The Autumnal Equinox and the Zoroastrian Paitiš.hahiia and Mehregán festival


In the Zoroastrian religious calendar, the celebration of autumnal equinox is closely associated with Mehregán and the Old Avestan paitiš.hahaiia festival.  Mehregán is a celebration of Miθrá, the god-force of “reciprocity, friendship” who is embodied in the first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise. The celebration of Miθrá reminds us of our duties and responsibilities toward Immortals and our sacred contract with Godhood. In the Zoroastrian Jurisprudence, our duties and responsibilities are the decisive factor that establish our role and identity. 

In the Váršt.mánsar commentary of Yasna 46.5 of the gathas or poetic songs of Zarathustra, Miθrá is associated with the “light of knowledge, awareness and understanding of things”. Accordingly, it is our contract with the Gods and our duties and responsibilities that define us.  

The celebration of equinoxes are among the most important festivals in the Zoroastrianseasonal calendar. The Avestan name of the festivals that correspond to the two equinoxes are hamas.paθ.maædhya (when the celestial paths are at a midpoint and stand at the same or an equal distance from each other, pertaining to Vernal Equinox and/or Nauvrooz) and paitiš.hahaiia (Festival of harvest and fruits, pertaining to Mehregán and/or Autumnal Equinox.) 

The autumnal festivities in the Zoroastrian Iran were so elaborate and joyous that the term Mehergán has been borrowed into Arabic where the Arabic version of it or Mehreján refers to any joyous festival or festivity in general. 

Paitiš.hahaiia literally means the “Lord/Master of Harvest and Fruits.” The second compound hahiia, means “harvest, crop, fruit.” Hittite še-e-šå “fruit, harvest, crop” is a cognate of Avestan hahaiia and the reconstructed Indo-European form is se-sh1-o- (sh1-es-o-) “crop, fruit, harvest.”

Paitiš.hahaiia is honored on 180th day of the seasonal calendar and is a celebration of “healthy abundance and wealth.” hahaiia comes in the poetic songs/gathas of Zarathustra in the form of haŋhüs referring to the “sunny fruits of good/superb mind.” (See Yasna 53.4, 3rd rhymed verse line.)

The celebration of paitiš.hahaiia emphasizes that Zoroastrianism greatly praises “prosperity and material wealth” based on “happiness and positive, peaceful mental attitude.” 

There are two months in the Zoroastrian calendar that start with the equinoxes: the month of the Fravašịs (Archetypes, Heroic Ancestors) starting after the vernal equinox and the month of Miθrá starting after the autumnal equinox with the month of the waters (ábán) following the month of Miθrá. 

Interestingly, the longest Avestan hymns or Yašts preserved in the sacred lore of the Zoroastrians (Avesta) are dedicated respectively to the Fravašịs (Archetypes, Heroic Ancestors,) Miθrá and Anáhita, the (Fair Mighty Lady of the Undefiled Waters.) The mention of Miθra and Anāhitā in the Old Persian inscriptions from Artaxerxes II could be an echo of this prominence of Miθrá and the Waters. 

ardeshir

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The Magic Fire and the Final Fiery Trial by Molten Metal in ancient Zoroastrianism


In Norse mythology, Ragnarök (Fate of the Reigning-Gods) is the cataclysmic, final battle between the forces of order and those of chaos. Ragnarök marks the pivotal event that ends the nine realms/worlds of Norse Cosmology. All the nine realms/worlds will be set on fire. The world tree Yggdrasil will shake violently. However, from the fiery trial and destruction of the old, a new age of invincible gods and men emerges. 

In Zoroastrian eschatology, at the time of frašö-kart (the splendid, fresh recreation of the worlds) the material manifestation will go through a fiery trial with molten metal that will birth a new age of eternal spring and growth.

We read in the ancient Varšt-mánsar commentary of Yasna 51.9 of the poetic songs/gathas: “About the formation, fashioning (pasákhtan) of a future body (tanü-î-passîn) and new, splendid material universe through fire and melted ore (ásin vidákht.) 

In the cataclysmic events of the Zoroastrian eschatology, the earth and mortals must go through a fiery trial of molten metal. The alchemy of the creative energies will purge, purify, transform and birth an invincible age of Immortals and Eternal Progress. 

The term for this alchemical transformation of all the material manifestation through molten ore and fire is aiiaŋhá kšustá in the poetic songs/gathas of Zarathustra (See Yasna 51.9, 2nd rhymed verse line.) 

Old Avestan aiiaŋhá comes from the root aiiah (ore, metal, iron) and is a cognate with Persian áhan (iron,) Latin aes (ore,) Gothic aiz (metal coin.) The reconstructed Indo-European root is h2-ei-os (copper/iron,) that comes from *h2ei “to shine, burn.” 

Old Avestan kšustá is a cognate of Persian šustan “to wash, cleanse,” and Old Church Slavonic ksoudó and/or khsoudû. The reconstructed Indo-European root is kwseud. 

