Esfandgann: The Festivals to Honor the Earth and All Women

Esfandgann: The Festivals to Honor the Earth and All Women

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R. Delkhash: Artwork


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Based on the ancient Iranian worldview, the entire Earth is holy, and worthy of our gratitude and protection. Women represent the Earth’s human counterparts. To show the importance of Earth, in Zoroastrian literature, Earth is referred to as the Daughter of AhuraMazda (Creator), and Fire to be the Creator’s Son. AhuraMazda is made up of two attributes of Life Giving (Ahura, a male attribute) and Great Wisdom (Mazda, a female attribute). So implied, men and women are equal counterparts in life and bringing peace and joy to the world. Men represent Sky, and Women represent Earth. Together, they have made life possible. The bigger message is the collaboration and spirit of cooperation that we are capable of, and when applied, human-made problems can be solved. Many may not know that each of the 30 days in the ancient Iranian calendar has a unique name, and when the names of day and month match, a special feast is held to honor a special element (Earth, Water, Fire, etc.) or characteristic (e.g. Good Thoughts, Strong Leadership for and with Justice, etc.). Thus, we are constantly reminded of the importance of protecting the environment and doing our best to live in harmony with nature while innovating and progressing toward a prosperous and just society for all. On the first day of Esfand (12th month), women receive gifts from men. On the fifth day of Esfand, the festival of Esfandgaan or Sepandaarmez-gaan is celebrated to honor the fertile Earth and women. Again, women receive gifts from men. Salix Eagyptiaca (Musk Willow) is the healing flower for this last winter month of the year before the start of spring in March. Similar to Mother Earth providing for all living things, women’s roles in giving birth, raising children, and playing a vital role in society are recognized. According to the Book of Kings (Shahnameh) and other historical records, Iranian women became kings (King Pooraandokht, King Aazarmeedokht, etc.) and others like Gord-aafareed led in battles or became famous navy commanders, like Artemis. On this auspicious month, farmers get busy preparing their fields and clearing the water canals in preparation for planting trees and flowers. The central themes of being happy and bringing happiness to others are important aspects of these festivals. Festivals and celebrations eliminate depression and bring the community members closer to each other. Celebrating our connections with each other and recognizing our impact on the environment, are lessons we can learn from this and other ancient Iranian/Zoroastrian traditions.

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Ethnomusicology | Music


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English, Farsi

Esfandgann: The Festivals to Honor the Earth and All Women