The great festival of Meherangan

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Roj Tir, Mah Ardibehest, 1377 Yz.

Tomorrow, 2nd October 2007 is Fasli Roj Meher, Mah Meher – the great festival of Meherangan. The Meherangan falls exactly in the middle of the year – with Jamshedi Navroze preceding it and the Farvardegan days following it. In ancient Iran, the festival of Meherangan was observed with great pomp and gaiety, with the Iranian Emperor giving audience to the common people as well as attending several magnificent Zarathushtrian rituals conducted by the state sponsored Zarathushtrian Religious Authority which ensured the continued peace and prosperity within the Zarathushtrian Empire.

A very detailed analysis of the Meherangan and what is really means can be found in this article published in Frashogard:

Some key thoughts behind the Meherangan can be summarized as under:

The key to a spiritually successful life lies in realising that we have no permanent friends, nor any eternal enemies. The various struggles we go through are the result of the world of illusion we live in. The diverse obligations we fulfil and the rewards we receive are the results of our own past and present thoughts, words and deeds. The festival of Meherangan is an important reminder of this great principle, due to the fact that the only constant in this illusory world is Truth. Truth is not that which we perceive to be as true or which one feels is true. Those are merely relative thoughts. The Truth, which exists in nature is very different from our personal perception of truth and falsehood. The real and eternal Truth is personified in the form of the worshipful being (Yazata) Meher, or in Avesta, Mithra.

The common meaning of the words Meher (Pahlavi) and Mithra (Avesta) is ‘justice’. But there are several other meanings which can be attributed to these words. The word Mithra conveys the power or ability of anything to merge with the Creator. Any creation, which maintains Righteous Contact with the Creator, has the power to ultimately merge within Him. This property of Mithra is technically known as Yaon. Mithra and Yaon always co-exist with two other entities, Rashne (‘Truth’)and Armaiti (‘Humility’). Thus the common meaning of Mithra as a divine being working within the overall plan of Creation (Ahunavar), is also to be supplemented with the technical meaning of a certain quality, possessed by all types of creation which when properly activated and channelled, can lead that creation to the Creator.

The simplest meaning of Meher is to own up for whatever has happened – in other words, speak the truth. Once a person owns up to what he has, or has not done, it is his duty to step away from such an act – technically known as the offering of Patet. For example, a person commits a crime. His owning up to it constitutes Mithra, whereas his resolution to not commit the crime again constitutes Patet. The quality of man to speak the truth arose, because he felt it would be in the best interest of not only himself, but also his Ruvan (Avesta Urvan, ‘soul’), his faith, his family and the whole world if he were to do so. He did so even though he realised that he would temporarily be at a disadvantage by speaking the truth, since he would have to suffer some punishment or retribution for the act. This quality of sacrificing the short term for the long term arose because of his love for his soul, his faith, his family and the entire world. Thus the word Meher also stands for desire, love.

This sacrifice on the part of the man in turn causes creation and nature to bestow compassion, mercy on him. Hence one of the meanings of Meher is also compassion, from which arises the Persian word ‘meherbani’ ‘mercy, compassion’. As a result of receiving divine compassion, the man moves towards his Creator, hence leading us to the deeper meaning of Meher as one which joins something with its Creator. As the man moves towards his Creator, he begins to think in synchronisation with nature and the Creator, leading us to the understanding that one of the meanings of Meher/Mithra is also ‘thought’. As the thoughts of the man become more and more sublime, he begins losing all traces of his ego, and instead begins cultivating the virtues of Armaiti – humility, patience and contentment. The cultivation of Armaiti causes the transformation of his thoughts from selfishness to selflessness, giving rise to the condition of Bundak Manashni – the Perfection of Thought. The Perfection of Thought – the realisation that there is none except the Creator, that we are non-entities, who are under the protection of the Creator; causes a singular strength to arise in the man – where he now starts propagating the virtues of truth and Patet. He thus becomes enlightened by the radiance of Meher, which leads us to the meaning of Meher as ‘light’. As an enlightened being, the man stops getting lead by his physical senses, and instead begins perceiving the real truths of nature. Hence he becomes one blessed by Rashne – the Real Truth, which is how we come back to the meaning of Meher as Truth – not sensory or perceived truth, but the Real Truth, not blinkered by the weaknesses of our physical senses. He now sees his place and role in Nature, and performs his appointed role, and ultimately merges back with his Creator, thereby making us understand the accuracy of the deeper meaning of Meher as that quality which makes one join back with our Creator.

The grand edifice of Zarathushtrian cosmic festivals is based on the three great observances of Jamshedi Navroze – the beginning of the year; the Meherangan – the middle of the year; and the 10 days of the Farvardegan (Muktad) at the end of the year. The Zarathushtrian who observes these festivals at their right time in nature succeeds in catching their beatific energies, which he then assimilates within his spiritual body, strengthening the Gav residing therein. The strengthened Gav, in turn passes on its life sustaining powers to the Azda, which in turn supercharges every atom of the physical body.

The real universalism of the Zarathushtrian religion can be understood by the practice of having public Jashans of Meherangan in the times of the Zarathushtrian monarchy. These intense ceremonies succeeded in turbo charging the beatific energies which descended on that day, and spread them to every corner of the Zarathushtrian empire. Universalism cannot be equated with conversion. The real universalism of the Zarathushtrian faith lies in its quality of spreading the beatific energies of Ahura Mazda to every person, being and institution, regardless of race or religion. That is the true import of Zarathushtrian ritual. The ancient Zarathushtrian emperors of the Peshdadian, Kyanian, Achaemenian and Sassanian dynasties understood this great fact, which is why they organised extensive celebrations during the festivals of Meherangan and Jamshedi Navroze. They lived and ruled as true enlightened beings, which is why they are remembered even today with respect and awe.

In our own small insignificant manner, we shall observe Meherangan at our Daremeher in Jogeshwari by performing a special Meherangan Jashan at 10 am tomorrow.

By some curious coincidence, 2nd October also happens to be the birthday of another great follower of truth – Mahatma Gandhi. As such, Meherangan is always a public holiday for Parsees in India. We should use this opportunity to pray the Meher Yasht and hope that the Divine Blessings that descend on the on this day are also assimilated in our own body and soul.

Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram