Mehregan: Persian Festival for Light, Friendship, and Love

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In the ancient Iranian calendar, the Mehregan Festival brightens up the sixteenth day of the Mehr Month (23 September to 22 October), signaling the start of winter. As one of the top festivals in Iran, it is more than just a change in seasons; it’s a cultural gem with roots dating back to over two thousand years ago. Mehregan pays tribute to Mehr, also known as Mithra or Mehr Izad, a deity symbolizing light, friendship, and love. It’s a six-day celebration that wraps up on the twenty-first day of the month, making it a significant event in Iran, second only to Nowruz.

As the warmth of summer fades and winter approaches, the festival becomes a time to honor ancient traditions. This celebration is not just about the weather—it’s a spiritual nod to Mithraism, where people worshipped Mithra, the god of light. Mehregan is like a bridge between the past and present, weaving together a six-day festival that kicks off with the arrival of autumn. It’s a cultural dance that connects us to the ancient reverence of Mithra, emphasizing values like friendship and love. In this festival’s glow, we experience a journey through time and tradition, feeling the lasting impact of this festival’s enduring spirit.

Mehregan History

Mehregan, an ancient Iranian celebration, held a significant place in the country’s history, cherished by Zoroastrian communities across different eras, from the olden days to the Pahlavi era. Dating back to the Achaemenid Era (330 – 550 BC), it was a time when Armenian subjects would gift the Persian king an astonishing 20,000 horses during Mehregan. As the years rolled on, the Sasanian Empire elevated Mehregan to the second most important celebration, right after Nowruz.

In those times, Persepolis witnessed grand festivities, drawing visitors from all corners of the empire, laden with gifts for the king. Mehregan not only marked the start of harvest but also served as tax collection time. The recorded gifts, some valued at over ten thousand gold coins, showcased the festival’s opulence. A curious tradition emerged – if a gift-giver needed money later, the court promised to return double the gift amount.

As history unfolded, the Mongol invasion dimmed the fervor of Mehregan, and today, the celebration survives mainly in Zoroastrian communities. Yazd and Kerman host the most significant gatherings, ensuring the spirit of Mehregan lives on in simpler times.

Mehregan Religion

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Photo by Sasha India on Wikimedia

Mehregan is a lively festival in Zoroastrian and Iranian culture that honors Mithra, also known as Mehr. Mithra is all about friendship, affection, and love, and this celebration brings people together in a colorful display of unity. The festival is like a big, warm hug, filled with laughter, hugs, and kindness inspired by Mithra. As communities join in the festivities, it becomes a vibrant canvas, telling a story of connection and shared joy that goes beyond time.

In the celebration, Mithra’s influence is like a thread weaving through everything, connecting people through friendship, affection, and love. The festival is a shared experience, where everyone celebrates not just Mithra but also the strong bonds they share. Whether through gift-giving or enjoying meals together, this festival becomes a living example of how our connections, much like Mithra’s goodness, are a source of strength and lasting happiness.

Mehregan Meaning

In Iranian culture, Mehregan is like a bright symbol that tells a story of beating the bad guys and making things right. This celebration is tied to religious beliefs and is all about justice winning over tyranny. In the Iranian way of thinking, they connect Mehregan to Mithra or Mehr, who is kind of like the Sun, spreading love and friendship. Mehr is also the one who keeps an eye on promises, making sure people stick to them and warning those who don’t. The festival is not just about enjoying the glow of Mehr; it’s a time when Iranians come together to celebrate being fair and sticking to their word.

In the colorful traditions of Iran, Mehregan is a special time when people celebrate the brightness of Mehr, which is like the Sun bringing warmth and friendship. It’s not just about religious stuff; it’s also about being good to each other. Mehr, like a guardian, watches over promises, making sure everyone keeps their word. During the festival, Iranians join in the festivities, weaving together commitments, joy, and shared values. It’s a time that highlights not only the bright spirit of Mehr but also the strong sense of togetherness and friendship, making this festival an important and lively part of Iranian culture.

Mehregan in English

Mehregan is a Persian celebration that takes place during the September equinox. As briefly mentioned above, Mehregan, or Jashn-e Mehr, is an Iranian festival all about honoring Mithra, the yazata of love and friendship. Imagine a lively celebration where people come together to appreciate the goodness that Mithra represents. It’s like a big, colorful party where everyone gets to enjoy the good vibes of friendship, affection, and love.

