Mehregan celebrations called off across Iran due to coronavirus

October 2, 2020 - 19:12

TEHRAN – Almost all Mehregan celebrations have been canceled across Iran due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The most notable was the congregational celebration scheduled to take place in Ardakan, Yazd province, on Thundery (October 1st concurrent with Mehr 10th of the Persian calendar), sources reported.

Mehregan typically brings together clusters of Iranian Zoroastrians in celebration of Mithra, an ancient goddess of friendship, affection, and love. The celebrations are usually opened up with keynote speeches by Zoroastrian religious figures and officials, followed by Shahnameh recitations, exciting contests, and other joyful customaries.

A key feature for the event is large spreads in purple laden with various ingredients, dishes, and elements each on behalf of a particular belief.  Fruits, vegetables, dried nuts, sweets, rosewater, grilled lamb meat, lotus seeds, and silver coins and a scale are typically placed, the latter symbolizes autumnal equinox.

Mehregan falls on the 196th day of the Iranian calendar year that usually equals October 2 in the Gregorian calendar. The festivity was used to be a traditional autumn harvest festival with several accounts on its origins.

During the Achaemenid era (c. 550–330 BC), Mehregan was observed in an extravagant style in Persepolis at a time for harvest when taxes were collected. Avestan texts divide the Iranian year into two equal parts or seasons; summer and the winter. The advent of the two seasons is celebrated in Noruz and Mehregan.

The legend says Mehregan was a day of victory for Fereydoon and Kaveh, who overcame Zahak. They imprisoned him in Mount Damavand where he later died of his wounds. After the capture of Zahak, Fereydoon was nominated as the king and the people celebrate this occasion with great fervor. The story has been narrated in Shahnameh, a long epic poem by the illustrated Persian poet Ferdowsi (940-1020 CE).

Last year, the Islamic Republic submitted five separate dossiers, including the Mehregan celebration, to UNESCO for possible inscription on the Intangible Cultural Heritage list.