Mid-Spring Festival

Mid-Spring Festival

April 30th marks the beginning of the “mid-spring” or maiδyö.zarem festival in the Avestan calendar. Maiδyö.zarem literally means “mid-greening,” and refers to the “fresh golden green color of spring vegetation.” The festival lasts five days and ends on May 4th.

The Avestan epithet of maiδyö.zarem is payan “milk, syrup, nectar;” and it is the appointed time of the year to celebrate “syrups, nectar of flowers and sweet sap of trees”.

(Compare Avestan payan with Lithuanian pienas “milk” Greek pion “fat,cream” Sanskrit payate/ pituh “rich liquid, syrup, sap, milk.”)

Maiδyö.zarem is the first thanksgiving festival of the religious year. In the Avesta, these thanksgiving feasts are called yaar ratö (appointed annual/yearly times for advice, counsel, reckoning, narration.”)

These thanksgiving feasts are called gahan-bar or gaham-bar in farsi, or “gatha/singing banquets.” During these thanksgiving feasts music is played, sacred verse/poems from the gathas of the prophet are recited, and participants enjoy seasonal agricultural produce bár (literally “what earth bears forth”) in a communal spirit.

In addition, gahan-bar banquets are offered as votive offerings to various divine names of GD or angels and holy spirits for securing a wish; OR are offered after the supplicant has received the fulfillment of wish for which he/she offered the gahan-bar in the first place.

The customs, various rituals and ceremonies associated with gahan-bars show striking similarities to shia moslem SOFRA ceremonies.

It appears that the custom of offering sofras to various holy figures among Iranian shias is a modified relic of pre-Islamic Iranian Zoroastrian ceremonies. (sofras are spreads/boards on which food and ceremonial objects are laid as beautiful offerings to holy spirits or saints.)

Beside fruit offerings, nuts, wine and syrup drinks; Āš (a thick soup comparable to French potage) is served during gahan-bar ceremonies. (Āš literally means to eat or delicious edible, Compare German essen, Lithuanian edu.)

An āš derives its name from the main ingredient, such as āš-e omāǰ (fresh granulated wheat flour), āš-e anār (pomegranate), āš-e ǰow (barley), āš-e čoḡondar (beet), āš-e rešta (noodles), āš-e zerešk (barberry), āš-e sabzī (green herbs), Āš-e māš (mung bean), āš-e somāq (sumac), āš-e ḡūra-ye tāza (fresh sour grape), āš-e kašk (whey), āš-e gandom (wheat),  or āš-e nārdāna (dried pomegranate).

Āš is most often served hot; some kinds, such as those made with yogurt, pomegranate, or sour grape juice, are eaten cold, especially in summer. The preparation of āš as votive offerings for gahan-bars along with other foods, drinks and sweets has survived among Iranians to the present.

In conclusion, I like to add that thanksgiving festivals are times to joyously celebrate nature and invoke the spiritual counsels of creation/ratüs. Gahan-bars are continuous RULES for spiritual guidance, generosity, giving, singing, music, and community unity.


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2 Responses to Mid-Spring Festival

  1. zaneta garratt says:

    very nice article describing some beautiful rituals and traditions, the As soup sounds delicious and very beneficial for the health

  2. Joanna McShane says:

    interesting, there are Mid Winter, Mid-Spring , Midsummer and Mid Autumn festival.

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