Zoroastrian Fire Temple in Yazd
Yazd region is one of the ancient lands of Iranian ethnicity and has a brilliant heritage of ancient culture and civilization and various historical periods dating back to 4,000 years. Among numerous tourist attractions, Yazd province houses many famous Zoroastrian fire temples which is one of the reasons for attracting tourists from all over the country and the world to this amazing province.
The Fire Temple in Yazd city is one of the sacred monuments of Zoroastrians dating back to 1934, the Pahlavi period. Apparently the temple was funded by a number of Iran Zoroastrian and donations by the Persian Society of India under the supervision of Master Jamshid Amanat.
Zoroastrianism is an ancient Persian religion that may have originated as early as 4,000 years ago and probably the world’s first monotheistic faith, it’s one of the oldest religions still in existence. They believe there is one God called Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord) and he created the world. Zoroastrians do not consider themselves as fire-worshippers, as some wrongly assume.
The Zoroastrian Fire temple (Atashkadeh) is the home of the sacred fire Atash-e Bahram (Varham) which as the Zoroastrians believe is the holy victorious fire. The fire in the Temple has been burning over 1,500 years. As the topmost symbol of purity, the sacred fire was kept alive, maintained, and relayed from a place to another during the 1500 years.
The fire represents the light of God (Ahura Mazda) as well as the illuminated mind and is never extinguished. The Zoroastrians believe that fire, water, air, and earth are the pure element and must be preserved.
The Yazd Atashkadeh is said to be Iran’s only temple housing Atash Bahram. The name Atash Bahram more accurately defines the grade of consecrated fire in the temple. Zoroastrian ritual or ceremony is never performed without the presence of a sacred fire.
In fact, this is the victorious fire which was brought from the Karian Fire Temple in Larestan (Fars province) to Oqda city in Yazd province and was kept there for 700 years. It was then moved to Ardakan city in Yazd in 1143 and maintained there for almost 300 years. The relocation of the sacred fire of Bahram continued in Yazd until it rested in the residence of Tirandaz Azargashsb a great Zoroastrian priest. Finally, Atash-e Bahram was moved to The Yazd Fire Temple when its construction was completed in 1934.
Entering a Zoroastrian temple, there has always been a special ritual for Zoroastrian worshipers, as both men and women should use white hats and scarves as well as light-colored clothing to enter this place, respectively. Wearing shoes that have not been permitted to enter sacred places in Iranian culture for a long time, is also included in the Zoroastrian Fire Temples. Following Islam, such practices are also observed in mosques. In addition, the sanctity and the neatness of worshipers are of concern in entering this sacred mansion.
The fire is kept alive in a large bronze vessel in a glass-enclosed chamber above the ground in a room that is nearly spacious and far from the sun. Other rooms for the Zoroastrian worship and rituals are built around the fire chamber. Only priests of the temple may enter the fire sanctum. There are no lights in the inner sanctum except for the light of the fire itself. Visitors will only be allowed to see the sacred fire from behind the glass. Since the temple is a place of worship, the Zoroastrian society has some consideration regarding the peacefulness and purity of the temple being disturbed by tourists, however, some sections can still be visited by the public.
Like its ancient counterparts, the Bahram Fire Temple has a simple and beautiful architecture and design. The design of this place is based on the hierarchy and spatial scope of Indian Parsi fire temples, with Iranian desert architectural patterns. The building is in the center of the courtyard, surrounded by beautiful evergreen trees. Its height reaches 21 meters above the ground. The Faravahar image at the entrance and the stone capitals bring a special grandeur and beauty to the Bahram Fire Temple. Generally, the Faravahar symbol is the depiction of a human soul under the divine guidance of God. The principle of the Zoroastrian religion is about “Good Deeds, Good Thoughts, and Good Words”.
The column capitals and the stones with flower engravings at the base of the walls are masterpieces of Isfahan craftsman and artists.
It seems that the tile work on the Faravahar image was done by Yazd artists. Designers and craftsmen have also decorated the walls of the building with sentences from the Avesta, the Zoroastrian holy book, and beautiful artistic illustrations of Zoroaster.
In fact, the architecture used in this sacred building is considered to be Yazd’s contemporary architectural work. The Yazd Atashkadeh was registered on the Iranian National Heritage List In 1999.