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A Liami
A Liami

Iranian Months:

origin of the names
An adaptation

The names of the 12 Iranian months are derived from the ancient Zoroastrian texts and the origins are deeply rooted in this faith. Zoroastrianism was the religion of Iranians before the Islam arrived there in the seventh century AD. Zoroastrians believed in two forces, Good and Evil. Everything that supported and enriched life was good and all that threatened life and disturbed order was bad. The Lord of Wisdom (Ahura Mazda) created all that was good and the Hostile Spirit (Angra Mainyu) created all that was bad (Ahriman in modern Persian).

Zoroastrians' world lasts 12000 years; there are four phases, each of 3000 years. In the first phase, good and bad are separated. In the second phase, the evil force overcomes the good. The good forces come back to power in the third phase. In the last phase several saviors arrive, the last one being Saoshyant. When he arrives there will be a resurrection.

The Lord of Wisdom in order to defeat the hostile spirits creates many forces and beings to help him. There are three groups of metaphysical beings, some more important than others. The first group comprises the six Amesha Spenta. With the Lord of wisdom they form the seven Holy Immortals that protect the first seven creations when the material world (Geety) is created. They are the protectors of the sky, water, earth, fire, plants, animals and humans.

Six of the twelve months are in their names. Khashtra Vairya (Shahrivar) is the lord of the sky, stones, metals, and warriors and the protector of the poor and the weak. It means the desirable dominion (Keshvar e Arezoo Shodeh). Shahr is country or land and Var means desirable. Asha Vahishta (Ordibehesht) lord of fire and noontime heat, the ultimate righteousness (Behtarin Rasty). Asha has many meanings: righteousness, law, purity, and sacredness. Vohu Manah (Bahman) is the protector of animals and means good intention (Nik Nahad). He is a powerful symbol of creativity and is the divinity personifying the principle of Asha (cosmic order). Haurvatat (Khordad) protects all waters and brings health or wholeness (Rasaei).

Iranian landscape Spenta Armaiti (Esphand/Espandarmaz) a female deity who protects the mother earth, is the Holy Devotion and Humbleness (Foroutani). Espand means holy and Armaiti devotion and unconditional love. She is also the guardian of herdsmen and farmers. She is identified by the Greeks as Demeter and in Armenia she is known as Spendaramet. Ameretat (Mordad), the supporter of all plant life, represents immortality (Namira). Mar (marg in modern Persian) means death, as "a" at the beginning of any word changes the meaning into the opposite. Mordad means death, while Amordad means immortality. Mordad is used wrongly in modern calendar and it should be Amordad.

These immortals also represent different aspects of Ahura Mazda's attributes. One of their functions is to transfer these attributes to humans. For example Vohu Manah (Bahman) is a symbol of "Good Purpose". Zoroastrians, through Bahman Yasht (prayers specific to Bahman), would discipline themselves to always mean good and have noble purposes. Ordibehesht Yasht (Yasht means prayer) teach Zoroastrians to follow righteousness, one of Lord of Wisdom's attributes.

The second group of metaphysical beings are Yazata (Eyzad), "a being worthy of worship". There are hundreds of them. Every good force in nature and all deeds and attributes beneficial to humans have their own Eyzad. Azar, Aban, Khorshid, Mihr, Tir and Bahram are some of the best known Eyzads.

Iranian landscape Azar (Atar/Adur) is the Yazata of fire (Agni in Indian Rig-Veda). It is one of the most important of all Eyzads. In Avestan Mythology it helps the legendary king Takhmorup (Tahmoureth) and Yima Khshaeta (Jamshid) to overcome many obstacles. The word has become synonymous with fire (Atash) in modern Persian. Aban, is Avestan "Apas", "Api" in middle Persian and "Ap" in Phalavi. It means water (Aab, in modern Persian). It is the protector Eyzad of the "waters" and an assistant to Spenta Armaiti.

Mihr is Mithra in Avesta language and Mitrah in Pahlavi. It is the "Yazata" of the convenant and of loyalty. It has come from the word "mei", meaning exchange. In the Avesta he is the protector of "Payman e Dousti" (contract of friendship). In modern Persian it means love and kindness. He is the lord of ordeal by fire (walking through fire to prove innocence, the story of Siavash in Shahnameh) and presides over the judgment of the soul at death. Ancient Greeks identified him with Apollo.

Tiri, Tir (Tishtrya), is the assimilation from Babylonian Nabu, lord of scribe and of the planet Mercury into Avestan mythology. It means the swift one (Tond va Chabok) and protects the rain. In Persian-Islamic mythology Tir (Attarod in Arabic) is still the lord of scribe (Setareh Dabir).

The last groups of metaphysical beings are "Forouhars", the guardian angels created by Ahura Mazda to protect all living beings after the material world (Geety) was created. Farevashi are Forouhars specific to humans and the word means guardian. The word has become synonymous with "fereshteh" in modern Persian. Farvardin, is the descent of Farevashi to earth in order to visit and help their human counterparts. It also means "Farr e Din", glory of religious consciousness. A major festival celebrating departed souls it was changed into celebrating guardian angels coming to earth before the start of the New Year. Farvardegan is "Jashn e Farevashi" and is still celebrated by Zoroastrians today. Day (dadar) means creator (Afaridegar). The whole month was dedicated to Ahura Mazda. The eighth, fifteenth and twenty-third of every month were also called "Day". The first day of this month (Day) was celebrated as "Khoram Ruz" a feast of charity, when people were expected to be charitable and help others.

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