Fire temple

A fire temple in Zoroastrianism is the place of worship for Zoroastrians,[1] often called dar-e mehr (Persian) or agiyari (Gujarati).[2][3] In the Zoroastrian religion, fire (see atar), together with clean water (see aban), are agents of ritual purity. Clean, white "ash for the purification ceremonies [is] regarded as the basis of ritual life", which "are essentially the rites proper to the tending of a domestic fire, for the temple [fire] is that of the hearth fire raised to a new solemnity".[4] For, one "who sacrifices unto fire with fuel in his hand ..., is given happiness".[5]

As of 2019, there were 167 fire temples in the world, of which 45 in Mumbai, 105 in the rest of India, and 17 in other countries.[6][7] There is a religious custom in India of not allowing Zoroastrian women to enter the Fire Temple and the Tower of Silence if they marry a non-Zoroastrian person. This custom has been challenged before the Supreme Court of India after a Zoroastrian woman was denied entry into Zoroastrian institutions.[8]

Zoroastrian Fire Temple, Yazd (2)
Burning fire in the Zoroastrian temple of Yazd, Iran.

History and development

Concept

Main article: Atar, Zoroastrian fire.
Parsi-jashan-ceremony-1
A Parsi-Zoroastrian Jashan ceremony (the blessing of a home).

First evident in the 9th century BCE, the Zoroastrian rituals of fire are contemporary with that of Zoroastrianism itself. It appears at approximately the same time as the shrine cult and is roughly contemporaneous with the introduction of Atar as a divinity. There is no allusion to a temple of fire in the Avesta proper, nor is there any Old Persian language word for one.

That the rituals of fire was a doctrinal modification and absent from early Zoroastrianism is also evident in the later Atash Nyash. In the oldest passages of that liturgy, it is the hearth fire that speaks to "all those for whom it cooks the evening and morning meal", which Boyce observes is not consistent with sanctified fire. The temple is an even later development: from Herodotus it is known that in the mid-5th century BCE the Zoroastrians worshipped to the open sky, ascending mounds to light their fires.[9] Strabo confirms this, noting that in the 6th century, the sanctuary at Zela in Cappadocia was an artificial mound, walled in, but open to the sky, although there is no evidence whatsoever that the Zela-sanctuary was Zoroastrian.[10] Although the "burning of fire" was a key element in Zoroastrian worship, the burning of "eternal" fire, as well as the presence of "light" in worship, was also a key element in many other religions.

By the Hellenic Parthian era (250 BCE–226 CE), there were two places of worship in Zoroastrianism: one, called bagin or ayazan, was a sanctuary dedicated to a specific divinity; it was constructed in honor of the patron saint (or angel) of an individual or family and included an icon or effigy of the honored. The second, the atroshan, were the "places of burning fire" which became more and more prevalent as the iconoclastic movement gained support. Following the rise of the Sassanid dynasty, the shrines to the Yazatas continued to exist, but with the statues – by law – either abandoned or replaced by fire altars.

Also, as Schippman observed,[11] there is no evidence even during the Sassanid era (226–650 CE) that the fires were categorized according to their sanctity. "It seems probable that there were virtually only two, namely the Atash-i Vahram [literally: "victorious fire", later misunderstood to be the Fire of Bahram],[12] and the lesser Atash-i Adaran, or 'Fire of Fires', a parish fire, as it were, serving a village or town quarter".[11][13] Apparently, it was only in the Atash-i Vahram that fire was kept continuously burning, with the Adaran fires being annually relit. While the fires themselves had special names, the structures did not, and it has been suggested that "the prosaic nature of the middle Persian names (kadag, man, and xanag are all words for an ordinary house) perhaps reflect a desire on the part of those who fostered the temple-cult ... to keep it as close as possible in character to the age-old cult of the hearth-fire, and to discourage elaboration".[14]

The Battle of al-Qādisiyyah (636 CE) and the Battle of Nihavānd (642 CE) were instrumental to the collapse of the Sassanid Empire and state-sponsored Zoroastrianism; destruction or conversion (mosques) of some fire temples in Greater Iran followed. The faith was practiced largely by the aristocracy but large numbers of fire temples did not exist. Some fire temples continued with their original purpose although many Zoroastrians fled. Legend says that some took fire with them and it most probably served as a reminder of their faith in an increasingly persecuted community since fire originating from a temple was not a tenet of the religious practice.

Archaeological traces

Dinastia tang, shanxi, straniero dal volto velato, 600-750 ca
An 8th-century Tang dynasty Chinese clay figurine of a Sogdian man (an Eastern Iranian person) wearing a distinctive cap and face veil, possibly a camel rider or even a Zoroastrian priest engaging in a ritual at a fire temple, since face veils were used to avoid contaminating the holy fire with breath or saliva; Museum of Oriental Art (Turin), Italy.[15]

The oldest remains of what has been identified as a fire temple are those on Mount Khajeh, near Lake Hamun in Sistan. Only traces of the foundation and ground-plan survive and have been tentatively dated to the 3rd or 4th century BCE. The temple was rebuilt during the Parthian era (250 BCE-226 CE), and enlarged during Sassanid times (226–650 CE).

