Issues about the shifting of the Holy Fire to the Godrej Baug Agiary

by Ervad Marzban Hathiram

Dear TZML (Traditional Zarathushtris Mailing List) members,

Some questions have been asked in our mailing list about the proper method of shifting of Holy Fires. Some members may recall that when the Tavri village (Navsari) fire was shifted to the Godrej Baug Agiary, there was a lot of media attention and much happiness within the community.

However, at that time, Nauzer Bharucha, Percy Bulsara and myself had addressed a letter to the Jame (and posted it here on TZML) raising several very pertinent queries regarding the procedure followed by those in charge. Till date we have not received a single clarification from these worthies.

I am posting that same letter once again so that members may realise the intricacies involved in such a task and how, as usual, we have sunk to the lowest common level and gravely affected the sanctity of the Holy Fire.


Ervad Marzban Hathiram

Issues about the shifting of the Holy Fire to the Godrej Baug Agiary

by Ervad Marzban Hathiram

1 Feb 2000

Dear Sir,

The congregation of nearly 5000 Parsis at the time of the consecration of the Atash Adrian at Godrej Baug was a testimony to the deep and powerful faith that Parsis of today have, which is albeit displayed on rare occasions such as this. Much has been written on this event, both in the Parsi and secular press as well as the electronic media. Now, after the euphoria has ended and life goes on as normal in any Parsi Baug, it is time to ask some questions on the whole incident. In our previous letter we had raised the issue of non-Zoroastrian figures guarding the Adrian precincts. This time we wish to dwell on the spiritual aspects of the transfer of the Holy Fire from Navsari to Mumbai and the consecration of the Shapoorji Fakirji Jokhi Adrian. Before we commence, we would like to clarify that the object of this letter is not to defame or blame any persons, nor is it to shatter the faith of the thousands of Parsis who worshipped and do worship the Adrian Saheb. Our objective is to ask pertinent questions relating to the following of the traditions and precepts of our forefathers and to ensure that the dignity and sanctity of the Holy Fire is in no way compromised.

One of the first things that strike a casual visitor to the Adrian is its proximity to the Dokhmas of Doongerwadi. Indeed, the very land on which the Adrian and Godrej Baug is built belongs to the Doongerwadi area. According to the Vendidad, any fire (we are not talking about a consecrated Adrian fire) should be kept at a certain distance away from any pollution. According to the rivayats, even the sagdih kept at the Dokhma should be at a distance of 300 paces away from the Dokhma. Given these instructions, is it correct to have a consecrated Atash Adrian so near to the Dokhmas?

Our second observation relates to the absence of a natural well in the Agiary precincts. While there is a well in the Agiary itself, is it a natural well? Our inquiries reveal that despite several attempts, water was not struck within the area. The current well is actually a receptacle fed through pipes from another well situated some distance away at Ambawadi. It is thus merely a subterfuge. A free flowing and natural well is an essential prerequisite for performing both the major liturgical ceremonies like the Yasna and the Vendidad, as well for the normal Baj. Water that is pumped through pipes loses its essential element the fraado (electro-magnetic forces) mentioned in the Ava Nyaesh. Such water is of no use in major liturgical ceremonies. In effect, the Yasnas and Vendidads performed during the consecration process of the building are void.

We now come to the actual shifting of the Holy Fire from its seat at Navsari to Mumbai. Several years ago, when another Fire was sought to be brought for the Godrej Baug Agiary, preparations had been made to bring the same on foot from Bharuch after observing the correct Tarikats of pavi. Indeed one of us was a volunteer on that trip which never materialised. It is therefore surprising that instead of doing so, the sacred fire was transported using a Sumo. This is a contravention of the accepted laws and precepts of the religion. By driving the Fire in a car without the provision of pavi , the fire has come into common contact (ham-paivand) and has lost its exalted stature.

Coming to the final journey from Vatcha Gandhi Agiary to Godrej Baug, there are several procedural errors that we would like to point out. Firstly, we wonder as to the necessity of undertaking this final part on foot, when the entire journey was done by car. As per religious precepts, the movement of the Fire must be done in total darkness, hence the night journey. However, it is surprising to note that the organisers undertook this journey not only in the presence of street lamps (which may have been unavoidable) but also just two days before the brightest moon in 133 years. Moreover, the entire exercise was done under the gaze of several cameras. An effort was made to draw pavis to segregate the Fire. To our surprise this act, which needs to be done by qualified priests, was performed by lay volunteers from a Parsi colony. The effect of the whole exercise was reduced by washing the roads before the Fire was moved. Water instinctively breaks all pavis and hence further nullified these efforts. If our intention was to have a grand procession, with full media coverage, we certainly succeeded. But if wanted to correctly enthrone an Adrian Saheb, with full religious honours, the effort was an abject failure. We have also, unknowingly, set a wrong precedent for the future.

We understand that the times we live in are not conducive to the complete observance of all our religious Tarikats. We also understand that several experts in their respective fields have guided this entire operation. We give full credit to the organisers for managing the logistics of the whole exercise in such a flawless fashion. But our concern is that in all this, the main issue has been sidelined. Instead of giving the first priority to maintaining the dignity and power of a righteously consecrated Adrian Saheb which is paramount and sacrosanct, minds have been diverted to less important considerations. Our observations on the wrong selection of the hideous statues outside the Agiary and the violation of religious observances may sound harsh to lay people but please be assured that we do this out of compulsion.

We have survived this long as a community only by the precise and unwavering following of our scriptures and long-standing religious customs and traditions, which are venerated in the Avesta as dareghayao upayanayao . In our opinion, the entire exercise of the shifting of the sacred Fire and the consecration of the new Adrian at Godrej Baug has not been in consonance with these traditions and hence we have deemed it our duty to bring the same to the notice of the community.

With kind regards,

Ervad Marzban Hathiram

Nauzer K. Bharucha

Percy R. Bulsara

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