MAGAZINE: EDITION JULY 2020
Landmarks

Places of Worship – Yazd Atash Behram

Yazd Atash Behram is a Zoroastrian place of worship in Yazd, Iraq

Location: Yazd, Iran
Date Opened: 1934 CE
Belief: Zoroastrianism

For Zoroastrians, there are nine fire temples in the world, all of which, apart from the Yazd Atash Behram in Iran, are in India. The temple in Yazd is west of the city of Shiraz, and was built in 1934 with funding from followers in India. It enshrines the Atash Behram, or victorious fire. Zoroastrians have practised their faith in Iran since 400 BCE. The highest grade of fire is meant to be a manifestation of Ahura Mazda (Creator) in the Zoroastrian religion.

This fire is believed to have been continuously burning since 470 CE, originally started in the Pars Karyan temple in Larestan, in Iran, from sixteen sources including a lightning bolt. It was transferred from temple to temple and reached Yazd via the cities of Aqda and Ardakan.

The style of the temple is similar to those in India, with a winged deity symbol on the front door. The fire is maintained behind a glass enclosure. Zoroastrians do not worship fire, but believe that the fire represents God’s wisdom. They have less focus on ritual worship in their temples, but rather look at the ethics of good speech, thoughts and actions as taught by Zarathustra (as). Prayers are said facing the sun or a fire such as the one in this temple, with the aim of purifying themselves and defeating evil (Angra Mainyu). It is interesting to note that no such temples were used during the lifetime of Zarathustra (as) or in the early years of the faith. Strabo, a geographer who lived around the first century CE, first mentioned the Pyraetheia (fire houses) in central Turkey used by the Magi, the Zoroastrian priests.


ENDNOTES

Istanbul – The Cradle of Civilizations (Turkey: Rehber, 1998).

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