Jashn-e Mehregan - The Autumn Festival of Harvest
Mehregan is one of the two most ancient Iranian festivals known, dating back at least as far as the earliest Aryans (Iranians).
The word "Mehr" (in Mehregan) in the Persian language means kindness. Mehr represents knowledge, love, light and friendship.
In ancient Iran, Zoroastrians divided the year into two equal seasons: summer and winter. Thus the beginning of each season would be celebrated through a big feast, the first one called Nowruz (New Year) and the other Mehregan.
The seventh month in the Persian calendar is named Mehr and is dedicated to the Goddess of Light -- Mithra or Mehr. Her followers believed that she defeated evil and darkness, a scene that is often depicted with a triumphant lion residing over a bull. (Mithra is also a common noun in the Holy Book Avesta meaning contract).
The tenth day of this month (Mehr) in the Zoroastrian religious calendar belongs to this deity.
The coming of autumn was and still is celebrated usually on the 9th or 10th of this month by Zoroastrians throughout the world. Mehregan marks the harvesting season and the coming of winter. This was originally a pre-Zoroastrian and an old Aryan feast.
This month, according to some historians, was probably the first month of the old-Persian year (before Prophet Zoroaster). The feast, too, was probably carried forward from the old-Persian, and it was perhaps the survival of an earlier Iranian New Year festival dating from some prehistoric time of the Aryan calendar, when the year began at the autumnal equinox.
There are many different renditions of how and why Mehregan has come about:
1. Jashn-e-Mehregan is a time when harvesting is completed and people celebrate as a thanksgiving to the Almighty God.
2. It is a time for love and gratitude for life.
3. Some say Mehregan was a day of victory for Fereydoon and Kaveh, who won over Zahak with the help of angels. They imprisoned him in Mount Damavand where he later died of his wounds. After the capture of Zahak, Fereydoon was nominated as the king and the people celebrate this occasion with "jashn".
4. Others say that the Festival of Mehregan came about when God gave light to the world, which had been dark up to that point, or the Sun was created.
5. Yet others argue that on this day Mashia and Mashyaneh, who are the conceptual Semitic Adam and Eve, were brought into existence.
No matter what the origins, Persians all over celebrate this festival in the fall signifying the season of harvest and thanksgiving. Friendships are renewed and families are visited.
The festival is also a reminder of the cornerstone of the religion of Prophet Zoroaster -- good words, good deeds and good thoughts.
The people of the community, as a tradition, gather to celebrate and welcome the coming of spring and winter. Celebrations end with bonfires and fireworks and rejoicing on this merry occasion.
The Iranian Zoroastrians are celebrating this auspicious occasion on Friday, October 2.
This reminds me of one of the poems from the Iranian Poet Sa'adi who was born in Shiraz in 1184. His year of death is disputed among historians ranging from 1283 to 1291.
Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain.
The same poem is used to grace the entrance to the Hall of Nations of the United Nations building in New York with this call for breaking all barriers.