to Gorgân homepage
Iranian Calender ~ Maps
~ Persian Myths
~ Persians & Wine
~ Persian Pronunciation
~ Picture Gallery
Religion ~ Tourism ~Home
~ Câršanbe souri
~ Jašne Sade
~ Sizda Bedar
festival ~ Šabe Cele(Yaldâ)
| There are several national festivities
that since ancient Iran, have survived through the centuries to
the present day. These festivities are: Nowruz,
Tiragân , Mehrgân
, Yaldâ and sade.
The achievement of ancient Iranians in the area of astronomy is impressive, in that the various celebrations coincide with the equinox or solstice. The equinox is either of two times during the year when the sun crosses the equator and the day and night are equal length. These days occurs around March 21sr and September 23rd. Norooz corresponds with March 21st, (Farvardin 1st to12th), the vernal equinox and Mehrân corresponds with September 23rd, (Mehr 3rd to 10th), the autumnal equinox.
Ancient Zoroastrians also celebrated the solstice, which is either of two times during the year when the sun is farthest from the equator, about June 21st (the summer solstice) when it is farthest south. Tirgân corresponds with the summer solstice and celebrates the longest day of the year; Yaldâ corresponds with the winter solstice and celebrates the longest night of the year. Finally the Sadeh festivity which occurs hundred days after the winter in Ancient calendar (fifty days before the Nowruz, the beginning of summer in Ancient Calendar) and celebrated the end of cold weather, heralding the arrival of spring ("Cele Kucak"). The scientific or astronomical basis for these festivities is a testimony to our ancestors knowledge of astronomy.
Nowruz-The Iranian New Year
Nowruz in Persian means "New[-year]-day". It is the beginning of the year for the people of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Central Asian Republics and parts of Caucasus. Turkey too has decided to declare Nowruz a holiday. It is also celebrated as the New Year by the people of the Iranian stock, in the neighboring countries of Georgia, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. It begins precisely with the beginning of spring on vernal equinox, on or about March 21.
Tradition takes Nowruz as far back as 15,000 years--before the last ice age. King Jam šid (Yima or Yama of the Indo-Iranian lore) symbolizes the transition of the Indo-Iranians from animal hunting to animal husbandry and a more settled life in human history. Seasons played a vital part then. Everything depended on the four seasons. After a sever winter, the beginning of spring was a great occasion with mother nature rising up in a green robe of colorful flowers and the cattle delivering their young. It was the dawn of abundance. Jam š id is said to be the person who introduced Nowruz celebrations.
Some 12 centuries later, in 487 B.C.E., Darius the Great of the Achaemenian dynasty celebrated the Nowruz at his newly built Persepolis in Iran. A recent research shows that it was a very special occasion. On that day, the first rays of the rising sun fell on the observatory in the great hall of audience at 06-30 a.m., an event which repeats itself once every 1400-1 years. It also happened to coincide with the Babylonian and Jewish new years. It was, therefore, a highly auspicious occasion for the ancient peoples. The Persepolis was the place, the Achaemenian king received, on Nowruz, his peoples from all over the vast empire. The walls of the great royal palace depict the scenes of the celebrations.
We know the Parthians celebrated the occasion but we do not know the details. It should have, more or less, followed the Achaemenian pattern. During the Sassanian time, preparations began at least 25 days before Nowruz. Twelve pillars of mud-bricks, each dedicated to one month of the year, were erected in the royal court. Various vegetable seeds - wheat, barley, lentils, beans, and others - were sown on top of the pillars. They grew into luxurious greens by the New Year Day. The great king held his public audience and the High Priest of the empire was the first to greet him. Government officials followed next. Each person offered a gift and received a present. The audience lasted for five days, each day for the people of a certain profession. Then on the sixth day, called the Greater Nowruz, the king held his special audience. He received members of the Royal family and courtiers. Also a general amnesty was declared for convicts of minor crimes. The pillars were removed on the 16th day and the festival came to a close. The occasion was celebrated, on a lower level, by all peoples throughout the empire.
Ancient Zoroastrians also celebrated the solstice, which is either of twotimes during the year when the sun is farthest from the equator, about June 21st (the summer solstice) when it is farthest south. Tirgâ n corresponds with the summer solstice and celebrates the longest day of the year; Yaldâ corresponds with the winter solstice and celebrates the longest night of the year. Finally the Sadeh festivity which occurs hundred days after the winter in Ancient calendar (fifty days before the Nowruz, the beginning of summer in Ancient Calendar) and celebrated the end of cold weather, heralding the arrival of spring ("Cele Kucak"). The scientific or astronomical basis for these festivities is a testimony to our ancestors knowledge of astronomy.
Since then, the peoples of the Iranian culture, whether Zartoštis, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Baha'is, or others, have celebrated Nowruz precisely at the time of vernal equinox, the first day of the first month, on about March 21.
C âhršanbe suri
The actual Nowruz ceremonies begin on the eve of the last Wednesday of the out-going year. Early in the evening of that day, referred to as Câhršanbe souri or "Red Wednesday," several rather large bonfires are made; every member of the family jumps over the fire and says, "sorkhi-e to az man, zardi-e man az to," which literally means "Give me your redness and take away my wintry sallow complexion). The jumping over the fire is followed by a get together in which nuts and fruits are served. This party is mostly for the benefit of the children of the family who are entertained, long into the night, with stories that they will remember with joy throughout their lives.
While the party goes on the fire dies out. The ashes are gathered and, as the symbol of the bad luck imposed by winter, are taken out of the house and buried in the fields. When the person in charge of burying the ashes returns and knocks on the door, those who are in the house ask, "Who is it?"
