The sacred fire of Iranshah: Parsi New Year

Fire is purified and consecrated from ordinary to sublime and then enthroned. This fire is united to God’s divineenergies.

By cialis online purchase-fire-of-iranshah/article_62461″>Shernaz Baji Avari | Afternoon Dispatch and Courier

Though Parsis and Iranis are perceived as urban sophisticates living in cities, even the most cultured, refined, sophisticated and educated amongst us have our roots in villages, especially in Gujarat where our ancestors were once farmers, weavers and smalltime traders.

How we landed fromour ancestral home Iran to the shores of Sanjan in Gujarat has been a legendary inspiring tale of courage, hardship, dedication and

utmost faith and loyalty towards our religion. King Jadi Rana the ruler of Sanjanwhowas hesitant at first welcomed us when we promised him that we would stay amicably and peacefully like the proverbial bowl of ‘sugar in milk’.

For about 300 years after landing at Sanjan, the Parsis lived in peace and prosperity and practised their religion with utmost dedication and loyalty. They also imbibed some of the Hindu traditions like wearing the ‘chatta chera ni saree’ and adoring their entrances with colourful rangoli and floral ‘torans’. By that time their progeny had increased so they diversified with their families to other parts of India like Navsari, Ankleshwar, Surat, Bharuch, Thane and even to northern parts of India like Sind and Punjab.Wherever andwhenever they left Sanjan, one thing they never forget and thatwas to carry a part of Iranshah with them, the first fire they

had consecrated on Indian soil. Elsewhere the rulers were not hospitable to the Parsis. In Sind and Punjab they were perceived as a colony of fire worshippers

and were attacked. Thane was ruled by the Portuguese who wanted to convert them to Christianity.

In 1305 an opportunity arose for the Parsis to repay their ancient debt to the present ruler of Sanjan whose forefather was Jadi Rana and who had allowed them to land at Sanjan and settle there. At that time Allaudin Khilji’s General was marching towards Sanjan with 30,000 troops. The Hindu king feared for his country, his crown was at stake and with his meagre resources as compared to the enemy, he envisaged defeat. It was at this devastating time that he called for the Parsis to help him out. True to their word and deed, the Parsis resolved to fight unto death.One thousand four hundred Parsis under the leadership of General Ardeshir joined forceswith theHindu king’s army. A fierce battle was fought a few miles beyond Sanjan, The Parsis with their do-or-die spirit fought fearlessly under General

Ardeshir’s leadership to finally emerge victorious and triumphant on the field.

Such a humiliating defeat at the hands of a few Parsis and a small army comparatively, was difficult to digest so the enemy decided to take revenge. The Muslim

army raised reinforcements and appeared once again to fight it out in battle. An arrow struck Ardeshir who fell headlong from his horse. The Hindu army feared having lost its valiant leader so they hesitated and gave way. They were now completely overrun.

The Muslim army of Allaudin Khilji was now in complete control of Sanjan.

At this unfortunate turn of events, the Parsis did not feel like staying in Sanjan calling it their home as they once again feared religious persecution, the way they

had felt in Iran. They took their sacred Iranshah Fire and fled to the mountains of Bahrot. They lived in caves there for 12 years.

FromBahrot, the sacred fire Fire is purified and consecrated from ordinary to sublime and then enthroned. This fire is united to God’s divine energies.

Though Parsis and Iranis are perceived as urban sophisticates living in cities, even the most cultured, refined, sophisticated and educated amongst us have our roots in villages, especially in Gujarat where our ancestors were once farmers, weavers and small-time traders.

How we landed from our ancestral home Iran to the shores of Sanjan in Gujarat has been a legendary inspiring tale of courage, hardship, dedication and utmost faith and loyalty towards our religion. King Jadi Rana the ruler of Sanjan who was hesitant at first welcomed us when we promised him that we would stay amicably and peacefully like the proverbial bowl of ‘sugar in milk’. For about 300 years after landing at Sanjan, the Parsis lived in peace and prosperity and practised their religion with utmost dedication and loyalty. They also imbibed some of the Hindu traditions like wearing the ‘chatta chera ni saree’ and adoring their entrances with colourful rangoli and floral ‘torans’. By that time their progeny had increased so they diversified with their families to other parts of India like Navsari, Ankleshwar, Surat, Bharuch, Thane and even to northern parts of India like Sind and Punjab. Wherever and whenever they left Sanjan, one thing they never forget and that was to carry a part of Iranshah with them, the first fire they had consecrated on Indian soil. Elsewhere the rulers were not hospitable to the Parsis. In Sind and Punjab they were perceived as a colony of fire worshippers and were attacked. Thane was ruled by the Portuguese who wanted to convert them to Christianity.

