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Zoroastrianism Festivals

Zoroastrianism is considered the first universal and monotheist religion in history. It is a small religion with about 140,000 members, yet its importance to humanity is much greater than its current numbers. Zoroastrianism is also known by Zarathustrism, Mazdaism and Parsism.Zoroastrianism has numerous festivals and holy days, all of which are bound to the Zoroastrian calendar.The Shahenshahi and Kadmi variants of the calendar do not intercalcate leap years and hence the day of the Gregorian calendar year on which these days are celebrated shifts ahead with time. The third variant of the Zoroastrian calendar, known as either Fasli (in India) or Bastani (in Iran), intercalcates according to Gregorian calendar rules and thus remains synchronous with the seasons.

Gahambars

Gahambar which means the festival of season is celebrated with great enthusiasm next only to Navroz by the people of Parsi community. During this festival the seasons are welcomed and honoured and occur for at least six times in a year and each time celebrations are held for a period of five days. This is the only festival of which a note is made in the Avesta. It is believed that the Gahambars were instituted by Zarathushtra himself. Our world is made of six phases like heaven, water, earth, flora, fauna and man and each one is associated with one Ghambara and it is an ardent duty of each community to pay tribute to all the good brought by these phases. During Gahambar people who can afford, prepare food and serve for friends, family members and the poor. It takes place as a communal meal where people sit together and share the environment and the food thus also serving to build and strengthen the Parsi community. According to Zoroastrian astrology the number seven is said to be very sacred where it signifies God and God's six archangels.

Khordad Sal

Khordad Sal is a festival to think back our deeds we have done in our life and take resolutions. This falls on the sixth day of Farvardin, the Parsi month whereas according to Roman calendar it occurs in the month of August or September for a period of six days after Navroz. Khordad Sal is the festival of celebration of the birthday of Zoroaster.People get ready with great enthusiasm by cleaning and by decorating the house with flowers and rangoli. Of course no festival is complete without delicious food and so with Khordad Sal also. The other events of this festival include a ritual called as Jashan, where a thanks giving prayer session is held in the temple followed by a rich feast for friends and family and the poor. During this time people greet each other and exchange gifts and do charity. Thus this is a happy occasion for a family get together.

Zarthost No Deeso

Zarthost No Deeso is a festival to worship the death anniversary of the prophet Zarathushtra which falls in the month of June or on Khorshed roz according to the Zoroastrian calendar. According to legend Zarathushtra was believed to be killed in a fire-temple by the Turanian army and so on this day the Parsi’s visit the fire temple and prayer sessions are held in the name of Prophet Zoroaster. There are also beliefs that say Prophet Zoroaster died in a temple while praying and so on this day the works of the prophet are read and praised in the temple. Though there are no public functions held there are some special kind of rituals and ceremonies held which are limited to home or the temple within the community alone.

Jamshed Navroz

This is the most celebrated festival of the Parsis which falls on March 21st which is the first day of the vernal equinox of the sun and therefore a logical day to celebrate the beginning of a New Year according to Parsis.Navro literally means New Year. The celebration commence with cleaning the house, repainting doors and windows and polishing floors and furniture so that everything shines as new. New clothes would be ordered for the whole family. On this each member visit the fire temple and offer sandalwood stick to the sacred fire. It is customary for the Parsis to cover their head while praying and when inside the temple, children wear small round caps of gold or silver brocade while men wear their black velvet caps and the women pull their saris over their heads. Prayers are followed by hugs and greetings with loud exclamations “Sa Mubarak”.Then the people visit their near and dear ones.Each visitor is offered something sweet and a glass of Faulda,a sweet milky drink cooked with a special type of vermicelli flavoured with rose essence and served chilled.