We read in the Varšt-mánsar commentary of Yasna 36.2: Of the great, magnificent work (mas kár) that will prepare/fashion the new body that will come to pass (tanü-î-passîn,) and that will make the creation pure, and uniquely special (dám avéžag) will be forged through fire. 

To better understand the alchemy of creative energies and transformation of the worlds through fire, it must be emphasized that in Zoroastrianism, the primeval material creation was fashioned splendidly but despite all its marvels was vulnerable. The diabolic forces saw this earliest creation from their discarded, parallel universe and envied all its marvels, beauties and perfections. Right after, they set out to assail and corrupt this pristine material realm with their blemishes, flaws and defects. Thus, this earliest material manifestation was contaminated and became diseased through invasion from a contorted parallel dimension. 

The Wise, Mindful Lord, Ahûrá Mazdá devised a master plan to overcome all the “blemishes and shortcomings” by trapping all the “evil and flaws” in time dimension. Thus, all monstrosity and evil got trapped in cycles of time and wisdom of the ages. And this was the most perfect way to undo “evil and spoil” for all eternity and give the material universe invincibility and the power to progress and increase forever. 

At the time of Faršö-kart, the spoil and mar caused in the primeval material manifestation by the giver of all blemishes, the accursed ahriman is permanently and decisively removed. The distorted, parallel universe of the doomed demons is melted away and cast into a fiery river of molten ore. 

I shall conclude with the most beautiful Varšt-mánsar commentary of Yasna 32.16: “When the garb of life is put back into the body, and molten ore fills the land, there will be no vengeance for the fellowship of order/truth but there will be vengeance for the deceitful liar. I, who am the Mindful, Wise Lord will set out the splendid, fresh, new creation of the worlds. The worlds of life will be forever thriving and healthy (dravîst.) never again sick or imperfect (vîmár!) Deathless, from now to all eternity, with all outcomes in plain sight, by the powers of my dominion and godhood, will never again decay or die, this physical world of order/truth.” 

ardeshir

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Parsi new year, the 3 Zoroastrian calendars and the rite of celebrating the blessed spirits and the heroic dead


Parsi new year, the 3 Zoroastrian calendars and the rite of celebrating the blessed spirits and the heroic dead

August 16 marks the beginning of the Parsi new year. Parsis are the Zoroastrians of India who follow the Yazdgirdi calendar and reckon their calendar from the coronation year of Yazdgirid III, the last noble Sassanid Emperor. 

Currently, Zoroastrians follow 3 calendars. The Old Avestan calendar that starts at the exact moment of vernal equinox (hamas.path.maiðya when the celestial paths are at midpoint and stand at an exact same distance from each other.) The ancient Avestan calendar was/is a seasonal and lunisolar calendar. 

In later Avestan texts a year consist of 12 months of 30 days plus 5 most sacred “song/gatha” days at the end of the year. Each of the 30 days of the month are dedicated to a god-power/being. 

However, solar year is not exactly 365 days but is more like 365 days and quarter of a day. Dastür Cama suggested the addition of an extra leap day every 4 years. The holy Denkard (great encyclopedia and scholarly magnum opus of Zoroastrianism) suggests the addition of a leap month every 120 years.  

As the number of Zoroastrians began to sharply dwindle and the Zoroastrians were forced to take refuge in the most inhospitable parts of their once glorious empire, they neglected the addition of a leap month every 120 years. 

Hence the calendar followed among Iranian Zoroastrians moved to July 17 and the Parsi calendar that is followed by the Zoroastrians of India moved to a month later, on August 16. This means that the last time that the ancient calendar followed by Iranian Zoroastrians was celebrated on vernal equinox was in 16th century or at the beginning of the Safavid rule. 

The Safavid were a mighty empire and restored Iranian imperial glory for the first time after islam. However, they wholeheartedly embraced Shia islam and did everything to erase any trace of the ancient religion while incorporating some of Zoroastrian jurisprudence, customs and concepts into Shia Islam. 

The Parsis of India apparently neglected the addition of a leap month a century before their co-religionist in Iran. Hence, the discrepancy between the ancients, royals and the Avestan lunisolar calendar that starts at the exact moment of the equinox (hamas.path.maiðya.) 

Apart from discrepancies between the festival days, the followers of all three Zoroastrian calendars are in agreement as regard to Zoroastrian theology and doctrines, and there are not any social or religious restrictions between them. 

However, there are a few minor differences in rituals between the ancients and follower of the yezdgirdi calendar. The followers of ancient calendar and the yezdgirdi or the royal calendar (named after the last noble Sassanid Monarch) use somewhat different opening and closing phrases for most litanies and prayers to the moon, sun, waters and fire. 

The ancients call the most sacred and powerful charms of yathá ahü and ašem vohü, yathá ahi and ašem vahi. Also, the initiation nav.jôt (new life) marriage and death rituals are performed according to slightly different customs. 

