Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Zoroastrian Calendar

In honor of Sepandārmazgan, I decided to write a short post about the Zoroastrian calendar. When I visited the Ātashkadeh in Yazd, my Zoroastrian tour guide explained the calendar to me: it has 12 months, 30 days a month, and each day of the month has a different name. The first day is Ahura Mazda, God, and the 30th day is Anāram, light, which is a symbol of God. When the names of the day and month are the same, there is a festival, so there are 12 festivals a year. Sepandārmazd is the fifth day of the month, so on the 5th of its corresponding month, Esfand, there is a celebration. Esfand and Sepandārmazd are love, affection, and tranquility, and this day has become a celebration of love, especially towards mothers and wives. Historically, it was a celebration of Mother Earth as Sepandārmazgan takes its name from Spenta Armaiti, the feminine spirit of Earth. This day actually corresponds to February 24, but due to some historic changes in the calendars, it became February 18 or the 29th of Bahman on the Iranian calendar.

Calendar in the Fire Temple

Some of the names of the months slightly differ between the Zoroastrian and Iranian calendars, so I was particularly interested in August since that's the month I was born in. Mordād means mortal in Persian; however on the Zoroastrian calendar, it's Amordād, immortal, (ah, much better!), and the seventh day of the month. 

Names of the 30 days and their meanings
Names of the months and their meanings

Another interesting point about this calendar is that Zoroastrians fast four days of the month: Bahman, Māh, Goosh, and Rām. These are the 2nd, 12th, 14th and 21st days respectively. On these days, they don't eat meat but instead eat bread, rice, yogurt, potatoes and herbs thereby establishing a sense of equality with those who may not be able to afford meat. For people who are a little more financially strapped, they may even hold weddings on these days so as to avoid the feeling of roodarbaisti

Learning about these traditions after a tour of the Zoroastrian neighborhood intrigued me as to the way their customs really seemed to create equality and community. Stay tuned for tomorrow's post about how the architecture of Yazd's old Zoroastrian neighborhood plays a role in creating community.


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