Zartosht no-deso -
Summary of other Festivals
of December at the bottom of this page
"If your festival
is missing, please share it with me and my world of friends"
Let's take a few
minutes to learn how our friends, co-workers and neighbors
commemorate or celebrate
their lives. Friendship is an prodigious thing, it
takes time to know, but when you do, a lot of myths about
others disappear - and you find an amazing peace within
you for knowing some one from some group, whom you
thought of otherwise...oh well, you got it.
I have compiled,
borrowed and written a few notes to learn and share about
the following festivals
It is not perfect, but selected for a lay person to grasp
it. For example the write up about Zartosht no-Deso is
very elementary to Zoroastrians but meaningful to others.
Please join us to
reflect upon the II Annual Holocaust and Genocides. Let's make room
in our hearts for the precious feelings for human
helplessness. Kindly mark your calendars for 7:00 - 9:15
PM on Saturday, January 24th, 2009. Details at:
Christmas signifies renewal to
me, the birth of Jesus pushes the 'refresh' button and opens our hearts and minds towards fellow
Jesus is my mentor, I think about him every day as I see
the wisdom of forgiveness and inclusiveness doing
its miracles in giving solace, Peace, Nirvana, Mukti,
Moksha, Nijaat, salvation and true freedom to each one of us.
Jesus (pbuh) is one of my role models. He set the
example to the world that God has created every soul on
this earth and that we have to embrace every one for our
own good. His symbolic outreach to the lepers and
prostitutes is a model for us to live by, reaching out to
every one that the society shies away from. I am truly
blessed to see another Christmas and wish to extend my
heart felt love to every one out there. By the way, Jesus
is the star for Muslims, one's faith in Islam is not
complete without believing in Jesus, Moses and the other
In the name of Jesus whose
birthday we are celebrating, may this Christmas refresh us
to seek peace through forgiveness and inclusiveness. Amen.
I am available to volunteer on
Christmas day anywhere in North Texas, please feel free to
# # #
The word Christmas originated
as a compound meaning "Christ's Mass". It is also called
Christ's Mass, derived from the Middle English
Christemasse and Old English Cristes mæsse, a phrase first
recorded in 1038. "Cristes" is from Greek Christos and "mæsse"
is from Latin missa. In early Greek versions of the New
Testament, the letter ? (chi), is the first letter of
Christ. Since the mid-16th century, or the similar Roman
letter X, has been used as an abbreviation for Christ.
Hence, Xmas is often used as an abbreviation for
Observances Religious services, gift giving, family
meetings, decorating trees
Christmas, also referred to as Christmas Day or
Christmastide, is an annual holiday celebrated on December
25 that marks and honors the birth of Jesus of
Nazareth. The birth of Jesus, which is the basis for the
anno Domini system of dating, is thought to have occurred
between 7 and 2 BC.
Modern customs of the holiday
include gift-giving, church celebrations, and the display
of various decorations—including the Christmas tree,
lights, mistletoe, nativity scenes and holly. Santa Claus
(also referred to as Father Christmas, although the two
figures have different origins) is a popular mythological
figure often associated with bringing gifts at Christmas.
Santa is generally believed to be the result of a
syncretization between Saint Nicholas and elements from
pagan Nordic and Christian mythology, and his modern
appearance is believed to have originated in 19th century
Christmas is celebrated throughout the Christian
population, but is also celebrated by many non-Christians
as a secular, cultural festival. The holiday is celebrated
around the world. Because gift-giving and several other
aspects of the holiday involve heightened economic
activity among both Christians and non-Christians,
Christmas has become a major event for many retailers.
The Nativity of Jesus refers
to the Christian belief that the Messiah was born to the
Virgin Mary. The story of Christmas is based on the
biblical accounts given in the Gospel of Matthew, namely
Matthew 1:18-Matthew 2:12 and the Gospel of Luke,
specifically Luke 1:26-Luke 2:40. According to these
accounts, Jesus was born to Mary, assisted by her
husband Joseph, in the city of Bethlehem. According to
popular tradition, the birth took place in a stable,
surrounded by farm animals, though neither the stable
nor the animals are mentioned in the Biblical accounts.
However, a manger is mentioned in Luke 2:7 where it
states "She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a
manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
Early iconographic representations of the nativity
placed the stable and manger within a cave (located,
according to tradition, under the Church of the Nativity
in Bethlehem). Shepherds from the fields surrounding
Bethlehem were told of the birth by an angel, and were
the first to see the child. Many Christians believe that
the birth of Jesus fulfilled prophecies from the Old
This celebration is not a festival originating in any
of the 55 African countries nor is it an "African"
Christmas celebration. Kwanzaa is an African-Americans
celebration of life from 26 December to 1 January.
