southern coast of Gujarat. The village was gifted to the priests by the king of Mandvi. It is approachable by road and rail. It is 206 kilometres (128 mi) away from Mumbai towards the north, situated between Vapi town and Daman on the National Highway (NH8) which passes through Manor. The nearest railway station is also in Udvada which is on the Virar-Surat section."King of Iran", is a fire temple of the Zoroastrian religion; one of the eight in India. It is located in Udvada (also spelled Udwada) in Gujarat on the west coast of India. Outside India, Yazd in Central Iran has the only other Atash Behram. Udvada, a small coastal village, of about
Udvada Atash Behram is the oldest existing fire temple in India, representing a cultural and religious link with Iran.The Atash Bahram fire was consecrated at Sanjan from alaat ( sacred implements for consecration) brought from Iran to India in 715, consequent to the migration of Zoroastrians in Greater Persia due to the persecution by the Islamic rulers who conquered that country; those who moved to India are called Parsis; the earliest link of worship of the sacred fire in Zoroastrian temples are dated to the 4th-century BC. The Parsis traveled by ship from Hormuz in the Persian Gulf and landed on the Indian coast at Diu. They then moved along the coast to Sanjan, where the local Hindu king, Jadi Rana, gave them asylum and land to settle down but under a few stipulations. They settled down in Sanjan and then established their first Atash Bahram, a first-grade fire temple (fire drawn from sixteen sources) in India in 721 by enshrining the holy fire after consecration with alaats (sacred implements) that had been brought from Iran. This temple thus created a silsila , a traditional link, for the Parsi community of Sanjan with Iran. The consecration ceremony involved long and winding rites, which lasted for many months. The temple flourished, the community took firm roots, and it was their only such temple during that period, though as a community they spread to other regions of India. Their stay in Sanjan lasted for about four centuries till political events took a turn. In 1297, the Muslim ruler, Sultan Mahmud, invaded Gujarat and occupied the Sanjan area also; during this battle, the Parsis had sided with the Hindus but it was a lost cause. The Parsis then took shelter in the Bahrot Caves and kept the sacred fire there for 12 years. As the safety conditions improved, the Sanjan priests then shifted, with the holy fire, to another village known as Vansda, and remained there for 14 years, when pilgrims started visiting the fire shrine. During this period, one of the pilgrims, Changashah, also known as Changa Asa, of Navsari, who was also a benefactor, who used to travel to Bansda, persuaded the priests of Sanjan to move to Navsari.
In 1419, the holy fire was moved by the priests to Navsari, a town near Surat, where they established themselves for more than 300 years (1419 to 1740). 32 kilometres (20 mi) away from Navsari. Even here the Sanjan priests could not come to amicable terms with the local priests of the agiari and in 1741 they decided to move to Udvada, which was under the Sanjan community. One year later Zoroastrians built an Atash Behram in Udvada and moved the sacred fire to it; it was consecrated by two high priests (dasturs) who had carried the fire from Navsari.Due to security concerns created by Pindharas (nomadic robbers), t temporarily moved to Surat, and as the situation eased it was brought back to Navsari. The Sanjan priests and the Bhagarias (local priests) of Navsari had a working arrangement to run the sacred fire temple, but this understanding broke down and legal issues ensued. Disturbed by this development, the Sanjan priests moved out of Navsari with their sacred fire, and housed the fire in one of the two agiaris (the first level of fire temples) in Valsad,
The Atash Behram ("Iran Shah fire") is a symbolic representation of the Zoroastrian monarchy of Iran that was overthrown by Arabs), which had been first established at Sanjan in the 90th year of the Yezdezardi era by the first Shehenshahi Zoroastrian immigrants in India, is now maintained at Udvada by their descendants; these are nine families of priests who were descendants of the three priests who had retrieved the sacred fire from Sanjan to safety. Two High Priests or Dastur of the temple are chosen by a rotation system among these nine families. The last two High Priests serving together were Dr. Dastur Hormazdyar Mirza, a Ph.D. in Zoroastrian scholarship and Dastur Kaikobad Dastur. Upon his death, Dastur Hormazdyar was succeeded by his son, Dastur Peshotan Mirza, and after the demise of Dastur Kaikobad his son Dastur Khurshed. Dastur Peshotan too passed away and the dual High Priest system seems to have been temporarily set aside. It’s important to note this dual High Priest tradition because the rest of the seven Atash Behrams in India have had the tradition of one High Priest of every temple.
