by Dr. Pallan R. Ichaporia
Consecrated Fires: by Dr. Pallan R. Ichaporia
Dear Readers: For YOUR READING PLEASURE
The following article may not find favor with the modernists as they do not believe in Vendidad, Yasna and other Young Avestan scriptures, although they often quote from them when they need them to serve their purposes - but it is their option. The question is, how without Vendidad and Yasna they will ever have any consecrated fires in North America for their use in the future? - or on the other hand they may not have any need for such consecrated fires and it is a good surmise that they are satisfied with the HEARTH fires for their requirements which serve their purposes, they have put on record that they also do not need or give credence to priests. Since it is their choice - and their choice is their business, it is of no cause of concern if they go on their ways without trying to impose their views and beliefs on others.
Several friends have inquired about the prayer halls with hearth fire presently available for Zoroastrians in different cities of North America. There was a discussion with a friend about setting up an "Agiary" in North America, and inquiries came for proper understanding of enthroning the consecrated fires. Instead of replying individually I am putting this short article for all to benefit.
Presently the prayer halls with hearth fires are the only available places of worship for Zoroastrians in USA, and Canada. These hearth-fires are NOT consecrated, some are lit by natural GAS, and some by MATCHSTICKS and then are put DOWN. They are not perpetually kept ablaze (by the virtue of being the unconsecrated hearth fires), On the other hand fire of Atash Bahram, fire of Atash Aadaraan and fire of Atash Daadgah are all consecrated fires with different degree of consecrations and therefore these must be kept burning . None is available because none is enthroned in the western countries.
ATASH BAHRAM- The Fire of Victory, the Sacred Fire of Highest Grade
The Sanctum Sanctorum of an Atash Bahram is the purest place to be found in this world. The fire of Atash Bahram is made up of sixteen fires and for the lengthy process of collecting, purifying and consecrating these individual sixteen fires , the 'BAAJ of SROSH' is taken by the priests for the purification ceremonies (note the baj is also taken by two Zoroastrian laymen when they collect a fire from which has corpse burnt. Such fire, being defiled, needs to be purified and consecrated) - (For description of the whole ritual - see Modi, Rel Customs and Ceremonies, apud). The unification of the sixteen fires must take place on the first Gatha-day. After that a Yasna and Vendidad are dedicated to 'SROSH' for three consecutive days then follows thirty Yasna plus Vendidad ceremonies for the divinities of the SIROZA from "ROZ OHRMAZAD" to "ROZ ANERAN". Then on the final enthronement and consecration of the fire of Atash Bahram, another Yasna of SROSH is recited over the fire. The chamber in which the fire is enthroned is also consecrated by the performance of Yasna and Vendidad ceremonies for SROSH during three consecutive days. When the enthronement has taken place, the Atash Niyaaesh is prayed and "DRON" ceremony and AFRINAGANS are performed for SROSH, DAHMAN and again for SROSH. The ceremonies of 'SROSH' take place in the last phase of the consecration rites as by then the forces of evil have been completely defeated through the preceding ritual thus making the Sanctum Sanctorum the holiest place in the world. The association of "SROAS' in the final "DRON" and "AFRINAGAN" services with "DAHMAN", the personification of the faithful, suggests that SROSH is the guardian of what is pure and sacred in the world of man, as a mediator between the sphere of pure good and its expression in this world, which is necessarily imperfect.
ATASH ADARAAN - the Sacred Fire of Second Grade.
The ceremonies of SROSH plays an important part in consecration of lower-grade fires. Four vases containing fires from the houses of members of each four classes i.e. priests, warriors, farmers, and artisans are consecrated separately with the celebration of a Yasna plus Vendidad, for SAROSH on the first day, and for Ahura Mazda on the second day. Then the fires are united on the third day, and the process of consecration is continued with the recitation of "NAMASKAAR" (=homage) to the fire followed by another Yasna plus Vendidad of 'SROASH' and a Yasna of Ahura Mazda, the Creator, on the morning of the fourth day. After the enthronement of ATASH ADARAAN, the 'BAJ" (i.e.dron) and AFRINAGAAN services are either the same as for the enthronement of an ATASH BAHRAM, or, alternatively, six AFRINAHAANS with corresponding BAJ for ARDAVAHIST, ORMAZD, SPANDAMARD, ARDAFARVASH, DAHAMAN and SROSH. are performed.
ATASH DAADGAAH - The Sacred Fire of Lowest Grade.
The consecration for the fire of ATASH DAADGAAH consists of Yasna together with Vendidad -three for SROSH and a Yasna of ARDAAFRAVASH on the fourth morning. The AFRINAGAAN and BAJ services are usually six for the enthronement.
There is a possibility that in the near future an ATASH DAADGAAH will be enthroned in North America, as the community of faithful has the will, and resources to do so. Perhaps the modernists will also start using this consecrated ATASH DAADGAAH, enthroned by priests with Yasna, Vendidad, and AFRINAGAAN - BAJ ceremonies but if they use them, will they (modernists) be then compromising their principle of repudiating Yasna, Vendidad, and other Younger Avesta, Priests, and Ceremonies and Rituals (performed by the priests)?. Somebody may raise the question about admission of non-Zoroastrians in the consecrated ATASH DAADGAAH, the question may be well left to those who will fund to enthrone an ATASH DAADGAAH and they should be approached at proper time (i.e. when this DAADGAAH is established) for the answer because they will be the owner and the ATAASH DAADGAAH will be their property.
To hasten the establishment of a properly CONSECRATED ATASH DAADGAAH in North America, it is my pleasure to pledge a personal donation of $250,000/00 with a further pledge of $25,000/00 donation from the board of directors of my company.
With Kind Regards,
Dr. Pallan R. Ichaporia.