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Grapes in Rituals in Iran

Grapes in Rituals Grapes in Rituals

Rituals, celebrations, and myths interpret the relationship between mankind and universe. They represent a blend of beliefs, religious truths, memorable incidents, and archetypal fears and understanding of creation and the world.

Some myths may evolve over time and be recreated in another form. The culture of every race and nation is based on myths partly with sacred connotations. Grapes have such connotations, CHTN reported, referring to an article by Hassan Sepehrfar.

Grapes are considered heavenly, and are mentioned in holy books such as Quran: “And we brought forth for you thereby gardens of palm trees and grapevines in which for you are abundant fruits and from which you eat”, Surat Al-Mu’minun ‘The Believers’, verse 19, as translated in quran.com.

 Connotations

According to anthropological myths, when Noah’s Ark descended on Ararat Mountain after the Deluge, he planted a vine in the fertile soil of Ararat as sign of praise and gratitude. Other narratives of the same story exist in different nations.

Grapes symbolize wisdom, agriculture, hospitality, fertility, and immortality in many nations. In Egyptian art, bunch of grapes symbolizes the heart, because of the similarity of shape, color and the blood-like juice.

Armenians and Assyrians of Iran have a ritual for grapes called “Holy Mary’s Ascension Feast” on 15th of Nawasard, the first Armenian month literally meaning ‘new year’, and Assyrian month of Tdabbakh coinciding with Persian Mordad (Zoroastrian Ameretat ) 24, that is August 15. In this ritual, grapes are blessed by a priest while reciting prayers.

 Grapes Not Sour!

Like the rest of Iranian Christians, Assyrians of West Azerbaijan Province hold the same ritual on “Sharad Marti Maryam”, the date which is actually the day of Holy Mary’s passing away. The ceremony is called ‘Khaquq Orhang’ in Armenian language, a time when grapes are not that sour but not yet sweet, or when they are sweet/sour.

Christians attend churches in villages around Urmia and offer their vows through acts such as sacrificing a sheep or a rooster for the purpose of purification, or to appeal to God for granting a wish, etc. The sacrificed meat is then served for lunch.

Before lunch is served, the priest, accompanied at times by the congregation, recites prayers, gospel songs, and verses from the Bible. At the end, he blesses grape clusters with prayers and distributes them among the crowd. From that day onwards eating grapes is “halal” (religiously permitted and lawful).

Each of these religious rituals and celebrations are set for a certain purpose affecting the way it is performed. Studying their mythological, social, and cultural aspects, the most important function and role of such ceremonies may include:

congregation of people in a sacred religious place, praising God and showing gratitude for numerous blessings granted;

providing a ground for better establishment of social values and beliefs, and creating moral balance;

transfer of values, rituals and traditions to next generations through the ceremonies.

Grapes day ceremonies date back to centuries before Christ. Grapes and first seasonal fruits were offered to household deities with the expectation that the god will return something of value, a well known  saying called do ut des ‘I give you that you might give’. In harvest season, orchards were thus blessed by this act which, later, in Christian period, was transformed into a religious feast.

Financialtribune.com