The priesthood initiation (návar) among the ancients (Iranian Zoroastrians) requires one more purification rite of nine days. The ancient and royal priests follow slightly different traditions whenever they mention the name of married women: the yezdgirdis mention the wife together with her husband whereas the ancients continue to mention her with her father.

Both Iranian Zoroastrians and Parsis (Zoroastrian of India) thoroughly clean their homes, and adorn them with flowers, burning incense, and candles to make their dwellings inviting to the blessed spirits that are said to visit the earth before the arrival of the new year. 

The followers of the ancient calendar or Iranian Zoroastrians make bonfires on rooftops to welcome the blessed spirits. There is an offering of incense, a bowl of spring water or rosewater, fresh fruits and nuts laid next to the leaping flames.

A forgotten aspect of the new year and nauvrooz ceremonies among non-Zoroastrians is the welcoming and celebration rites for the blessed spirits, the heroic dead and ten days of introspection called pætat before the new year that is of paramount importance to all Zoroastrians. 

Parsis prepare beautiful vases of flowers and continuously light candles in honor of their departed and the heroic dead for the duration of the ten most holy days of introspection and going back to the roots (pætat.) 

Parsis attend the Fire Temple after breakfast, dressed in traditional costume, and conduct a prayer called Jashan to convey gratitude, asking for more strength, prosperity and wisdom. 

As offerings, milk, water, fruits, flowers are brought to, and sandalwood is placed in the sacred fire. 

Iranian Zoroastrians have a fragrant rice pilaf with fish and sweet and sour pomegranate syrup on top as the main course, with a host of sweet deserts and wines. 

Parsis have fish with a fragrant rice pilaf (pulav) as well as Sali Boti, a Parsi dish in which red hot mutton is cooked to perfection amid sizzling hot spices crowned with beautiful golden potato shreds and served with onion rings as their main course. Moong dal or a buttery mung bean stew with lots fried garlic and other spices is served as an appetizer. For desert Parsis have a sweet milk pudding with lots of nuts. 

Upon arrival, guests are greeted with a sprinkle of rose water and handed Faluda to drink. In addition, both Iranian Zoroastrians and Parsis mark their midsummer New Year festivities by making philanthropic contributions.

Some scholars have argued that since winter solstice is called maiðyaar “midyear” in the Zoroastrian sacred lore, the ancient calendar must have been reckoned from midsummer. However, the Zoroastrian sacred lore is unambiguous that the religious year starts from the exact moment of vernal equinox (hamas.path.maiðya.) 

The term yaar “year” in maiðyaar refers to winter and to a time when years were counted by the number of winters. However, midsummer celebrations played a major role among all Indo-European traditions and among Zoroastrianism to this day. 

ardeshir

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The Zoroastrian midsummer festival “Maiδyö.šam” and the Star Sirius


The Zoroastrian midsummer festival “Maiδyö.šam” starts on June 29th and concludes on July 3rd. The midsummer festivities start approximately 9 days after summer solstice. Maiδyö.šam is known as the giver of rich meadows/pastures “váströ data,” in the sacred lore of the Zoroastrians or the Avesta, (See Yasna 2.9 and Vîspä.rad 2.2.)  

Aside from being the “giver of green pastures and rich meadows,” Midsummer is closely associated with the star Tištryá and celebration of waters and the rainy season. Tištryá literally means Tri-star and refers to Sirius, the most luminous star in the night sky. The festival of Tištryá falls on July 1st, on the 3rd day of midsummer celebrations. 

In Norse mythology, Sirius is known as lokibrenna or Loki’s torch.  In Zoroastrianism, Tištryá is the articulate leader/master “ratü” of all the constellations and stars and rules over the brilliant realm of the stars/the star station. Tri-star or Tištryá can get in and out of the temporal time and is the gateway of the material world to higher celestial dimensions and eternity. 

The link to celestial arrow “Tîra” is strongly present in hymn to Tri-star in the Zoroastrian sacred lore/the Avesta.  The word arrow “Tiyra” appears in hymn 8.6 where the rapid twinkling of Tištryá is likened to shooting of arrows empowered by the powers of spirit/mind, “yatha tiyriš mainya.vas.áw.”    

In Zoroastrian cosmology, the realms below the brilliant star station are affected by the state of mixture where the worlds of “light, wonders, and adventure” are intermingled with the worlds of “gloom, evil, and stagnation.”  

In Zoroastrianism, Tištryá is said to have the “luminous origin of the waters,” afš.ciθra. The first part of the word af refers to apa, “waters,” and is a cognate of aqua. The second part ciθra means “brilliance, luminous appearance, face, most clear aspect,” Old Norse heiðr “bright, clear” and Old High Germanic heitar “shining” are cognates.   In Zoroastrian sacred poetry, Stars are said to be the brilliant source of waters (stárö yöi afš.ciθra,) the earth (stárö yöi zəmas.ciθra), and plants (stárö yöi urvarö.ciθra) Stars are said to have their radiance and power from the “Auspicious Brilliant Spirit/Mind” (stárö yöi spəṇtö.mańyav.)

