Atash Adaran

Mehta Atash Adaran, 91, Metcalfe Street, Kolkata 700 013

 

Tel: 2236 9294

Atash Adaran

HISTORY

It is characteristic of the old time Parsees that wherever they went and settled down their first thought was to establish a place of religious worship. Rustomji Cawasji Banaji was no exception and in 1839 he founded an Agiary on his property at 26 Ezra Street   the first one in the east of India. For many years it remained the only place of worship for the small community but clearly growing in numbers. It was a beautiful place, well laid out. It was a family Trust property and served the members faithfully for over a 100 years, but unfortunately due to various causes it went into disuse, squatters moved in and it ceased to be our place of worship.
 
As the years of the 20th century rolled by, the other Parsee families followed the Banajis to Calcutta. One of the greatest of them was Dhunjeebhoy Byramjee Mehta. He was very successful in his trade dealings and established branches in China and had far reaching trade deals with that country. He bought an old property at 65 Canning Street and built a new house there and named it Mehta House where he and his family lived.
 
Being a deeply religious man, Dhunjeebhoy desired to start a Dar e Meher in his house. The "alat" had to be brought all the way from Navsari. The journey had to be made on foot and it took 73 days   from 18.12.1889 to 1. 3.1890. It was brought at great personal risk by the mobeds with all the care and reverence dictated by our religion. This served as an Atash Dadgah for him and his family from April 1890.
 
But one day a rather violent argument took place between Rustomji Banaji and Roostumjee Dhunjeebhoy Mehta in the course of which Dhunjeebhoy swore to never set foot in the Banaji Agiary again -and he never did ! He immediately decided to build an Atash Adaran of his own and he made all preparations for it. But unfortunately he died soon after. However, his wife, Khorshedbai and son, Roostumjee decided to fulfil his wishes with handsome donations from the family as well as members of the community   and so, to give its full name, "The Late Ervad Dhunjeebhoy Byramjee Mehta's Zoroastrian Anjuman Atash Adaran" was born. They acquired a property at 91 Metcalfe Street and built the Agiary. It measures about 900 sq. yards. It was consecrated on October 28, 1912 (Roj Sarosh, Mah Ardibehsht) with great pomp and splendour. The fire that had been brought from Navsari for Mehta House was installed here.
 
A unique thing about this Agiary is that contrary to custom, the prayer hall 'Kabla' is situated on the first floor while a meeting hall is below it on the ground floor. For this reason the Trustees have put in a lift for our senior citizens and disabled members of our community so that all could offer their prayers. In 1986, the Central Government of our country recognised the Atash Adaran as a place of public worship of renown.
 
Some of our Parsee Institutions hold their meetings, while some hold their children's navjote and some hold their weddings here.
The place remains the centre of the Kolkata Parsee Community's faith and to a considerable extent its social activities. The Trustees are always alert to the requirements of the members and so regular alterations and improvements are carried out.
 
Seth Roostumjee was a deeply religious man and he was imbued with an enduring love for the place of worship that he had created. So much so that in the final years of his life he created a Trust to include. all his estate in which each of his children had an equal share. But the Atash Adaran was also included on a par with all his family and in course of time became a major beneficiary of Roostumjee's munificence and far sightedness to provide for  the future maintenance and upkeep of the Agiary.
 
The Atash Adaran has grown from strength to strength and, with the closure of the Banaji Agiary, it has become the only place of worship for Calcutta Parsees. It behoves us therefore, to take great care of this edifice and bestow on it all the love and pride that can be given by us, Calcutta Parsees.
 
A few years ago the Trustees had obtained the approval of the Hon'ble Calcutta High Court to utilise the surplus funds of the Trust for charitable expenses of the community for housing, medical assistance, education grants and scholarships, sports, and such other welfare benefits but only after meeting all the expenses of the Atash Adaran. Such charitable expenses are being incurred on a regular basis, much to the relief of the community.

The present Trustees are:

 

Mr. Noshir F. Tankariwala

Mr. Yezdezard J. Dastoor

Mr. Jemi S. Bilimoria

ADARAN - JASHAN - E - S

gavashni@gmail.com

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