Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Celebrating Yalda in Iran

Throughout history religions and governments have tried to remove the Goddess from the world, but people always have and always will pay homage to her in one way or another: Yalda, the victory of light over darkness Tue, 18 Dec 2007 22:00:40 By Tamara Ebrahimpour, Press TV, Tehran On Yalda festival, Iranians celebrate the arrival of winter, the renewal of the sun and the victory of light over darkness. Considered the longest night of the year, Yalda eve is the night when ancient Iranians celebrated the birth of Mithra, the goddess of light. Every 21st of December Iranians celebrate Yalda which means birth in Syriac. It is believed that when this night ends, days become longer as light (Sun) has defeated darkness. Ancient Persians believed that evil forces were dominant on the longest night of the year and that the next day belonged to the Lord of Wisdom, Ahura Mazda. The Persians would burn fires all night to ensure the defeat of evil. They would hold feasts, raise charity, honor their deities and pray to the goddess Mithra. As Yalda coincides with the beginning of winter, people also celebrated the end of the previous harvest by eating dried and fresh fruits and praying to the deities for a bumper winter crop next year. One of the main features of the Yalda festival was the temporary subversion of order, which lasted up to the Sassanid period. Masters served servants, children headed the family and a mock king was crowned. Today the Yalda festival is a time when family members gather at the home of the elders until after midnight. Guests are served with dried fruits, nuts, and winter fruits like pomegranates and watermelons, which symbolize the red color of dawn in the sky. They also practice bibliomancy with the poetry of the highly respected mystic Iranian poet Hafez. Persians believe whenever one is faced with difficulties or has a general question, one can ask the poet for an answer. Hafiz sings to the questioner in his own enigmatic way and allows individuals to look in the mirror of their soul through his poems. TE/HGH/MG

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