The month of Bahman and abstinence from eating meat and poultry

The 11th month of the Zoroastrian calendar is named after Vohü Manö (farsi Bahman.) It starts on about January 15th and lasts for 30 days. January 16th is the great festival day of this month. Vohü Manö is an awe inspiring spirit/energy/passion that amazes with wow, wonder and delight and is the first expression of GD in Zoroastrianism. During the month dedicated to Vohü Manö, Zoroastrians must specifically abstain from eating meat, poultry or any form of animal slaughter, and be extra kind to animals.

According to the Zoroastrian religion, in addition to this month, 4 days in each month of the year are also days of abstinence from meat and poultry. During the duration of this month and on other 4 abstinence days of every other month; special provisions are made to be kind to animals. For example in old days in Gujarat, Hindus and Moslems would drive their cows and cattle into Parsi streets and villages to have them fed freely by Zoroastrians during such occasions.

This duty of kindness toward herds and pets is clearly formulated in the following Pahlavi text: “He who wishes to please Vohü Manö in the world . . . he should please beneficent, auspicious animals . . . He should keep them in a pleasant, warm place . . . In summer he should store straw and corn, so that in winter they need not be kept in the fields . . . He should neither take them away from their young nor keep the young from (their) milk. Since beneficent, auspicious animals are Vohü Manö ’s expression in the world, he who pleases . . . beneficent, auspicious animals . . . the Best Existence . . . will be his” (Šāyest nē šāyest, suppl., 15.9-11 ).

The association between Vohü Manö and the innate goodness and wisdom of auspicious animals (gōspant in pahlavi) is of great importance here.  The 4 days of abstinence from eating meat or poultry in each month are called: Vohü Manö, máwn (moon,) rámá (delight,) géúsh úrvaa (spirit of animals/living beings.)

The imain factor which led Prophet Zarathushtra to link Vohü Manö with the animal kingdom seems undoubtedly to be the Zoroastrian belief, clearly attested in the poetic Gāthās (Yasna. 29), that animals also have a SOUL; in Yasna. 39.1, for example we worship GD with “our souls and (those) of peaceful animals/pets” (ahmākénġ . . . úrúnö pasükąnām-cha).

“With regard to every kindness which men practice in the house, nothing is more incumbent on them than this, that they keep full-fed the cow or fowl or domestic cattle. (Ṣad dar-e Boendaheš 26.3-5.).    I like to conclude by the following quote:

Porphyry (c305AD), in his On Abstinence, wrote about the Magi:    “Among the Persians, indeed, those who are wise in divine arts, and worship the divinel wisdom, are called Magi; for this is the signification of Magus, in the Persian tongue. … They are likewise divided into three genera, as we are informed by Eubulus, that the first and most learned class of the Magi neither eat nor slay any thing animated, but adhere to the ancient abstinence from animals. The second class use some animals indeed [for food], but do not slay any that are tame. Nor do those of the third class, similarly with other men, lay their hands on all animals. For the dogma with all of them which ranks as the first is this, that there is a soul in animals.


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1 Response to The month of Bahman and abstinence from eating meat and poultry

  1. zaneta garratt says:

    nice to read this,as I am vegetarian(i eat no animals, birds nor fish) and part vegan (i have cut down greatly on dairy produce)-i feel that for the sake of animals and this world it would be better if more people are vegetarain or vegan

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