Gahambars, also known as seasonal festivals, are celebrated six times in a year. The literal meaning of the word Gahambar is ‘proper season’ or ‘full time’. These seasonal festivals are observed to commemorate the different seasons of the year, wherein each season is associated with one of the elements of the creation of the world. Hence, Gahambars pay tribute to the six phases of life, namely, sky, water, earth, plants, cattle and man. Instigated by King Jamshed, the festival is now celebrated by the entire Zoroastrian community all over the world. Various rituals and customs are followed to mark this occasion in a religious fashion. Browse through the lines below to know more about the traditions of the Gahambar festival.
Customs And Rituals Of Gahambar Festival
While each of the seasonal festival is linked with different elements of the earth’s creation, this occasion reminds all Zoroastrians about the seven main acts that they should perform in order to represent a true Parsi. These seven deeds consist of radih (being charitable), rastih (being truthful), celebrating the Gahambars, observing the three-day mourning ceremony after a death, worshipping God, building lodgings for the poor and wishing everyone good health. The first four days of the festival are engrossed with religious practices and offering prayers.
Four different liturgical services are performed during these four days, while the fifth day is reserved for communal interaction. A benediction ceremony, known as Afrin, is carried out to remember the ancestors. This is marked by prayers of love and praise. The yaztas (angels) and the fravashis are honored in the Baj prayers. This is followed by Yasna, the main Parsi tradition. The last of the four customs is Pavi, which is a social service practiced by priests and faithful devotees together. On the fifth day of Gahambar, a grand and luxurious feast is prepared that is donated and served to the devotees and the deprived as well.
The traditional food prepared on this occasion boasts of papeta ma gosht, which is prepared from meat and potatoes, a customary delicious soup called aush, fried bread called sirog and ajil or lork which is a combination of seven different dry fruits and nuts. This mixture usually consists of pistachios, roasted chick peas, almonds, hazelnuts, figs, apricots and raisins. However, the combination changes according to the locality, availability, taste and family preferences. Ajil is sometimes referred to as ajil-e moshkel-gosha, which means problem-solving nuts or ajil-e moshkel-asan, which signifies problem-easing nuts.