Jashn-e Mehregan, Persian Harvest Festival

Jashn-e Mehregan,  Persian Harvest Festival
Jashn-e Mehregan,  Persian Harvest Festival

Jashn-e Mehregan or Mehregan Fest is an ancient Persian festival dating back to as far as the earliest Aryans (Iranians).

It is widely referred to as the Persian Festival of Autumn or harvest.

The word ‘Mehr’ (in Mehregan) in the Persian language means kindness. Mehr represents knowledge, love, light and friendship.

In ancient Iran, the year was divided into two equal seasons: summer and winter. The beginning of each season was welcomed by holding a big celebration: Nowruz (New Year) and Mehregan, heralding the harvest season.

Unlike the Christian year which starts in the cold season, the Iranian year begins in the spring season when Mother Nature ‘gets lively once again after the long, cold winter’.

 Dedicated to Light

The seventh month in the Zoroastrian calendar is named Mehr and is dedicated to light - Mithra or Mehr. Followers believe that it signifies defeat of evil and darkness, a scene that is often depicted with a triumphant lion resting over a bull.

The tenth day of Mehr is dedicated to light.

Mehregan also marks the harvesting season and the coming of winter. This was originally an old Aryan feast.

Mehr, according to some historians, was probably the first month of the old-Persian year (pre-Zoroastrian). The feast, too, was probably carried forward from Persian tradition, and perhaps took the place of an earlier Iranian New Year festival dating from some prehistoric time of the Aryan calendar, when the year began in the autumnal equinox.

 Different Renditions

There are many different renditions of how and why Mehregan has come about:

Jashn-e Mehregan is a time when harvesting is completed and people celebrate it as thanksgiving to the Almighty God. It is a time for love and gratitude for life.

Some say Mehregan was a day of victory for Fereydoon and Kaveh, who won over Zahak with the help of angels. They imprisoned him in Mount Damavand where he later died of his wounds. After the capture of Zahak, Fereydoon was nominated as the king and the people celebrate this occasion with great fervor. (This story has been related in Shahnameh, a long epic poem written by the revered Persian poet Abolghasem Ferdowsi (940-1020 A.D.) in the tenth century, and considered a literary masterpiece. Shahnameh is also the world’s longest epic poetry created by a single poet.)

Others say that the Mehregan festival came about when God gave light to the world, which had been dark up to that point, or the Sun was created.

Yet others argue that on this day Mashia and Mashyaneh, who are the conceptual Semitic Adam and Eve, were brought into existence.

No matter what the origins, Persians all over celebrate this festival in the fall signifying the season of harvest and thanksgiving. Friendships are renewed and families are visited.

The festival is also a reminder of the cornerstone of Zoroastrianism - good words, good thoughts and good deeds.

Celebrations end with bonfires, fireworks and rejoicing on this merry occasion. Zoroastrians in Iran are celebrating this auspicious occasion on Thursday, October 2.