September 16; Paiti-šhahya or the harvest festival

The seasonal thanksgiving festival of Paiti-šhahya (the harvest festival, literally: bringing in the grain) falls almost a week before the autumnal equinox.

This festival starts on September 12th and ends on September 16th, with the last day of the festivity being the most important. It is a celebration of harvest and the end of summer.

On the thanksgiving holidays, all but necessary work is forbidden. The word for the thanksgiving holidays is “gāhān-bār” in Persian. Gāhān refers to gāthās or the enchanting songs of the prophet; Compare with Lithuanian giedoti “to sing.” Bār” means produce, fruit, what the earth bears forth.

So as its name implies the thanksgiving gāhān-bār holidays are celebrated by reciting the sacred ancient verses, music, seasonal fruits, nuts, food and lots of wine. It is highly meritorious to recite the poetic gāthās or the most ancient sacred verses of the Avesta on these holidays.

The gāhān-bār banquets bring rich and poor together, and are times for fellowship, family and generosity. All members of the community have the religious duty to take part in the gāhān-bārs by bringing some offering, and if someone is unable, an ever-green branch or a simple heartfelt prayer or good wish is sufficient.

Thanksgiving festivals are also a time to recite the “Visp-e-rät” hymns. “Visp-e-rät” literally means “all the counsels,” and is a highlight/footnote to the gathic chapters.

Visp is the same as sanskrit vishva; “all.” And “rät” means counsel, advice; Compare to Old High German ratan, German Raten, Old Church Slavonic raditi “to take thought, contemplate, to solve a riddle” Old.Irish. im-radim “to deliberate, consider, think.”

In Avesta, the Gāhānbārs are called “yāiryā ratavö” or “yearly counsel,” and are designated times to reflect and be thankful.

Happy Harvest Festival,


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1 Response to September 16; Paiti-šhahya or the harvest festival

  1. zaneta garratt says:

    nice celebrations, something joyful in this lovely tradition, in Christainity there are special harvest thankingsgiving festivals in the church when some crop samples are brought in, I remember this happened every year when I was a child

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