"It is I," says the person returning.
"Where are you coming from?"
"From a wedding," is the response.
"What are you bringing with you?" is the last question.
"Happiness and mirth," is the response.
Only then the door is opened and the herald of the new life, who has warded off the bad omen and the evil eye, is ushered in.
Fire is of particular significance in ancient Iranian cultures.The Cáhršanbe souri fire might have been related to the signals sent to the spirits of the departed to guide them to their previous abodes to enjoy the prayers that their descendants perform for their benefit. The fact that traditionally the fires were lit on the roofs of houses speaks directly the necessity of the fire to be distinct and visible.
References & Links:
The Iranian New Year, No Rouz
Solar New Year
Jašne Sade, the festival of the discovery of igniting and maintaining fire, which is not only a source of energy but one of the elements such as the air, the water and the earth that Zoroastrians must preserve and not pollute. Sade meaning hundred, is a mid winter feast celebrated with grandeur and magnificence in ancient Iran. It was a festivity to honor fire and to defeat the forces of darkness, frost and cold.
The Sade festivity which occurs hundred days after the winter in Ancient calendar (fifty days before the Nowruz, the beginning of summer in Ancient Calendar) and celebrated the end of cold weather, heralding the arrival of spring ("Cele Kucak").
Jashne Sade, By: Massoume Price
Iranians have a tradition of spending the day outdoors on the 13th of month Farvardin. Sizda Bedar (sizdah means thirteen) which in English translates to "getting rid of thirteen". From the ancient times, Iranian peoples have enjoyed this day, although it is also the day that marks the end of the Nowruz celebrations
The tradition of leaving the house on the thirteenth day of Farvardin the first month of the year and spending that day outside with joy, laughter and pleasure has been in practice since ancient times in Iran. This spring celebration begins with the making of bonfires the night before, (the feast night). This is the last phase of the celebrations of the New Year.
Sizda-Bedar is also a day for competitive games. Games involving horses were often chosen as a victory of a horse represented , the angle of rain.
Another tradition on the 13th, is the knotting of blades of grass by unmarried girls in the hope of finding a husband. The knotting of the grass represents the bondage of a man and a woman. These days, girls sing this song while knotting: " Sizda-Bedar sal-e deegar khooneh shoohar, bacheh baghal", meaning: "Next Sizdah-Bedar, in my husband's home, holding a baby"!
Sizde Bedar, Dodging the 13th day of New Year
The story of SIZDA BEDAR
The festival of Mehregân
Mehregâ n is one of the most ancient Iranian festivals known, dating back at least as far as the earliest Aryans (Iranians). This was originally a pre-Zoroastrian and old Aryan feast consecrated to the sun god, and its place in the Old-Persian calendar was surely in the month belonging to this deity. This month was called Bagayadi or Bagayadish and almost certainly corresponded to the seventh Babylonian month Tishritu, the patron of which was also Shamash, the Babylonian sun god. This month was, as has already been stated, probably the first month of the Old-Persian year, and its more or less fixed place was in the early part of the autumn. The feast was in all probability Old-Persian rather than Old- or Young-Avestan, and it was perhaps the survival of an earlier Iranian New Year festival dating from some prehistoric phase of the Aryan calendar, when the year began at the autumnal equinox. It was connected with the worship of one of the oldest Aryan dieties (Baga-Mithra), of whom traces are found as far back as in the fourteenth century B.C."
Links & References:
The Festival of Mehregân (Jashne Mehregân)
The Beginnings and Traditions of Mehreg â n
The festival of Tirgân
The festival of Tirgân is observed on the early July, when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere and when Sirius, (Tir in modern Persian,; Tishtar in Middle Persian or Pahlavi; and Avestan Tishtrya, is the Yazad presiding over the Star Sirius) the brightest star in the sky, is in conjunction with the sun in the summer. It is primarily a rain festival and it is one of the three most widely celebrated feasts (along with Mehrgân and Nowruz) amongst Iranian peoples.Tirgân corresponds with the summer solstice and celebrates the longest day of the year. Tirgân, the summer solstice celebrated the life of Âraše Kamângir, an Iranian national hero who sacrificed his life to preserve the territorial integrity of Iran.
Compare with the English " Dog days"or the Swedish " Rötmånad".
Jašne Tirgân, (in Persian & English)
Šabe Cele (Yaldâ Festival)
Yaldâ, the winter solstice on December 21st., celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, right over wrong, good over evil and the birth of the "Sun-God", Mithra.
Yalda is also called Cele (Šabe Cele) and as mentioned earlier is the night of birth of the unconquerable sun, or Mehr. This ceremony is as ancient as the time that people organized their lives based on seasonal changes.
Since the first night of winter is the longest night and from that night on the days get longer and the warmth and light of the sun increases, that night was supposed to be will go the time for the re-birth of sun. The Aryan tribes, in India, Iran and Europe celebrated sun's birth at the beginning of winter. Yaldâ corresponds with the winter solstice and celebrates the longest night of the year.
To remain safe of ahriman's harms, people gathered on this night and made fire, and arranged a special setting on which any fresh fruit which was preserved and also all the dry fruits were put. This setting was sacred and religious.They asked sun yazat to bless them. The fruits resembled people's hope for a fruitful spring and summer. They spent all the night together beside the fire to get rid of Ahriman's harm.
Links & References:
Yaldâ Significance of winter solstice in Persian culture
The begining of Mehreg ân
Tirg â n, The Rain Festival