Encounters With Zoroaster At The National Museum

‘The Everlasting Flame: Zoroastrianism in History and Imagination’, the result of a mammoth logistical effort, is a landmark exhibition

Delhi residents, and visitors lucky enough to be in the city right now, have a week left to visit a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition at the National Museum. The Everlasting Flame: Zoroastrianism in History and Imagination, a landmark exhibition in more ways than one, closes on 29 May.

One of the key ideas of the exhibition, Sarah Stewart said, was to show that there is more to the Parsi community than popular stereotypes and caricatures. “So while the Parsi community in India has shown tremendous interest in enjoying the exhibition, what we really hope is that everybody else will also enjoy it,” Stewart said.

Stewart, a lecturer in Zoroastrianism at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, is one of several experts jointly curating this major exhibition that was originally organised at SOAS’s Brunei Gallery in London in late 2013. This March, after months of planning and, as Stewart explained, a mammoth logistical effort, the show reached the National Museum in New Delhi.

The show, “a visual narrative of the history of Zoroastrianism”, brings together a stunning range of 300 objects from all over the world, including from lending institutions such as the British Museum, the British Library, the National Museum of Iran and the State Hermitage Museum. It is unlikely, Stewart said, that such a collection will ever be shown again at the same place and at the same time.

The exhibition is a rich retelling of the history of the one of the world’s greatest religions. One of the highlights is a replica fire temple installation, modelled on the Maneckji Navroji Sett Fire Temple in Mumbai. This is the closest that many visitors will ever get to seeing the insides of a Fire Temple. Mint on Sunday asked the National Museum’s Joyoti Roy to pick out some of her favourite pieces from this great show and tell us why they are so important.

The Everlasting Flame: Zoroastrianism in History and Imagination is open at the National Museum until 29 May 2016, 10 am to 5pm. Closed on Mondays and National Holidays. Entry with Museum ticket.

Published on Mint