The Zoroastrian midsummer festival “Maiδyö.šam” and the Star Sirius

The Zoroastrian midsummer festival “Maiδyö.šam” starts on June 29th and concludes on July 3rd. The midsummer festivities start approximately 9 days after summer solstice. Maiδyö.šam is known as the giver of rich meadows/pastures “váströ data,” in the sacred lore of the Zoroastrians or the Avesta, (See Yasna 2.9 and Vîspä.rad 2.2.)  

Aside from being the “giver of green pastures and rich meadows,” Midsummer is closely associated with the star Tištryá and celebration of waters and the rainy season. Tištryá literally means Tri-star and refers to Sirius, the most luminous star in the night sky. The festival of Tištryá falls on July 1st, on the 3rd day of midsummer celebrations. 

In Norse mythology, Sirius is known as lokibrenna or Loki’s torch.  In Zoroastrianism, Tištryá is the articulate leader/master “ratü” of all the constellations and stars and rules over the brilliant realm of the stars/the star station. Tri-star or Tištryá can get in and out of the temporal time and is the gateway of the material world to higher celestial dimensions and eternity. 

The link to celestial arrow “Tîra” is strongly present in hymn to Tri-star in the Zoroastrian sacred lore/the Avesta.  The word arrow “Tiyra” appears in hymn 8.6 where the rapid twinkling of Tištryá is likened to shooting of arrows empowered by the powers of spirit/mind, “yatha tiyriš mainya.vas.áw.”    

In Zoroastrian cosmology, the realms below the brilliant star station are affected by the state of mixture where the worlds of “light, wonders, and adventure” are intermingled with the worlds of “gloom, evil, and stagnation.”  

In Zoroastrianism, Tištryá is said to have the “luminous origin of the waters,” afš.ciθra. The first part of the word af refers to apa, “waters,” and is a cognate of aqua. The second part ciθra means “brilliance, luminous appearance, face, most clear aspect,” Old Norse heiðr “bright, clear” and Old High Germanic heitar “shining” are cognates.   In Zoroastrian sacred poetry, Stars are said to be the brilliant source of waters (stárö yöi afš.ciθra,) the earth (stárö yöi zəmas.ciθra), and plants (stárö yöi urvarö.ciθra) Stars are said to have their radiance and power from the “Auspicious Brilliant Spirit/Mind” (stárö yöi spəṇtö.mańyav.)

The most hallowed constellations and stars named in the Avesta (sacred writings of the Zoroastrians) are: Tri-star or star Sirius (tištrîm stárǝm), Vega (vanaṇtǝm stārǝm), and stars of Ursa Major constellation (stárö yöi haptöiriṇga.)  

The star Tištriyá or Sirius is celebrated by pouring or splashing water on one another. Also, a colorful wristband or bracelet, resembling rainbow colors is worn by the celebrants for 9 days. On the 9th day or July 10th, which is dedicated to the god-force of winds Váyü or Vátá, the rainbow-colored wristband is offered to the rivers and streams.  

Another aspect of the festivities is fortune telling. In ancient times, the lines/reflections on bowl of water were used to grant the viewer things of the past, present and possibilities of the future. Water granted the viewer visions that the seeking person desired to see and know about. Presently, a young girl takes a green clay jug and fills it with fresh water. Then, everyone makes a wish, and throws a small item, like a coin, ring, or earring inside. The next day, they gather around the jug and read a poem. The girl takes an object out of the jug, and it is said that the poem that is read becomes the fortune of the owner of the object taken out.  

Tištriyá appears in moslem quran in sura al-najm (the star) where it is said: “That he is the lord of Sirius, the mighty star,”53.49.  

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