Can Zoroastrians burst fire crackers during Diwali? (TMY-Jame Jamshed of 21-1-18)

1. Diwali is a Hindu festival of light. Generally Hindus burst fire crackers as a manifestation of light. However fire crackers carry along with them many harmful and negative effects which are extremely dangerous to humans, animals, economy and the environment.  Lighting fire crackers is now denounced by people of almost every faith because of its tremendous negative effects.

2. From a Zoroastrian point of view bursting crackers amounts to an insult to fire, which Zoroastrians regard as sacred and life giving. While lighting crackers, we play with, fling, throw and misuse fire.

3. Bursting crackers is dangerous to human life and limb. Even the lives of people who work in fire cracker industries are jeopardized. Many people, young and old, have lost their limbs and sight and have been scarred for life for no fault of theirs.

4. Fire crackers severely scare birds and animals, especially household pets like dogs, who exhibit a strange and unnatural behaviour when fire crackers are being burst.

5. One of the biggest damage done by fire crackers is that it creates a lot of smoke, smog and pollution in the environment which lasts for several days. Pollution is one of the biggest killers in the world. It is deadlier than war, smoking or hunger. In 2015 alone, ninety lakh people died prematuredly because of pollution.

6. Bursting fire crackers can even be seen as wasting money, since hundreds and thousands of rupees are spent for a few seconds of thrill. The same amount can be used in other constructive and more positive manner.

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What are the different words used for a Zoroastrian fire temple? (TMY-Jame Jamshed of 14-1-18)

  1. A Zoroastrian fire temple is the building which principally houses a sacred consecrated fire, which could be either of the three grades of Dadgah, Adaran or Atash Behram.
  2. The fire temple housing only the first grade of fire (dadgah) as the focal point of worship is referred to as the Agyari. The fire temple housing the second grade of fire (adaran) as the central focal point of worship is referred to as the Agyari or an Adaran. The fire temple housing the highest grade of fire as the central focal point of worship is referred to as the Atash Behram.
  3. Another word used for fire temple is Dar-e-meher, which literally means “The house of Meher Yazad.” In the olden times, a Dar-e-meher was a house of worship where there was no permanently burning fire and where only rituals were performed. Nowadays, since almost all rituals are performed in a fire-temple, an Agyari or an Adaran is also referred to as a Dar-e-meher.
  4. In the Western diaspora, Zoroastrian places of worship without permanently burning fires, are also referred to as a Dar-e-meher or a Darbe-meher, the latter being a Persianised or Anglicized way of writing Dar-e-meher.
  5. In Iran, fire temples are generally referred to as Atash kadeh, which simply means “house of fire.” In colloquial usage a fire temple in Iran is also called a Darbe-meher.

 

Why do we refer to fire as a Padshah, that is, “a king”? (TMY-Jame Jamshed of 31-12-17 and 7-1-18)

  1. In Zoroastrian religion, sacred fires are either divinely manifested or specially consecrated. Such fires are given the title and position of a Padshah, that is, a king. This is not just figurative as will be seen from the following description of the exalted status of fire.
  2. The similarities start after the consecration of the sacred fire. First, it is taken in a procession for the enthronement, just like a king who would be taken in a procession for his enthronement. Priests in their full priestly regalia follow the sacred fire with swords, gurz (mace) and spears in hand, much as soldiers would follow their king.
  3. The process of establishment of a fire is referred to as takhtanashin which literally means “sitting on the throne.” The ‘hindhorā’ which is the stone pedestal of the fire, is the sacred fire’s throne. The dome (Gumbaj) of the sanctum sanctorum (Keblā) signifies the sky, which is the jurisdiction of the sacred fire. The metallic canopy hanging above the fire is its crown.
  4. Much like a king, the sacred consecrated fire has a body and consciousness. It has its own eyes and ears. It is capable of bestowing gifts and rewards and giving retributions to the guilty.
  5. One of the first tasks performed by the displaced Zoroastrians after coming from Iran to India and settling in Sanjan was to consecrate an Atash Behram, which was later referred to as Iranshah “the king of Iran.” This name Iranshah was given so that the Parsis can feel that though they are staying away from their original motherland Iran, they are looked after by a spiritual king from Iran.
  6. Whenever a few Parsi families used to settle at any place, they would first establish an Atash Behram or Atash adaran, so that they have a ‘sacred king’ to look after them.

What is your suggestion for those who don’t pray? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 17 and 24-12-17)

1. People who don’t pray generally fall under 3 categories: a. Those who don’t pray because of lack of time, b. Those who don’t pray because they don’t know how to pray, and c. Those who don’t pray because they don’t believe in the effectiveness and powers of prayers.

2. Among the above three categories,  most people fall in category (a), that is, they don’t pray because of lack of time. For those who don’t believe in prayers (category c), they will not mind experimenting or trying out if it does not require much time and effort. For those who don’t know how to pray (category b), a simple prayer is the best solution.

3. For all the above three types of people, the best solution is the shortest and simplest of Zoroastrian prayers of Yatha ahu vairyo and Ashem Vohu, which can be prayed whenever and wherever possible.

4. These are not just prayers, they are very powerful Mantras or chants. The power inherent in these prayers is sure to transform the life of any person who chants them. The more frequency of the chanting, the greater the benefit.

5. The best thing about these short prayers is that they can be chanted anytime, anywhere and under any circumstances.

6. Ashem vohu being a calming and soothing prayer is best prayed at home and when restless, agitated or angry. Yatha ahu vairyo being pro-active, is a prayer for protection. It is best prayed when going outside, starting a new work, when feeling insecure and when meeting challenges.

7. These two short prayers can be prayed in different combinations. The most basic combination of  2 Yatha ahu vairyo and 1 Ashem vohu can be prayed when seeking God’s help and blessings while initiating any work.

8. These two prayers can be prayed in different numbers, different purposes and in different combinations, but then that would complicate things and would be defeating the very purpose for which we started off.