Category Archives: Agiaries and Atash Behrams

Parsee Fire Temple in Zanzibar, 1996

In 1996 Henriette and Lucas were investigating the life of Farook Bulsara in Zanzibar, and along the way discovered the fascinating history and the hidden treasures of the old Parsee Fire Temple that was no longer in use. We would gratefully like to credit Freddie Mercury’s music that we have used without official permission, but that is really the only fitting music under this video. Asante sana!

Shree Parsi Panchayat Vadodara – Baroda


B. N. Seervai Parsi Dharamshala / Godrej Banquet Hall / Wedding Lawn

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Parsis of Baroda

On the banks of the river Vishwamitri lies the erstwhile State of Baroda. The city of Baroda has now been renamed as Vadodara. At present it is the third largest city of Gujarat, after Ahmedabad and Surat and has a population nearing 18 lakhs.


On November 6, 1642 the “Parsee Prakash” takes note of a first Parsi Panchayat assembly at Navsari, but it seems that the Panchayat only established its authority after Bombay was taken over by the British The Panchayat was constituted by the Elders and influential members of the Community.


With a ‘Dokhma ‘ in Baroda near Vishwamitri constructed as far back as 2nd May 1842 i.e 156 years ago, and the imposing Umrigar Agiari in Fatehgunj constructed on 1st February1845, it is safe to conclude that Parsis have been living in Baroda since the last 200 years or even more. History records that Parsis played a very active role as political agents in the courts of the Maharajas in the 19th century. In 1800 the earliest Parsi in Baroda was A. Desai, he was of great service in negotiations between the British and the Gaekwar. The other Parsi at the court of the Peshwa was Khursedji Jamsedii Modi, who hailed from Khambhat and was appointed Native Agent to the British. These were two of the earliest Parsis, whose names have been recorded in history and who served under the Gaekwar of Baroda. There must have been a flux of Parsis to Baroda at this time and no better proof can be provided than the construction of the Dokhma in 1842 and the Umrigar Agiari in 1845. The next Parsi to be heard of was the eminent Dadabhai Naoroji in 1873 Gaekwar Maihar Rao of Baroda who was charged by the British with maladministration, called upon Dadabhai Naoroji and made him the Dewan of Baroda in 1874. Dadabhai took up the challenge and it has been recorded that during the short period of two years that he was Dewan of Baroda, Dadabhai Naoroji had repressed bribery and corruption which had overwhelmed the administration of justice in the State. Due to uncalled for interference and unsubstantiated allegations against him by the British Resident, he resigned and returned to Bombay and from there went to England where he fought for India’s freedom and was the first Indian to be elected to the British House of Commons by a wafer thin majority of 3 voles.


As on today, the Parsi Community in Vadodara compromises of 305 families, totalling 1059 individuals (49% Males, 51% Females). Our Panchayat is a unique institution which combines within itself all types of activities, religious, social, cultural, educational etc.


The Trustees’ main objective has always been to work for the welfare of the Vadodara Parsi Panchayat and for the happiness of the entire Comminity. Our Dharamshala in Hira Baug, Fatehgunj, is one of the most well maintained and comfortable rest houses to live who come from outside Vadodara. The Vadodara Parsi Panchayat was officially registered as a “Trust” on November 13, 1953 with the Charity Commissioner’s Office, Vadodara bearing Registration No. C-2. The Trustees of the Vadodara Parsi Panchayat hold dual responsibility, first as leaders of the community, and second as Trustees of the various funds and properties. Each one knows that as a Trustee, he has to be involved in manifold responsibilities involving him in every big and small decision. This involves several hours of work each week, apart from the Board Meetings at which 2-3 hours are spent.


The Trustees of the Panchayat have to maintain, manage, improve, develop and deal with the properties. under their control, which includes the Dokhma, Agiari, Dharamshala premises and the Pirojsha Godrel Hall. They also manage the religious, charitable and other trust funds entrusted to them created for the benefit of the Parsi community, or for some specific purpose (like ‘Gambhars’) Other problems concerning the Community also requires their attention and action. While most of the above activities are left to the Trustees of a progressive Panchayat like ours. Their Major achievement has been to maintain complete unity and harmony between all members of the community and have made themselves available and open to new ideas. Various Committees to deal with specific issues been constituted where other members of the Community are involved. This tradition has come, over the in years in Vadodara. At the helm of the Panchayat have been its past Presidents, who have played a very vital role in the running of the Panchayat affairs.

