100 years of Calcutta’s only Parsi fire temple
The centenary celebrations of Calcutta’s only fire temple or agiari in operation at 91 Metcalfe Street, or Bandook Gali, began with a ceremony both warm and colourful early on Tuesday.
The city’s Parsi population may have shrunk to 600-strong but they were present in full force at the Late Ervad Dhunjeebhoy Byramjee Mehta’s Zoroastrian Anjuman Atash Adaran established in 1912.
Senior citizens are in a majority in the city’s Parsi community now, and they were dressed to the nines for the occasion — many of the men in brilliant white coats or daghlis modelled on angrakhas and trousers, and women mostly in antique saris elaborately embroidered in China known as garas. The saris were in rich plums, red, peach, pinks and cream, and those with borders had Chinese or Swiss designs.
The ‘saal mubaraks’ and ‘kissi-koti’ prevented any concentrated prayer, but this agiari had a cosmic grandeur. Simply ascending its radiant marble stairs seemed to take us closer to Ahura Mazda. Seasonal feasts or ‘ghambars’ were held in its compound; visiting religious scholars lectured in its downstairs hall. And the Parsi Scouts and Guides mounted ladders periodically to scrape the soot off its old walls and repaint them. – Click Here for Bachi Karkaria’s story in The Times of India – Kaum Banegi Crorepatni