Mehregan Festival in Iran
The September Equinox was celebrated as the “Mehregan Festival” every year on 10th to 16th of Mehr (the first autumn month on the Persian calendar) by ancient Iranians. Ancient Persian calendar divides a year into two parts. The first part of year starts with Nowruz, the celebration of spring, and the second part starts with Mehregan, the celebration of autumn. Therefore, Mehregan is the most important ancient Iranian festival after Nowruz.
Mehregan is celebrated in honor of Mithra, the goddess of light, friendship, affection and love, and to celebrate the harvest season before the arrival of winter. Ancient Iranians believed that Fereydoun the legendary hero defeated Zahhak the evil king on this day. It is also believed that this day is the day when Mashi and Mashiane, the first male and females were created.
With 4000 years of antiquity, Mehregan Festival was celebrated in lands from Iran, India to Europe since 2000 B.C. when the Achaemenid kings ruled the land of Persia, to show gratitude for all the blessing in the world and kindness and love between the human beings.
Mehregan thanksgiving festival is still celebrated by the followers of Zoroastrianism in Iran in cities like Yazd and Kerman. On this day, the participants wear purple and prepare congratulation cards wrapped in beautiful fragrant envelopes. They set a table with a purple tablecloth and ornament it with an evergreen flower, Haoma which is a sacred plant in Zoroastrianism, and some autumn fruits like grape, pomegranate, apple, etc. After having some traditional bread and confection, they play music perform a group dance and then start a fire to cherish the generosity of the earth for all the blessing and agricultural products.
|Mehregan Festival - Iran
Mehregan Festival; Persian Mitra and Greek Mithras
Speaking of the Mehregan festival in Iran, maybe it is not irrelevant to compare Mitra and Mithras, the two deities from ancient religions that share some similarities but also have distinct differences.
Mitra is a god of the ancient Indo-Iranian pantheon, worshipped primarily in Persia and India. He is associated with the sun, light, and contracts. Mitra is often depicted as a benevolent deity who upholds moral order and maintains social harmony. He is known as a protector of truth, friendship, and oaths. Mitra's worship involved rituals such as animal sacrifices and offerings to ensure his favor.
On the other hand, Mithras is a god from the Roman mystery cult known as Mithraism or the Mithraic Mysteries. This religion was popular among soldiers and merchants in the Roman Empire during the 1st to 4th centuries CE. Mithras is often depicted slaying a bull, symbolizing his role as a mediator between heaven and earth. He represents loyalty, bravery, and victory over evil forces.
While both Mitra and Mithras are associated with solar aspects, they differ in their cultural origins and religious practices. Mitra originates from ancient Indo-Iranian traditions while Mithras emerged within the Roman Empire through syncretism with Persian beliefs.
Additionally, Mitra's worship was more widespread across Persia and India, while Mithras' cult was limited to specific initiates within the Roman military or merchant communities.
In conclusion, Mitra and Mithras share some common themes such as solar symbolism but differ in their cultural origins, religious practices, and extent of worship. Both deities played significant roles in their respective religious contexts but developed distinct identities within their respective pantheons.
Mitra was worshipped in ancient Persia and celebrated during the winter solstice with feasts and rituals. Mithras, worshipped in the Roman Empire, had secretive initiation ceremonies and celebrated his birth on December 25th.
Considerations for joining Persian Mehregan Festival
Mehregan festival is an ancient Iranian celebration which is a time when families and friends come together to enjoy traditional foods, music, and dance. However, there are several considerations to keep in mind before taking part in this festival. Firstly, it is important to respect Iranian customs and dress modestly. Secondly, alcohol consumption is partly prohibited, meaning you can have a little wine in family gatherings and celebrations. But above all, visitors must adhere to laws and traditions. Lastly, visitors should be mindful of their safety and stay with their guides during the festival. Overall, participating in Mehregan festival can be a wonderful and unique cultural experience as long as one is respectful and mindful of local customs and traditions.
Book your tours with PackToIran team for October, in order to take part in Mehregan Festival: