Iranian ancient Fire Festival

March 14, 2011

The last Wednesday before Nowruz (March 21st) is ChaharShanbeh Soori, Festival of Fire. ChaharShanbeh Soori or Charshanbe Soori, that literally means Wednesday Feast , is an ancient festival, dating back to 4000 years ago since the early Zoroastrian era, which is still celebrated the night before the last Wednesday of the year. The festivities start in the early evening. The people make bon-fires on the streets and jump over them. The streets coming alive with children and people as families spill out of their homes and greet each other. The young use much firework and firecrackers before and during the Chaharshanbe Soori. They jump over the fire and sing: “Sorkhie to az man, Zardieh man az to”, that means your redness (health) is mine, my paleness (pain, sick) is yours. In the past, the people run through the streets banging on pots and pans with spoons (Qāshoq Zani or spoon banging) to beat out the evil spirits. They will knock on doors while covered and in disguise and ask for treats. The practices are very similar to Halloween. Actually many scholars believe that the ancient ChaharShanbeh Soori, is the root of Halloween.

Charshanbeh Soori and Halloween

The ancient Iranians celebrated the last six days of the year in their annual obligation feast of all souls, Hamaspathmaedaya (Farvardigan or popularly Forodigan) which after the calendar reform under Ardasir I, the founder of the fourth Iranian dynasty, the Sasanians (224-651 CE). They believed Foruhars (fravahar), the guardian-angles for humans and also the spirits of dead would come back for reunion. These spirits were entertained as honored guests in their old homes, and were bidden a formal ritual farewell at the dawn of the New Year. The six-day festival also coincided with festivals celebrating the creation of fire and humans. In fact, The six feasts are assigned to a creation and its divinity in the order given in the Zoroastrian creation myth, the sixth being that of mankind, which was under the especial care, through his Holy Spirit, of Ahura Mazdā; and only its name, Hamaspathmaedaya, has yet to be satisfactorily explained. The ancient festival took place at night, and was probably called in Zoroaster’s day something like the “Night of Souls”. Each family then welcomed back their departed kindred to their old home, to be received with ritual blessings and gifts of consecrated food and clothing, the essence of which, through this consecration, was believed to reach them. The Fravasis, who were the family protectors, and it was presumably renamed «Night of the Fravasis» . Since Zoroastrianism seeks to further joy against sorrow, it was a happy celebration, with the hosts seeking to gladden their invisible guests with choice foods and with the brigthness cast by fires fragrant with incense.

The Wishes and Foods that is the Key elements in all Iranians Feast!

It is believed that wishes will come true on this night, reminiscent of ancient traditions. Wishes are made and in order to make them come true, it is customary to prepare special foods and distribute them on this night. Persian Noodle soup called ‘Ash’ or ‘Ashe Reshteh” that is cook Pottage Ribbon is made by themselves or assistance of friends and family members and serve it for guests and neighbors. It is cooked mainly by boiled beans and legumes, Spinach and some other vegetables, fried garlic and spearmint and noodles. And every one even strangers passing by will be served with nuts and dried fruits. This treat is called ‘Ajil-e Chahar Shanbeh Suri’ and is a mixture of seven dried nuts and fruits, pistachios, roasted chic peas, almond, hazelnuts, figs, apricots, and raisins. Local variations apply and the mixture is different according to the location and the group celebrating it
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The Islamic Regime, The Protesters, and Chaharshanbeh Soori

Khamenei and other Mullahs said that the Persian fire festival is an un-Islamic event which causes “a lot of harm.” Khamenei said: that Chaharshanbe Soori has “no basis in sharia (Islamic religious law) and creates a lot of harm and corruption, (which is why) it is appropriate to avoid it.” The interesting point is that the ancient Nowruz and Chaharshanbeh Soori are a secular or even anti-religion feast. In fact, Khamenei and Mullahs are disagreed with these Iranian national feasts. They think like other Arabs and Islamists and ask Iranians to be good Muslims, but Iranians first want to Persian or Iranian and then want to be like a Sufi or moderate Muslim. In Chaharshanbe Soori, the people will fight against Mullahs and the Islamic regime with using firecrackers and other firework stuff, and it would be very interesting.

For further reading:

[1] Iranica Encyclopedia
[2] Zarathusahtrian Assembly

[3] The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies

[4] Iranian Studies at Harvard University


The Secrets of Islamic Revolution

March 14, 2011

In March 1981, Beheshti that was the Head of regime’s Judiciary, sent a secret letter to Khomeini, the regime’s leader. The secret letter of Beheshti to Khomeini has published in the recent days and says: “We can see two different views among the leadership circle of the Islamic revolution … The first view, that is the view of minority, believes in Islam, Mullahs and Islamic fundamentalism. The second view, that is the view of majority, believes in Islam, but not in Mullahs and Islamic fundamentalism. The first view firmly believes in the Islamic values and theocracy. They believe in the superiority of Mullahs. But the second view doesn’t believe in all Islamic values and could open the door to anti-Islamic values and anti-Islamic management … Unfortunately the first view that has sought to enforce Islamic laws in our society and our government, has been a minority in both of Shah’s regime and Islamic regime … The first view that is our view, could become a majority, if it is supported … These days we can see that the second view condemn us and say that the we are reactionaries … The second view seeks to abolish Islam rule and theocracy (Velayate Faqih) … We think that the first view really has matured in the last years and could rule the country, the government and the army … If you prefer that the second view continues to rule the country, please order us to return to Qom and live like a simple Mullah as before. ”

