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|Inside the shrine at Pir-e Banu|
Image credit: Dejkam
If when journeying to Pir-e Sabz from the city of Yazd, one turn east at the city of Ardakan, to go instead to Pir-e Banu, one would turn west from Ardakan towards Turkabad, Shamsabad and Aqda. Here the traveller might wish to pause and reflect - for this is hallowed ground, the Haftador (Hapt-Adar) where seven holy fires once burned with vigour. From there the traveller would head south southwest into the nearby mountains towards the village of Zarju. Passing beneath the peak of Mount Anjir, Kuh-e Anjir, and on arriving at the pir, the traveller would have travelled over 115 kilometres from Yazd. The traveller would also have arrived at the place where legend tells us fled Banu-Pars, the youngest daughter of the last Sassanian king Yazdegird III and queen Hastbadan.
As the young princess fled before the Arabs, she was beset by thirst and paused briefly at a farmer's and requested the farmer for a glass of milk. He began to oblige by milking his cow. When he had finished and placed down the pale of milk, the cow stirred and kicked the pale slipping the milk into the ground. Now with the Arabs closing in on her and no time to wait, she fled into the folds of the mountain. With no water in sight and he pursuers now in plain sight, she lifted her arms in prayed pleading to be saved from the clutches of the enemy. As with the others, the mountain responded by opening its side and without a moment to loose, she disappeared into its embrace.
The princess Banu-Pars is known by several names such as Sherbanu and Khataribanu.
Years passed and a blind man happened to rest at the very spot where the princess had disappeared into the mountain. In his sleep a vision of a beautiful maiden came to him telling him what had transpired at that very spot and he knew he must built a shrine at that place and while still asleep resolved to do so. When he awoke, his sight returned to him.
And so it is that even when Zoroastrians seem blinded and when darkness surrounds them, there is hope that one day they will awake to see the light. But they must be committed to keep alive the memory of the brave souls who have passed before them, continue to maintain the faith despite every adversity, work together as a community helping those in need, and labour to build rather than destroy.
Today, the shrine, popular with Zoroastrians and non-Zoroastrians alike, is also called Mazreh-e Meher Yazad, meaning the Farm of Angel Mithra and Pir-e Banu Pars. It has another name as well: Pir-e Meherbanu, the ancient holy place of the lady Meher.
Some pilgrims visit a nearby shrine in the Tutgin valley near the village of Zardju called Shekaft-e Yazdan, that is, the Rock Cleft of Angels, in conjunction with their visit to Pir-e Banu.
Pir-e Narestaneh, also spelt Pir-e Narestuneh or Pi-e Narestan, is the only shrine with a possible connection to a male member of the royal family, prince Ardeshir, son of the last Sassanian king Yazdegird III and queen Hastbadan. The pir is in the Kharuna mountains (or Kuh-e Kharuneh), about twenty five kilometres northeast of Yazd city. The word Narestuneh is throught by some to meaning tane-naresh or body of well-wishers.
The legend of Pir-e Narestaneh is that on Daep Adar day in the month of Esfand, the prince while fleeing rode up into the mountains and there the Arabs surrounded him. He prayed for assistance and simply vanished just as he was about to be seized. Years later a hunter was chasing a deer which led the hunter to the spot where the prince had vanished. When the deer reached the spot, to the amazement of the hunter it transformed itself to a young and handsome man of princely bearings. The apparition welcomed the hunter to his home and bid him build a place of remembrance least people forget. The hunter did the prince's bidding and was rewarded with many a boon.
About ten kilomtres to the north of the pir is the tiny hamlet of Dorbid (or Darbid). The hamlet contained an abandoned fire temple of which nothing remains expect the foundations. The hamlet's shepherd residents relate that fanatics from the city destroyed whatever part of the structure was standing, telling the shepherds their intent was to build a mosque over the remains.