In 1305 an opportunity arose for the Parsis to repay their ancient debt to the present ruler of Sanjan whose forefather was Jadi Rana and who had allowed them to land at Sanjan and settle there. At that time Allaudin Khilji’s General was marching towards Sanjan with 30,000 troops. The Hindu king feared for his country, his crown was at stake and with his meagre resources as compared to the enemy, he envisaged defeat. It was at this devastating time that he called for the Parsis to help him out. True to their word and deed, the Parsis resolved to fight unto death. One thousand four hundred Parsis under the leadership of General Ardeshir joined forces with the Hindu king’s army. A fierce battle was fought a few miles beyond Sanjan, The Parsis with their do-or-die spirit fought fearlessly under General Ardeshir’s leadership to finally emerge victorious and triumphant on the field. Such a humiliating defeat at the hands of a few Parsis and a small army comparatively, was difficult to digest so the enemy decided to take revenge. The Muslim army raised reinforcements and appeared once again to fight it out in battle. An arrow struck Ardeshir who fell headlong from his horse. The Hindu army feared having lost its valiant leader so they hesitated and gave way.

They were now completely overrun. The Muslim army of Allaudin Khilji was now in complete control of Sanjan. At this unfortunate turn of events, the Parsis did not feel like staying in Sanjan calling it their home as they once again feared religious persecution, the way they had felt in Iran. They took their sacred Iranshah Fire and fled to the mountains of Bahrot. They lived in caves there for 12 years. From Bahrot, the sacred fire was taken to Bansda, then to Navsari, Surat and Bulsar to finally rest in Udvada on October 28, 1742 where it remains till today burning continuously in all its resplendent glory for the past more than 900 years, granting boons and blessing all its dvotees who pray fervently and who come to visit with offerings of sandalwood. Life in Udvada has always revolved around the Iranshah Atashbehram. Mostly the families of the priests reside there now and some have built their own bungalows and bought flats so that they can pay homage to Pak Iranshah Atashbehram from time to time. There are of course Parsi hotel owners who cater to the pilgrims who visit Iranshah.

Udvada, now proposed as a heritage site is a quaint little town rather a sleepy village in South Gujarat surrounded by the seaside. Quite close to Sanjan, it is wrapped
in a protective cocoon that has withstood the onslaught of time and tradition. Every Parsi and every Irani who visits the Iranshah Atash Behram finds spiritual solace. Wishes are fulfilled, boons are granted and blessings are bestowed on every ardent Parsi and Irani who visits its holy precincts offering sandalwood and ‘machi’ in thanksgiving especially after a Navjote or marriage ceremony.

Each religion is brought to the world by God’s chosen prophets. For the Parsis and the Iranis it is Zoroastrianism as taught to us by our prophet Zarathustra who was the first prophet of the world who brought the message o fAhura Maza which is as valid today as it was 8,000 years ago, leading us to the goal of spiritual evolution and salvation. Each religion is represented by a symbol. In our case, it is the Holy Fire, the creation of Lord Ahura Mazda.

Why do Zoroastrians give supreme reverence to the Holy Fire? Well, we just don’t worship any fire lit anywhere but only a consecrated fire in Atashbehrams and Agiaries. In Zoroastrian religion it is used as a medium or a link to reach Ahura Mazda, the Supreme God as worship is done only of God through the powerful Mathravani prayers. It is through this visible symbol that the Parsi-Irani devotees reach HIM. Fire is also referred to as ‘the son of Ahura Mazda’. We Zoroastrians see fire as an omnipresent form of Ahura Mazda’, a living entity, helpful to our spiritual development taking our prayers to the spiritual world bringing ‘Khoreh’ or divine energy to us. According to the Atash Nyayish, fire carries admonitions of purity, is life giving, self illuminating, always moving and pointing upwards to our divine destiny. Fire symbolises knowledge, removes ignorance shadowed by darkness. Through its light and fragrance of sandalwood, it keeps alight the fire within each one of us.

In Zoroastrianism, fire is seen as a bringer and distributor of ‘Khoreh’. Ahura Mazda, the  7 Ameshaspantas known as the Archangels and the numerous Yazads, the adorable angels, human beings and all creations and creaturs of Ahura Mazda have this ‘Khoreh’. The ‘Khoreh’ of Zarathushtra came to HIM through the fire in Zarathustra’s grandmother’s house. The practice of keeping a fire lighted in every home is no more but in olden days every house had a fire burning to draw divine blessings for the householders.

A consecrated fire is like a spiritual bath. It is present in every ritual in our religion for us to draw spiritual energy. The fire blesses its devotees with many boons which they ask specially while reciting Atash Nyayish prayers. The devotees ask the ‘Son of Ahura Mazda’ to make him bright and happy, to give him an active life full of happiness and full of nourishment both food-wise and soul-wise. Also a life full of exhilaration making him and others around him feel happy and alive. He asks the Holy Fire to keep him agile, fluent in speech, bring consciousness to his soul, grant him wisdom, greatness and bravery.

His progeny should prosper in his home and town, have innate wisdom, manage his life wisely, be self achieving and deliver others of distress through his helpful and kind nature. The fire in turn desires that its devotees lovingly offer it sandalwood or ‘machi’, pray the powerful Avesta prayers, religiously wear the ‘Sudreh’ and the ‘Kashti’ while it blesses each devotee with a happy and joyful life in this world and the spiritual world as well.

HAPPY NE WYEAR

with the blessings from ATASH PADSHAH.

  • cyrus rupa

    good to know.
    like such penning.

  • cyrus rupa

    good to know.
    like such penning.

  • cyrus rupa

    good to know.
    like such penning.