The lone Parsi family here is all set to celebrate the Zoroastrian New Year, which falls on August 18, this year. Once home to over 300 Parsis, Kozhikode today is left with only one family, the Marshalls, comprising six members. In the noisy Sweet Meet Street (popularly known as SM Street) stands the only Parsi temple in Kerala, the Parsi Anju Amman Baug, where they are the only worshippers.
Published in Deccan Chronicle
The fire temple was built in the 18th century when Parsi traders settled in Kozhikode about 200 years ago. An inscription inside the temple reveals that the property was donated by a Zamorin. Fire is given pride of place in Zoroastrian faith. Symbolic of light and warmth, it is closely associated with Ahura Mazda, the lord of endless light and wisdom, according to the Parsis. Most religious ceremonies are performed in the presence of fire.
Just before entering the temple, the hands are washed and a ‘kusti’ (ritual) is performed. (The kusti is made up of 72 white threads woven by women of the priestly class and consecrated by a priest. It is tied and untied several times a day while reciting prayers). The head is covered with a topi or scarf. There is an outer hall leading to an inner prayer hall, at the end of which is the sanctum sanctorum. Inside the sanctum, a fire is kept alive on a tray in a large metal container, called the Afargan.
The paintings of the Prophet Zarathustra (Zoroaster) embellish the adjacent walls. Above the fire, at a height of eight to ten feet, hangs a concave copper vessel to prevent dirt from falling on it. There are a hundred chairs in the prayer hall which stand testimony to the glorious past of Kozhikode’s Parsis.