Atarian Temples (a.k.a. "Great Fires") are the names given to various volcanoes and geologic hotsprings and geysers throughout the world which have been given sacred and religious value. The priests of these respective "Great Fires" often compete with each other to draw pilgrims by promoting the legends and miracles that were purported to have occurred at their respective sites. Each of them is also said to mirror social and feudal divisions.
Functionally, the Atarian temples are built to serve the fire within them, and the fire temples are classified (and named) according the grade of fire housed within them. There are three grades of fires, the Atash Dadgah, Atash Adaran, and Atash Behram.
Atash Dadgah : The Atash Dadgah is the lowest grade of sacred fire, and can be consecrated within the course of a few hours by two priests, who alternatingly recite the 72 verses of the Yasna liturgy. Consecration may occasionally include the recitatation of various religious texts, but this is optional. A lay person may tend the fire when no services are in progress. The term is not necessarily a consecrated fire, and the term is also applied to the hearth fire, or to the oil lamp found in many homes.
Atash Adaran: The next highest grade of fire is the Atash Adaran, the "Fire of fires". It requires a gathering of hearth fire from representatives of the four professional groups (that reflect feudal estates): from a hearth fire of the asronih (the priesthood), the (r)atheshtarih (soldiers and civil servants), the vastaryoshih (farmers and herdsmen) and the hutokshih (artisans and laborers). Eight priests are required to consecrate an Adaran fire and the procedure takes between two and three weeks.
Atash Behram : The Yazd Atash BehramThe highest grade of fire is the Atash Behram, "Fire of victory", and its establishment and consecration is the most elaborate of the three. It involves the gathering of 16 different "kinds of fire", that is, fires gathered from 16 different sources, including lightning, fire from a cremation pyre, fire from trades where a furnace is operated, and fires from the hearths as is also the case for the Atash Adaran. Each of the 16 fires is then subject to a purification ritual before it joins the others. 32 priests are required for the consecration ceremony, which can take up to a year to complete.
Throughout the world various geological features, from volcanoes, geological steam vents, geysers, and hot springs have mystical qualities, including healing abilities, the ability to grant priests the power of oracles, and the ability to provide fertile soil for many people.
The tradition of the "Great Fires" c. 250 BCE. Archaeologists report that the vast number of the temples and shrines were constructed between the years c.225 BCE and 650 CE.