The most hallowed constellations and stars named in the Avesta (sacred writings of the Zoroastrians) are: Tri-star or star Sirius (tištrîm stárǝm), Vega (vanaṇtǝm stārǝm), and stars of Ursa Major constellation (stárö yöi haptöiriṇga.)  

The star Tištriyá or Sirius is celebrated by pouring or splashing water on one another. Also, a colorful wristband or bracelet, resembling rainbow colors is worn by the celebrants for 9 days. On the 9th day or July 10th, which is dedicated to the god-force of winds Váyü or Vátá, the rainbow-colored wristband is offered to the rivers and streams.  

Another aspect of the festivities is fortune telling. In ancient times, the lines/reflections on bowl of water were used to grant the viewer things of the past, present and possibilities of the future. Water granted the viewer visions that the seeking person desired to see and know about. Presently, a young girl takes a green clay jug and fills it with fresh water. Then, everyone makes a wish, and throws a small item, like a coin, ring, or earring inside. The next day, they gather around the jug and read a poem. The girl takes an object out of the jug, and it is said that the poem that is read becomes the fortune of the owner of the object taken out.  

Tištriyá appears in moslem quran in sura al-najm (the star) where it is said: “That he is the lord of Sirius, the mighty star,”53.49.  

Ardeshir   
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The original rainbow bridge and the Chinvad Portal of the Zoroastrian sacred lore


In ancient Norse religion, a burning rainbow bridge called the Bifrost or more precisely Ásbrú (the Æsir’s bridge) connects Midgard, “middle realm/earth” with Asgard, “home of the gods/æsir.” The rainbow bridge of the Æsir can be crossed only by a select few, the gods and the heroic dead. 

In Zoroastrianism, činvatö pərətü is a “pass/bridge of elucidation and selection” that like the Æsir’s bridge, can be crossed only by a “select luminous few” and connects our world with the superb realm of Ahûrá Mazdá and his Splendid Immortals/Ahûrás, (See Váršt.mánsar commentary of Yasna 33.5.)   

Pərətü literally means “portal, passage, bridge.” Latin “Portus” is a cognate. Other cognates include “ferry, ford and fjörd.” 

Činvatö comes from the root čai and reconstructed Indo-European root *kwei. The underlying meaning of the root verb is “to make clear/lucid, perceive, clarify, reveal.” It also means “to pick out, select, discern, choose the best, most excellent.”  

The Persian verb čîdan “pick out, select, neatly arrange” and the Persian word Golchin/Golčin a “selection of the best flowers” both come from the same root. Old Church Slavonic činiti “to arrange, neatly order” is a cognate as well.  

The Südgar commentary of Yasna 46.10 concerning činvatö pərətü states: that “the soul alone sees/perceives all before the bridge and when in flesh, it cannot see and have insight into the true nature and outcome of things.” 

Also, the ancient Baghan commentary of Yasna 46.10 concerning the bridge states: Only those that have walked on the path of “excellence, goodness, light” can step forth, then VISIBLY and MANIFESTLY (áškárîk) pass the činvatö bridge.  

The soul of all the departed, at the dawn after the third day, go to the bridge. The soul of the good/excellent see their “vibe/energy” manifested as a most Luminous, beautiful, fair maiden and the soul of the wicked see their vibe/energy manifested as a gloomy, hateful, deformed hag. 

This “manifested vibe/energy” of each person at the bridge is called daæná in Zoroastrianism. The word daæná comes from the root di/dee “to see.”

Daæná is not Only synonymous with the “maiden of the bridge” but with the yazatá/adorable god-force of the Zoroastrian religion. As maiden of the bridge daæná is “the manifestation of one’s own energy, thoughts, words and deeds” or that which is “manifested/seen.” As Zoroastrian religion, Daæná is the gift of “vision, intuitive wisdom, power to see the truth/inner fabric of reality”. 

 A full account of the fair, luminous maiden of the bridge in the Zoroastrian sacred lore is given in Háδöxt nask (2.11.) 

The Südgar commentary of Yasna 50.7 states: that when the shining souls, the excellent, step forth to cross, the bridge becomes nine lances wide.

But for the wicked the bridge becomes narrow like a razor blade. The luminous souls in the form of a luminous, fair maiden cross over while the demonic fall below into the abyss. 

According to Zoroastrian anti demonic law book Vi.dæv.dád, two dogs guard the bridge, (See Vi.dæv.dád  13.9, 19.30.)  

The bridge has the following epithets in the Zoroastrian sacred lore or the Avesta: “Established, created by the Mindful lord, Mazda” (mazda-δāta)  “famed/heard from afar” (düraæ.srüta) “strong/mighty” (amavant,) “well protected” (hu-páta), and “protected by excellence, truth, light” (aša páta.) 