The characteristic feature of the Sassanid fire temple was its domed sanctuary where the fire-altar stood.[16] This sanctuary always had a square ground plan with a pillar in each corner that then supported the dome (the gombad). Archaeological remains and literary evidence from Zend commentaries on the Avesta suggest that the sanctuary was surrounded by a passageway on all four sides. "On a number of sites the gombad, made usually of rubble masonry with courses of stone, is all that survives, and so such ruins are popularly called in Fars čahār-tāq or 'four arches'."[17]

Ruins of temples of the Sassanid era have been found in various parts of the former empire, mostly in the southwest (Fars, Kerman and Elam), but the biggest and most impressive are those of Adur Gushnasp in Media Minor (see also The Great Fires, below). Many more ruins are popularly identified as the remains of Zoroastrian fire temples even when their purpose is of evidently secular nature, or are the remains of a temple of the shrine cults, or as is the case of a fort-like fire temple and monastery at Surkhany, Azerbaijan, that unambiguously belongs to another religion. The remains of a fire-altar, most likely constructed during the proselytizing campaign of Yazdegerd II (r. 438-457) against the Christian Armenians, have been found directly beneath the main altar of the Echmiadzin Cathedral, the Mother See of the Armenian Apostolic Church.[18]

Legendary Great Fires

Apart from relatively minor fire temples, three were said to derive directly from Ahura Mazda, thus making them the most important in Zoroastrian tradition. These were the "Great Fires" or "Royal Fires" of Adur Burzen-Mihr, Adur Farnbag, and Adur Gushnasp. The legends of the Great Fires are probably of antiquity (see also Denkard citation, below), for by the 3rd century CE, miracles were said to happen at the sites, and the fires were popularly associated with other legends such as those of the folktale heroes Fereydun, Jamshid and Rustam.

The Bundahishn, an encyclopædiaic collection of Zoroastrian cosmogony and cosmology written in Book Pahlavi,[19] which was finished in the 11th or 12th century CE, states that the Great Fires had existed since creation and had been brought forth on the back of the ox Srishok to propagate the faith, dispel doubt, and protect all humankind. Other texts observe that the Great Fires were also vehicles of propaganda and symbols of imperial sovereignty.

The priests of these respective "Royal Fires" are said to have competed with each other to draw pilgrims by promoting the legends and miracles that were purported to have occurred at their respective sites. Each of the three is also said to have mirrored social and feudal divisions: "The fire which is Farnbag has made its place among the priests; ... the fire which is Gūshnasp has made its place among the warriors; ... the fire which is Būrzīn-Mitrō has made its place among agriculturists" (Denkard, 6.293). These divisions, from an archaeological and sociological point of view, are revealing because they make clear that, since from at least the 1st century BCE onwards, society was divided into four, not three, feudal estates.

Templo de fuego, Baku, Azerbaiyán, 2016-09-27, DD 34
Eternal flame at Fire Temple of Baku also known as Ateshgah of Baku.

The Farnbag fire (translated as 'the fire Glory-Given' by Darmesteter) was considered the most venerated of the three because it was seen as the earthly representative of the Atar Spenishta, 'Holiest Fire' of Yasna 17.11, and it is described in a Zend commentary on that verse as "the one burning in Paradise in the presence of Ohrmazd."

Although "in the eyes of [contemporary] Iranian Zoroastrian priests, the three fires were not 'really existing' temple fires and rather belonged to the mythological realm",[20] several attempts have been made to identify the locations of the Great Fires. In the early 20th century, A. V. Jackson identified the remains at Takht-i-Suleiman, midway between Urumieh and Hamadan, as the temple of Adur Gushnasp. The location of the Mithra fire, i.e. that of Burzen-Mihr, Jackson "identified with reasonable certainty" as being near the village of Mihr half-way between Miandasht and Sabzevar on the Khorasan road to Nishapur.[21] The Indian (lesser) Bundahishn records the Farnbag fire having been "on the glory-having mountain which is in Khwarezm" but later moved "upon the shining mountain in the district of Kavul just as it there even now remains" (IBd 17.6). That the temple once stood in Khwarezm is also supported by the Greater (Iranian) Bundahishn and by the texts of Zadsparam (11.9). However, according to the Greater Bundahishn, it was moved "upon the shining mountain of Kavarvand in the Kar district" (the rest of the passage is identical to the Indian edition). Darmesteter identified this "celebrated for its sacred fire which has been transported there from Khvarazm as reported by Masudi" .[21] If this identification is correct, the temple of the Farnbag fire then lay 10 miles southwest of Juwun, midway between Jahrom and Lar. (28°1′N 53°1′E / 28.017°N 53.017°E)

Udvada Atash-Behram

According to Parsi legend, when (over a thousand years ago) one group of refugees from (greater) Khorasan landed in Western Gujarat, they had the ash of such a fire with them. This ash, it is said, served as the bed for the fire today at Udvada.[22]

This fire temple was not always at Udvada. According to the Qissa-i Sanjan, 'Story of Sanjan', the only existing account of the early years of Zoroastrian refugees in India and composed at least six centuries after their arrival, the immigrants established a Atash-Warharan, 'victorious fire' (see Warharan for etymology) at Sanjan. Under threat of war (probably in 1465), the fire was moved to the Bahrot caves 20 km south of Sanjan, where it stayed for 12 years. From there, it was moved to Bansdah, where it stayed for another 14 years before being moved yet again to Navsari, where it would remain until the 18th century. It was then moved to Udvada where it burns today.