Tappeh Mill – one of Iran’s oldest temples

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One of the oldest Zoroastrian temples of Iran – Tappeh Mill (literally – a mill hill), also known as the Bahram fire temple  – sits majestically on the hill near Ghal’eh Noe Village not far from the city of Rey. It was named ‘Mil Hill’ due to the distant similarity of the two main structures with the mill.

Archaeologists say that the temple was built during the Sassanid Dynasty (224 to 651 AD), but it is not possible to find out the exact time of its foundation. This is the reason why scientists cannot establish which Zoroastrian temple in Iran is the most ancient – perhaps it’s the Bahram temple. One way or another, there is an opinion that it was built even earlier – during the Achaemenid Empire (550 BC–330 BC), and was destroyed during Alexander the Great’s conquest of Iran.
The Zoroastrian temple is a place to keep sacred fire, which as attended by Zoroastrians wearing white clothes – a sign of their ritual purity. During the reign of the Sassanid Empire, Zoroastrianism became the state religion, as a result of which the number of such temples in Iran increased significantly. However, after the advent of Islam, Zoroastrian temples fell into decay.
The temple is built of brick, clay and egg white mortar. There was a large hall with columns inside, divided into three parts. The sacred fireplace burnt in the eastern part of the temple with high vault (iwan) and four round columns. After more than a thousand years, geometrically patterned plaster reliefs, reliefs with floral and animal motifs still can be seen on the walls of the temple. Such a choice of images was dictated by the traditional design of Zoroastrian temples of those times.
Despite the presence of protective structures, the temple was somewhat damaged due to strong winds in 2017. The temple was closed for reconstruction, and now it is – renewed and restored – ready to meet tourists again.

Boi Ceremony And The Chakra Ritual

Boi Ceremony And The Chakra Ritual

3 Nov 2019 Top of Form



Courtesy : Burjor Daboo





‘In the period of Haavan Geh, Haoma Yazata approached Zarathushtra (who was then) cleansing the fire (stand) from all sides and reciting the Gathas.’ – (Hom Yasht 1, 1)


Note: This chapter is based on our late revered Dasturji Saheb Khurshed S. Dabu’s Gujarati booklet on this subject. Comments within brackets are my own-

(Ahura Mazda is omnipresent and He is mysteriously present in all His Creations, as a Ravaan/Fravashi in each one of us, and as an unseen fire energy instrumental in the creation and renovation of everything. As the ‘Son of Ahura Mazda’ and as his resplendent symbol the enthroned fire is worshipped. It has a soul in addition to its material counterpart and hence it is an independent, conscious entity).


Click link to continue reading : Boi Ceremony And The Chakra Ritual


Courtesy : Burjor Daboo





The Sacred Fire is metaphorically spoken of as a King, having a spiritual jurisdiction over the district round about. The stone slab or stand, on which its censer stands, is considered and spoken of as its throne (takht). Its chamber is in the form of a dome, giving an idea of the dome of the heavens. It is just under the center of the dome that the censer stands on the slab. From that center hangs, high above over the fire, a metallic tray which is spoken of as the crown (tap of the Sacred Fire, which is looked at as the symbolic representation or emblem of a spiritual ruler- One or two swords and one or two maces are hanging on the inner walls of its chamber. They serve as symbols of the Church militant, and signify that the faithful should fight against moral evils and vices, just as they would fight against their enemies, and thus make it, in the end, triumphant.


Click here to continue reading Consecration Of Atash Behrams And Adarans_



There was no separate railway station for Udwada on Bombay Baroda B. B. & C .I. Railway. One had to alight at Pardi station and travel eight miles to reach Udwada. Seth Behramji Nusserwanji Seervai (1824-1914) started his business as a railway contractor and carting agent in 1864 for B. B. & C.I. Railway.

