India’s first ‘open agiary’ mainly caters to ex-communicated Parsis, i.e. those who have married out of their community, and their children, and Zoroastrian enthusiasts who want to learn more about the religion.
Article by Prachi Bari | Hindustan Times
A fire temple for Parsis ex-communicated may sound like an oxymoron in terms of the traditional view — the fire temple, or agiary as it is known, is only for Parsis defined by marriage within the community only.
Pune’s Zoroastrian centre has hosted nine navjots, three funeral prayer ceremonies and two weddings. (Shankar Narayan/HT Photo)
Yet, the first fire temple for Parsis who have been excluded from the traditional places of worship is as busy, if not busier, than most of the agiaries in the city. Since its launch in December 2017, in Kondhwa, the Dadgah Asha Vahishta Zoroastrian centre has hosted nine navjots, three funeral prayer ceremonies and two weddings.
The Zoroastrian centre was inaugurated on December 25, 2017, under the umbrella of the association for the revival of Zoroastrianism. The claim is that this is India’s first agiary open to Parsis who have married out of their community, and their children. Zoroastrian enthusiasts who want to learn more about this religion are also welcome.
The association for revival of Zoroastrianism is a public charitable trust registered under the Bombay Public Trusts Act 1950, since September 2004.
“That the idea of opening such a centre has been accepted has indeed surprised me,” says Mumbai resident Vispy Wadia, one of the brains behind the centre.“It is universal knowledge that the population of Parsis is declining very rapidly. We are all also aware that, in India, inter-married Parsis and their children are not allowed to freely practice the religion …”
“Zoroastrianism is a revealed universal religion and there is no scope of discrimination in this noble faith. Moreover, there has been a long standing demand for a place where Zoroastrians married to people of other faith could freely practice the religion and perform their religious duties.We, therefore, set up the centre in Pune, so that these Zoroastrians and their children are provided the requisite religious infrastructure…” he added.
The centre was originally to be in Goregaon, Mumbai, but then Pune seemed to offer less resistance. Given the city’s proximity to Mumbai and a growing ‘ex’-Zoroastrian population, currently at 6,000, NIBM road, Kondhwa, was picked as the place for the new-age Zoroastrian, married outside the community, to worship. This fire temple, on NIBM road, cost ₹2.5 crore to build. The agiary has a community hall, prayer hall, library and the holy fire – called the dadgah fire.