YazdII
Silver coin of Yazdegerd II with a fire altar and two attendants.

Although there are numerous eternally burning Zoroastrian fires today, with the exception of the 'Fire of Warharan', none of them are more than 250 years old. The legend that the Indian Zoroastrians invented the afrinagan (the metal urn in which a sacred fire today resides) when they moved the fire from Sanjan to the Bahrot caves is unsustainable. Greek historians of the Parthian period reported the use of a metal vase-like urn to transport fire. Sassanid coins of the 3rd-4th century CE likewise reveal a fire in a vase-like container identical in design to the present-day afrinagans. The Indian Zoroastrians do however export these and other utensils to their co-religionists the world over.

Today

Nomenclature

One of the more common technical terms – in use – for a Zoroastrian fire temple is dar be-mehr, romanized as darb-e mehr or dialectically slurred as dar-e mehr. The etymology of this term, meaning 'Mithra's Gate' or 'Mithra's Court' is problematic. It has been proposed that the term is a throwback to the age of the shrine cults, the name being retained because all major Zoroastrian rituals were solemnized between sunrise and noon, the time of day especially under Mithra's protection. Etymological theories see a derivation from mithryana (so Meillet) or *mithradana (Gershevitch) or mithraion (Wilcken). It is moreover not clear whether the term referred to a consecrated inner sanctum or to the ritual precinct.[23]

Among present-day Iranian Zoroastrians, the term darb-e mehr includes the entire ritual precinct. It is significantly more common than the older atashkada, a Classical Persian language term that together with its middle Persian predecessors (𐭪𐭲𐭪‎ 𐭠𐭲𐭧𐭱 ātaxš-kadag, -man and -xanag) literally means 'house of fire'. The older terms have the advantage that they are readily understood even by non-Zoroastrian Iranians. In the early 20th century, the Bombay Fasilis (see Zoroastrian calendar) revived the term as the name of their first fire temple, and later in that century the Zoroastrians of Tehran revived it for the name of their principal fire temple.

Pundole Agiary Udvada
A modern Agiary in Western India.

The term darb-e mehr is also common in India, albeit with a slightly different meaning. Until the 17th century the fire (now) at Udvada was the only continuously burning one on the Indian subcontinent. Each of the other settlements had a small building in which rituals were performed, and the fire of which the priests would relight whenever necessary from the embers carried from their own hearth fires.[3] The Parsis called such an unconsecrated building either dar-be mehr or agiary. The latter is the Gujarati language word for 'house of fire'[3] and thus a literal translation of atashkada. In recent years, the term dar-be mehr has come to refer to a secondary sacred fire (the dadgah) for daily ritual use that is present at the more prestigious fire temples. Overseas, in particular in North America, Zoroastrians use the term dar-be mehr for both temples that have an eternally burning fire as well as for sites where the fire is only kindled occasionally. This is largely due to the financial support of such places by one Arbab Rustam Guiv, who preferred the dialectic Iranian form.

Classification

Functionally, the fire temples are built to serve the fire within them, and the fire temples are classified (and named) according to the grade of fire housed within them. There are three grades of fires, the Atash Dadgah, Atash Adaran, and Atash Behram.

Atash Dadgah

The Atash Dadgah is the lowest grade of sacred fire, and can be consecrated within the course of a few hours by two priests, who alternatingly recite the 72 verses of the Yasna liturgy. Consecration may occasionally include the recitation of the Vendidad, but this is optional. A lay person may tend the fire when no services are in progress. The term is not necessarily a consecrated fire, and the term is also applied to the hearth fire, or to the oil lamp found in many Zoroastrian homes.

Atash Adaran

The next highest grade of fire is the Atash Adaran, the "Fire of fires". It requires a gathering of hearth fire from representatives of the four professional groups (that reflect feudal estates): from a hearth fire of the asronih (the priesthood), the (r)atheshtarih (soldiers and civil servants), the vastaryoshih (farmers and herdsmen) and the hutokshih (artisans and laborers). Eight priests are required to consecrate an Adaran fire and the procedure takes between two and three weeks.

Atash Behram

The highest grade of fire is the Atash Behram, "Fire of victory", and its establishment and consecration is the most elaborate of the three. It involves the gathering of 16 different "kinds of fire", that is, fires gathered from 16 different sources, including lightning, fire from a cremation pyre, fire from trades where a furnace is operated, and fires from the hearths as is also the case for the Atash Adaran. Each of the 16 fires is then subject to a purification ritual before it joins the others. Thirty-two priests are required for the consecration ceremony, which can take up to a year to complete.

A temple that maintains an Adaran or Behram fire also maintains at least one Dadgah fire. In contrast to the Adaran and Behram fires, the Dadgah fire is the one at which priests then celebrate the rituals of the faith, and which the public addresses to invoke blessings for a specific individual, a family or an event. Veneration of the greater fires is addressed only to the fire itself – that is, following the consecration of such a fire, only the Atash Nyashes, the litany to the fire in Younger Avestan, is ever recited before it.

