Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tiregan


Tiregan or Jashn’e Tiregan is an ancient Iranian rain festival, observed on July 1st. Tiregan is the seventh of the seven most important and widely celebrated festivals in Iranian/Zoroastrian tradition. The seven in order of celebration frequency, popularity etc. are: Norooz; Sizdah be-dar (Farvardeengan), Charshanbeh Soori, Yalda (Daygan), Mehregan; Sadeh, Tiregan. Tir in modern Persian, Tishtar in Middle Persian or Pahlavi, and Avestan Tishtrya, is the Yazad presiding over the Star Sirius, brightest star in the sky, and of rain, and thus Tir Yazad especially invoked to enhance harvest and counter drought.


This event is celebrated in July (the Tir month of the Persian calendar) and refers to the archangel Tir (arrow) or Tishtar (lightning bolt) who appeared in the sky to generate thunder and lightning for much needed rain. It is said that Tishtar, in the form of a white horse with golden ears, battles it out with Apausha, the famine div, in the form of a black horse. After a few days of battle and just as it seems like Tishtar would be defeated, he asks Ahura Mazda for assistance and finally emerges victorious. As a result famine is removed and all fields benefit from the pouring rain.


Another legend says that Arash’e Kamangir was a man chosen to settle a land dispute between two leaders, Iran and Turan. When Manoochehr and Afrasiab determined to make peace and to fix the boundary between Iran and Turan, it was stipulated that Arash should ascend Mount Damavand, and discharge an arrow on the 13th day of Tir towards the east. The place in which the arrow fell should form the boundary between the two kingdoms. Arash thereupon ascended the mountain, and discharged towards the east an arrow, the flight of which continued from the dawn of day until noon, when it fell on the banks of the Jeyhun (the Oxus). Turan, who had suffered from the lack of rain, and Iran rejoiced the settlement of the borders, the peace and rain poured onto the two countries.

Today, some Iranians celebrate this occasion with dancing, singing, reciting poetry and serving spinach soup and sholeh zard. Besides a celebration dedicated to Tir, there appear to have been many customs associated with Tiregan. It has been observed that during this celebration children rejoice by swimming in streams and splashing water around.


Games such as moradula (bead-pot) or chokadula (fate-pot) have also been mentioned. In this game, the day before Tiregan an appointed girl washes a clay vase and covers its opening with a green silk cloth. She then goes around to other girls and whomever has a wish will deposit a small item such as a ring or coin in the vase. She then takes the vase and places it under a tree. The following day after water activities have concluded they all gather around at the tree and the elders recite poetry. After each recital an object is removed from the vase and its preceding poem is somehow interpreted according to the wish of the girl whose item has just been retrieved from the vase.


Another custom after the festivities and games is making a wristband out of seven individual strips, each of a different color. The wristband would be worn for nine days at which point its owner would released it in the wind or a stream to symbolically have the owner’s wishes taken away for delivery and fruition.

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