Friday, October 07, 2005

Celebration of Mehregan

Happy Mehregan to all lovers of Iran, to all lovers of light, happiness and love and to those who honour their word.

After Nowrooz, the festival of Mehregan is the most important celebration in the Iranian calendar. In the good old days, the good religion of our forefathers was about righteousness and happiness. Sadness and melancholy were frowned upon and unlike today where Iranians are told to mourn and lament, the old calendar was full of festivities and celebrations.

There are many accounts for Mehregan. Upon Mehregan it is said that the wise Lord, Ahuramazda, gave light to the world, that had previously been dark. Mehregan also marks the day in our mythical calendar, where the blacksmith Kaveh rallied the people around Fereydoon, the Iranian heir to the throne, and toppled the foreign tyrant Zahak who had seized the Iranian Kingdom.

Mehr in Avestan is "Miora" and in ancient Persian and is "Mithra". The word "Mehr" has many meanings in Persian. It can mean love and it is also a symbol of the sun. Mehr can also mean promise and covenant. Ahura-Mazda was said to have created Mithras in order to guarantee the authority of contracts and the keeping of promises. The divine duty of Mithras was to ensure general prosperity through good contractual relations between men. It was believed that misfortune would befall the entire land if a contract was ever broken.

Mehr is also the seventh month of the Iranian calendar. The time for harvest, when visitors from different parts of the empire brought gifts for the Shahanshah, the King of Kings, during a lively jubilant festival.

Mehr was also considered to be a God of heroism and warfare. The Iranian soldiers were strong believers of Mehr and their songs for Mehr gave them courage in warfare. With expansion of Persian Empire, the worship of Mehr was taken to other countries, including Rome.

By the first century A.D., Mithraism was a familiar religion in Rome and gradually spread throughout Western Europe as far as the shores of the Black Sea and the North Sea. Many people converted to this Iranian belief, since it was religion of ethics, hope, courage and generosity. Archeological excavations throughout Europe and Iran's neighboring countries have uncovered the buried remains of many Mehr temples. Quite a number of the very old churches of Europe were built in the style of these temples.

Many Roman Emperors converted to Mithraism. One emperor, Julianus, became a devoted follower of Mithra, and decided to go to Iran to visit the country of his God. On route he was murdered. As he lay dying, he threw his blood towards the sun and said "this is my gift to you".

There are still many rituals, traditions, beliefs and prayers of Mithras that have survived the popularity of Christianity or indeed have influenced it. Some of these can be found in the Christian religion, such as the holy day, Sunday. This is a day that was named after the sun i.e. Mehr. Mithras represented a system of ethics in which brotherhood was encouraged in order to unify against the forces of evil. The worshippers of Mithras believed in a celestial heaven and an infernal hell.

Purification was through a ritual of baptism required of the faithful, who also took part in a ceremony in which they drank wine and ate bread to symbolize the body and blood of the god.

Happy Mehregan to all lovers of Iran, to all lovers of light, happiness and love and to those who honour their word.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog! I've just started blogging about Iran myself based on my own experiences (lived/worked there for 3 years). I will link to your blog from mine.