A list of the nine Atash Behrams:

  • Iranshah Atash Behram in Udvada, India. Established 1742.
  • Desai Atash Behram in Navsari, India. Established 1765.
  • Dadiseth Atash Behram in Mumbai, India. Established 1783.
  • Vakil Atash Behram in Surat, India. Established 1823.
  • Modi Atash Behram in Surat, India. Established 1823.
  • Wadia Atash Behram in Mumbai, India. Established 1830.
  • Banaji Atash Behram in Mumbai, India. Established 1845.
  • Anjuman Atash Behram in Mumbai, India. Established 1897.
  • Yezd Atash Behram in Yazd, Iran. Established 1934.

Physical attributes

Parsi Fire Temple Entrance FORT MUMBAI
The entrance of an agyari in Fort, Mumbai displaying a Lamassu.

The outer façade of a Zoroastrian fire temple is almost always intentionally nondescript and free of embellishment. This may reflect ancient tradition (supported by the prosaic nature of the technical terms for a fire temple) that the principal purpose of a fire temple is to house a sacred fire, and not to glorify what is otherwise simply a building.

The basic structure of present-day fire temples is always the same. There are no indigenous sources older than the 19th century that describe an Iranian fire temple (the 9th century theologian Manushchir observed that they had a standard floor plan, but what this might have been is unknown), and it is possible that the temples there today have features that are originally of Indian origin.[24] On entry one comes into a large space or hall where congregation (also non-religious) or special ceremonies may take place. Off to the side of this (or sometimes a floor level up or down) the devotee enters an anteroom smaller than the hall he/she has just passed through. Connected to this anteroom, or enclosed within it, but not visible from the hall, is the innermost sanctum (in Zoroastrian terminology, the atashgah, literally 'place of the fire'[2] in which the actual fire-altar stands.

A temple at which a Yasna service (the principal Zoroastrian act of worship that accompanies the recitation of the Yasna liturgy) may be celebrated will always have, attached to it or on the grounds, at least a well or a stream or other source of 'natural' water. This is a critical requirement for the Ab-Zohr, the culminating rite of the Yasna service.

Only priests attached to a fire temple may enter the innermost sanctum itself, which is closed on at least one side and has a double domed roof. The double dome has vents to allow the smoke to escape, but the vents of the outer dome are offset from those of the inner, so preventing debris or rain from entering the inner sanctum. The sanctum is separated from the anteroom by dividers (or walls with very large openings) and is slightly raised with respect to the space around it. The wall(s) of the inner sanctum are almost always tiled or of marble, but are otherwise undecorated. There are no lights – other than that of the fire itself – in the inner sanctum. In Indian-Zoroastrian (not evident in the modern buildings in Iran) tradition the temples are often designed such that direct sunlight does not enter the sanctuary.

In one corner hangs a bell, which is rung five times a day at the boi – literally, '[good] scent'[25] – ceremony, which marks the beginning of each gah, or 'watch'. Tools for maintaining the fire – which is always fed by wood – are simply hung on the wall, or as is sometimes the case, stored in a small room (or rooms) often reachable only through the sanctum.

In India and in Indian-Zoroastrian communities overseas, non-Zoroastrians are strictly prohibited from entering any space from which one could see the fire(s). While this is not a doctrinal requirement (that is, it is not an injunction specified in the Avesta or in the so-called Pahlavi texts), it has nonetheless developed as a tradition. It is, however, mentioned in a 16th-century Rivayat epistle (R. 65). In addition, entry into any part of the facility is sometimes reserved for Zoroastrians only. This then precludes the use of temple hall for public (also secular) functions. Zoroastrians insist, though, that these restrictions are not meant to offend non-Zoroastrians, and point to similar practices in other religions.

Worship

Adrian temple معبد آدریان 1
Adorian (Adrian) Fire Temple in Tehran.

When the adherent enters the sanctum he or she will offer bone-dry sandalwood (or other sweet smelling wood) to the fire. This is in accordance with doctrinal statutes expressed in Vendidad 18.26-27, which in addition to enumerating which fuels are appropriate, also reiterates the injunctions of Yasna 3.1 and Yashts 14.55 that describe which fuels are not (in particular, any not of wood).

In present-day Zoroastrian tradition, the offering is never made directly, but placed in the care of the celebrant priest who, wearing a cloth mask over the nostrils and mouth to prevent pollution from the breath, will then – using a pair of silver tongs – place the offering in the fire. The priest will use a special ladle to proffer the holy ash to the layperson, who in turn daubs it on his or her forehead and eyelids, and may take some home for use after a Kushti ceremony.

A Zoroastrian priest does not preach or hold sermons, but rather just tends to the fire. Fire Temple attendance is particularly high during seasonal celebrations (Gahambars), and especially for the New Year (Noruz).

The priesthood is trigradal. The chief priest of each temple has the title of dastur. Consecration to this rank relieves him of the necessity of purification after the various incidents of life that a lesser priest must expiate. Ordinary priests have the title of mobad, and are able to conduct the congregational worship and such occasional functions as marriages. A mobad must be the son, grandson, or great-grandson of a mobad. The lowest rank is that of herbad, or ervad; these assist at the principal ceremonies.[26]

Gallery

Bahramfiretempleyo

Picture of the Bahram fire temple.

Иранские зороастрийцы в Атешгяхе во главе с мобедом Курошем Никнамом

Iranian Zoroastrians pray at Fire Temple of Baku.

Zoroastrian temple in Mazra Kalantar

Fire temple of Mazraeh-ye Kalantar.