We read in the ancient Varšt-mánsar commentary of the sacred songs/gathas that those who are cruel to animals will specifically Not pass the bridge.

The AS SIRAT bridge of the Islamic religion appears to have many common elements with Činvatö Pərətü of ancient Zoroastrianism and shows strong Zoroastrian influence. The etymology of AS SIRAT goes back to Latin strata. 

In conclusion, the idea of the original rainbow bridge is a luminous portal to the realm of the god beings and brilliant Immortals that is reserved for the select few. The idea of picking out the best, most excellent and manifestation of one’s thoughts, words and deeds (vibe/energy) in the form of a fair, beautiful maiden or a deformed hag are closely associated with the bridge of elucidation/selection Činvatö Pərətü in ancient Zoroastrianism. 

ardeshir

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Zoroastrianism in China


The Chinese referred to Zoroastrianism as the “heaven worshiping religion” pronounced xianjiào in Chinese. The Japanese term kenkyo is an exact translation of the Chinese description of the Zoroastrian religion. The Chinese even invented a new letter xianjiao meaning “heaven worship” to name Zoroastrianism. This invention of a new character for a foreign religion was quite unusual and showed that Mazda Worship or Zoroastrianism made quite an impression on the Chinese People. 

The designation of “heaven worship” most probably goes back to the Sacred Poetry or Songs/Gathas of Zarathustra, Yasna 30.5, second rhymed verse line where the Mindful Supreme God/Lord, Ahûrá Mazdá declares: that luminous heavens and galaxies are his solid bedrock, (See Varšt.mánsar commentary.)

Mazda Worship was viewed by Far Eastern People as Spiritual Alchemy, White Magic, a sort of shamanism with real effective spells, healing practices, and medicinal herbs. 

Zoroastrianism most probably arrived in Northeastern borders of China or modern western edges of Xinjiang, in the early 4th century with the arrival of Sogdian Zoroastrians from Central Asia during the Wei and Jin Dynasties (220–589 CE.) Apparently, the Sogdian Zoroastrians had NO intention to propagate Zoroastrianism in China. There were NO Chinese books on Zoroastrianism, in sharp contrast to Manicheans and Nestorians.

According to “History of the Monastic Community in the Great Song,” a Zoroastrian Magi Priest móg, (mùhù) visited the court of the Tang without bringing any translated books, whereas the Nestorians and Manichaeans did. Also, intermarriages between Zoroastrians and the local Chinese were the exception and most uncommon.

Zoroastrianism was viewed by locals as a fascinating, foreign religion and Zoroastrians were considered as definitely a unique, foreign ethnic group. But despite its foreignness, Chinese showed great interest in Zoroastrianism and introduced many of its external features into their folk beliefs. This was the prelude for the “Sinicized” Zoroastrian Inspired beliefs and rituals of future ages in the Far East. Many Yazatas or god beings of Sogdian variety of Zoroastrianism were assimilated into the pantheon of Chinese folk beliefs and some exotic Sogdian, Zoroastrian customs found their way as literary symbolism in Chinese folk literature later. 

There are only two currently known Zoroastrian Sogdian fragments. Both these fragments are in Sogdian, an Indo-European language and come from Dūnhuáng in Northeastern China. The first Zoroastrian fragment is a Sogdian translation of the famous Ašem Vohü formula (Praise of Excellence, Truth, Goodness) which is now at the British Museum, and the second fragment also in Sogdian, is about Zarathustra’s Questions to Ahura Mazda concerning the posthumous Soul, and if the righteous family/clan members are reunited in the afterlife! This fragment is now at the Kyoto National Museum in Japan.

Dunhuang where these Sogdian fragments were found, commands a strategic position at the crossroads of the ancient Silk Road and the main road leading from Northern India via Lhasa in Tibet to Mongolia and Southern Siberia. Dunhuang controlled the entrance to Hexi Corridor which leads straight to the heart of the north Chinese plains and the ancient capital of Chang’an, known today as Xi’an. Chang’an was the capital of more than 10 Chinese dynasties in the past.

In addition to the Sogdian Zoroastrians, after the fall of the Sassanid Empire in 651 CE, Iranian Zoroastrians migrated to northern China. The Iranian exiles to China consisted of few Sasanian princes/nobles, many Zoroastrian priests, warriors and even farmers and artisans.

In 7th century, Peroz III, the second son of Yazdgird III (the last Sassanid Emperor who reigned between 632–651 CE) sought refuge in Chang’an, the ancient capital of China to seek military support from the 3rd emperor of the Tang Dynasty, Gao Zong, (649–683 CE.)

