Vadodara Parsis break path, allow all to have a glimpse of Agiyari from inside

In A path-breaking development, the Parsi community in Gujarat will open the Agiyari to people from other communities. This is for the first time in the state that the Parsis have shed their conventional ideology and allowed people from outside their faith to have a close look at their holy place.

The Maiyat Khan Saheb Faramji Kawasji Adariyan and Dharamshala and its Nibhau Fund run Agiyari in Sayajigunj was built 85 years ago, and underwent restoration recently.

The decision was made after a senior member from the community, Firoz Wadia, felt that despite the restoration it would be seen only by a handful of community members. So, he thought, it should be made open for the people at least for a small duration. Unfortunately, Wadia died soon after and the idea was discussed among the trustees of the Agiyari, who decided to fulfil his wish.

“We will let the doors of the Agiyari open for the people for a month from Sunday onwards. The holy fire has been shifted to another hall in the same premises. We are aware about the religious sentiments and we will follow all the necessary precautions,” said Nikitin Contractor, one of the trustees of the Agiyari.

The development has, however, created ripples within the community. “The Parsi Panchayat is nowhere concerned with the issue because decisions like these are taken only by the religious priests. If it is so, then it will certainly invite a debate at the national level because our religion strictly restricts people who are non-Parsis from entering the holy place. If I am not wrong, then persons organising such events would be questioned by the religious priests,” said Darius Master of the Surat Parsi Panchayat.

Contractor, however, said that his trust has the full power to take the decision concerned with the Sayajigunj Parsi Agiyari. “It is not that during the restoration we allowed people to enter, but we have decided to organise a special event to let people come close to our community, and understand us. I have not faced any problem from within the community while going ahead with this idea,” he said.

Original article here.

  • Delnavaz

    The Vadodra Trustees has no business to allow non Parsis in the Agiary. Even a Parsi entering the Agiary has to wear a Sudhra & Kusti. So then how can we even think of allowing a non Parsi to enter. The Agiary is not a museum, but a place of worship, the thought pattern of the people entering the Agiary needs to be pure. The Trustees’ argument that this move will promote better understanding with people of other communities is absurd. Parsis traditionally have always had a wonderful rapport with people of all religions. This has been maintained without comprising on our faith & traditions. In fact the golden period of our community, when we had the likes of Tatas, Wadias, Petits etc. was at the time when majority of the Parsis followed the Zoroastrian religion with implicit faith.
    thanks

  • Raghupati Raj

    Hi,

    Congratulation to those who took this bold step. It is indeed required.

    The great religion must share its holy thoughts with the rest of the world.

    Being a Hindu, I must say that the Parsi community is the only community that has the first right over this nation due to their philosophy of being sugar in milk.

    We want to know more about them. Great if the priests of the community consider this as a representative opinion and come forth to mix with the rest of the people.

    Regards,
    Raghupati Raj.

  • rustom

    A Zoroastrian temple of worship i.e agiary /ATASH BEHRAM is quite unique in its own way.
    In a way its uniqness is depicted by having a living presense to whom Zoroastrians pay obeiscience. The consecrated fire in a way is living as it consumes, gives out, needs things for its continuation tangible things AS WELL AS intangible things maintaining laws in tune with mazda’s philosophy

    It also needs in terms of vibrations thru ceremonies like ‘Boi’ etc to continue to be placed in the ‘ consecrated’ term rather than being fused with normal fires.
    To visit the atash putra ahura mazda and the mazista yazata according to mazdayasnism, its is arbitary to have maintained certain norms generally called purity laws in regards to zoroastrianism.
    Infact the Atash niyas there is a lovely line wherein the consecrated fire asks the devotee’ what has the standing friend got for the sitting friend? Implying that the atash is a friend formost and as any friendship one has to maintain a responsibility. The devotee aiding the fire to be maintained in the ‘ consecrated fire’ bracket by avestan chants and vibrations, maintaining zoroastrian laws which cud be opposite laws of other faiths …So for the atash padsha wud only continue in existence if we maintain the responsiblity of maintaining it and laws according to mazda philosophy.Like the padyap e kusti,avestan chants n prayers and many others. The intangible necesaties form the backbone of maintaining the consecrated fire–Consecrated and not being fused by ordinary fires. It also has another important lesson that as Zoroastrians and Mazda’s soldiers we have a responsibility, if we fail in it…we shall reap as we sow and there shall be no Atash padshah or what we consider after consecration as one of the best Yazatas wud be fused with and become an ordinary fire.