Seth Behramji Nusserwanji Seervai wrote a letter to Mr. J. K.  Duxbari, the railway company’s agent  on 16th October 1868 and stressed the need for building a small station at Udwada where Parsis go on a pilgrimage to the ancient Atash Behram and if the railway company wants he offered to pay the expenses for constructing the station.

On 11th June 1869 Mr. C. Curry, the railway company’s agent replied to Seth Behramji Seervai that a small station will be constructed at Udwada by the railway company but if he or his friends could improve the road from the station to Udwada village.

Seth Behramji on 20th October 1869 wrote a letter to Mr. T. C. Hope, Collector of Surat and offered to pay half the expenses for repairing the road. Mr. Hope accepted the offer by his letter of 8th January 1870 to Seth Behramji and stated “… the Local Fund Committee will undertake hereafter to improve it as far as the means at their disposal will allow.”

Thereafter Seth Behramji on 8th April 1870 deposited Rs.2,000/-  in Surat’s Government Treasury for the road to Udwada village. The railway company constructed a small temporary station at Udwada and inaugurated it on 23rd December 1869. The road to the Udwada village was built on 25th May 1870.

Bai Motlabai Jehangirji Wadia contributed Rs.68,000/- ( Rs.38,000/- for constructing the permanent road and Rs, 30,000/- for its repairs)from Udwada station to the Atash Behram. The railway company demolished the 25 year old temporary station and built a permanent station 3/4th mile away and inaugurated it on 1st January 1896.

(Source: Parsee Prakash Vol. Ii  Translated from Gujarati into English by Marzban Jamshedji Giara)

Udvada Station recently renovated now

Facing shortage of priests, Ahmedabad Parsi Panchayat eyes part-timers

At a time when the Parsi community’s numbers are on the decline, an issue has cropped up as a major threat to their temples, also known as Agiyaris – the dwindling number of full-time Mobads (priests). While the issue would affect Parsis across the country, the Ahmedabad Parsi Panchayat has found a way to deal with the situation.
With graduates drifting away from priesthood towards other professions, the Panchayat has engaged freelance priests of the younger generation, whose services can be availed when in need.
While Ahmedabad has two Agiyaris, 132-year-old Vakil Adariyan Agiyari located in Bukhara Mohulla at Khamasa and the other in Kankaria, currently, there are only five full-time priests for the two Agiyaris.
Speaking about the issue, Brigadier (retired) Jahangir Anklesaria, President, Parsi Panchayat, said: “Only a priest’s son can become a priest. The younger generation is looking for better opportunities and a better life which is why, not many are opting for full-time priesthood. It is a huge challenge. The Kankaria Agiyari has a priest who has not been keeping well for quite some time. It does get difficult as we need to offer prayers five times and ring a bell through the day. The younger generation priests offer their services to us as and when needed. While the youngest priest is in class 8, others are in various professions such as law, education, business and service, among others.”
He added, “I think this is happening in almost every religion. In the early days, anyone visiting a place of worship would bring grains and other things and offer to the priest. Things have changed now.”
There is a dearth of Mobads (priests) in the entire country but Parsis believe that the Atash Behram (holy fire) will keep glowing.
While priests have been moving for reasons such as education and higher pay packages, the most important of their duties are the five prayers that keep the sacred fire sacred.
Speaking to DNA, Vistasp H Dastur, one of the senior priests at Khamasa Agiyari said, “The issue of full-time priest is there as it requires a lot of commitment. But we are very happy here as we get bonus, medical help, etc. When needed, we reach out to nearly 10 part-time priests who practice other professions.”
Interestingly, Dastur’s family took care of the Kankaria Agiyari for nearly 48 years. He says, “My entire family including my brother, used to take care of Khamasa Agiyari but it has been two and a half years since I have moved to Khamasa Agiyari. As per our rituals, we need to offer prayers five times a day that begins from sunrise till midnight and these prayers are mandatory.”
Further sharing about the rigorous training that a boy has to undergo upon choosing priesthood, Dastur said, “During the first phase, Navar, they have to stay in isolation at the Agiyari for 30 days after which comes the second phase, Martab, they have to follow the same for 10 days. They are not allowed to touch water or have bath and recite prayers all day.”
In some countries such as the US and Iran, women priests (Mobedyar) are qualified to perform boi, but in India, only male priests are permitted to tend to the sacred fire.
Bejoo R Jilla, a resident of Mumbai, is developing a programme to offer pension to priests from his community. He said, “Dwindling numbers of priests in our community is a serious concern hence I am working out a plan to offer pension to priests, to encourage them to opt for it as a profession.”
Bejoo R Jilla, a resident of Mumbai, is developing a programme to offer pension to priests from his community. He said, “Dwindling numbers of priests in our community is a serious concern hence I am working out a plan to offer pension to priests, to encourage them to opt for it as a profession.”