Dr. Karenga introduced the festival in 1966 to
the United States as a ritual to welcome the first
harvests to the home. Dr. Karenga created this festival
for Afro-Americans as a response to the commercialism of
Christmas. In fact one might say that Kwanzaa has
similarities with Thanksgiving in the United States or the
Yam Festival in Ghana and Nigeria. The word "kwanza" is a
KiSwahili (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania) word meaning "first."
Five common sets of values are central to the
activities of the week: ingathering, reverence,
commemoration, recommitment, and celebration. The seven
principles (nguzo saba) of Kwanzaa utilize Kiswahili
words: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia),
collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative
economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba),
and faith (imani). Each of the seven candles signify the
principles. Like the Jewish Hannakah, candles are used to
represent concepts of the holiday.
The symbols of Kwanzaa includes crops (mzao) which
represents the historical roots of African-Americans in
agriculture and also the reward for collective labor. The
mat (mkeka) lays the foundation for self- actualization.
The candle holder (kinara) reminds believers in the
ancestral origins in one of 55 African countries.
Corn/maize (muhindi) signifies children and the hope
associated in the younger generation. Gifts (Zawadi)
represent commitments of the parents for the children. The
unity cup (Kkimbe cha Umoja) is used to pour libations to
the ancestors. Finally, the seven candles (mishumaa saba)
remind participants of the severl pinciples and the colors
in flags of African liberation movements -- 3 red, 1
black, and 3 green.
Gifts are exchanged. On 31 December participants
celebrate with a banquet of food often cuisine from
various African countries. Participants greet one another
with "Habari gani" which is Kiswahili for "how are you/
how's the news with you?"
Zartosht no-diso, or Zarthost no deeso, is a major holiday
of the Zoroastrian religion. It is a commemoration of the
Prophet Zarathushtra's death anniversary, and is observed
on the 11th day (Khorshed) of the 10th month (Dae). In the
seasonal calendar, Zoroaster's death anniversary falls on
It is an occasion of mourning with lectures and
discussions held on the life and works of the Prophet.
Special prayers are recited and the faithful visit the
Fire Temple to pray.
Zoroaster’s death is not mentioned in the Avesta. Avesta
is the language and book of Zoroastrians.
Muharram is a month
of mourning for Muslims in general and Shia
denomination in particular. It was in this month that
the legendary battle known as "Karbala" took place,
named after the City in Iraq. The word Karbala
signifies the struggle between righteousness and
un-righteousness within an individual and within the
communities one lives. Imam Hussein (ra) the grandson
of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stood firmly against Yazid, a
corrupt governor at that time. It is almost like
born again for the Shia Muslims, a reaffirmation of
faith on the 10th day of Muharram called
"Yom-e-Ashura " literally the 10th day.
Muharram is the first month of the Muslim Calander. Muhammad Khaku
has written up this very well. ( Abbreviations; ra =
razi Allah- may god be pleased / pbuh = peace be upon
him used for prophets including Jesus, Moses, David,
Jacob, John the Baptist...)
# # #
Ashura differs from one city to city, but a silken
thread that binds each city is Imam Hussein, every
city has its cultural ethnicity woven into the Azadari
(rituals) of Hussein, but the cry of Ya Hussein
remains the same. The tears that drop like raindrops
from eyes of the Shia’s are universally the same, a
precious drop that will ask for salvation on the Day
of Judgment.Once again month of Muharram has arrived
and Shias Muslims around the world will be dress in
black. The mosques will be jam-packed and decorated in
black wall coverings with flags (A’lam) and replica
shrines (Taziyas). Majalises (Assemblies) will be held
every night during the first twelve days with poetic
recitations such as marsiya, noha, latmiya and
speeches pertaining to the martyrdom of Hussein-Ibne
Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Muharum is
a time to remember and mourn the sacrifices that Imam
Husain, his kith and kin underwent to defend Islam.
Muharrum an important
period of mourning in the Shite branch of Islam..This
event starts at the 1st day of Muharram and continues
for 10 days until 10th of Muharram, which is, know as
The Shias observe the entire month as a period of
mourning. Public recital of grief, passion plays and
depicting scenes from the Battle of Karbala, are
carried out in Shias mosques. In parts of India,
Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and East Africa food and
drink are distributed to the public, especially to the
poor. The first ten days are also spent in making
paper, wood and metal replicas of the martyr's tomb.
On the day of Ashura, decorated replica shrines (taziyas)
or tombs embellished with precious metals to be
carried through the city streets. A horse is led in
procession (Zulus) in memory of Hussein’s horse, Dhul
The climax is on
Ashura day (Jan
7th) at noon, the time of
Assar prayers when Imam Husain is martyred (shaheed).