To retain the heritage status of the fire temple and the Udvada town, a development plan was initiated in 2007 by the Government of India and Government of Gujarat with a fund of Rs. 15 million. This involved the preservation of the heritage buildings including the fire temple in Udvada without allowing to make it a tourist hub.
The architect and builder of the temple was Dinshaw Dorabjee Mistry from Mumbai. The temple structure has been built spaciously and well decorated. The main hall of the temple, which is 50 by 25 feet (15.2 m × 7.6 m), is accessed through a two-stage staircase. The flooring in the hall is paved with Minton tiles. A portrait of the Zoroaster is fixed in the main hall at a vantage position. In the first floor, there is a very large hall of 100 by 50 feet (30 m × 15 m) size. The color scheme, the quality of carpets, and the type of tiles used in the temple have received appreciation from the devotees. The urwisgah, or place of the rituals for worship, is accessed from the doors on the right at the entrance. Within this temple, there are the Dasturji Koyaji Mirza hall and a museum.
In Sanjan, the holy fire was placed in a traditional "altar-like pillar with hollow top" similar to those used in Iran. In Navasari, the fire was kept in an āfrinagān, which was shaped like a vase. A larger version of this was developed as a model for adoption at all other Atash Bahrams.
The boi ritual involves the enthroning of the (machi) of the fire. It is done with Nine sticks of sandalwood of 45 centimetres (18 in) length each; at other similar shrines the number of sandalwood sticks used are seven of 30 centimetres (12 in) length each.
Portrait of important priests and the religious organizations, who have played a significant role in establishing the temple, are fixed on the outer hall walls of the temple.The original temple was refurbished by Lady Motlibhai Wadia in 1894.
The key unique aspects of Iranshah’s rituals are : the boi is only offered by Yozdathregar priests of the nine original Sanjana families, the bell is rung ten times instead of nine (the first pell being rung before offering the maachi), and the gãthu bharvāni kriya offered in Ushain geh where eleven Atash niayesh are prayed instead of nine and a charred wood billet is buried in the ash. The first boi and maachi, the ceremony that accompanies the regular tending of fire five times a day, was offered to the holy fire at the new temple by Dastur Phirozeji’s son, Dastur Kekobad.
Zoroastrian pilgrims from all parts of India, Iran, the United States, Canada, Pakistan, Australia, and New Zealand , and wherever Parsis and Zoroastrians have settled ( there are families settled in Hong Kong, South Africa, Kenya, Singapore) and Iranian Zoroastrians visit the temple on pilgrimage.Newlywed couples also visit Udvada on pilgrimage, and on their behalf, their parents offer a machi (throne of wood to the fire ) at the temple.
The anniversary, known as sālgiri, corresponding to the date of establishing the Atash Behram in Udvada and also in other Atash Bahrams in India, is celebrated every year according to the Shenshai Zoroastrian calendar on the day called Ādur of the month also called Ādur, the ninth Zoroastrian month and the ninth day of the month); pilgrims visit not only on the day of the month but also throughout the Ādur month. Apart from the salgiri, the other religious observance held every month is the "Bahrām" day (the twentieth day of the month). The Parsi New Year, normally held in August, is also celebrated here when a large number of devotees flock to the shrine.
On festive occasions, the Udvada shrine comes to life with large number of pilgrims engaged in buying sandalwood, flowers and other religious paraphernalia to offer to the fire.
Parsis or Parsees are an ethnoreligious group of the Indian subcontinent whose religion is Zoroastrianism. Their ancestors migrated to the region from modern-day Iran following the Muslim conquest of Persia in the 7th century CE. They are the first of two such to have done so, with the other being Iranis, who migrated to the subcontinent many centuries after Persia fell to the Rashidun Caliphate. According to a Zoroastrian epic, Qissa-i Sanjan, Parsis continued to migrate from the collapsed Sassanid Empire to Gujarat in between the 8th and 10th centuries CE, where they were given refuge to escape religious persecution during the early Muslim conquests.
