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24 July, 2012

Gahambars

Posted in : Recipes, Traditions on by : Rita

Gahambars

Zoroastrianism has number of festival and sacred occasions and Gahambars* are considered most auspicious among the others. Gahambars a festival celebrated by Parsi community is marked in honor of Sky, Waters, Earth, Plants, Cattle and Man which are responsible for the creation of the whole world. There are six Gahambars in a year and each of these gahambars spans for five days.

First Gahambar comes around on the eleventh day of Parsi month ‘Ardibenesh’

Second on eleventh of ‘Tir’

Third on twenty-sixth of ‘Shehnever’

Fourth on the twenty-sixth of ‘Meher’

Fifth on sixteenth of ‘Dai’

Sixth on the first of ‘Gatha’.

Significance of Gahambars

The festival of Gahambars holds great significance among the Parsi community as it is celebrated as a manifestation of good deeds that a true Parsi must have, here are seven acts of goodness.

Radih or being charitable

Rastih or being truthful

Celebrating the Gahambars

Observing a three-day ceremony after death

Worshipping God

Building lodgings for the poor

Wishing everyone’s well

Reason for celebrating the Gahambars

Observing a three-day ceremony after death

Worshipping god

Building lodgings for the poor

Wishing everyone’s well

The Occurances of Gahambars

The celebrations of six Gahambars falling in a year is observed for five days and are based on its own themes as shown below :

Date

Gahambar Name

Meaning

Apr 30 – May 4

Maidyozarem

Mid-spring feast

Jun 29 – Jul 3

Maidyoshem

Mid-summer feast

Sep 12 – Sep 16

Paitishem

feast of bringing in the Harvest

Oct 12 – Oct 16

Ayathrem

feast during Herding time

Dec 31 – Jan 4

Maidyarem

Mid-winter feast

Mar 16 – Mar 20

Hamaspathmaidyem

feast of all souls

Celebrations of Gahambars

Traditionally, Gahambars are occasions of feasting and get-togethers. During Gahambars devotees meet, prepare for the celebrations, helps to make the food and share various delicacies communally. On this festival different dishes, according to taste, availability and family needs are prepared that includes fresh and dried food items. Apart from the hot food items a mixture of dry fruits, called Ajil is distributed among the members of family to take with them. Dry fruits like almonds, cashew-nuts, hazelnuts, apricots and roasted seeds are the key ingredients for making the meal.

On the first four days of Gahambars Festival, four liturgical services are performed. The fifth day is reserved for communal interaction. Prayers of love and praise are held in remembrance of one’s ancestors in a benediction ceremony called Afrin. In the Baj prayers, the yaztas, or angels, and the fravashis are honored followed by the main Parsi rite, Yasna. Pavi is the last of the four customs for social service and the priests and faithful pray together.

On the fifth day of Gahambar, a solemn feast is organized where, anyone can either donate or serve at the feast. Each day of a year is a day under the supervision of an angel while a festival day is cared by a group of angels.

In India:

Gahambars were originally agricultural in nature, but as Zoroastrianism spread far and wide, assumed a religious dimension. King Jamshed was the first person to observe this festival. Gahamabar has become an important community feasts by all Parsis all over the world. Traditionally, Gahambars are occasions of feasting and get-togethers.

This festival wipes out the all discrimination and treats all people as equal in India. During this festival, people from all walks of life gather here to celebrate Gahambar. People unite on this day forgetting all differences. This festival serves a special purpose as it reminds the Parsis of their true roots and origin.

Gahambar, counted as one of the most popular Zoroastrian festivals, is celebrated by Zoroastrians all over the world. Gahambar is the term, which literally means proper season, when translated into English. Interestingly enough, Gahambar is celebrated by the Parsis six times in the year. People celebrate this festival to pay tribute to the seasons.

Gahambar Festival celebrates nature worship. People pay homage to the different phases of the natural elements during this festival. The six different phases of the Gahambar celebration are heaven, water, earth, flora, fauna and man. This nature worship is done with great devotion and sanctity.

Gahambar pays tribute to the six phases, which are related to the creation of the world. The celebration of the festival continues for more than five day and involves lots of enjoyment and fanfare. This festival is unique to the Zoroastrian community, where the people of this faith worship God and Creation. Several rituals are involved in making this festival successful as well as grand. It fosters the feeling of universal brotherhood among all the citizens.

During the Gahambar festival, people devote themselves in doing various good deeds. It teaches people to be truthful and charitable. People also build homes for the poor people during this festival. People engage themselves in various social works as well.

During the first four days of the festival, four rites of public worship services are carried out. Communal interaction is done on the fifth day. Gahambar celebration starts with a benediction ceremony, which is popularly known as Afrin. During this ceremony, prayers of love and in praise for the ancestors are done so as to mark this festival. Another important part of the Gahambar is the Baj prayers. During this festival, Yasna is strictly followed. Pavi is a prayer of the Zoroastrian that is performed during this festival. Feast is organized on the fifth day.

In …

Author’s Note: In England, USA, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, HongKong, Malaysia and other countries have started celebrating Gahambars as much as their local associations can afford. May the holy flame live on everywhere.

Malido, a sweet confection is made for Gahambars.

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