The great autumnal festival of Mehregan


Zoroastrian festival of Mehregaan is an autumnal harvest festival dedicated to Mithra. It is a six days, most joyous holiday that starts on October 2nd, and concludes on October 8th. The festivities of Mithra are closely associated with autumnal equinox.                                                                                                                                                                                 The close association is due to the fact that autumnal equinox is linked to the concept of reciprocity and harvesting. In the sacred lore of the Zoroastrians, the Avesta, Mithra is hailed as the “Lord of the wide pastures and meadows.” The Avestan Mithrá-, Vedic Mitrá- comes from reconstructed Indo-European root *meit- and is cognate with Latin mūtō, Gothic maidjan, Latvian mietot.. 

Mithra appears in the Poetic Gathas, Yasna 46.5, 2nd rhymed verse line in the form of mithrö.ibyö in the sense of “reciprocity, mutual friendship, camaraderie.” Mithrá is reciprocating the Immortals kindness by fulfilling our duty/destiny. The festival of Mithra is known as Mehrgān/Mehregān in modern Persian. We must pay our debts, return the favors, fulfill our promises, and make sure we have a clean record during this holiday.                                                                                                                                              

 The Zoroastrian autumnal celebrations were once so joyous and elaborate, with festive lights, banquets, and music that the word Mehrgān/Mehregān has been borrowed into Arabic as Mehrajān referring to “joyous festivity” in general.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

  The celebrations of Miθra were also held around the autumnal equinox in the 7th month of the Achaemenian calendar known as  Baga.yadi “hallowing of the  god.”  The ancient Iranian word Baga for “god, giver of good fortune,” is a cognate of Slavic Bog, “god/God.”                                                                                                                                                                             

In the Zoroastrian sacred rites, the celebration of equinoxes is connected with partaking of parahöm, “the consecrated elixir of life.” The ritual is symbolic of receiving life force and much vitality.  The rite symbolically re-enacts the time when the blessed spirits will partake of parahöm (elixir of life,) prepared from the all healing plant “White Höm.” All blessed spirits also join in a mystical communion meal prepared from the fat of the mythical bull, Haδayans. The sacred elixir/wine and communion meal shall confer deathlessness on resurrected bodies at the time of Frašō.kərəti, the “splendid recreation of the worlds.”                                                                                                                                                                               Mehregan is the only time of the year that we are allowed to indulge in wine without moderation. Zoroastrian jurisprudence considers wine making and wine consumption a great virtue when is done in moderation. But during Mehregan we can be slightly drunk. According to Greek Historians, this was the only holiday among ancient Persians that rulers and judges could appear slightly drunk in public.                                                                                                                                                    The special foods of the autumnal celebrations are: a hearty pomegranate soup, a stewed meat dish known as khoresh sib made with apples, another hearty stew made with quince and dried apricots, also the iconic zereshk polo, sweet rice with barberries, saffron, pistachios and almonds, and Persian Marzipan shaped into the shape of mulberries.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 On the thanksgiving table of Mehregan we shall offer wine, pomegranate fruit, other seasonal fruits dried nuts, fried sweet bread, and candles and incense as an offering.

Ardeshir

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