Festival of Waters in Zoroastrianism

October 26 is the festival of waters in the Zoroastrian seasonal calendar. The waters in the Zoroastrian sacred poetry are closely associated with pristine spirits, brilliance, and the vital, female god force known as Ahûránî.

The name Ahurānī is derived from Ahûrá with a feminine suffix -ānī: “female titan or goddess (of the waters.)” Ahûránî denotes the god force in the waters from lakes, to springs, from rivers to snow, and rain (See Yasna 68.6).

The invoker priest “zaôtar or züt“ in the Zoroastrian most sacred yasna rite, offers Ahûránî milk and butter (Y. 68.2). Milk and butter are mixed with the fragrant essence of flowers, and are offered to the waters.

Making the offering of the holy water is the culminating rite of the most sacred Yasna ritual in Zoroastrianism. The preparation and consecration of holy water is at the center of the rituals of the second part of the Yasna ceremony.

Yasna literally means “yearning, longing.” The twigs and the sap of fresh pomegranate leaves are pounded in a mortar together with milk and spring water. The belief that by making an offering to the waters which give life to all living things, the waters themselves are made “stronger,” purer and more abundant, and are invested with great power and god energy, hence the designation āb-zöhr.

Yasna 68 is dedicated to the veneration and praise of waters in the Zoroastrian sacred hymns. But the most powerful formulas relating to Ahûránî are Yasna 38.3-5, where the waters are invoked as source of abundance, and worthy of worship. Similarly, the beautiful, long hymn to the Undefiled, Mighty Lady of waters,” Arədvī Surā Anāhitā” is dedicated to the praise of the waters.


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