Around 678 CE Peroz III and his son Narseh successfully regained many Eastern Provinces of the Sassanid Empire. However, the Chinese were NOT genuinely interested in providing meaningful support to Sassanid Princes. Their real intention was to weaken the Central Asian Kingdoms that were allied with Tibet and Kashgar in Southern Xinjiang.

Peroz III lost many of his earlier conquests as a result and had No choice but to return to the ancient Chinese capital of Chang’an where he passed away at 707 CE.

Narseh , his son successfully invaded Tokharistan (ancient Bactria, today’s Balkh in Afghanistan.) Narseh ruled as Monarch there for twenty years until his passing in 727 CE. The last member of the Sassanid royals mentioned in Classical Chinese is a Prince named Khosrow who passed away at Chang’an after 728 CE.

The history of the Sassanid and Sogdian Zoroastrians in China ends with the An Lushan rebellion (756–763 CE.)

An Lushan was a General in Tang Dynasty. Lushan is a Sinicized version of the Persian Roxšan “Luminous.” Lushan apparently had Sogdian Zoroastrian ancestry through his paternal line. In 755, An Lushan following 9 years of preparation, started the rebellion, proclaiming himself the ruler of a new dynasty, the Yan. The rebellion spanned from 16December 755 to 17 February 763 and was one of the deadliest wars in history.

Lushan declared himself to be a warrior of to the “god of the light.” This announcement appealed to the religious sentiments of the Zoroastrians, and the Sogdian forces constituted a significant part of Lushan armies.

The Chinese Tang Dynasty in contrast hired mercenaries from Abassid Caliph among others, to quash the rebellion which was finally suppressed after seven years of most deadly war. However, the damage to Tang dynasty was irreversible. China lost its status as a world empire.  

After the rebellion, the Chinese made sure that all Zoroastrians become Sinicized and lose their ethnic identity through forced intermarriages, (Chen 2001: 195–200.) And so ended the history of Zoroastrianism in China.

In 1980, Gikyō Itō in Japan claimed that some enigmatic words in Old Japanese are of Middle Iranian or Pahlavi origin.  This theory became so popular in Japan that the famous novelist Seicho Matsumoto (1909–1992) adopted it in his historical fiction, and some folk historians still argue that curious remains in ancient Japan must have Zoroastrian roots.

ardeshir

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The ancient Zoroastrian and Indo-European roots of Nowrouz


The celebration of Vernal Equinox and arrival of spring is the most sacred and joyous of all Zoroastrian religious holidays. It is called Hamas.paθ.maædÿa in Avesta, the sacred lore of the Zoroastrians.  The Avestan term Hamas.paθ.maædÿa refers to the exact time at which “the celestial paths are at a midpoint and have the same distance/length from each other.” The Persian word Now.rouz, means literally “New Dawn/Day” and alludes to the first “fresh dawn/light” after the vernal equinox.

Interestingly, the ancient Roman calendar began also at the vernal equinox. This is evidenced by the name of the months September, October, November, December, that respectively mean the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th month which puts the beginning of calendar in spring. The celebration of vernal equinox in the old Roman calendar was attributed to Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome.

For Zoroastrians, celebration of spring equinox is a a recurrent reminder of Frašö-kereitî the “splendid, fresh new creation” of the worlds, a symbol of the coming eternal spring when Our “limited, temporal time” will evolve into the “long dominion and everlasting age of the Gods.”

When the eternal spring finally arrives, the worlds and all that is in them will be refashioned to the pristine, brilliant state in which it was envisioned by the supreme God/Titan Ahûrá Mazdá “the Wise Lord of Mind Powers and Vision.”

Ahûrá Mazdá establishes/creates the worlds by the powers of his wondrous mind, luminous vision, celestial music, and triumphant spirit. He and his Auspicious Immortals are embodied by eternal quest for excellence, betterment and superb artistry that will culminate in the frašö-kereitî, the “splendid, fresh new creation” of the worlds.  

The ten days before Vernal Equinox are dedicated to ancestors and Fravašis who are Valkyrie-like pristine prototypes or ideal images of all things. It is believed that the veil between our realm and higher dimensions is especially thin during last 10 days before equinox. These last 10 holy days of the year are referred to as Rözān Fravardîgán literally “bright points or luminous cracks for Fravašis.”

Families welcome their departed and heroic dead with prayers, consecrated nuts, cakes, other food offerings and by brightness of bonfires fragrant with incense. Especially on the eve of the 5th day before equinox fires are lit on rooftops or in front of the houses after sunset. People go door to door, covered in masked costumes to ask for consecrated nuts, sweets, foods and fruits.

The existence of similar observances among Celts celebrating Halloween and other Indo-European peoples suggests that these ancient rites go back to the very dawn of the Indo-European culture.The ancient bonfire ceremonies are still celebrated in the form of chahr-shanbae suri ceremonies where bonfires are lit during the last Wednesday night before arrival of Spring. However, the modern chahr-shanbae suri lacks its original Zoroastrian solemnity.

