The Zoroastrian Midsummer celebrations, and the sacred Three-Star


This year, the Zoroastrian mid-summer festival “maidhyö-sham” started on June the 29th, and was concluded on July 3rd. The Zoroastrian midsummer festivities are closely associated with  Tištriia, literally the “three-star”(the “triangle constellation of Canis Major,) or more specifically ”the brightest star in the night sky, known as the “dog star, Sirius.” According to Forssman, Tištriia or Sirius is named as “the one who belongs to the three stars.”

Tištriia, is an astral god-being/power in Zoroastrianism, and the eighth hymn, Yašt of the Avesta (sacred lore of the Zoroastrians) is dedicated to Sirius. Interestingly, Sirius (Arabic shiaara) appears as the only sacred star mentioned in the moslem Qur’an, 53: 49.

The Avestan hymn to Tištriia contains two themes. The first theme deals with rain, and prosperity. The Brilliant Tištriia “three-star” attacks draught, in the form of a white, celestial horse. But after three days and nights, the brightest star is defeated, because the astral yazata “hallowed god-being,” was not sufficiently worshipped by the Aryans (see Yt. 8.24). 

Only after an auspicious yasna-“heartfelt desire” offered by Ahûrá Mazdá, the light, brilliance of Tištriia defeats drought, and releases the rains/waters (Yt. 8.25.) The Persian Proverb stating that waters are light, and have their seed in the light/brilliance of the stars, is rooted in the same Avestan hymn to Tištriia. 

The second theme deals with the fight of Tištriia with the Pairikās, the “bad fairies” which correspond to shooting stars (stārö.kərəmā, literally  star-worm showers.) The mischievous fairies are led by duž.yāirya (bad, difficult year;) and are supported by the Yātus (sorcerers.) 

Most Interestingly, the second theme of the Avestan hymn to Tištriia also has a parallel in the moslem Quran. In Chapter 15 Surah Hijr verse 16-18, we read: “And we have guarded the celestial heavens from every outcast Shaitan (diabolic being). Henceforth, diabolic beings who try unlawfully to listen to celestial heavens are pursued by flaming shooting stars.”

 The Indo-European theme of the “god” holding an “arrow” in his hand, is strongly present in the Avestan hymn to Tishtriia which was shot by the arches of Tri-Star himself. According to the Avestan hymn the three-star, flies in the sky as the ARROW shot by the most valiant archer of the Aryans, the hero araḵš or ereḵšö. According to the Avesta, ereḵšö “of the swift arrow,” shot an arrow from Mount Airyö.ḵšaôθa to Mount Xᵛanvant.

Avestan ereḵšö Old Iranian araḵš, is cognate with Latin ursus, Greek arktos, “bear.” Names such as Ursula come from the same root, so is the Persian male name Áraš. In Greek Mythology the name of Artemis, “the Mistress of Animals” is derived from arktos or “bear.” 

The epic story of araḵš, the champion archer of the Aryans, is about sacred duty, heroism and selfless sacrifice. In Zoroastrianism, life is an epic battle, mortal man must choose the Gods, goodness and nobility throughout the ages of this world, not because of fear or in hope of favors, but for the sake of virtue, wisdom, and light alone.

In the Zoroastrian tradition, it is customary to sprinkle each other with water, and play water games during this joyous holiday. Zoroastrians also wear an colorful band on their wrist during this holiday. The band shall resemble the colors of rainbow. The rainbow band is worn for 9 days.  This ancient Zoroastrian custom reminds one of the burning rainbow bridge that reaches between Midgard (Earth) and Asgard, (the realm of the primeval gods/the Æsir,) in Norse mythology.

ardeshir

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1 Response to The Zoroastrian Midsummer celebrations, and the sacred Three-Star

  1. Kersi B. Shroff says:

    Hello Ardeshir,

    I do not know if this, my second message to you in recent months, will get to you. Nonetheless, I wanted to share with you a letter I just sent to the editor of the Archaeology magazine, in which I have used a quote from your recent post on Sraosha:

    (Letter) The recent find of a carved wood depiction of Buddha at Panjakent, Tajikistan, (“Masters of the Silk Road”, July/August 2020), reminded me of the thrill of another finding there of a carved terracotta figurine. In 2013, during a week spent volunteering in Panjakent, a companion and I picked up around the Mazdean temples what looked like two innocuous stones. These were later deciphered by archaeologist Dr. Pavel Lurje of the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, to be an engraving, sans head, of the Zoroastrian deity “Sraosha, binding kusti” – a sacred thread worn by Zoroastrians (see attached photo). The Sogdians so splendidly depicted in the article had an all-embracing civilization in which, as archaeologist Aleksandr Naymark, another excavator of Panjakent, aptly notes, “Christians, Hindus and Buddhists all lived side by side with Zoroastrians. … [and] Sogdian society really resembled a modern society.” Surely, Sraosha, considered to be the “hallowed, god being” in Zoroastrianism, blessed the diverse society.

    The quote in the final sentence is from your post.If you are interested in receiving the magazine article that I am responding to, I will be happy to send it to you.

    Best regards.

    Kersi Shroff Maryland, USA

    On Mon, Jul 6, 2020 at 2:43 AM Authentic Gatha Zoroastrianism wrote:

    > orthodoxzoroastrian posted: “This year, the Zoroastrian mid-summer > festival “maidhyö-sham” started on June the 29th, and was concluded on July > 3rd. The Zoroastrian midsummer festivities are closely associated with > TiÅ¡triia, literally the “three-star”(the “triangle constellation of C” >

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