Hamaysht Ceremony

Hamaysht ceremony in Surat Atash Behram Saheb


Attached here is a brief explanation of the Hamayasht ceremony being performed in Surat. This ceremony has not been performed for several years and those who can go across to Surat or are the local residents there can consider themselves fortunate to witness such a one-off kriya.


The Hamayasht ceremony is a long-winded ceremony in the Zoroastrian religion similar to the “Mahayagna” of the Hindus. There are 2 types of Hamayasht ceremonies, the “Motti” Hamayasht and “Nani” Hamayasht. On enquiries with High priests and scholars it has been observed that this ceremony has not been performed in India since the past several years. This ceremony comprises of the Yazashne, Vendidad, Baaj and Afringan in reverence of the following Yazatas.


Dadar Ahuramazda.

Teshtar Tir Yazad.

Khorshed Yazad.

Meher Yazad.

Avan Ardivisur Banu.

Adar Yazad.

Khordad Ameshaspand.

Amardad Ameshaspand.

Asfandamard Ameshaspand.

Govad Yazad.

Sarosh Yazad.

Farokh Farvardin.(Arda Fravash).


The Surat D. N. Modi Atashbehram is a prominent fire temple for most Pav Mahal ceremonies. Just as the Iranshah Atashbehram at Udwada is popular as the King of fires, and Navsari is termed as “Dharam ni tekri” or Mantle of religion, so also Surat is the preferred place for all Pav Mahal ceremonies. With due permission of the High priest of Surat, Dastur Noshirwan Manchershah the “Motti” Hamayasht ceremony has already commenced on Shenshahi Roj Adar, Mah Dey, i.e. 26th May 2003.


As per the information collected from senior mobed sahebs of the Atashbehram, the “Nani” Hamayasht ceremony had been performed 40 years ago in the memory of Daulatbanoo Jehangirji Gheewala. The “Motti” Hamayasht which is now being performed will comprise of 144 Yazashne, 144 Vendidad, 144 Afringan and 144 Baaj with the kshnuman of each of the 12 fareshtas (Yazatas) listed above. The expenditure for this will run into lakhs of Rupees. This ceremony is being conducted by a chust Bombay based Zarathushtri by the name of Hoshang Bengali in memory of his dear departed wife Homai. This ceremony will last for 70 days ! The Hamayasht requires 5 pairs of Yaozdathregar mobeds with proper Bareshnum Nahn.


The Mobeds selected for this gigantic task are Ervad Farokh B. Turel, Ervad Noshir B. Turel, Ervad Nairyosang J. Turel, Ervad Faredun J. Turel, Ervad Harvespa A. Sanjana, Ervad Adil A. Sanjana, Ervad Dara J. Bharda, Ervad Zubin P. Rabadi, Ervad Burjor F. Aibara, Ervad Kobad J. Bharda, and Ervad Porus S. Zarolia. These mobeds will perform for 70 days continuously with all tarikats of purity.


We hope and are confident that with the performance of this gigantic religious ceremony our Parsi Zarathushtri brothers and sisters will once again live in happiness, peace, unity and unflinching faith towards our deen and wish that the blessings of all the fareshtas descend on us in plenty to eradicate ahrimanic influences now prevalent with the help of the strong manthravani that emanate from this ceremony.


The trustees of the Modi Atashbehram, Vada Dasturji Saheb of Surat, Naib Dasturji Saheb and the 10 yaozdathregar mobed sahibs performing the ceremony cordially invite one and all humdin of Surat and outside towns, cities, countries to witness this kriya and be fortunate enough to receive the blessings of all the fareshtas and Pak Dadar Ahuramazda.

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