Tirgan: The Festival of Rain
Friday, July 4, 2014
Tirgan also known as Jashn-e Tirgan (The feast of Tiregan) is an ancient Iranian festival coinciding with the mid summer festivals.
The feast of Tirgan is an ancient Iranian celebration, which is still celebrated among Iranian Zoroastrians, Parsis of India and some Iranian Muslims in various parts of Iran.
The celebration is widely attested by historians such as Abu Saʿīd Gardēzī, Biruni and Al-Masudi, as well as European travellers to Iran during the Safavid era. This event is celebrated on the 13th day of the month of Tir, (the 4th month of the Persian calendar) which equates to the 2nd or 3 July in the Gregorian Calendar.
The Tirgan festivity refers to the archangel, 'Tir' (meaning arrow) or 'Tishtar' (lightening), referring to thunder storms that bring much needed rain that boost harvest and avert drought.
Ancient legend of the Tir (arrow) refers to “Arash of the swift arrow” or 'Arash the archer' (Arash-e Kamangir).
According to the Zoroastrian calendar, each thirty days of the month carries a name. The thirteenth day of the month of Tir on the Persian calendar (June 22 - July 22) is named after the respective month, Tir.
Legend has it that Arash was the best archer in the Persian army. He was selected to settle a land dispute between Persia and Turan (present day Central Asia).
When the kings of the two lands - Manouchehr and Afrasiyab - decided to settle their dispute and to set a permanent boundary between Persia and Turan, they arrived at a mutual understanding that Arash should climb to the tall Mount Damavand's peak, and from there shoot an arrow toward the east. Wherever his arrow landed, they agreed, would determine the boundary between the two kingdoms.
Arash shot his arrow (Tir) on the 13th day of the Persian month of Tir, which fell on the banks of the Jeyhun (the Oxus) River. Thus, the borders of the two countries were marked.
"We honor the bright, khwarrah-endowed star, Tishtrya, who flies as swiftly to the Vouru-kasha sea as the supernatural arrow which the archer, Erexsha, the best archer of the Persians, shot from Mount Airyo-xshutha to Mount Xwanwant. (7) For Ahura Mazda gave him assistance; so did the waters ...," Tishtar Yasht (8.6).
Legend has it that as soon as the border dispute was settled, rain began pouring down on both lands, which had been suffering from an eight-year drought.
Thus this day, the 13th of Tir (July 4th) is celebrated as the Festival of Rain.
It is customary for Zoroastrians to tie rainbow-colored ribbons around their wrists for ten consecutive days and toss the ribbons into a stream on the day of the festival.
The Festival of Rain is celebrated by people dancing, singing, reciting poetry and serving delicacies such as spinach soup and 'sholeh zard' (saffron flavored rice pudding).