Collection Of Kindling To Make The Fire called The ‘Aatash Behram’.
The collection of kindling for a Zoroastrian place of worship consists of the kindling collected from 16 different places (http://www.mumbaiblogg.com/zoroastrian-cultural-heritage/fire-temple-zoroastrian-worship/). (For ready reference Table at end of this article).
For a quick recap, collection of kindling for fire temple is from the pyre while the corpse is burning and 15 others from the hearths of: a dyer, a ruler, a potter, a brick-maker, a fakir or an ascetic, a goldsmith, a mint, a blacksmith, one who makes armours, a baker, a brewer or distiller or an idol-worshipper, a soldier or a traveler, a shepherd, fire produced by atmospheric lightning, any Zoroastrian.
At every stage of the process of collection of kindling for fire temple must be conducted by a Zoroastrian and no other person. The procedure for collection of the fires varies in the case of each of the 16 places from where that particular fire is collected.
Collecting the fire, from a burning corpse is the most interesting, difficult and the longest process:
1) At a cremation grounds the Zoroastrian must find an active pyre and ask for a kindling from that pyre while it is still burning. If the person tending the pyre is unwilling and refuses to give some of the fire from the pyre, the Zoroastrian must wait till the cremation is complete and the relatives of the deceased leave. Only then must he collect some fire from the pyre.
2) He cannot help himself to this fire even at this stage. He must seek a non-Zoroastrian and ask him to give remove a portion of the pyre
and give it. In the event, such a person is not available, or, refuses to assist the Zoroastrian, only then is it permitted for two lay Zoroastrians to collect the fire for themselves. However, they must never under any circumstance collect the fire directly from the pyre.
3) The fire from burning pyre with the corpse still on it or soon after the corpse is charred, is considered defiled. Hence the injunction against touching it personally or even by way of an instrument.
4) The procedure for collection of this pyre fire by two Zoroastrians where the non-Zoroastrian refuses to part with the kindling: a) Two Zoroastrians must do the padyab kusti, hold the paiwand, recite part of the Sarosh Baaj and then hold a perforated appliance about three feet (1 Gaj) above the glowing fire. At no stage must this appliance actually touch the pyre.
b) Easily ignitable substances like loban (Benzoin resin), powdered sandalwood and other easily combustible substances are spread on the upper surface of this appliance.
c) The appliance is held above the fire until the flammable substances catch the heat of the dying pyre and burst into flames.
d) This fire on the appliance is taken by the two Zoroastrians to another open place, where they complete praying the Sarosh Baaj and undergo ritual purification (riman) to take away the effects of contact with the defiled fire, however remote.
5) This fire brought away on the appliance is re-ignited 91 times (as explained in the “house-hold fire” below) before it is consecrated and used in the ‘Aatash Behram’.
6) As for the next 14 collection of kindling for fire temple, these are procured from the grates of the various trades-people, a segment is directly picked up from the main hearth fire and carried away for refinement. Since no contamination is attached to these fires, as in the case of the burning corpse, the collectors of these fires do not have to undergo any rituals. The collected kindling is purified a certain number of times (as explained in the “house-hold fire” below) before it is used in the Aatash Behram consecrated and used in the ‘Aatash Behram’.
Collection of the sixteenth kindling for fire temple, ‘the household fire’ from the hearth of a Zoroastrian is interesting. It is really an amalgam of 6 fires —
1) From the house of the clergy; therefore one from each, a ‘Dastur’ and another from a ‘Mobed’. That makes two;
2) Then one from the home of laity. Three fires so far; 3) Since the hearth was lit by friction in the early days: a) friction caused by rubbing pieces of wood together, and, b) by two pieces of flint;
4) From the homes of clergy and laity, fires produced by both methods were collected. There was therefore, an amalgam of 6 fires used as one ‘house-hold fire’. (3 x 2 = 6);
5) This amalgam of fires is then used to ignite another fire by placing some flammable material wind-ward at a distance of 15” from this household fire. The resultant fire so ignited is used to cause another set of flammable materials to burst into flame and so on and so forth for 40 times;
6) Only after the preceding fire is burnt out, is the next heap set up for ignition from the resultant fire;
7) The 40th ignited fire is once further put through the entire procedure of ignition and re-ignition 144 times. The 184th fire (44=144) is then used in the Aatash Behram with the 15 acquired from the trade and pyre fires. (We will be writing next on this Blog about the unification and consecration of these 16 purified fires).
TABLE TAKEN FROM THE RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES AND CUSTOMS OF THE PARSEES By JIVANJI JAMSHEDJI MODI:
|Sr.no||Kinds of fire||No of times for the basic collection, purification and consecration process|
|1||Fire of a burning corpse||91|
|2||Fire of a dyer||80|
|3||Fire of a king or ruling authority||70|
|4||Fire of a potter||61|
|5||Fire of a brick maker||75|
|6||Fire of an ascetic||50|
|7||Fire of a goldsmith or alchemist||60|
|8||Fire of a mint||55|
|9||Fire of an iron smith||61|
|10||Fire of a maker of armors||61|
|11||Fire of a baker||61|
|12||Fire of a brewer||61|
|13||Fire of a soldier or traveler||35|
|14||Fire of a shepherd||33|
|15||Fire atmospheric electricity(lightning)||90|
|16||Fire of a Zoroastrian (a fire kindled through friction by a Dastur and Mobed one each and these are then mixed with a Behdin (non priest)||184|
The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Parsees by Jivanji Modi,B.A., PH.D., C.I.E., Fellow of the University of Bombay (1887), Dipl. Litteris et Artibus (Sweden, 1889), Shums -Ul-Ulama (India,1893), Officier D’Acdemie (France, 1898), Officier Publique (France, 1902), Campbell Medalist, B.B.R. Asiatic Society (1918).