During the festival, communities light up with excitement, painting the town with lively colors and filling the air with cheerful festivities. It’s a special time when people focus on being great pals, just like Mithra intended. With rituals, music, and dance, the festival becomes a festive playground where everyone can bask in the glow of friendship and love. It’s a timeless celebration that shows how traditions, like this festival, can bring people closer and make the world a bit brighter.

How to Celebrate Mehregan

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Photo by Wojciech Kocot on Wikimedia

In the olden days, this festival was a lively celebration filled with music and songs. People would wear new magenta-colored clothes and come together. They brought gifts, nicely wrapped and scented, placing them on a magenta blanket. The blanket held a mix of symbolic items like Evergreen Flowers, Tamarisk or Haoma tree branches, and red fruits such as grapes, pomegranates, apples, and quince. They also included local foods, books like Avesta and Shahnameh, verses from Hafiz, mirrors, a lit fire like candles, Espand, saffron, sweets, special bread, rose water, and a drink made from Haoma. After enjoying the food and drinks, they danced as a group, sang Mehregan songs, and ended by clasping hands to renew their friendships.

Mehregan 2024

Today, Zoroastrians keep the tradition alive by gathering in fire temples and prayer halls. They prepare traditional foods, pray, and celebrate on the Mehr day of the Mehr month. Jalal Al-Ahmad, a famous Iranian writer, even connects the tradition of cleaning carpets (Ghlishuyi) in Mashhad to Mehregan. The celebration continues as a mix of ancient rituals and modern expressions, a vibrant tapestry of culture, joy, and unity.

Mehregan Food

During Mehregan, families create a beautiful table called “sofreh,” much like they do for Nowruz. This table isn’t just for show—it’s a tradition that goes way back. Kings used to change into warmer clothes during the festival, so people started wearing something new on this day. The sofreh, covered in a royal purple cloth, is the star of the show. It’s filled with meaningful things like dried marjoram, a mirror, incense, a holy book called The Avesta, silver coins, and a container for kohl (sormeh-dan), along with seeds, nuts, and fruits like pomegranates and apples.

When the sun is high in the sky, families gather in front of the mirror to say prayers and sing songs. Everyone sips on Sharbat (Iranian juice) or pomegranate juice and puts kohl around their eyes—it’s believed to bring good luck and keep away bad vibes. Seeds, like lotus and sugar plum, are thrown over each other’s heads, a fun way to share good wishes. This is the heart of ancient Persian festival, a time for families to come together, following ancient customs, and exchanging gifts and hugs with joy.

FAQs about Mehregan

Q1: Why is Mehregan celebrated?

A1: Mehregan is a festival in Iran that celebrates a Zoroastrian angel named Mithra. Back in the days of the Achaemenid Empire (around 330–550 BC), the Armenians, who were under the rule of the Persian king, used to present him with 20,000 horses each year as part of the this festivities.

Q2: How old is Mehregan?

A2: The Mehregan festival has its roots in the second millennium B.C. It kicks off in the early days of autumn, lasts for six days, and concludes on the 21st day of the month, known as Ram day. During the Achaemenid calendar and likely even earlier, the festival took place on the first day of Mehr.

Q3: What is the Persian holiday for fall equinox?

A3: Mehregan is a Persian celebration that takes place during the September equinox.

Q4: What is the ceremony of Mehregan?

A4: Mehregan is a feast that celebrates the harvest and abundance. This annual festival occurs at the start of autumn and is marked by community gatherings, traditional music, and the sharing of festive meals. These activities create a lively atmosphere that fosters stronger community bonds.

Q5: Who is Mitra the goddess of light?

A5: Mithra was known as the Mediator and was regarded as the god of the sun, representing the radiant light that sees all. Consequently, people invoked Mithra in their oaths. Both the Greeks and Romans viewed Mithra as a sun god, and, likely, he was also considered the deity of kings.

Last Words: Experience the Best of Mehregan with a Customized Tour

The Mehregan Festival is an old celebration in Iran that happens when winter starts. It’s been around for a long time, over two thousand years, and it honors a deity called Mehr, who represents light, friendship, and love. The festival lasts for six days, ending on the twenty-first day of the month. It’s a big deal in Iran, second only to Nowruz.

To truly savor the essence of this celebration, one should consider traveling to Iran in a manner that is as unique as the festival itself. This is where Customized Tours come into play, offering a personalized and tailored approach to your exploration of Mehregan. To Iran Tour, a leading name in Iran tours and travel packages, specializes in crafting bespoke experiences for travelers keen on discovering the beauty of this Persian festival and other cultural gems in the country.

Let us be your guide in creating a tailored adventure that encapsulates the magic of this ancient festival, ensuring that your time in Iran is not just a trip but a cherished memory.

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