See also

References

  1. ^ Boyce 1975.
  2. ^ a b Boyce, Mary (1993), "Dar-e Mehr", Encyclopaedia Iranica, 6, Costa Mesa: Mazda Pub, pp. 669–670
  3. ^ a b c Kotwal, Firoz M. (1974), "Some Observations on the History of the Parsi Dar-i Mihrs", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 37 (3): 665, doi:10.1017/S0041977X00127557
  4. ^ Boyce 1975, p. 455.
  5. ^ Yasna 62.1; Nyashes 5.7
  6. ^ "List of Fire Temples". The Parsi Directory. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  7. ^ Mathai, Kamini (12 July 2010). "Parsis go all out to celebrate milestone in Chennai". The Times of India. Chennai: The Times Group. Retrieved 24 Apr 2014.
  8. ^ "Parsi Woman Excommunication Case". Supreme Court Observer. Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  9. ^ Herodotus. "131". Histories (Herodotus), Vol. I.
  10. ^ Strabos. "8: East of the Caspian Sea: the Sacae and the Massagetae". Geographica, Vol. XI. Section 4, page 512.
  11. ^ a b Boyce 1975, p. 462.
  12. ^ Gnoli 1993, p. 512.
  13. ^ Boyce 1966, p.63
  14. ^ Boyce 1987, p. 9.
  15. ^ Lawrence, Lee (3 September 2011). "A Mysterious Stranger in China". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660.
  16. ^ Boyce 1987, pp. 9–10.
  17. ^ Boyce 1987, p. 10.
  18. ^ Russell, James R. (1989), "Atrušan", Encyclopaedia Iranica, 3, Costa Mesa: Mazda Pub
  19. ^ M. Hale, Pahlavi, in "The Ancient Languages of Asia and the Americas", published by Cambridge University Press, 2008, ISBN 0-521-68494-3, p. 123.
  20. ^ Stausberg 2004, p. 134.
  21. ^ a b Jackson 1921, p. 82.
  22. ^ Boyce, Mary; Kotwal, Firoze (2006), "Irānshāh", Encyclopaedia Iranica, 13, Costa Mesa: Mazda Pub, retrieved 2006-09-06
  23. ^ Boyce, Mary (1996). "On the Orthodoxy of Sasanian Zoroastrianism". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. 59 (1): 21–22. ISSN 0041-977X. JSTOR 619388.
  24. ^ Stausberg 2004, pp. 175, 405.
  25. ^ Stausberg 2004, p. 115.
  26. ^ Hastings (general editor), James, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, 10, New York, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, p. 322]

Sources

  • Boyce, Mary (1975), "On the Zoroastrian Temple Cult of Fire", Journal of the American Oriental Society, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 95, No. 3, 95 (3): 454–465, doi:10.2307/599356, JSTOR 599356
  • Boyce, Mary (1987), "Ātaškada", Encyclopaedia Iranica, 2, Costa Mesa: Mazda Pub, pp. 9–10
  • Drower, Elizabeth Stephens (1944), "The Role of Fire in Parsi Ritual", Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Royal Anthropological Institute, 74 (1/2): 75–89, doi:10.2307/2844296
  • Gnoli, Gherardo (1993), "Bahram in old and middle Iranian texts", Encyclopaedia Iranica, 3, Costa Mesa: Mazda Pub, pp. 510–513
  • Jackson, A. V. Williams (1921). "The Location of the Farnbāg Fire, the Most Ancient of the Zoroastrian Fires". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 41: 81–106. doi:10.2307/593711. ISSN 0003-0279. JSTOR 593711.
  • Schippmann, Klaus (1971). Die Iranischen Feuerheiligtümer. Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten (in German). Berlin: de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-001879-0. OCLC 833142282.
  • Shenkar, Michael (2007), "Temple Architecture in the Iranian World before the Macedonian Conquest", Iran and the Caucasus, 11 (2): 169–194, doi:10.1163/157338407X265423
  • Shenkar, Michael (2011), "Temple Architecture in the Iranian World in the Hellenistic Period", in Kouremenos, A., Rossi, R., Chandrasekaran, S. (eds.), From Pella to Gandhara: Hybridisation and Identity in the Art and Architecture of the Hellenistic East: 117–140
  • Stausberg, Michael (2004), Die Religion Zarathushtras, vol. III, Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, ISBN 3-17-017120-8

External links

Atash Behram

An Atash Behram (Fire of Victory) is the highest grade of a fire that can be placed in a Zoroastrian fire temple. The establishment and consecration of this fire is the most elaborate of all the grades of fire. It involves the gathering of 16 different types of fire, including lightning, fire from a cremation pyre, fire from trades where a furnace is operated, and fires from the hearths as is also the case for the Atash Adaran. Each of the 16 fires is then subject to a purification ritual before it joins the others. 32 priests are required for the consecration ceremony, which can take up to a year to complete.

