An approximately 1100+ years old Sir Shapoorji Bharucha Agiary lays nestled in the bylanes of bharuch it was built by the Zorastrian priests n was initially for the priestly class. It’s anniversary falls on 1st Oct. Sarosh Roj & Ardibehest Mah A scenic setting n pious atmosphere abound there. There will be a Jashan at 5.00 pm followed by manchi and Dinner their after, Do not miss this opportunity to visit this Agiary of ours which was brick by brick built by our dasturjis. Let’s get together n worship the holy fire n seek it’s blessings n be thankful to the noble souls of the dasturjis who undertook the work of building this Agiary without any help from even the behdins of the community. Such was the faith n integrity of our dasturjis towards our religion. Let us strive to keep the faith alive. Sethna Parivaar
Trustees of the Seth Vicajee Seth Pestonji Meherji Agiyari at Secunderabad celebrated the 175th Anniversary on July 31, 2022 where Dinshaw Tamboly and a few others were invited and asked to share their thoughts with around 500+ Zoroastrians who attended the celebrations.
Hyderabad: The small, but thriving Parsi community of Hyderabad is buzzing with excitement as the Seth Viccaji-Seth Pestonji Meherji Parsi Fire Temple at Secunderabad turns 175 on July 31. The members, who are fewer than 1,000 in the city, are gearing up for an intimate but significant gathering to mark the anniversary of the fire temple located next to Cherma’s.
Two years ago, the Khan Bahadur Edulji Sohrabji Chenoy Anjuman Dar-e-Meher, the fire temple on MG Road opposite Cherma’s, marked its centenary. But with the Covid-19 pandemic, the celebrations were low-key.
To make up for the lost time, the community has planned a Jashan (prayer) led by head priest Vada Dasturji Saheb Keki C Ravji Meherjirana in the morning and an event in the evening that will witness dignitaries such as Justice Shahrukh J Kathawalla (retd. judge of the Bombay High Court), Air Chief Marshal Fali H Major (retd.), Maj. Gen. Cyrus K Pithawalla (Ashok Chakra), Dinshaw K Tamboly (chairman, World Zoroastrian Trust), Kersi K Deboo (vice-chairperson of National Commission of Minorities), Bachi Karkaria (senior journalist), Piruz A Khambatta (chairman and MD, Rasna Pvt. Ltd.) and Zerick Dastur (advocate).
“The fire temple was built by brothers Seth Viccaji Meherji and Seth Pestonji Meherji from Tarapore and is the oldest in South India. The brothers also bought the land and Colonel Haffkine’s bungalow adjacent to the temple and donated it for the maintenance of the Agiary. The holy fire was enthroned and consecrated on September 12, 1847,” says Arnaz Bisney, a community member.
The temple is managed by a trust that comprises the descendants of Viccaji and Pestonji, among others. The current president is Kayarmin Pestonji, owner of Cherma’s.
Tale of two brothers
The history of Viccaji and Pestonji is interesting. Although from humble origins, the enterprising brothers went on to become agriculturists of large provinces in northern and southern Konkan, Poona (now Pune), Sholapur, Ahmednagar and part of Khandesh. According to Parsi history books, they can be called the pioneers of the cotton trade between the Nizam’s Dominion and Bombay Presidency. Using bullock carts, they imported Berar cotton to Bombay (now Mumbai) around 1835, which was a great success.
“As word spread about the two brothers, they were invited by Raja Chandulal, Prime Minister of Hyderabad, to open banking firms in the city and the entire State in 1830. Through the ‘Pestonji Viccaji’ banking house, they loaned money to the government for State purposes which included the expenditure on military forces. At one point, the revenue of Berars and Aurangabad were mortgaged to them by the Nizam,” says Arnaz.
Pestonshahi Sicca’s origins
Seth Pestonji Meherji obtained a licence from Diwan Chandulal to strike coins in the Aurangabad Mint during the rule of the Nizam-IV, Nasir-ud-Daula. The coins carried the Nizam’s initials, i.e. the Persian alphabet Noon (N) for Nasir-ud-Daula. The family later was allowed to have its own initials on the national coins. They featured the initials of Viccaji’s younger brother Pestonji Meherji. The coins minted by him featured a ‘resplendent sun’. The motif and the number of rays of the sun varied and there was no formula behind it.
Over a crore of Pestonshahi Siccas in silver and copper were struck at the Aurangabad Mint between 1832 and 1842 . They were legal tender until the beginning of the 20th century. Four of them are on display in the British Museum in London.
Though a small community with a few thousand at its peak population, which has shrunk to around 200 now, the Parsi community has still left an impact on the history and culture of Madras. They shot films, built theatres, had tea shops and even fashioned the water supply of Madras. Parsis first arrived in Madras around 1800 but it took a century before they built a fire temple for themselves. Jal Phiroj Clubwala Dar E Meher, popularly known as the Royapuram fire temple, is located on Arathoon Road.
Sir Dinshaw Petit of Bombay (whose granddaughter was Jinnah’s wife) donated a large sum. Phiroj Muncherji Clubwala donated another large corpus and land after he was bereaved. The grateful Parsis named the temple after Clubwala’s son.