The Nowrouz banquet/table is a symbolic offering of decorated colored eggs, germinated wheat or lentil sprouts, hyacinth flower, silver or gold coins, mirror, candles, wine, incense, bowl of milk, spring water with thymes, apples or sour oranges, fried sweet bread and garlic cloves. However, the setting of the table and lucky items differs according to the taste of individual celebrants.  

The items on the New year table start with the letter S in farsi. The S is an allusion to the Avestan word Speñtá meaning “auspicious, sacred, very bright and radiant” and refers to lucky items/symbolic foods that bring good luck and represent the Blessings of the Auspicious Brilliant Immortals in our lives and homes. In Zoroastrianism Godhood is “Good, Benevolent Genius” who only brings good fortune, prosperity, growth, healing, light and much wonder and joy into mortals’ lives.  

Decorated, colored eggs of the ancient Zoroastrians share the same roots with Ôstara eggs that represent fertility and regenerative powers. Ôstara eggs were later incorporated into Easter and Christianity. Also similar to many Eastern European folklore, Garlic is believed to have miraculous healing powers among Zoroastrians and is essential in warding off diabolic spirits.

Another most interesting Nowrouz food is samanü or samnoo, a sweet pudding made with germinated wheat sprouts, flour, and water. Samanoo symbolizes sweet life and rewards of patience. Samanoo is strikingly similar to an ancient Finnish Easter pudding called Mämmi. This unique Finnish sweet pudding called Memmi in Sweden, is an ancient desert that is known only in Finland, and among some Baltic people. Mämmi is made out of rye flour, water, molasses, orange zest that is left to sweeten naturally (just like samanoo) before being baked.

There are loanwords from Indo-Iranian, into the Uralic languages, and vice versa that date back to a time when Proto Indo Iranians still lived in Abashevo culture and had extensive trade with Volsovo culture of the Broze age that made many cultural and linguistic exchanges between Proto Indo-Iranians and the Uralic people possible.

The Proto Indo-Iranian and Uralic loanwords in their respective languages are primarily visible in words of agriculture, animal husbandry, spiritual life vocabulary and shamanism.   

The Spring Equinox Celebrations last 13 days. On the lucky 13th day, the decorated eggs and germinated wheat or lentil sprouts are taken outdoors to fresh streams, lakes or waterfalls, and are offered to the brightest and luckiest star Tištar or Tristar. Three knots are made in germinated wheat or lentil sprouts before offering them. Then a wish is made.  The three knots are symbolic of Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds, the supreme importance of keeping our disposition, energy, expression and actions, positive and luminous in the coming year ahead.  Tištar or Tristar of the Zoroastrian scripture appears in Moslem Koran as ash-shira, the Mighty Sirius Star.

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Fire, the greatest god power and the winter festival of sadæ


In the Zoroastrian sacred calendar, the 40th sunset after winter solstice is celebrated as the great festival of fire or sadæ. Sadæ is the joyous celebration of “chilliest, coldest” winter nights with huge bonfires and much joy.

In Zoroastrianism, fire is the primal force of Will Power and Genius, the bursting forth of life forces, and pure energy, the visible manifestation of Godhood. Ancient Zoroastrianism can best be defined as “sacred alchemy,” for its rituals and Sacred Verses are concerned with transmutation of the mundane into enchanting and finding the universal, curative elixir.  

Fire rites are at the center of this ancient Indo-European faith and fire is revered as a Yazata “god being/god force” that is independently hallowed. Fire also serves as a means for worshipping other Brilliant Immortals and hallowed god powers. According to the Zoroastrian sacred lore/Avesta, the ceremony offered to the fire not only goes to the fire, but also to the Gods, whose visible sign fire is, átarš.ciθrə̄s.ča yazatæ yazamaidæ.

In Zoroastrianism, there are 5 kind fires that shine/burn in the essence of “men, beasts, herbs/plants, clouds, and minerals.” Fire is in all things, in waters, earth and air. It is in minerals, herbs and beasts; it is in men, stars and Immortals.

 Zoroastrian veneration of fire has its origins in cult of “eternal hearth fire” and goes back to the very dawn of the Indo-European history.  The word for Fire “Āthar” means “hearth, heat,” and is related to Hittite hās, hāssan, “hearth, heat,” Latin āra “fire altar,” and ancient Greek aíthō “ignite, kindle.” All these words come from reconstructed Proto Indo European *hāhs.

Old English æled, Old Norse eldr, Norwegian eld/ild, Icelandic eldur, and *ailidaz all meaning “fire” come from the same Proto Indo-European root.

In the Zoroastrian eschatology, during the splendid, new creation of the worlds, “Frashö-kart,” a fiery flood of molten metal will cover the earth, and mortals will undergo a final judicial, fiery trial. The worlds will be purged, purified, and transmuted through fire. Because of its alchemical transmutation properties, fire is called the prodigy or son “puthra” of the supreme Wise God, Ahûrá Mazdá.