Ateshgah of Baku

The Baku Ateshgah (from Persian: آتشگاه‎, Atashgāh, Azerbaijani: Atəşgah), often called the "Fire Temple of Baku" is a castle-like religious temple in Surakhani town (in Suraxanı raion), a suburb in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Based on Persian inscriptions, the temple was used as a Hindu, Sikh, and Zoroastrian place of worship. "Atash" (آتش) is the Persian word for fire. The pentagonal complex, which has a courtyard surrounded by cells for monks and a tetrapillar-altar in the middle, was built during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was abandoned in the late 19th century, probably due to the dwindling of the Indian population in the area. The natural eternal flame went out in 1969, after nearly a century of exploitation of petroleum and gas in the area, but is now lit by gas piped from the nearby city.The Baku Ateshgah was a pilgrimage and philosophical centre of Zoroastrians from Northwestern Indian Subcontinent, who were involved in trade with the Caspian area via the famous "Grand Trunk Road". The four holy elements of their belief were: ateshi (fire), badi (air), abi (water), and heki (earth). The temple ceased to be a place of worship after 1883 with the installation of petroleum plants (industry) at Surakhany. The complex was turned into a museum in 1975. The annual number of visitors to the museum is 15,000.

The Temple of Fire "Ateshgah" was nominated for List of World Heritage Sites, UNESCO in 1998 by Gulnara Mehmandarova. On December 19, 2007, it was declared a state historical-architectural reserve by decree of the President of Azerbaijan.

Chahartaq (architecture)

Chartaq (Persian: چارطاق‎), chahartaq (چهارطاق), chartaqi (چارطاقی), or chahartaqi (چهارطاقی), literally meaning "having four arches", is an architectural unit consisted of four barrel vaults and a dome.

Fire temple of Isfahan

The Fire temple of Isfahan (Persian: آتشگاه اصفهان‎ Âtašgâh-e Esfahân, also Romanized as Ātashgāh-e Esfahān) is a Sassanid-era archaeological complex located on a hill of the same name about eight kilometers west of city center of Isfahan, Iran.

The hill, which rises about 210 meters above the surrounding plain, was previously called Maras or Marabin after a village near there, and it is by that name that the site is referred to by Arab historians.

Khomeyn

Khomeyn (Persian: خمين‎, also Romanized as Khomein and Khowmeyn) is a city and capital of Khomeyn County, Markazi Province, Iran. At the 2015 census, its population was 76,706 in 17,399 families.Khomeyn is located to the south of the province, in a fertile plain, about 160 kilometres (99 mi) from Qom and 325 kilometres (202 mi) from Tehran. The climate of Khomeyn is a moderate mountainous inclining to a semi-desert one. Winters are cold and summers are moderate. The name of Khomeyn was primarily mentioned in a book named The History of Prophets and Kings. Subterranean canals (qanats), sewers and its famous fire-temple can be named as some pre-Islamic relics. This town was called the center of Kamareh 200 years ago. Recently, this town has become famous because it is the birthplace of the leader of the Iranian Revolution, Ruhollah Khomeini. His father's house has become an important historical monument.

Khomeyn County

Khomeyn County (Persian: شهرستان خمین‎) is a county in Markazi Province in Iran. The capital of the county is Khomeyn. At the 2006 census, the county's population was 108,840, in 29,888 families. The county is subdivided into two districts: the Central District and Kamareh District. The county has two cities: Khomeyn and Qurchi Bashi.

The town of Khomeyn is located to the south of the province, in a fertile plain. The climate is moderate mountainous inclining to a semi-desert. Winters are cold and summers are moderate. This city lies at a distance of 323 km. from Tehran. The name "Khomeyn" was primarily mentioned in a book named "The History of Prophets and Kings". Subterranean canals (qanats), sewers and its famous fire-temple can be named as some pre-Islamic relics. This town was called the center of Kamareh 200 years ago.

The town is currently famous as the birthplace of Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the Islamic Revolution. His father's house has become an important historical monument.

Maiden Tower (Baku)

The Maiden Tower (Azerbaijani: Qız qalası) is a 12th-century monument in the Old City, Baku, Azerbaijan. Along with the Shirvanshahs' Palace, dated to the 15th century, it forms a group of historic monuments listed in 2001 under the UNESCO World Heritage List of Historical Monuments as cultural property, Category III. It is one of Azerbaijan's most distinctive national emblems, and is thus featured on Azeri currency notes and official letterheads.The Maiden Tower houses a museum, which presents the story of historic evolution of the Baku city. It also has a gift shop. The view from the roof takes in the alleys and minarets of the Old City, the Baku Boulevard, the De Gaulle house and a wide vista of the Baku Bay. In recent years, the brazier on the top has been lit during the nights of the Novruz festival.Baku's Maiden Tower is a legendary place and world-famous landmark in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan. The Tower is covered by cloud of mysteries and legends which are rooted to the History of Azerbaijan and national Culture of Azerbaijan. The pool of tower's epics and legends is a part of Azerbaijan's culture and national heritage. Indeed, Some epics became a subject for scenario for ballets and theatre's plays. The Maiden Tower (ballet) is a world class Azerbaijani ballet created by Afrasiyab Badalbeyli in 1940 and ballet's remake was performed in 1999.

Consequent to the receding of the sea shore line of the Caspian Sea, a strip of land emerged. This land was developed between the 9th and 15th centuries, when the walls of the old city, the palace including the huge bastion of the Maiden Tower were built.

Minar (Firuzabad)

The Minar (Persian: منار‎, literally "pillar") or Minaret (مناره‎), mentioned in medieval Arabic-language Islamic sources as Terbal (طربال‎ Ṭirbāl), was a unique, spiral, tower-like structure built in the centre of the Sassanian circular city of Gōr (modern Firuzabad, Iran). Several theories have been proposed for its purpose. Only the core of the structure remains today.

