Mehregan is a Zoroastrian and Persian festival celebrated to honor the yazata Mithra (Persian: Mehr). Mehr is responsible for friendship, affection and love. It is also widely referred to as the Persian Festival of Autumn. In Persian calendar, Mehr is the first month of Autumn. This month starts from September 21st through October 21st.
Some scholars believe that the month of Mehr was the beginning month of the calendar year during the Achaemenian era. The Mehregan feast celebrated the beginning of a new year. Later, Mehregan was especially important for the people of southern Iran who considered it still to be their Norouz.
Mehr was also considered as a symbol of the sun. There again, Mehr was considered to be a God of heroism and warfare. With expansion of Achaemenian Empire, the worship of Mehr was taken to other countries. The feast day of Mehregan has always been honored for many hundreds of years in Iran. Mehr is also the time of harvest.
For this celebration, the participants wear new clothes and set a decorative, colorful table. The sides of the tablecloth are decorated with dry wild marjoram. The holy book Avesta, a mirror and Sormeh Dan (antimony cellar) are placed on the table together with rose water, sweets, flowers, vegetables and fruits, especially pomegranates and apples. A few silver coins and senjed seeds (fruit of the lotus tree) are placed in a dish of pleasant smelling wild marjoram water. Almonds and pistachio are also used.
A burner is also part of the table setting for kondor (frankincense) and espand (rue seeds) to be thrown on the flames.
At lunch time when the ceremony begins, everyone in the family stands in front of the mirror to pray. Sherbet is drunk and then as a good omen, antimony is rubbed around their eyes. Handfuls of wild marjoram, senjed seeds and noghl (sugar plum) are thrown over each others heads while they embrace one another.
The following is a snippet of a poem by Rudaki, the famous Persian poet of the 10th century:
ملكا جشن مهرگان آمد / جشن شاهان و خسروان آمد
Mehregan celebration is upon us, My LORD / A celebration of Emperors and Monarchs
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