Only Parsis and Zoroastrian Iranis are admitted into the sanctum sanctorum. The fire at the temple has never been extinguished since the construction of the temple (for over a century now). Priests tend to the fire five times a day during prayers, once even at midnight. When the German ship Emden bombed the neighbourhood, the Arathoon road became empty except for the priest who maintained the fire.
This book, a visual delight is another first of its kind. It has a foreword by Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor, High Priest, Iranshah Atash Behram and a message by Mr. Dinshaw Tamboly, Chairman, The WZO Trust Funds. The pictures of our institutions as also Dasturjis of Udvada are eye catching. It will be released on Roz Adar, Mah Adar 1391 Y.Z. Thursday 21st April 2022 at Iranshah Atash Behram, Udvada.
This informative book is in two parts – Part I is a reprint of the book The History of Holy Fire Iranshah by Ervad Faramroze Phiroze Mirza. Part II is about Udvada Gam and its Parsi institutions. It also has Gujarati songs on Udvada and Iranshah transliterated into English, reminiscences about Udvada, some tips for Parsi Zoroastrian pilgrims as also for priests/dharamshala managers. A map of Udvada Gam and a bibliography adds to the usefulness of this book.
Those visiting Udvada can collect a complimentary copy from Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor at his residence opp. Iranshah Atash Behram dasturji firstname.lastname@example.org. A complimentary copy can also be collected from the offices of WZO Trust Funds at Bombay and Navsari.
Those interested in obtaining complimentary copies until stocks last may contact The WZO Trust Funds
Nargol is a very popular small sea-side town in Gujarat, very close to Sanjan, where the Parsis first settled in mainland India when they arrived from Iran. Nargol is indeed a historic town and had a bustling Parsi population till recent years when many have moved out.
Interestingly, there have been some new flats and housing societies constructed lately in Nargol and that has seen a slight rise in the Parsi population, although the Parsis in these flats are more or less weekend and holiday residents.
The Nargol residents have a wonderful Agiary, the Poonjiaji Agiary, which houses both an Aderan grade fire and a Dadgah Saheb.
This Agiary is URGENTLY in need of a mobed saheb to perform its various duties, which have been mentioned in the accompanying illustration. The salary too is handsome and so are the accommodation facilities. Earnings would be the salary, plus the income generated from sukhad-divo, jashans, rituals performed and muktad prayers.
Mobeds who are fed up with the hectic life-style of Mumbai or other big cities should take up this challenge and offer their services to this blessed Agiyary. Ahura Mazda and Adar Yazad will bless you and your family if you look after the Atash Sahebs in this agiyary. Additionally, Nargol is a wonderful place to reside with close proximity to Sanjan, Gholvad and Dahanu.
The requirement of a mobed Saheb is URGENT, hence please circulate this notice promptly amongst all your Parsi contacts, especially in the mobed circles.
The contact numbers and the job description are given in the illustration.
The Iranshah Atash Behram building in Udwada, Gujarat has housed the revered Iranshah fire since 31st October 1894. With the passage of time, the main building and other structures in the complex had deteriorated, necessitating extensive restoration and conservation work.
Faith is the fountainhead from which goodness flows and righteousness in all its glory is manifest. The success of our community has largely been due to the fact that we have kept faith in our religious institutions, particularly Shreeji Paak Iranshah who has, over the centuries touched the lives of all Parsi Irani Zoroastrians.
Mazda Multimedia is delighted to present you the TENTH Episode of Our Very Own Series.
View for yourselves the excellent restoration carried out by Messrs SHAPOORJI PALLONJI & CO. which will not only rejuvenate pride into our faith but also encourage us to repeatedly visit our foremost and holiest Atashbehram to pay obeisance and seek His blessings.
Do watch this episode and get captivated by our sublimely inspiring Shreeji Paak Iranshah
Please share, like and subscribe to our YouTube channel Mazda Multimedia. Director of Photography – Rehan S. Daruwalla Directed by – Aarish S. Daruwalla Produced by – Sarosh K. Daruwalla || Mazda Multimedia.
Today is an auspicious day – Hormaz Roj Amardad Mah, when our Iranshah Atash Behram reopens. The Iranshah Atash Behram building in Udvada, which was constructed nearly 130 years ago in 1894, and the other structures in the complex required extensive restoration and conservation work. Shapoorji Pallonji And Company Pvt. Ltd. undertook the restoration.
The Shapoorji Pallonji team acted as an anchor for the restoration project. A detailed examination was conducted for vulnerabilities on the structures, by a team of experts from various fields. It was discovered that the Atash Behram building and other structures in the complex had undergone many changes over the last century, which were not part of the original architectural intent.
A meticulous restoration plan was then prepared to strengthen the structural stability and restore the architectural intent of the buildings in the Atash Behram complex as originally envisaged.
The Iranshah Atash Behram, which housed the revered Iranshah since October 31, 1894, was constructed originally with the generous contribution of Bai Motlibai Manockjee Wadia, daughter of late Jehangirjee Nasserwanjee Wadia, in memory of her husband, late Manockjee Naorojee Wadia.