Mount Khajeh

Mount Khwaja or Mount Khwajeh (locally: Kuh-e Khvājeh) is a flat-topped black basalt hill rising up as an island in the middle of Lake Hamun, in the Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan.

The trapezoid-shaped basalt lava outcropping, located 30 km southwest of the town of Zabol, rises to 609 meters above sea level and has a diameter ranging from 2.0 to 2.5 kilometres. It is the only natural height in the Sistan area, and is named after an Islamic pilgrimage site on the hill: the tomb and shrine of Khwaja Ali Mahdi, a descendant of Ali ibn Abi Talib.

Mount Khwaja is also an important archaeological site: On the southern promontory of the eastern slope, the ruins of a citadel complex - known as the Ghagha-Shahr - with its remains of a fire temple attest to the importance of the island in pre-Islamic Iran. According to Zoroastrian legend, Lake Hamun is the keeper of Zoroaster's seed. In Zoroastrian eschatology, when the final renovation of the world is near, maidens will enter the lake and then give birth to the saoshyans, the saviours of humankind.

The fire temple is on a terrace behind high walls and is protected by two forts, whose remains are respectively known as Kok-e Zal and Chehel Dokhtaran. Collectively, the ruins are called Qal'a-e Kafaran "Fort of Infidels" or Qal'a-e Sam "Fort of Sam," the grandfather of the mythical Rostam (one of the fortresses here is named "Rostams castle"). Both names reflect pre-Islamic heritage. The walls of the temple were once extravagantly decorated with murals, some of which are now on display in museums in Tehran, Berlin, New Delhi and New York.

The citadel complex was first investigated by Marc Aurel Stein in 1915-1916. The site was later excavated by Ernst Herzfeld, and was again investigated in part by Giorgio Gullini in a short expedition of 1960. Initially, Herzfeld tentatively dated the palace complex to the 1st century CE, that is, to the Arsacid period (248 BCE-224 CE). Herzfeld later revised his estimate to a later date and today the Sassanid period (224-651 CE) is usually considered to be more likely. Three bas-reliefs on the outer walls that depict riders and horses are attributed to this later period. Beyond the citadel at the top of the plateau are several other unrelated buildings, of uncertain function and probably dating to the Islamic period.

Pilgrimage

A pilgrimage is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith, although sometimes it can be a metaphorical journey into someone's own beliefs.

Many religions attach spiritual importance to particular places: the place of birth or death of founders or saints, or to the place of their "calling" or spiritual awakening, or of their connection (visual or verbal) with the divine, to locations where miracles were performed or witnessed, or locations where a deity is said to live or be "housed", or any site that is seen to have special spiritual powers. Such sites may be commemorated with shrines or temples that devotees are encouraged to visit for their own spiritual benefit: to be healed or have questions answered or to achieve some other spiritual benefit.

A person who makes such a journey is called a pilgrim. As a common human experience, pilgrimage has been proposed as a Jungian archetype by Wallace Clift and Jean Dalby Clift.The Holy Land acts as a focal point for the pilgrimages of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. According to a Stockholm University study in 2011, these pilgrims visit the Holy Land to touch and see physical manifestations of their faith, confirm their beliefs in the holy context with collective excitation, and connect personally to the Holy Land.

Royapuram fire temple, Chennai

Jal Phiroj Clubwala Dar E Meher, popularly known as the Royapuram fire temple, is a Parsi fire temple at Royapuram, Chennai, India. It was built in 1910 and donated to the Madras Parsi Zarthosti Anjuman by philanthropist Phiroj M. Clubwala. The temple is one of the 177 odd fire temples in the world, of which some 150 are in India. It is the only Parsi fire temple in Tamil Nadu and surrounding region, including Puducherry and Kerala. The flame in the temple is burning continuously ever since the temple was built and is stoked five times a day by the priest.

Sandalwood

Sandalwood is a class of woods from trees in the genus Santalum. The woods are heavy, yellow, and fine-grained, and unlike many other aromatic woods, they retain their fragrance for decades. Sandalwood oil is extracted from the woods for use. Sandalwood is the second-most expensive wood in the world, after African blackwood. Both the wood and the oil produce a distinctive fragrance that has been highly valued for centuries. Consequently, species of these slow-growing trees have suffered overharvesting in the past century.

Sarvestan Palace

The Sassanid Palace at Sarvestan (Persian: کاخ ساسانی سروستان‎ kakh-eh Sassani-ye Sarvestan) is a Sassanid-era building in the Iranian city of Sarvestan, some 90 km southeast from the city of Shiraz. The palace was built in the 5th century AD, and was either a gubernatorial residence or a Zoroastrian fire temple.

St. Mary Church, Urmia

St. Mary Church (Aramaic: ܩܕܝܫܬܐ ܡܪܝܡ ܥܕܬܐ‎, Persian: کلیسای ننه مریم‎), is an ancient Assyrian church located in the city of Urmia, West Azerbaijan Province, Iran. It is considered by some historians to be the second oldest church in Christendom after the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in the West Bank.

Current old building of the church belongs to Sasanian era and its interior design is a combination of Sasanian and Arsacid architecture.