    Everyday logic applied to any theology would render the subject ineffective especialy without studyng the whys n hows of the subject.

    Same with the ‘ so what’ attitude compiled with being divorced from zoroastrian theology render the sacrifices and donations of the saviours of zoroastrianism ineffective and also by implying that the trust deeds of the makers have no value.

    @ Ragupati Raj
    Thank you for the kind words for the zoroastrian community.
    Having said that it would be unfair on you and your kind thought if i kept my silence of the contradictions of your post.
    There are many scholars on zoroastrianism who are not zoroastrians like Late Prof Boyce, Prof Rusell, Hinells,Darmester etc . Our own Tilak studied the gathas and zoroastrianism. Would you say that they have only understood their subject by breaking and violating the zoroastrian laws regarding its temples, dakhmas etc?
    Your logic points in the direction that without going to Mecca one wont understand Islam or only by breaking hindu laws and visiting consecrated temples of puri or breaking into the vatican one would understand Hinduism and christianity…
    Also it was due to maintaining our distinct identity and not mixing religiously that we have been able to sustain without being fused into the larger section naturally.

    Help us in that endeavour if you think we are the sugar in your milk. Understanding the sweetness of this sugar can be and has been sucessfuly undertaken by people of many faiths without breakings its ideologies..

  • diniar

    This is breakthrough in the mind set of our diying comunity i must CONGRATULATION to all the parsis involved in coming to take such a bold step in to a right direction showing to the world what we pray and preach good work indeed

  • shahrukh mody

    When agiyarus and atash behrams are renovated/repaired, who are the workers? Parsis? no!!! So non-parsis do enter the premises and do the work.
    If it is so crucial that only parsis enter the premises (and I agree with that, btw), then lets see some of the parsi youth get hammers and ladders and do the work themselves!

  • The following is a comment from Marzban Giara that was received via email. Since it pertains to this issue, I am posting it here.

    The media as usual have given misleading headlines. I was invited at the function held on Sunday 1st February evening at Vadodara. Ervad Dr. Ramiyar Karanjia was one of the speakers.The holy fire has been shifted to another building. The trustees have decided to keep the renovated aagiary premises open for non-Parsis to have a glimpse of the renovated building for one month. After that the holy fire will be reenthroned and only Parsis will be allowed to enter the agiary.

    Several reporters from newspapers and TV chaannels talked to me and I explained that our fire temples in India are consecrated places of worship where even we Parsis can enter only after performing kusti padyab.

    Some have reported this others have not. The media highlighted this event as a historic occasion when according to them for the first time no-Parsis were allowed to enter the agiary premises.

    I mentioned to them that even in the 19th century when Faramji Cowasji Banaji built a dokhma in Bombay he kept it open for all to have a glimpse. It was later consecrated.

    So also Bhuj agiary building was inaugurated by the local maharaja and the consecration was done later on. This fact has been mentioned in my book Global Directory of Zoroastrian Fire Temples on p.82 relating to Bhuj agiary.

    I am copying this msg to BPP and other anjumans so that all may have a clear perspective.

    Marzban Giara

  • Siloo Kapadia

    Congrads to those that took this courageous step. As I have stated many times, this whole notion of keeping others out runs agains the teachings of Zarathustra, and is headed for the trash heap of history (as are most of the conservative members of the Parsi Panchayat).

    Not only should the temples be open, but the religion must be open as well. All this nonsense of “racial purity” and “Persian DNA” is a crock of excrement. (Konna bava nu!?!) If the gorawallas has used these sort of excuses to keep us out of their countries and work places, we would be hopping mad. So how is this any different.

