Installation of Godrej Baug Agiary – 1999
Courtesy : Homyar Mistry, BPP, Ronnie F Patel
First hand experience related by Firdosh Khurshed Tolat:
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE GODREJ BAUG AGYARI
20th December 1999
My Dear Parsi brethren,
I would like to share with you an exciting event in Parsi History, which I have just witnessed.
Some of you may be aware that a new Agiyari – Shapoorji Fakirji Jokhi Agiyari – is being started at the Godrej Baug. The enthronement of the Holy Fire will take place in the early hours of Tuesday 21 December 1999.
The Holy Fire (originally of Tavri, near Navsari) – accompanied by a busload of Godrej Baug residents and a cavalcade of other Zarthostis in private cars – was brought from the Sir J.J. Agiyari, Navsari to the Dasturji Kookadaru Dare-e-Meher, Sanjan in the wee hours of Sunday the 19th. All the five Bui ceremonies were performed during the day in Sanjan.
The Fire left Sanjan on Monday the 20th, after midnight and arrived on the outskirts of Mumbai at 4:30 a.m. The entire convoy was escorted by Mumbai police.
I was fortunate to witness and be a part of this exciting event, in the final stage from Worli to Modi Sorabji Vatchha Gandhi Dar-e-Meher (also known as Vatchha Gandhi Agiyari), where the Fire arrived at 5:15 a.m.
The urn containing the Ātash was brought out from the Tata Sumo jeep, accompanied by five Mobeds, chanting the Maathravaani prayers. Since one cannot shift the Ātash without grounding, special chains were attached to the vehicle, to maintain contact with the ground, throughout the two journeys.
The silence of the morning was broken by loud recitation of prayers by the gathered devotees. It was a magical moment, enveloped in an aura of mysticism mixed with religious fervour, when one caught a glimpse of smoke emanating from the urn and the air filled with scent of burning sandalwood.
The Ātash was carried into a special room of the Agiyari and transferred into an Afarganyu; we saw the Holy Fire as bright embers, awaiting to be transferred into bright flames. Four priests recited the Ātash Nyāyesh, offered sandalwood and as the brilliance lit up the darkened hall, we were witness to a new page being written in the history of our Religion in Mumbai.
The Holy Fire will be transferred from Vatchha Gandhi Agiyari, tonight (Tuesday the 21st at 3:30 a.m.). The ceremonial procession will leave the Agiyari, walk down Hughes Road upto Ardeshir Godrej Chowk (Kemps Corner), turn up the road leading to Hanging Gardens, enter Ambawadi and then into Godrej Baug. Arrangements have been made to turn off the streetlights during the procession. A water taker will wash the entire route upto Ambawadi. Thereafter, barrels of water have been arranged to wash the path before the Fire can be taken over it.
The Ātash Padshah will be finally enthroned in the Kebla room of the Shapoorji Fakirji Jokhi Agiyari, Godrej Baug and the first Bui ceremony performed at dawn, around 6:00 a.m.
The entire operation of shifting the Tavri nā Ātash from Sir J.J. Agiyari, Navsari, to Shapoorji Fakirji Jokhi Agiyari, Godrej Baug, Mumbai, is being steered and guided by Ervad Aspandiyar Dadachanji – Panthaky Saheb of the Vatchha Gandhi Agiyari. An erudite scholar, Aspandiyarji is an authority on our Zarthushti rituals and ceremonies.
21st December 1999
Yet another historical chapter was written today morning, when the Holy Fire of Tavri, brought from the Sir J.J. Agiyari, Navsari, was enthroned at the new Shapoorji Fakirji Jokhi Agiyari, Godrej Baug.
The Ātash was originally brought from the Sir J.J. Agiyari, Navsari, to the Vatchha Gandhi Agiyari, Bombay, on Monday the 20th at 5:15 a.m., after a day’s halt at the Dasturji Kookadaru Dare-e-Meher, Sanjan. All the five Bui ceremonies were performed during the day at the Vatchha Gandhi Agiyari.
A large crowd of countless Zoroastrians had gathered at the Agiyari in the wee hours of Tuesday 21 December 1999, long before the appointed hour of 3:40 a.m. The process of shifting the Ātash started at 3:15 a.m., when a group of Mobeds circled the Afarganyu and the Ātash Nyāyesh was recited aloud by the priests, accompanied by the devotees in the hall.
After the prayers, Ervad Aspandiyar Dadachanji shifted the burning embers into the same urn, in which was Ātash was brought from Navsari. Other priests took up their positions with the various liturgical instruments.
Three in the front, each carried a nine knotted stick, with a nail at the end. This is to draw a Pāvi in the ground when leading the Ātash. A Pāvi means a furrow, which preserves the sacredness of the consecrated things or of the sacred ceremonies. Some others carried spears and shields, while two carried swords. This was followed by three Mobeds each with a Gurz or Mace. All of these signify that the bearer is a Zarathushti Soldier and undertakes to fight against all Evil – moral and physical.
Two Mobeds carried the special urn, while four of them covered it with a cloth canopy, held at hand level. All four corners of this group of six were surrounded by Mobeds, who held cloth bands providing a moving Paavi for the sacred Fire.
The congregation left the Agiyari at 3:40 a.m., followed by a sea of Zoroastrian humanity – all in white – all chanting the “Yatha Ahu Vairyo” prayer, exhorted by BPP Trustee Rustom Tirandaz. The ceremonial procession walked up Hughes Road, U-turned at the road leading to Hanging Gardens and entered Godrej Baug through Ambawadi (near Spenta Apartments). The entire route from the Vatchha Gandhi Agiyari to the Shapoorji Fakirji Jokhi Agiyari was freshly washed with water from a tanker, driven by a Parsi gentleman. Sand Pāvis were made by volunteers all along the way.
The congregation started reaching Godrej Baug by 4:14 a.m., where jubilant residents of the colony had gathered to maintain vigil through the night.
The Ātash was finally carried into the Kebla (the Sanctum Sanctorum) and placed in the Afarganyu, positioned on a large slab of stone. The ceremony of enthroning the Sacred Fire was completed by recitation of Aafringans and other prayers, which we could not witness, due to the surge of humanity at the steps of the new Agiyari. The Jokhi family graced the occasion and the crowd lustily applauded them when they entered the grand portals.
Today, we were participants and witnessed a historical event of our Religion as well as lives. May the Sacred Fire keep burning bright in our hearts to keep alive this Great Religion of Lord Zarathushtra.