Jadi Rana is a figure from the Qissa-i Sanjan, an epic poem completed in 1599, which is an account of the flight of some of the Zoroastrians who were subject to religious persecution following the fall of the Sassanid Empire, and of their early years in India, where they found refuge. A 20th-century translation of the Qissa transliterates the name as Jádi Rana.
A fire temple, Agiary, Atashkadeh, Atashgah (آتشگاه) or Dar-e Mehr is the place of worship for the followers of Zoroastrianism, the ancient religion of Iran (Persia). In the Zoroastrian religion, fire, together with clean water, are agents of ritual purity. Clean, white "ash for the purification ceremonies [is] regarded as the basis of ritual life", which "are essentially the rites proper to the tending of a domestic fire, for the temple [fire] is that of the hearth fire raised to a new solemnity". For, one "who sacrifices unto fire with fuel in his hand ..., is given happiness".
Navsari is a city, the ninth biggest municipality of Gujarat and the administrative headquarters Navsari District of Gujarat, India, located between Surat & Mumbai. Navsari is also the Twin City of Surat, and only 37 km south of Surat. In 2016, Navsari ranked as the 16th biggest city of Gujarat state of India by population in 2011. It used to rank 10th in 1991 to 2001. Navsari is the 25th "cleanest city of India" according to the Indian Ministry of Urban Development. Navsari is also a famous place due to the great Salt March led by Mahatma Gandhi till the dandi.
Ervad Godrej Sidhwa was born in Karachi, Pakistan and studied the Avesta, Pahalvi, Persian & Pazend languages, as well as Ancient Iranian literature at M.F. Cama Athornan Institute, Andheri, Mumbai, for six years. He was initiated into the Zoroastrian priesthood by going through the Navar and Maratab initiation ceremony from Iranshah Atash Behram, Udvada, India. His initiation as a priest accounts for the "Ervad" ('Reverend') title.
The Baku Ateshgah, often called the "Fire Temple of Baku" is a castle-like religious temple in Surakhani town, a suburb in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The Story of Sanjan is an account of the early years of Zoroastrian settlers on the Indian subcontinent that was originally written in 1599 CE by Parsi priest, Bahman Kaikobad. In the absence of alternatives, the text is generally accepted to be the only narrative of the events described therein, and many members of the Parsi community perceive the epic poem to be an accurate account of their ancestors.
Udvada is a town situated in Pardi taluka in the Valsad district in the state of Gujarat, India. Udvada is a coastal town located around 24 km from the Valsad city. The Zoroastrian temple, Udvada Atash Behram is situated here.
Persecution of Zoroastrians is the religious persecution inflicted upon the followers of the Zoroastrian faith. The persecution of Zoroastrians occurred throughout the religion's history. The discrimination and harassment began in the form of sparse violence and forced conversions. Muslims are recorded to have destroyed fire temples. Zoroastrians living under Muslim rule were required to pay a tax called jizya.
The first Dastur Meherji Rana, sometimes known as Mayyaji Rana, was the undisputed spiritual leader of the Parsi community in India during the sixteenth century. He was renowned not just among the Parsis but also other communities on account of his piety, vast knowledge and spiritual powers.
An Atash Behram is the highest grade of a fire that can be placed in a Zoroastrian fire temple as an eternal flame, the other two lower graded fires are Atash Adaran and below Adaran is the Atash Dadgah- these three grades signify the degree of reverence and dignity these are held in. The establishment and consecration of the Atash Behram fire is the most elaborate of all the grades of fire. It involves the gathering of 16 different types of fire, including lightning, fire from a cremation pyre, fire from trades where a furnace is operated, and fires from the hearths as is also the case for the Atash Adaran. Each of the 16 fires is then subject to a purification ritual before it joins the others. A large team of priests are required for the purification and consecration ceremonies, which can take up to a year to complete.
Jamshedji Sorab Kukadaru was a Zoroastrian priest in Mumbai, India revered by Zoroastrians for a number of miracles he is believed to have performed. He was well known by his contemporaries for his simple lifestyle and asceticism and unflinching adherence to priestly purity rules. Most of his life is said to have been spent in prayer.