    So you see, at least some people in the community are now getting enlightened enough to see what I and many others have been saying all along; that the community in South Asia is fast dying and drastic change needs to be made right away.

  • rustom

    Siloo has just cracked the case..
    you see the makers of the various fire temples, atashbehrams were all fools..the saviours of Zoroastrianism did not know what they were doing(thought they were mighty sucessfull) and should have considered meeting with siloo here.

    Ofourse its another matter that for a 1000 years the community prospered since the community followed principles laid down by the saviours of the aith and in the last 100 years especially last 2 decades chaos has struck and incidently on lines of our ancestors warning–intermariage and religious assimilations..

    Also those who made the agiaries and left funds for the same to the tune that generations could enjoy the benefits again were again fools and siloo and her ilk are intelligent, On siloo and her ilks own contrubitions to the faith…their demand that even trust deeds of the makers and donours of agiaries etc not to be honoured!! how magnanimous!!!

    Lastly its a laugh when such try and be the judge , jury n executioner by their own figment of imagination like talking of racial purity etc…
    No one including the makers of zoroastrian temples ever felt that we were racialy superior..proof is that the ones who made rues for the agiaries also were one of the biggest donors to other communities as well..
    Such allegations like siloos stem out of ignorance of the basis,theology, philosophy of a faith, be it any..as all religions have such restrctions, be it consecrated hindu temples, mecca, vatican etc…

    But what can be expected of those who claim that the saviours of zoroastrianism have pased on ‘ heap of thrash’

  • Delnavaz

    I appreciate the clarification sent by Marazban Giara concerning the Vadodra Agiary. However, when he talks about similar instances like the Bhuj Agiary etc., it is important to remember that in those times the mandatory ceremonies ‘Yajashni’ were carried out with great piety by the priests before the ‘holy fire’ was rethroned. I hope the Trustees ensure that the needful is done.

  • Nilesh Patani

    Sirs,

    As a historian, I am well aware of the fact that Hinduism and Persian Faith are closely related to eachother. We must not forget that the Avestan language and Sanskrit are almost same languages. I would like to praise Persian community for not being disaterous to our community and Nation of India like anyother faith except judoism. But your community may be aware of the facts as how your community behaved when India was under British (British were well supported by your community). But it’s India where no Hindu thinks of how other local foreign communities and faith behaved towards Hindu Faith and nation of India. Hindu community the nievest community on this earth so it is out of contest that we blame your community here. Conservative Parsis are forgetting their own history by closing the doors of Agiyari to other communities. They must be aware of the fact that the faith survived because of Hindu India as you lost your own nation to Arabs. In saying, you have been doing a lot for Hindu nation but internally you are not different from the other foreign local communities and please mind here, the veidic hinduism and your faith are brothers if not one.

  • farzana

    Nilesh, thanx a zillion for showing brainwashed parsees here, their mirror version of brainwashed hindu.

    And the joke of day is, according to you British ruled over 80% hindu population in the country on support of less than 000.05% parsees!! haaahaaa!!! and you have the audacity to call yourself a historian!!! <== dats the second joke!!!

  • Firoze Hirjikaka

    Even if we accept the rarified theology of our community’s “saviours”, it is the presence of the consecrated atash that makes an agiari “holy”. Without it, it is just a building. It is this “building” that has been opened to the public for a limited period. So what is the fuss about? Once the atash is re-installed and cosecrated, it will presumably remove the “contamination” caused by the parjats – assuming, as some some do, that we Parsis have a monopoly on purity.
    We refer to Ahura Mazda as the Almighty, the all-powerful. Yet, apparently, the mere presence of a non-Parsi in His house causes him to retreat. Am I the only one who sees the irony here?

  • Mr_amitbanerjee

    CONGRATULATIONS Mr NIKITAN:
    I heartily congratulate all the Parsis involved in taking such a WONDERFUL step; showing the world how we all Indians pray together for the peace of mankind.

    We want to know more about them; and our personal request to Mr Nikitan Contractor is – How could we get such wonderful experience, as we are not able to join with him this year?

    AMIT AND PUSHPA BANERJEE
    twitt@mr_amitbanerjee:twitter