Page 5 - ZAQ News letter March 2015
P. 5

RELIGION

FIRE IN AVESTA AND ATASH NIYAYESH

As read by Moobed Gev Karkaria at Sadeh

Fire, as we all know, plays a prominent role in all Zoroastrian ceremonies. Fire in Zoroastrianism is the

physical perception of the Wise Lord - Ahura Mazda. Zarthustra saw in this element absolute truth, absolute
righteousness, absolute Justice. The prophet realized in the divine fire the paramount concept of Asha, the

path to truth and righteousness, the concept that personifies the will of God. Therefore fire and Asha are very
closely associated in Zoroastrianism. Amongst the seven Amesha Spentas, including Ahura Mazda himself,
Asha Vahishta ranks third in the hierarchy and presides over Ahura Mazda’s most glowing creation Fire.

Therefore, we Zarthustis consider fire as the visible symbol of the invisble

divine light, the divine spark, the internal flame that has to be kept burning by

living a useful, meaningful life through practice of Humata, Hukhata and
Hvarashta. Fire also referred to as Atar or Adar is the 9th day of every month
and the 9th month in Zoroastrian Calendar.

All Niyayeshes invoke the veneration of a specific creation of nature. Khorshed
– the sun , Meher- the light, avan Ardavisur – the water , Mahabokhtar - the
moon and Atash – Fire. Unlike other Niyayeshes which are recited only during

the spefic time of the day, Atash Niyayesh can be recited at any time of the

day. You may have noticed that all our Jashan ceremonies are initiated with

the recital of Atash Niyayesh regardless of the time of the day.

The recital commences with the words Khshnaothra Ahurahe Mazdao Nemsete Atarsh Mazdao… We invoke
the name of Ahura Mazda and then homage unto thee the fire of Ahura Mazda, the greatest Yazata. This is
followed by reverence paid to one of the three types of fires – Behram, Adaran or Dadgah. The highest grade
is that of the fire of victory Atash Behram which is generated through elaborate rituals of purification. The
next grade is called Atash Adaran which is for communal worship in Agiaries. The last grade is Atash
Dadgah the fire burning in a Zarthusti household. The fire revered in Jashan ceremonies and the fire burning
in all the dare-mehers in N.A. is the Atash Dadgah. Whilst reciting this prayer we feed the fire with a piece of
Sandalwood. This is known as performing Atravakshi (connection with the fire).

There are 3 occasions when this Atrevakshi is performed. At the very beginning of the recital, the second is
performed with the recital of three ashem vohu followed by AtToi Athrem…“Thy fire is swift and powerful help
to the supporters but brings visible harm to the deceitful”. The last Atravakshi is performed at the very end
with the recitation of Khshnaothra Ahurahe Mazdao Nemsete Atarsh Mazdao…

This is the only Niyesh (with the exception of Avan Ardevisur) of the five liturgies of this group where a
significant part of its text is composed of the Gathas and Yasna prayers. The main body of the liturgy can be
arbitrarily divided into four sections.

Admiration, adoration and veneration of the scared element (verse 1 – 3)
Here the devotee praises the fire by saying “ Oh the purifying fire of ahura Mazda you are worthy of worship
and invocation in the abodes of mankind and may there be happiness and good fortune unto that man who
shall always worship thee. Mayest though be tended and tenderly cared for by the devotees of maturity and
wisdom. The prayer in these verses also implies that this flame should not be allowed to extinguish for lack of
nourishment (fuel), it is the wish of the worshipper that the fire receives what sustenance it richly deserves.
The veneration to fire in verse 3 could be interpreted as a visible symbol of the inner light, the inner spark
that dwells in every human being that should be kept ignited and burning at all times.

ZAQ – December 2014                                                                Page 5 of 10
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