It is believed by some Assyrian and Christian historians that it had been a Fire temple at first in which Zoroastrian priests used to pray. At Jesus Christ' time of birth, three priests observed a shining star moving toward east. They considered it as a sign of awaited Messiah's birth and traveled to Jerusalem to meet him. After coming back they converted the fire temple to a church.

A Chinese princess, who contributed to its reconstruction in 642 AD, has her name engraved on a stone on the church wall. The famous Italian traveller Marco Polo also described the church in his visit.

Briefly prior to the World War I, it was converted by the Russians to a Russian Orthodox church.

In early 1960s, the old church was restored and a modern church with a spire was built adjacent to the ancient church.

Suraxanı raion

Suraxanı (also, Surakhany, Ssurachany and Surakhani) is a settlement and raion of Baku, Azerbaijan. It has a population of 210,500.

The raion is best known for the Fire Temple of Baku on the northern edge of town, a castle-like temple and monastery complex known locally as the Ateşgah or Ateshgyakh. It was a Zoroastrian temple. The complex was built on a pocket of natural gas that once produced a flame from natural gas seepage.

The local Tat name of the raion is said to related to "the Persian words 'Surakh' (hole) or Surkh/ Sorkh (red) and 'khani' (source or fountain). According to historical sources, before the construction of the Parsi Temple Of Fire (Atashgah) in Surakhani at the end of the 18th century, the local people also worshipped at this site because of the 'seven holes with burning flame'. And thus the name 'Surakhani' - holes with burning fountains."The township itself is poor and surrounded by the petrochemical industry facilities that are endemic to the Abşeron Peninsula.

Takht-e Soleymān

For the similarly named locations see Takht-e Suleyman Massif in Iran and Sulayman Mountain near Osh, Kyrgyzstan.Takht-e Soleymān (Persian: تخت سلیمان‎), also known as Azar Goshnasp Fire Temple (Persian: آتشکده آذرگشنسپ‎), literally "the Fire of the Warriors", is an archaeological site in West Azarbaijan, Iran. It lies midway between Urmia and Hamadan, very near the present-day town of Takab, and 400 km (250 mi) west of Tehran.

The fortified site, which is located on a hill created by the outflow of a calcium-rich spring pond, was recognized as a World Heritage Site in July 2003. The citadel includes the remains of a Zoroastrian fire temple built during the Sassanid period and partially rebuilt (as a mosque) during the Ilkhanid period. This temple housed one of the three "Great Fires" or "Royal Fires" that Sassanid rulers humbled themselves before in order to ascend the throne. The fire at Takht-i Soleiman was called ādur Wishnāsp and was dedicated to the arteshtar or warrior class of the Sasanid. A 4th century Armenian manuscript relating to Jesus and Zarathustra, and various historians of the Islamic period, mention this pond. The foundations of the fire temple around the pond is attributed to that legend. Takht-E Soleyman appears on the 4th century Peutinger Map.

This site got its biblical name after the Arab conquest. Folk legend relates that King Solomon used to imprison monsters inside a nearby 100 m deep crater which is called Zendan-e Soleyman "Prison of Solomon". Solomon is also said to have created the flowing pond in the fortress.

Archaeological excavations have revealed traces of a 5th-century BC occupation during the Achaemenid period, as well as later Parthian settlements in the citadel. Coins belonging to the reign of Sassanid kings, and that of the Byzantine emperor Theodosius II (AD 408-450), have also been discovered there.

Torbat-e Heydarieh County

Torbat-e Heydarieh County (Persian: شهرستان تربت حیدریه‎, Šahrestâne Torbate Heydarie) is a county in Razavi Khorasan Province in Iran. The capital of the county is Torbat-e Heydarieh. At the 2006 census, its population (including portions of the county later split from it to form Zave County) was 261,917, in 67,735 families; excluding such portions, the population was 195,711 in 51,917 families. The county is subdivided into four districts (bakhsh): the Central District, Bayg District, Kadkan District, and Jolgeh Rokh District. The county has four cities: Torbat-e Heydarieh, Bayg, Kadkan, and Robat-e Sang.

Torbat - Heydarieh city is 1005 km. far from Tehran and is located in a mountainous region on the skirt of mountain having different weathers in different areas. In the past, this city was called "Zaveh", According to a narrative in 13th century AD., Sheikh Haydar -famous Gnostic- was living there. The change of its name from "Zaveh" to Torbat-Haydarieh is related to the life and tomb of this great Gnostic. The existing cultural heritage belong to Sasanian time and 13th century AD. and are as follows:

Bazeh Hovar and Robat Sefid fire - temple, Ghotb-e-dinn Haydar, Sheik Haydar, Sheik

Abolghasema and Shoh Senjan tombs.

Zavareh

Zavareh (Persian: زواره‎, also Romanized as Zavāreh, Zavâre, and Zavvāreh; also known as Īstgāh-ye Zavār and Zūrāvar) is a city and capital of Zavareh District, in Ardestan County, Isfahan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 7,806, in 2,197 families.Zavareh is located at the northeast of Isfahan Province, next to the central desert area. It is known that Zavareh had a Sassanian fire temple and was an important trade center in the Seljuk period. The town is named after Zavareh, the brother of Rostam, a mythical hero of Iran.

Zoroastrianism in the United States

This article focuses on Zoroastrianism in the United States.

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