On that day there is a seeping heaviness in the air, a
blistering dryness and a surrendering moment of grief.
As the story of Karbala will be narrate, the Shias
will openly cry and beat their chests (matam/latmiya)
as a display of their devotion to Husayn and in
remembrance of his suffering.
Imam’s Hussein last
words to his sister Zainab were
Salutations(salaams) to all Muslims and put your trust
in Allah and know that human being is born to die, and
nothing will remain, everything shall pass away except
the presence of His Almighty Allah."
Imam then rode his horse into the face of Yazid’s army
to give his last sermon.
I had first heard the
story of Karbala in Majalises that I attended as a
small boy in Mombasa, Kenya. Generations of children
have grown up hearing the same story through the
years. Each repetition revives and enhances its truth
and larger meaning. One loses the dear one and near
one, a fortune or even a kingdom and its memory fades
away, as does its pain.
But the memory of
Husain and his unique sacrifice never fades. It is a
pain that goes beyond any individual pain and returns
afresh every year as rightly put by the great Urdu
poet Iqbal, ‘Islam zinda hota hai har Karbala kebad’
which means Islam is alive after karbala.
Why hasn’t Ashura faded
from history after a passage of 14 century? Why do
Muslims gather every year to mourn for Hussein and his
companions? Should this uprising/movement (Qiam) by
Hussein be remembered every year and why? And why
hasn’t the battle of Karbala faded away into history
like thousand of other events? And will Ashura be
forgotten by our next generation? And lastly is
rekindling of Ashura only an emotional and illogical
act by shias?
The answer is that the uprising and the martyrdom of
Imam Hussein is not limited to a one day battle
between epic heroism and self-sacrifice where truth
condemned falsehood, but it is universal and
everlasting divine message for humanity that can be
used at all times. The message is FREEDOM for all
mankind from oppression and tyranny, be it in the
house, community, city or nation. The enemies of Islam
are continuously attacking the revolution and message
of Imam Hussein and they know very well that only way
to defeat Islam is to alter the core principle “Social
Justice” in Islam
To me, the
remembrance of Hussein is a poetic reminder of both
the depths to which humanity can sink - through the
actions of Yazid - and the heights to which it can
raise itself - through the example of Hussein, whose
inspirational message today includes the slogan
"Every day is
Ashura and every place is Karbala
Mike's notes: Old
traditions of Yalda and Winter Solstice have
continued on in Europe, Persia and the Americas,
despite the the efforts of a few
fundamentalists to prevent the celebrations. As a
pluralist I just want to add that the majority of
all people, no matter what faith, tradition, culture
or nation are moderates. Moderates believe in live
and let live and they form over 95% of the
population of any group. In the following article, I
have edited the words that reinforce stereotyping,
let's consciously create a better spiritual
environment for us to live.
# # #
Iranians recited poetry, shared stories and ate
fruits and nuts Saturday during an all-night
celebrations of the longest night of the year, a
tradition going back thousands of years to when
Zoroastrianism was the predominant religion of
ancient Persia. For many Iranians, the celebration
known as Yalda, offers a link with ancient
traditions as well as a chance to gather with
"Almost all Iranians,
no matter what their religion, language and race,
celebrate Yalda," said Hooshang Sohaei as he stood
in a long line at a confectionary shop in north
Tehran to buy sweets and dried fruit.
central theme is the struggle between the good
spirit Ahura Mazda and the evil Ahriman. Yalda,
marked on the winter solstice, recognizes the
symbolic victory of light over darkness as day-time
starts growing longer and nights become shorter. In
the streets of Tehran, vendors enjoyed their busiest
day of the year, and confectioneries were packed
with customers buying up provisions for the feast.
and friends sit around a furnace, and elders recite
tales or read poetry, often from the Shahnameh, an
ancient epic by Iran's greatest storyteller,
Firdowsi. Others debate the latest domestic and
international developments, which these days means
the economic crisis, Iran's nuclear program and the
recent shoe-throwing incident involving President
Bush and an angry Iraqi journalist.
The national celebration
like several other pre-Islamic holidays continues
despite the efforts by hard-line clerics in the last
few decades to discourage such festivals.
Zoroastrianism lost dominance in Iran after Muslim
Arabs conquered Persia in the 7th century, with many
adherents fleeing to India. Today most of Iran's 65
million people are Shiite Muslims. But some
60,000 Zoroastrians remain today - down from
300,000 in the 1970s, when many emigrated to the
United States. Iran also has small Christian, Bahai
and Jewish communities."