11 – 20 March (Iranian Zoroastrian)
7 – 16 August (Shenshai, Parsi)
The Fravardigan festival (the festival of the fravashis), popularly known as Muktad (All Souls), commences ten days before NoRuz and is the last festival of the old year. The Zoroastrian day commences at sunrise and not midnight, and so during sunrise on the first day of the festival the immortal souls, together with their fravashis (the guardian spirits of departed ancestors, artistically depicted as half man/half bird), are welcomed by name by the Zoroastrian Mobeds or Magi (priests).
For ten days they reside in the place of worship, hovering around a table full of metal vases, each specifically earmarked for an individual family and containing white flowers. They leave the physical world after the last ceremony, held on the tenth evening, but before the dawn of NoRuz. The designated priest – as a farewell gesture – will then empty the water from one of the metal vases, which he will also turn upside down, signifying that it is time for the immortal souls and the fravashis to return to the spiritual world.
Theologically Fravardigan is the most important Zoroastrian festival after NoRuz, but, since it deals with one’s departed ancestors, many Zoroastrians regard it to be their holiest festival. During these ten days Zoroastrians often take time off from work, pray extensively, recite the five Gathas (hymns composed by Zarathushtra) and ensure their houses are thoroughly cleaned. They prepare daily samples of sacred food enjoyed by their departed ancestors while still alive, and take these to the place of worship, to be tasted by them during the daily ceremonies. This ritually consecrated food, along with chosen fruits, is then shared by the living in the special Hamaspathmaidyem Gahambar, a communal feast celebrated after the ceremony is over.
Faiths Forum – Fravardigan/Muktad
Ahuramazda: Zoroastrian Festivals
Zarthustra’s Essential Teachings