Tirgan: The Zoroastrian Festival of the Rains by Pablo Vazquez
In this informative article, we learn about the festival of Tirgan, celebrated on 1st July 2022 this year, its meaning, traditions and importance. We thanks the author Pablo Vazquez for another informative and interesting contribution.
WZO will be celebrating Tirgan at WZO House in the UK on Sunday 10th July – further information can be found in our most recent newsletter on our News page.
What is Tirgan?
Tirgan occurs when the day of Tir intersects with the month of Tir on the Zoroastrian liturgical calendar which this year, on the Fasli calendar, means it falls on July 1st. Tir is the modern form of the Avestan Tishtrya which refers to the Yazata of the rains and storms, the fertility they provide, hidden wisdom, and the dual-star Sirius, the most brilliant of the visible stars. Said mythologically to be constantly engaged in combat with Apaosa, the Daeva of drought, Tishtrya was particularly important to the ancient Persianate people as representing the succor of storms against the common droughts and parched lands of the Central Asian steppes and Iranian deserts. Tirgan became conflated in the Post-Conquest period with the celebrations of the tales of Arash, an Avestan hero-saint who became popular due to the Shahnameh and other tales spread through Iranian society in an atmosphere of Arab dominance. In the tales, Arash is asked to decide the borders of the Iranians and their cousin-enemies the Turanians by firing an arrow which, through prayer and the aid of the Amesha Spenta, flies for an exceedingly long time with some saying days, weeks, or even years before landing and securing the Iranians the greatest amount of land possible. As such, Tirgan in the modern Persianate world carries both connotations of Persian pride and spiritual connotations of the importance of the life-giving rains still to Persianate society.
How was/is Tirgan celebrated?
The astrological and esoteric attachments to Tirgan persist to this day even if it was strong in many centuries past. It was viewed as an auspicious day for divination, to conduct rituals and ceremonies, and to plant certain foods and flowers. Water played a huge part in the celebrations and have become so central to Tirgan that they have overshadowed the astrologically auspicious elements by a rather important margin. Splashing and throwing water at each other, even dousing unsuspecting passer-bys on Zoroastrian streets, is practiced joyously on Tirgan, along with the eating of sweets, the recitation of verse (whether poetry, Gathas, or free-form), great dancing and feasting, and, of course, ritualization and prayer.
Why is Tirgan important?
It reminds us Zoroastrians of the importance and sacredness of the cycle of nature where even something as simple as rain can be life-changing and life-saving. In the modern world, we lose ourselves sometimes from being attuned to nature and its myriad and sometimes unpredictable ways. However, if we are to remain a faith strictly committed to our ecological virtues and defense of the ever-threatened natural world, we must realize our own place in it and learn to love the rain, those raging and rolling storms, just as much as we enjoy our sunny and calm days. We must also be like Tishtrya in fighting against the degradation of our planet and work towards relieving the suffering of all beings whenever possible. If we can be the ones who could quench the thirst of poverty, hunger, oppression, illiteracy, and more for others, then we must be like the rain and share our blessings with those who desperately need them.