Gahambars are one of the most important Zoroastrian festivals celebrated by the Zoroastrian community throughout the world. The word Gahambar basically signifies ‘proper season’ and hence, these Gahambars were initially agricultural in nature. However, with time and spread of the religion worldwide, the festivals have taken the form of a religious dimension. Though the festival was initiated by King Jamshed, it is now celebrated by all Parsis across the globe. Six different Gahambars are observed in association with the different seasons of the year. A time to feast and meet loved ones, Gahambars are commemorated with immense pride and honor. Read on further to know more about celebrating the Gahambar festival.
How Is Gahambar Celebrated
The first Gahambar is celebrated on the 11th day of the Parsi month of Ardibenesh, the second on the 11th day of Tir, the third on the 26th of Shehnever, the fourth on the 26th of Meher, the fifth on the 16th of Dai and finally, the sixth on the 1st of Gatha. Each of these Gahambars is commemorated with feasting and family get-togethers. People meet one another, prepare for the festivities and share different traditional delicacies amongst themselves and the poor. Usually, the first four days of the festival are marked by four different liturgical services, while the fifth day is reserved for meeting and interactions with loved ones.
Bay prayers are offered and the yaztas (angels) and fravashis are honored. Yasna, the main Parsi rite follows these prayers. The last of the four customs is Pavi wherein the priests and faithful devotees pray for the particular Gahambar being celebrated. The fifth and final day of the Gahambar is distinguished by a somber feast prepared by volunteers and served at one place. The poor and needy are also given a share of the gourmets made. The most commonly prepared dishes on Gahambar include papeta ma gosht (meat in potatoes), aush (traditional soup) and sirog (fried bread).
Apart from these hot delicacies, ajil or lork is distributed to every person present in the festive celebrations. Ajil is a mixture of seven different dried nuts and fruits, as the number seven is considered to be auspicious for the Zoroastrians. These seven nuts are pistachios, roasted chick peas, almonds, hazelnuts, figs, apricots and raisins. At places where these nuts are not available, people substitute with other nuts, such as roasted squash seeds, roasted melon seeds, walnuts, cashews and dried mulberries, as per the locality, taste, availability and family preferences.