By Zoroastrian, we mean the followers of Zoroaster. Zoroastrian Holiday Calendar is peppered with many festivals that are observed round the year, and 2016 would not be an exception. The festivals could be either monthly or annual or even seasonal.

The calendar system that is followed to plot the traditional celebrations too is an interesting one.  There is the prevalence of three different types of calendar systems among Zoroastrian people which vary in form from one another. The calendars are –
  • The Qadimi Calendar – This calendar system came into being after the Arab invaded Iran. This made is difficult to maintain the older calendar systems. The word Qadimi in Arabic literally means “old”.

  • The Shahenshahi/ Shenshai Calendar – There were some Zoroastrians who fled their native land after the Arab invaded Iran, and migrated to India. Some people believe that this calendar was named from the word “Shahenshahi” which literally means Royal. Some people also refer to this calendar as the “Rasimi” (meaning traditional) calendar or the “Sharshai” calendar, the term again is believed to be derived from “Shahenshahi”.

  • The Fasli Calendar – This is also known as the Bastani Calendar. This is the most recent of the three calendar systems that are followed by the Zoroastrian people. However this is also the most orthodox one among the three calendars. This calendar system follows the old Zoroastrian texts that are about thousand years old.

There are two major Zoroastrian festivals that are observed by different people on various dates depending on the calendar system that is followed by them as per personal custom or rites that are adhered to –
  • Noruz or Nowruz – This is the most important traditional festival that is celebrated by the Zoroastrian people. This is because of the fact that Zoroastrian people that this festival was introduced by Zoroaster himself. This day marks the beginning of the traditional Zoroastrian New Year. This festival is commemorated both at business places and at homes. It is a joyous occasion that is celebrated with much zest and zeal. It is a popular belief that the way this day would be spent would indicate how the rest of the year would fare. People as such clean and decorate their homes, flaunt new clothes, cook and eat special dishes, and visit family and friends.

  • Khordad Sal – This is the day that marks the birth anniversary of Zarathustra, who is more popularly known as Zoroaster, who is the founder of the religion Zoroastrianism. This is a happy occasion for the Zoroastrian people, and as such it is celebrated with much pomp and glory. This is the time to make homes spic and span, decorate their home, buy and wear new clothes, and participate in feasting. Apart from that special prayer services are also organized for.

Here is a list and description of Zoroastrian Holiday Calendar  –
  • Bahman – This is the Zoroastrian festival that honors Amesha Spenta Vohu Mano for bringing the animals to the living world.

  • Sadeh – This is the day when the Zoroastrian people pay tribute to Fire which is looked up upon as a source of light and energy.  This is commemorated on the day when it is believed that the Parsi Emperor accidentally lit up fire. Zoroastrians believe that this is also a vow to eradicate darkness from the souls and lighten them up.

  • Spendarmad – This is the day that upholds Mother Earth and also the virtues like piety and devotion.

  • Jamshedi Noruz (Fasli) – As per the Fasli calendar system, Noruz is observed on this day.

  • Khordad Sal (Fasli) – According to the Fasli calendar system, the Khordad Sal is observed on this day.

  • Farwardigan – On this day Zoroastrians believe that the departed souls come down to Earth, and as a mark of homage they set out food in their honor outdoors. It is also the custom for people to repent for sins they may have committed and search within their souls the ways to rectify them.

  • Ardavisht – This is the day when the Zoroastrians pay homage to Fire and other sources of light for they believe that to eradicate darkness of the soul illumination is of vital importance.

  • (K)Hordad – This is commemorated in the honor of the vital element Water, and is observed on the sixth day of the third month of the traditional Zoroastrian calendar.

  • Tirgan – This traditional Zoroastrian festival is aimed to pay tribute to the Rains and also to celebrate the occurrence of rains. In the ancient times people depended largely on agriculture for their livelihood. So rainfall was of vital importance for a good harvest.

  • Jamshedi Noruz (Qadimi) – As per the Qadimi calendar, Noruz is celebrated on this day.

  • Khordad Sal (Qadimi) – According to the Qadimi calendar, Khordad Sal is observed on this day.

  • Amurdad – This term literally implies Immortality or Long Life. This is the day to celebrate Nature – trees, flowers, plants etc.

  • Jamshedi Noruz (Shenshai) – On this day according to the Shenshai calendar Noruz is observed.

  • Shahrevar – This term literally implies Dominion or Kingdom. This is the day when Zoroastrians pay tribute to the virtues like labor, honesty and hard work. Zoroastrians believe that these traits are essential in building a happy and strong Dominion.

  • Khordad Sal (Shenshai) – Following the Shenshi calendar, Khordad Sal is celebrated on this day.

  • Mehregan – On this day, the Zoroastrians pay tribute to Mehr who they believe is responsible to provide strength to love and friendship. This day also marks the celebration of Fall or Autumn in Persia. It is a common custom to wear new clothes and eat ritualistic food.

  • Abanagan – On this day, Zoroastrians pay homage to Water. It is done by observing some traditional rituals in any nearby water body.

  • Adarga – On this day, Zoroastrians pay homage to Fire. Fire is considered very auspicious by Zoroastrians for it can provide warmth and light.

  • Six Gahambars – This term literally signifies the Six Seasons. The Zoroastrian people believe that the change of seasons is an important phase of a person’s life, and as such each season is given its due importance. People believe in renewing personal bonds during this time. The six Gahambars are named as --

    • Hamaspathmaidyem
    • Maidyozarem Gahambar
    • Paitishahem Gahambar
    • Maidyarem Gahambar
    • Maidyoshahem Gahambar
    • Ayathrem Gahambar
  • Yalda (Shab-e Chelleh) – This is the day that has the longest nights. This day also commemorates the birth of the Persian Angel responsible for Truth and Illumination. Night  long parties are organized on this day, for it is believed that staying awake all night during this time is a key to eliminate all forms of darkness and misfortune from life.

  • Zarathust No Diso – This is a very auspicious day according to the Zoroastrian people for it marks the birth anniversary of Prophet Zoroaster who ascended to Heaven from within the Fire Temple aged 77. There are various myths that are entwined with the event of the death of Zoroaster. Zoroastrian faith attend special prayer programs at Fire Temples.