The last ten-days at year’s end, are the “All Hallows or All Saints Festival” in the Zoroastrian calendar, dedicated to fravašis or fravars “Valkyrie-like beings” who are the “pristine prototypes of the creation.”
The festival shares many features with Celtic pagan Samhain festival, and in Parsi calendar as well as the Older Iranian Zoroastrian reckoning qadimi, it is celebrated toward the End of Summer.
The Avestan term fravaši or fravar is grammatically feminine. Although there is no concrete illustration of the fravašis, in Hymn/Yašt 13,verse 70, they are said to “descend down like an eagle,” and wings are popularly attributed to them among Zoroastrians.
To prepare for their arrival Zoroastrian families thoroughly clean the house, and light a sacred fire on rooftop, a bowl of pure spring water with sacred twigs of evergreens, fruits and nuts are placed next to the burning flame.
In Iran, the community makes merry around bonfires, and children go to neighbors to ask for sweets and sesame cakes.
Highly meritorious during this period is the planting of evergreen or fruit trees, pilgrimage to the eternal fires, and visiting the towers of silence & cemeteries. Candles lit in the honor of the spirits of the heroic dead shall never be extinguished but allowed to safely burn out.
The concept of fra.vaši or fra.var is ORIGINAL to Zoroastrianism. In the 10th song of the poetic gathas or Yasna 45, fra-vaḵš account for the “foremost words, first formulas of pristine knowledge.” These “foremost words” form “charms of making, the enchanting song themes of the Immortals” that prefigure the making of the worlds.
Fra.vašis or fra.vars are “the first will, wish, desire behind things, the original archetypes” that manifested in association with the first words/formulas fra-vaḵš. They CHOOSE FORTH the souls of the virtuous and excellent to fight along side Ahûrá Mazdá and his Immortals to bring about a splendid new age of eternal spring.
Bernfried Schlerath CORRECTLY derives their root from var “will, wish, desire, choose” with the prefix *fra meaning the “first, foremost, forward.”
Fra.var are the “first will, wish, desire, intent” behind the existence of things, and appear in the role of “valiant warriors” that pre-existed the material creation. They help in the struggle to defeat aŋra/angra the dark lord of “imperfections, blemishes and flaws.”
Their role is very similar to the valkyries “choosers of the fallen” in Norse Mythology. Valkyries are female helping spirit of the god Odin. Assisting Odin in transporting his favorites among those slain in battle to Valhalla, where they will fight by his side during Ragnarök the “final battle of Gods against monsters and all evil.”
In a beautiful Avestan passage we read: “The sunswept abodes of excellence/truth we yearn for/worship, in which dwell the souls ûrván of the dead, which are the fravašis of the excellent/virtuous.”
xᵛan.vaitîš ašahæ vərəzö yaza.maidæ, yáhu iristinąm ûrvąnö šáyentæ yáv ašaônąm fravašayö, Hymn/Yašt. 16.7.
In the Prose Poetry of the Seven Chapters haptaŋ-háiti attributed to Prophet Zarathustra himself we read: the fravašis of the excellent/virtuous, that of valiant men and women we yearn for/worship Yasna 37.3.
təm ašáuu.nąm fravašîš nar.ąm.čá náiri.nąm.čá yaza.maidæ
The original concept of the of the fravaši therefore appears to be the GREAT PROMISE of Man and other creatures, that at death only unites with the soul/spirit of the valiant and virtuous.
Among Iranian Zoroastrians the festival of fravašis is known as rozanæ farvardæ-gán “crack, split or break for the fra-vars.
Among the Parsis of India the term moktād or mukhtad “moving freely” of the (fravašis) is used. Mukhtad is derived from Sanskrit, and is a cognate of the Old Avestan môšü “to move speedily” and Latin mox “move as soon as.”
In the Avesta, the fravašis festival precedes the 10 days before the EQUINOX, or the sacred moment when the center/middle position maiδ.iia of the Sun, and the celestial points/paths paθ, are at the same hamaß or equal distance from each other, called Hamaß.paθ.maiδ.iia in the Avestan.
The Avestan new-year ALWAYS begins with the Vernal Equinox. The first month of the spring, the 19th day of each religious month, and the 4th watch (gáh) from sunset to midnight, is named in honor of fravašis or fravars who are invoked along the yazatas “hallowed god-beings.”
Yet, at present the Parsi new-year falls on August 17-18, and in the older reckoning of Iranian Zoroastrians known as qadimi new-year starts a month earlier during summer as well.
But WHY is it so? The Avestan calendar is seasonal and lunisolar. It comprises of 365 ¼ days. The additional ¼ time requires a leap day every four years called avar-daad, or an extra month every 120 years as prescribed in Holy Denkart (III.419.)
The older reckoning qadimi of the Iranian Zoroastrians, as well as Parsi calendar NEGLECTED to add a sixth day in leap years, or a 13th month each 120 years. As a result the new-year has moved to the middle and end of summer.
In conclusion, I shall add that the fravašis bestow the gift of sacred memory, and the deeper understanding of how higher self is linked to us through virtue and the eternal quest for excellence.