 The title of mazišta- yazata “the greatest, most magnificent god” is given to fire in the Zoroastrian sacred poetry. Fire shares this title of mazišta- yazata “the greatest, most magnificent god” only with Mithrá, the “Mediator of Immortals and Lord of Reciprocity” and the “Supreme God of Mind Powers” Ahûrá Mazdá himself. In the sacred literature of the Zoroastrians or Avesta, we read concerning the Supreme Titan/God Ahûrá Mazdá that he is the “most magnificent, greatest of the hallowed gods,” yö mazištö yazatanám, (See Yasht 10.76.)  


Bonfires of Sadæ reminds us that while we aare in the midst of the coldest, chilliest days of winter, spring and life forces will burst forth. The worlds entire will also be transmuted by fire before the eternal spring of frašö-kart. The Gods within will be unleashed and the elixir of immortality will give unbounded health and energy to the followers of light.  ardeshir

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Rapithwin, the lord of brightness, and radiance


Rapithwin is the the “lord of brightness and radiance,” the source of sustenance, strength and abundance.”  In traditional Zoroastrian terminology, Rapithwin is an idyllic time when the invincible sun is at the zenith of her power, the time of highest radiance from noon till 3 o’clock.                                                  

It was at Rapithwin that Ahûrá Mazdá first manifested the material creation from the realm of ideas/thoughts through a “heartfelt desire,” and it will again be Rapithwin when another Yasna, “yearning, burning desire” will set in the splendid, fresh, new creation of the worlds, Farshökart. 

It is “true, heartfelt desire,” Yasna, that purifies, hallows, and brings about manifestation. The root of the word Yasna is reconstructed Indo-European Hieh2g-nô. 

Rapithwin comes from ancient Indo-European peitu-/pitu, and is a cognate of Lithuanian pietis. The word means “food, sustenance, energy,” and referred originally to “midday or afternoon meal.” In the sacred Avestan lore, the connection between “brightness/light” and “sustenance“ is evident in the Avestan formula/blessing for food in Yasna 37.1.                                                       

During the Ayāθrima thanksgiving festival in mid October when the cattle are beautifully decorated, and brought back home to their shelters, the warmth and radiance of Rapithwin is believed to go underground to give energy to the roots of plants and waters during cold winter months. It is with coming of vernal equinox/spring that Rapithwin symbolically returns. At every “Victorious Fire,” Ātaš Vahrama yasna is solemnized in honor of asha, “excellence, genius composition, ahüric art, truth” at high noon or time of Rapithwin, on the day of Vernal Equinox, and Yasna Celebrations are continued at midday for the next two days.

The ultimate goal of rapithwin yasna celebration is to unleash the miraculous force of menög, “the invisible realm of mind power, spirit, imagination, ideas,” and thereby transmute the imperfect reality into wondrous and ever better. 

The sacred Avestan verses of Yasna are most significant for their mąθric power, for they not only unleash the “mind energy, genius essence, spirit” of the god powers from the subconscious dimension but also reveal the pristine creative, will/wisdom, that will set in motion the splendid renewal, remaking of the worlds. It is their mąθric power that blesses and imparts the brilliance of the Immortals on the patron of the Yasna ceremony, his/her wider community, and the departed souls.

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Festival of Waters in Zoroastrianism


October 26 is the festival of waters in the Zoroastrian seasonal calendar. The waters in the Zoroastrian sacred poetry are closely associated with pristine spirits, brilliance, and the vital, female god force known as Ahûránî.

The name Ahurānī is derived from Ahûrá with a feminine suffix -ānī: “female titan or goddess (of the waters.)” Ahûránî denotes the god force in the waters from lakes, to springs, from rivers to snow, and rain (See Yasna 68.6).

The invoker priest “zaôtar or züt“ in the Zoroastrian most sacred yasna rite, offers Ahûránî milk and butter (Y. 68.2). Milk and butter are mixed with the fragrant essence of flowers, and are offered to the waters.

Making the offering of the holy water is the culminating rite of the most sacred Yasna ritual in Zoroastrianism. The preparation and consecration of holy water is at the center of the rituals of the second part of the Yasna ceremony.

Yasna literally means “yearning, longing.” The twigs and the sap of fresh pomegranate leaves are pounded in a mortar together with milk and spring water. The belief that by making an offering to the waters which give life to all living things, the waters themselves are made “stronger,” purer and more abundant, and are invested with great power and god energy, hence the designation āb-zöhr.

Yasna 68 is dedicated to the veneration and praise of waters in the Zoroastrian sacred hymns. But the most powerful formulas relating to Ahûránî are Yasna 38.3-5, where the waters are invoked as source of abundance, and worthy of worship. Similarly, the beautiful, long hymn to the Undefiled, Mighty Lady of waters,” Arədvī Surā Anāhitā” is dedicated to the praise of the waters.

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