Jashn-e-Sadeh, The Festival of Fire

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fereydoon Tarapour


Iran's Zoroastrian community holds the Jashn-e-Sadeh festival, celebrating the discovery of fire on Jan. 29 or the tenth of the Persian month of Bahman also known as 'the day of kindness'.

Considered one of the biggest Persian festivities in ancient times, Jashn-e-Sadeh is still celebrated by Zoroastrians throughout the world.

Sadeh is a mid winter festival celebrated fifty days before Nowruz (the Persian New Year) to honor fire and to defeat darkness, frost and cold.

The name Sadeh, meaning hundred in Persian, refers to the total of one hundred days and nights left to the beginning of the New Year.

The festival dates back to the time of Hushang, the first Kianid King who discovered how to light a fire.

Zoroastrians believe that Jashn-e-Sadeh recalls the importance of fire, energy and light -- the light that comes from God and is found in the hearts of all creatures.

Some people consider the day to be sacred because they believe that hell was born from the winter on this day and that its fire could compensate for the extreme cold of the winder days.

On this blessed day, Zoroastrians lit a huge bonfire in every town and city, gather around it and perform religious rituals and thank God for His blessings. The Mubads (religious authorities) recite the Gathas (religious hymns) and pray for the sovereignty of the country.

Fire, which is considered as a symbol of purity and knowledge, has two special peculiarities in Zoroastrianism:

1. It has the power of immediately transmuting everything it touches into a likeness of itself;

2. The flames of fire always tend upwards, symbolizing the human yearning for the Higher Life.

Thus, according to Eternal Law, by which all progress upwards is guided, fire is the very natural step toward such Higher Life.

Zoroastrians keep fire burning in their fire temples as a symbol of purity. They pray in front of the fire and believe it cannot be defiled as long as it is burning.

It should be noted that Zoroastrians do not worship fire. It is only a symbol of purity and a remembrance of one of God's best blessings for humanity.

The Iranian Prophet Zarathustra chose fire as his symbol, for it is believed by some to be the purest among God's creations.

When Prophet Zarathustra talks about fire in the Gathas, he speaks of the fire of life in the human body, which gets extinguished only when one dies. It is this fire that we are expected to keep pure.

Avesta, the Holy Book of Zoroastrians, discusses different types of fire such as the fire of Nobility, the fire of Happiness, and the fire of Good Life.

Human beings should keep the fire of conscience and the fire of mind pure and feed them with 'Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds'.

The Zoroastrian community in Tehran celebrated Jashn-e Sadeh at the city's Marker Hall, while similar ceremonies were held in other Iranian cities including Isfahan, Yazd, Shiraz and Kerman.


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