What is a Parabh? (14-8-16)
1. The word Parabh comes from the Sanskrit word parva which means “festival.” In the Zoroastrian calendar when the name of the day coincides with the name of the month it is called a parabh. For instance the day of Farvardin in the month of Farvardin is called Parabh.
2. Every month has a Parabh. However, in the month of Dae, four days are referred to as Parabhs – Hormazd, Dae-pa-Adar, Dae-pa-Meher and Dae-pa-Din. This is so because the month of Dae is dedicated to Dadar Ahura Mazda, and all the above four days in the month are dedicated to Dadar Ahura Mazda, though the first day of the moth is accorded greater importance.
3. Some Parabhs in the Zoroastrian calendar have special names and are celebrated as major festivals like Farvardegan, Avagan, Adargan, Tirgan and Mehrangan. Festivals like Tirangan and Mehrangan are even mentioned in the Shahnameh and also have historical significance.
What is a Gahambar? (2-7-17)
1. The 6 Gahambars are special sets of 5 days each in the Zoroastrian calendar year to thank Ahura Mazda for His 6 Creations – Sky, Water, Earth, Vegetation, Animal & Man – in their evolutionary order. The word Gahambar comes from the Pahlavi gāsānbār which literally means “the time for collection.” The ‘collection’ here refers to collecting Nature’s Blessings. It is the time when nature is most generous in distributing her blessings.
2. The celebration of Gahambar includes two components: a. Performance of rituals like Afringan, Baj, Visparad and Yasna, and b. Feasting, where traditionally rich and poor share food on a common platform, without barriers of rank and class. Hence Gahambar is also considered as a time for community bonding.
3. Presently, in India, a Gahambar is celebrated as a community event where Zoroastrians congregate for a thanks giving meal generally preceded by the performance of a ritual. The feasting may be sponsored either for a living person, in memory of a dear departed or simply as an act of spiritual merit. Generous Zoroastrians often sponsor a Gahambar in memory of their dear departed ones as an act of spiritual merit. In Iran, the Gambars are still celebrated quite much in the original spirit of giving and sharing, with considerable importance to prayers and shared food.
4. Each of the six Gahambars is celebrated during the Zoroastrian calendar year for a period of five days each. They are celebrated on 5 particular roj (days) in the months of Ardibahesht, Tir, Shahrevar, Meher, Dae and on the 5 Gatha days.
5. In the first two Ghambars the roj are 11 to 15, in the next two Gahambars the roj are 26 to 30 and in the 5th Gahambar the roj are 16 to 20. The sixth Gahambar constitutes the 5 days of the Gathas at the end of the zoncalendar year.
6. Religious texts consider the celebration of Gahambar an act of highest religious merit, and constitute one of man’s religious duties during his life-time. Since some Zoroastrians may fail to celebrate Gahambars when they are alive, Gahambars are celebrated in their honour after their passing away.
7. The celebration of Gahambar can foster the spirit of unity and harmony in the Community. It can breach the rich and poor divide to a certain extent, overcoming the rank and class barriers. Its celebration is an opportunity for the community to come together forgetting the differences and work towards the common end of progress and prosperity.
Why do Zoroastrians celebrate Jamshedi Navroz? (18-3-12 & 15-3-15)
1. Jamshedi Navroz is a festival which is connected to religion, history, culture and nature. It is celebrated by Zoroastrians and even some non-Zoroastrians, in many parts of the world, on the 21st of March, the day of Vernal or spring equinox. The word Jamshedi Navroze means the “the new year day of (king) Jamshed.”
2. Today, in India, Jamshedi Navroz is mainly celebrated as a seasonal and historical festival, to commemorate the coronation of King Jamshed after he saved the world from the great deluge and established ‘Var-e-Jam-Kard’, “the settlement of Jamshed.”
3. This day is celebrated as the religious New Year by Zoroastrians following the Fasali calendar.
4. Many Islamic countries, including Iran celebrate this day as their secular and financial new year.
5. Zoroastrians celebrate the day by first going to the fire temple and seeking the blessings of God. A special milk-drink called Falooda or water melon juice is served to guests on this the day.
6. This day is regarded as the ‘birthday’ of the sun – Khorshed Yazad, Khorshed Nyaish Meher Nyaish has to be especially prayed on this day. Some sections of Zoroastrian community have a tradition of praying three sets of three Khorshed Nyash and one Meher Nyash in the Havan Geh, two sets of three Khorshed Nyash and one Meher Nyash in the Rapithwan Geh, and one set of three Khorshed Nyash and one Meher Nyash in the Uziran Geh, to mark this special day for the sun.
7. Iranian Zoroastrians celebrating this festival in a special way, the main part of which is arranging a table in the house having seven items starting with the letters ‘shin’ or ‘sin’ of the Persian alphabet.
8. On this “Hafta-sin/shin table” the seven items may include: Shir “milk”, sharab “wine”, shakar “sugar”, shama “candle”, somagh “sumac” shikeh “coin”, sib “apple”, sonbol “hyacinth”, sabzi “green vegetables’, shisheh “glass”, sarkeh “vinegar” etc. Additionally items like a glass goldfish bowl and a picture of the Damavand mountain are also placed. Traditionally the table is kept for 13 days after Jamshedi Navroz, but it may be cleared earlier than that.
9. Jamshedi Navroz is a festival of hope, life and colour when people can come together, meet, greet and bask in the freshness of nature offered by the advent of spring. It brings the message of renewal, rejuvenation, hope, gratitude, joy, light, life, equality and victory of good over evil.
Why do Zoroastrians celebrate Mehrangan? (22-2-15)
1. Meherangan is an important Zoroastrian festival celebrated on Meher roj of Meher mah. It marks a big even in Iranian history.
2. As is evident, this day is dedicated to Meher Yazad who presides over cosmic lights, open spaces, love, friendship, justice, contract, promises and rituals.
3. According to the Shahnameh, Meherangan is the day on which King Faridun of the Peshdadian dynasty decided to have the Jashan-e-Mehrangān performed, to celebrate the defeat and imprisonment of the evil Zohak in the Demavand mountain followed by his ascension to the throne on Hormazd roj of mah Meher.
4. This Jashan is celebrated even today to commemorate the end of Zohak’s evil rule and the beginning of the auspicious reign if King Faridun. Hence Mehrangan is a festival to celebrate a religious and historic event and an integral part of the Zoroastrian religious and historic tradition. It is the festival which epitomizes the ultimate victory of good over evil.