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Holding Sizdah Be Dar Ceremony: (the Nature Day)

Holding Sizdah Be Dar Ceremony:

Iranians’ ancestors had twelve days of celebration which stood for twelve months of a year. They finished in the thirteenth day by the great Nowruz Celebration. Even today, Farvardin 13 (April 1) is as important as the last Wednesday of the year. If Chaharshanbe Suri is assumed as a welcoming to Nowruz, Sizdah Be Dar is the Padarhe/ Badrahe (seeing off) to it. Iranians picked up the Haft Seen Table in the 13th morning and took the greenery to plains or farms and gave it to a stream. It was a gift to the goddess of water. Then they prayed to Ahooramazda and asked a happy raining year. They began singing, dancing, playing, flying kites, riding, and pouring water on the lately grown lawns and picking up plants from the plains, they cooked broth and other special traditional foods. They tried to cheer up, to make others laugh, to reconcile, and to discard wicked thoughts. Other Sizdah Be Dar customs were related to destiny. For example: eves dropping, augury (especially augury by use of a pot), tying greenery, untying it, said boys and girls to marry which is current in Samarkand and Bukhara, and so many other customs.

Tying greenery

Creation Mythology in ancient Iran, the first human, the first king, and knowing about Kiumars is very important to understand Nowruz festival. Avesta mentions Kiumars several times and he is supposed to be the first human and the first king. Hamze Isfahani’s sayings in the Sunni book “Molukol-arz and the prophets”, Masoody’s sayings in the book “Moravejolzahab”, the second volume, and Biruni’s book “Asarol-Baghia” consist of the same information as Pahlavi sources. Mashie and Mashyane who were Kiumars’s twin son and daughter married each other in Farvardin 13. There were no marriage conventions in their time so they only tied two plants to establish their marriage. This has become a custom for young boys and girls to say their intention and tie greenery as their marriage vow. In the book “Majmalol-tavarikh” is written
“The first man who descended on the Earth was called Kol Shah by Iranian people. He had a son, Mashie, and a daughter, Mashyane, who married each each other on Nowruz 13. Through 50 years they had eighteen children and after their deaths, no one was the king in the world for ninety years.”

There are various ideas about the bad luck of 13:

First: Arash the Bowman died throwing an arrow to determine the border between Iran and Turan. It is said that his death happened in Farvardin 13. So Iranians’ ancestors thought that 13 was a sinister number and the belief was spread all over the world.
Second: In Iranian culture there was no sinister day but they were influenced by the attack of Arab tribes which believed that sevens days of each month were sinister and the 13th day was one of them.

The 13th lie/ the April 1 lie

The 13th lie is a way of joking and laughing as well as one of the cultural similarities between Iran and other countries. The lies being said in April 1 are just the same as the lies and jokes being said in Sizdah Be Dar. Every four years April 1 overlaps Farvardin 13. In the other three years it overlaps Farvardin 12. In Roman Mythology April 1 is the day of Atis’s (the Smile Goddess) resurrection. It is a tradition to be happy and laugh in this day. American people use different and sometimes odd ways to joke and pull each other’s legs. British people say that the one who wants to joke in April 1 afternoon will be bad luck because till then everybody is ready for the jokes. In India people hold Huli Celebration the day before April 1. They splash paints on each other and celebrate. In April 1 people splash flour on each other in Portugal. French people call April 1 the Fish Day. Children and teenagers stick papers with picture of a type of fish which is easily trapped on each other’s back. It means that the person who has the picture on her/his back is trapped easily.

Sizdah Be Dar/the Nature Day’s philosophy

The 13th day of each month is called Tishtar in Iranian calendar. Farvardin 13 is Sizdah Be dar Celebration and it is called the nature Day. The Celebration is so glorious but Iranian people don’t have enough information about that. They think it is sinister so they go to the rivers and plains to celebrate and throw away bad luck from their houses. No specialist has ever told that Nowruz 13 was sinister but they have all said that it was a blessed day. It is important to know that in Iranian culture none of the days of the year are called “sinister” or “bad luck” or “evil” and as far as we know each day of week and month has a beautiful name related to a natural phenomenon or a god. The 13th day of each month is called “Tir Ruz” in Iranian calendar. This was the star Tishtar’s day. It brings rain so Iranians’ ancestors chose Farvardin 13 as the first Tirgan Celebration.

Naming Farvardin 13

Arash the Bowman, an Iranian hero, determined the border between Iran and Turan by throwing an arrow in Tir 13 (July 3). This incident caused the reconciliation between the two countries after a long war. Tirgan Celebration in Tir (June 21-July 21) is a remembrance of Arash and the 13th day of each month is called Tir or Tishtar.

Who is Tir or Tishtar?

Teshtar or Tir is the goddess of rain in Iranian myths. She rides a white horse in the sky and every time she fights a demon called Apush and wins a raining cultivating year can be expected. It is also said that Jamshid the Pishdadi king used to put up a tent in Nowruz 13 and hold a levee. Later it became a custom and Iranians, especially women who were representatives of Anahita the goddess of water, went to plains and beside the springs and streams. Women touched the grass and tied them to show their support from the goddess of rain.

The background of Sizdah Be Dar

Like the stories about the background of Nowruz Celebration goes back to Jamshid’s time, it is said that Jamshid the Pishdadi king put up a tent in plains and held a levee in Farvardin 13 for several years. After that Iranians held Sizdah Be Dar beside springs and in nature. The sources about the history of Sizdah Be Dar Celebration are all written in Ghajar era so some researchers thought that Sizdah Be Dar is not older than one or two centuries.
Considering more, one finds evidences that show this celebration should be older than that. Dr. Ghias-abadi the researcher of Ancient Iran history and culture and Archaeo-astronomer points to the spread and variety of the celebrations held and concludes that according to the demographic rules and popular culture, the vaster a belief and the more various its ways of holding, the older it should be. Besides, according to the Sumerian and Babylonian epitaphs there were similar ceremonies for the New Year in those countries. It was called “Zegmog” in Sumer and “Akito” in Babylon. The celebration took twelve days and in the 13th day they had a celebration in nature. This is a reason to believe that Sizdah Ba Dar is four thousand years old. Dr. Mehrdad Bahar says interesting points about number 13 and Sizdah Be Dar.
“Sometimes we ask ourselves why Nowruz is twelve days and what the reason is for the thirteenth day? Why is it sinister to work and do the chores in Nowruz 13th? Under the influence of Mesopotamian astronomy, astronomical mythology formed in Iran. Therefore each one of the twelve stars which are dominant on each month, governs the world for a thousand years. So the world’s age is twelve thousand years and at the end of that time the earth and the sky will be mingled. It is probable that this myth has a Babylonian root and it seems that in its original form the initial chaos will come over the world after the end of twelve thousand years. The ancient people believed that whatever happened in the Macrocosm (the universe) happened in the Microcosm (the Earth) too. This belief is taken from the fact that human being could only know herself relatively and compared the world to himself and thought that the great universe is just like him. This was to justify the twelve months in a year. Naturally, astronomical reasons like the rotation of the moon were influential on that but to justify the twelve months based on the twelve thousand year old world fits into their belief framework. The twelve days of celebration at the beginning of the year is based on the twelve months and the twelve thousand years of the age of the world. People thought that whatever happened during those twelve days would be their destiny in the following year and if they passed the Nowruz days in sadness, they would be sad up to the end of the year. Lots of those beliefs still exist. Like the belief that the first twelve days of the year are the symbol of the rest of it.

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