This is the Parsee place for worship and offering prayers. The Parsees are the followers of Zorathrushtra. They worship the 'fire' as sacrosanct. Their origin is in Persia. In the 7th century A.D., the Muslims had evicted the Samaniya regal family from Persia. Henceforth, a chunk of the Parsees abandoned their mother-land and came to Gujarat in India. At present, they have mingled with the Indians and have spread sporadically all over India including Calcutta. The Parsees have two 'Agni Mandirs' in Calcutta. One is situated at Ezra Street and another lies in Metcalfe Lane. The one at Ezra Street is older. Rustamji Kawasaji, an opulent ship merchant donated generously to construct this temple which came into existence on 16th September, 1839. The temple premises are paved with exquisite marble stones. A stair-case leads to the verandah. Inside the temple, there is a tri-angular hall. The room where the devoted Parsees worship is known as 'holy of holys'. From the roof of this room hangs an iron chain with a bell tied to it. A perennial flame of fire is burning on a silver tray which is inexhaustible. Sandal wood is used as the only fuel to ignite this fire. But this place is reserved. None other than the priest and his attendants are allowed to enter here. The admittance of any person save the Parsees is strictly forbidden. The Agni Mandir at Ezra Street is closed at present. But the one at Metcalfe Lane is open to all. It was established on 12th October, 1912. It has a spacious hall in the ground floor. Many religious festivals are celebrated here with pomp and dignity. On the top floor burns the 'sacred' fire of the Persians. Admittance is strictly forbidden there. However, there is a picture of this holy fire in the first floor from which one can apprehend about the original one.
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