Bahrot Caves, locally known as Barad(बारड), near Dahanu, Maharashtra are the only Parsi/Zoroastrian Cave temple in India. Bahrot Caves is located 25 km south of Sanjan, Gujarat and are situated at a small distance of 8 km away from the village of Bordi also nearly 9 km from NH48 from Talasari .They were unused Buddhist caves excavated by Buddhist monks. Zoroastrians hid for 13 years in these mountains after an invasion of their settlement at Sanjan by Alaf Khan, a general of Muhammad bin Tughluq in 1393 CE. The ‘Iranshah Flame’ was also moved to Bahrot during this period. Even today, the Holy Fire is burning and it is given the most eminent grade of devoted fire in the world. Bahrot Caves have been declared a heritage site and is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Zoroastrianism in India has significant history within the country. Zoroastrians have lived in India since the Sasanian period. The Zoroastrians also moved to India in successive migrations during the Islamic period. The initial migration following the Muslim conquest of Persia has been canonized as a religious persecution by invading Muslims. Zoroastrianism meanwhile suffered a decline in Iran after the conquests. Subsequent migrations also took place after the attempts by Safavids to convert their subjects to Shiism.
The Fire Temple of Yazd, also known as Yazd Atash Behram, is a Zoroastrian fire temple in Yazd, Yazd province, Iran. It enshrines the Atash Bahram, meaning “Victorious Fire”, dated to 470 AD. It is one of the nine Atash Bahrams, the only one of the highest grade fire in ancient Iran where Zoroastrians have practiced their religion since 400 BC; the other eight Atash Bahrams are in India. According to Aga Rustam Noshiravan Belivani, of Sharifabad, the Anjuman-i Nasiri opened the Yazd Atash Behram in the 1960s to non-Zoroastrian visitors.
Fire is one of the elements that was praised and venerated by the ancient Iranians. Fire is in the Avesta as Atash or Atar, in Pahlavi literature atour or atakhsh; or in Persian literature fire is known as azar or athash. The guardian angel of fire is known as Atouryast in Pahlavi literature, and in Persian literature Azarizad (Azar+Izad). Due to the importance of the position, the Angel has been called the son of Ahura Mazda refer the Khordeh Avesta- Atash Niyash, litany to fire where Atash is called son of Ahura Mazda. In ancient Iranian ritual, in order to appease the fire angel, fragrant woods or sandalwood were constantly applied in fire temples and fires in homes, this done to this day, in over 300 consecrated Fire Temples like Udvada Atash Behram by Parsis and Iranian Zoroastrians. In the religion of Zoroastrianism, fire is a sign of purity and truth, and Ardibehesht is its guardian. Ancient Iranian legends attribute the discovery of lighting a fire with two stones to King Hushang of Pishdadian dynasty. The tradition also survives in Sadeh celebration, that still make it popular.
There was communal violence between Parsis and Bohra Muslims in May 1857 in Broach in India.
Adur Gushnasp was the name of a Zoroastrian sacred fire of the highest grade, which served as one of the three most sacred fires of pre-Islamic Iran; the two others being the Adur Farnbag and Adur Burzen-mihr. Out of the three, Adur Gushnasp is the only fire whose temple structure has been discovered and "for which archaeological, sigillographical, and textual evidence are all available."
Adur Burzen-Mihr or Azar Barzin was an Atash Bahram located in Parthia. In the Sasanian period it was one of the three Great Fires and was associated with the farmer class; the other two were Adur Farnbag in Persis which was associated with the priest class, and Adur Gushnasp in Media, which was associated with the warrior class. Its establishment can be dated to the late 5th or early 4th century BC. Adur means "Holy Fire", and Burzēn-Mihr is a Parthian given name which literally means "Exalted is Mihr" and is probably the name of the temple's founder.
Sharifabad, Ardakan is a township in the Central District of Ardakan County, Yazd Province, Iran. It is located near the county capital, Ardakan, and had a population of 4,000 as of the 2006 census. Sharifabad is one of the Zoroastrian centres of Iran, home to numerous Zoroastrian holy sites. Every summer, thousands of Zoroastrians from around the world gather here on pilgrimage. Sharifabad is also notable for the 1,000-year-old Qutbabad aqueduct that runs through the village. The village is home to both Muslims and Zoroastrians who worship separately and respect each other's beliefs.