So that all calamities may sink into the sea
July 3, 2003
In memory of Arash
the Archer (Kamangir)
Song by Khodi Kaviani
"Jashn e Tirgaan"
From the website of the Department of Art & Archaeology,
School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS),
University of London.
JASHN-E TIRGÂN (The Rain Festival) The festival of Tiragân
is observed on July 1st, and it is primarily a rain festival and
it is one of the three most widely celebrated feasts (along with
Mehregan and Norooz) amongst Iranian peoples. (*)
Tir in modern Persian,; Tishtar in Middle Persian or Pahlavi;
and Avestan Tishtrya, is the Yazad presiding over the Star Sirius,
brightest star in the sky, and of rain, and thus Tir Yazad especially
invoked to enhance harvest and counter drought (Av. Apousha).
Besides an Afrainagân or Jashn dedicated to Tir, there appear
to have been many customs associated with Tiragân.
Mary Boyce (Persian Stronghold of Zoroatrianism) mentions a game
of Moradula ('bead-pot') or chokâdula ('fate-pot'). She also
related the custom of tying rainbow-colored bands on their wrists
which were worn for ten days and then thrown into a stream. She
observed during her time in Sharif-Âbâd that many of
the charming old Tiragan customs had died away by the 1960's leaving "merry-making
by young people and children, who with a happy license... splash
and duck one another in the village streams."
Tiragan is also associated with the legend of the arrow ('tir'),
which is briefly alluded to in the Tishtar Yasht (Yt8.6):
"We honor the bright, khwarrah-endowed star Tishtrya who
flies as swiftly to the Vouru-kasha sea as the supernatural
the archer Erexsha, the best archer of the Iranians, shot from
Mount Airyo-xshutha to Mount Xwanwant. (7) For Ahura Mazda
gave him assistance; so did the waters ..."
An expanded account is found in 'Mirkond', History of the Early
Kings of Persia, Erekhsha Khshviwi-ishush (Pahlavi Arash-i Shiwâtir,
i.e. 'Arash of the swift arrow, and in modern Persian, known as
Arash-e Kamângir) was the best archer in the Iranian army.
When Manouchehr and Afrasiyab determined to make peace and to fix
the boundary between Iran and Turan, 'it was stipulated that Arash
should ascend Mount Damâvand, and from thence discharge an
arrow towards the east; and that the place in which the arrow fell
should form the boundary between the two kingdoms. Arash thereupon
ascended the mountain, and discharged towards the east an arrow,
the flight of which continued from the dawn of day until noon,
when it fell on the banks of the Jeyhun (the Oxus).'
The following Tirgan story from the Persian Rivâyâts
tie together many of these elements:
It is related that when the wicked Afrasiyab, the Tur, ruled
over the country of Iran, it did not rain, at that time, for 8
Afrasiyab, the Tur, asked the wise and the astrologers why it was
not raining. Zu Tahmasp answered: "You turned faithless, because
Faridoun had allotted to you Turkestan (only) and entrusted it
to you whereas he had allotted Iran to us and given it to us. You
turned away from that covenant and set it aside. It is for this
reason that, owing to this sin of yours, it does not rain." Afrasiyab
asked how this could be ascertained. Zu Tahmurasp said: "I
shall throw an arrow from here, and where my arrow falls, there
will be the boundaries (of your territory)."
Afrasiyab accepted and entered into a compact thus: "I shall
consent to have as the boundaries (of my territory) that place
where your arrow
settles and I shall go out of Iran." When this compact was
entered into, it was on the day Tir of the month Tir that Zu Tahmasp
uttered the name of God and
threw the arrow from the country of Iran and that arrow fell in
the country of Turan by the command of Lord Ohrmazd. When that
arrow settled in the country
of Turan, Afrasiyab took this witness that the rains did not come on account
of his faithlessness. Then Afrasiyab arose from that place and went out of
Iran with his army and settled in the country of Turan. The intelligence of
this spread on the day Govad and heavy rains poured down on the day Govad.
Then they assented to institute a festival in the country of Iran
on the day Tir of the month Tir and up to now the Dasturs of Iran
write a Nirang (formula)
and tie it on the hands of the faithful and remove it from their hands on
the day Govad, throw it into the sea on that day for the reason
that the glad tidings
of the return of Afrasiyab to Turan had reached on the day Govad. It is for
this reason that this nirang is untied from the hands and thrown into the
sea so that all calamities may sink into the sea.
(*) Tirgaan is the seventh of the seven most important and widely celebrated
festivals in Iranian/Zoroastrian tradition and not one of the three, as mentioned
in the article. The seven in order of celebration frequency, popularity etc.
are: Nowrouz; Seezde bedar (Farvardeengan), Chaharshanbe souri; Yalda (daygaan);
Mehrgan; Sadde; Tirgan. Even if we discounted seezde bedar and charshanbe
souri (Don’t see why) Yalda and Sadde are still much more prevalently
celebrated than Tirgan. -- Houman Younessi
this page to your friends