Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Long Long Night

It seems the sun is in a hurry as it moves faster than any other day and as it sets down the horizon, its last rays disappear sooner than ever, and then it starts: Yalda.

It is as long as it seems it is not going to an end, and it is as dark as neither the moon nor the stars can beat its darkness, and it is cold, colder than ever. Ahriman is in full power.

But not all hope had vanished. There is Azar, the burning and unburning fire, the visible and invisible fire, the eternal flame of Mazda. The night is going to be defeated, since Mithra is the protector of the morning light.

No matter how long it will take, Ahriman will be defeated, as it was defeated long long ago on the same day, when the sun was born. Now come and celebrate. As long as you are with Mazda's fire, Ahriman can never harm you. Come and celebrate the birth of Mithra, the ever protector of the light of early morning.

* * *

Today is the last day of Azar, the ninth month in the Iranian calendar and it marks the time of the Winter Solstice and the old celebration of Yalda, the longest night of the year, also known as "Shab-e-Chelle", and it is believed to have been celebrated for some 6000 years. Yalda, which literally means "birth", was the night on which the God of love, friendship, and light, the God of Sun, Mithra (a.k.a. Mehr) was born. Since Mithra was believed to be the guardian of the early morning light, there were many feasts in his honor on this night.

Yalda has lost its religious impact today and is mostly considered a social gathering. Nonetheless it is the most widely celebrated among the ancient Iranian festivals only after Norooz (and probably "Charshanbe Suri"). Since, most of those old festivals are getting forgotten (thanks to the deliberate negligence of the current rulers of Iran), I believe it is most important for us to celebrate those that are still respected.

Watermelons are considered one of the most important parts of the Yalda festival. Googling about watermelons, I found the interesting website of National Watermelon Promotion Board which aims at the promotion of watermelon demand in the U.S. and Canada. It has many interesting parts (including a recipe database) for watermelon lovers. If you are a watermelon fan, check it out.

And, by the way, happy Yalda!

1 comment:

Jeremiah said...

Happy Yalda!