Ayatollah Beheshti was very influential within leadership circles of Islamic Revolution of 1979. He was very notorious for his secret meetings with American and British agents. Ebrahim Yazdi revealed secrets about Beheshti and his connection with the US. Yazdi that was Khomeni’s advisor in Foreign Affaires, member of Revolutionary Council, and the Foreign Minister in the provisional government said (some years ago and after about 30 years):”Ayatollah Beheshti went to the US six months before the revolution. He went to Washington and New York secretly and stayed there for a month …. After the revolution, when the students occupied the American embassy, they got hold of documents concerning Beheshti’s negotiations with U.S. authorities but Khomeini prevented them from making them public ” He also added: “Brzezinski [Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Advisor] believed the only way to block Communism in Iran was coordination between the military and the clergy. His reasoning was that the clergy were anti-communist, and they also had the ability to mobilize the masses of people. Actually the US was looking at the clerics as an alternative.” As we said before William Sullivan, the US ambassador in Iran, has confirmed that the US had secret contacts with Beheshti In fact, Beheshti that was very influential within leadership circles of Islamic revolution acted as a broker between Khomeini and the West.


Iranian Calendar (1389)

March 14, 2011

This week is the last week of 1389 AP (3748 ZRE), i.e. in the Iranian Calendar or Jalali Calendar. Tomorrow night, is Chaharshanbe Soori, The Iranian ancient Fire Festival, and Iranians want to come in the streets and protest again.

There are many differences between Iranian Calendar and Gregorian Calendar and Islamic Calendar. The Iranian calendars are a succession of calendars invented or used for over four millennia in Greater Iran. One of the longest chronological records in human history, the Iranian calendar has been modified time and again during its history to suit administrative, climatic, and religious purposes. The early Zarathushtrians counted their era, the Zarathushtrian Religious Era (ZRE), from Nowruz (vernal equinox) of 1737 BCE. The credit of precisely calculating ZRE goes to an Iranian scholar, the late Zabih Behruz. Right now, we are going through the last days of the last month of 3748 ZRE. The modern Iranian calendar (Solar Hejri / Jalali Calendar) is now the official calendar in Iran. It begins on the vernal equinox as determined by astronomical calculations for Iran. This determination of starting moment is more accurate than the Gregorian calendar because it is synchronized with the vernal equinox year, but requires consulting an astronomical almanac. Its years are designated AP, short for Anno Persico. The Iranian year usually begins within a day of 21 March of the Gregorian calendar. [*]

The earliest evidence of Iranian calendrical traditions is from the second millennium BC, in the age of prophet Zoroaster, and the first fully preserved calendar is that of the Achaemenids. Throughout recorded history, Iranians have been keen on the idea and importance of having a calendar. They were among the first cultures to use a solar calendar and have long favored a solar over lunar and lunisolar approaches. The sun has always been a symbol in Iranian culture and is closely related to the folklore regarding Cyrus the Great himself. Yazdgerd III, the last ruler of the Sassanid dynasty, introduced the final changes to the ancient calendar. The year 632 CE was chosen as the beginning of a new era, and this last imperial Iranian calendar is known as the Yazdgerdi calendar. Before the Yazdgerdi calendar was completed, Muslim Arabs overthrew the dynasty in the 7th century and established the Islamic calendar, a lunar calendar. Umar, the second caliph of Islam, began numbering years in 17AH (638 CE), regarding the first year as the year of Muhammad’s Hijra (emigration) from Mecca to Medina, in September 622 CE. Years of the Islamic calendar are designated AH from the Latin Anno Hegirae.

The solar Jalali calendar was adopted on March 1079 CE in the era of the Seljuk Sultan Jalal al-Din Malik Shah I (for whom it was named), based on the recommendations of a committee of astronomers, including Omar Khayyam . Sultan Jalal commissioned the task in 1073 CE. Its work was completed well before the Sultan’s death in 1092 CE, after which the observatory would be abandoned. In these Calendar, the first six months (Farvardin–Shahrivar) have 31 days, the next five
(Mehr–Bahman) have 30 days, and the last month (Esfand) has 29 days or 30 days in leap years. The name of months are the same as their ancient Persian names:

Spring: 1-Farvardin (Guardian spirits, souls of the righteous) 2-Ordibehesht (Best Truth” / “Best Righteousness) 3-Khordad (Wholeness” / “Perfection)
Summer: 4- Tir (Sirius) 5-Mordad (Immortality) 6-Shahrivar (Desirable Dominion)
Autumn: 7-Mehr (Covenant/Sun) 8-Aban (Waters) 9-Azar (Fire)
Winter: 10-Dey (The Creator, i.e. Ahura Mazda) 11-Bahman (Good Mind) 12-Esfand (Holy Devotion)
The Persian year begins at the first day of Spring Season, i.e. the first day of Farvardin. It’s the best selection for the beginning of the new year. In Iranian Calendar each season begin at the first day of month, and it’s very good. The new year holiday season, or Nowruz Holidays are two weeks, i.e. the first two weeks of Spring. We recommend this sort of calendar to all of you. The New year should begin at Spring, not at Winter or Autumn. The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on February 1582 CE. You can find the date of today in all calendars here It’s a good website.

[*] To find the corresponding year of Solar Hejri year, subtract 621 or 622 (depending on the time of the year) from a the Gregorian calendar. And to find the corresponding year of Zarathushtrian year, add 1736 or 1737 (depending on the time of the year) to a the Gregorian calendar. And to To find the corresponding year of Zarathushtrian year, add 2359 to a Solar Hejri year.

For further reading:

[1] Iranica Encyclopedia
[2] Zarathusahtrian Assembly

[3] The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies

[4] Iranian Studies at Harvard University