Hirom-bow – A celebration of Ashtad Izad
Though now-a-days Hirom-bow is only celebrated by the Zoroastrians of Sharifabad, Ardakan, it attracts Zoroastrians from all over Iran and the world to this spot, to share the joy created by this ancient tradition.
Hirom-bow is the same ‘Sadeh’ festival which was was celebrated on ‘Ashtad Izad’ day of Azar month of the old calendar (the one in which leap year is not calculated). Since long ago Zoroastrians would celebrate ‘Sadeh’, in preparation to meet Nowrooz, which had 100 days to come. Hirom-bow was held on Ashtad day of Azar month of the old calendar which had 100 days to 1st Farvarding, according to the old calendar.
Hirom-bow is a holy festival of fire lighting together with the tradition of renewing unity, a festival that is mingled with joy, singing and dancing.
On ‘Ard Izad’ day of the month of Azar (old calendar), being a day before Ashtad Izad, Zoroastrians, from all ages, start off, walking or riding or driving, from Sharifabad (one of the villages of Ardakan, Yazd) towards the Hrisht shrine.
The men and boys, carrying bundles of fire wood and thorns (which they have gathered) on mules or vehicles, move ahead of the people. Surprisingly, no one gets tired. In spite of walking for 3 hours till they reach the Hrisht site, everybody feels happy of being together. After arriving “Pire Hrisht’, until the sun rises on Ashtad Izad day, everybody sings and dances and makes merry.
At sun rise, after public prayers of “Gah Havan” in the shrine, the men go to collect the fire wood. After performing this job they return to Pire Hrisht for breakfast, participating in the ‘choub zani’ tradition (mockingly threatening those who have participated in the festival for the first time in order to get sugar cones or sweets from them) and entertaining themselves with sweets, cool drinks and pastry.
Everywhere, in this festival, people work tightly together; men collect fire wood and thorns and women cook and prepare meals.
One of the very interesting customs in this festival is “choub zani”. After breakfast, boys who participate in the fire wood collection for the first time and young couples who come to this festival for the first time after marriage, are held up on the hands of the people who gather around them and one of them starts beating them on their legs with a stick (lightly) and the rest clap hands and rejoice. This continues until one of the members of their families hold up a box of sweets or a sugar cone to show their donation.
In the end a cooling drink is prepared from the collected sugar cones and the sweets are distributed among the crowd.
On Ashtad Izad day everybody starts off from Pire Hrisht towards Sharifabad.
All the thorns and fire wood is brought to the place where the fire is to be lit. Before sunset the children gather and together knock the door of each house and ask the owner to give some fire wood to put on the fire. In this manner all the inhabitants of Sharifabad join together in lighting the fire.
At sunset, when all the wood has been pled up in one place, the Mobed, carrying an ‘afringan’ with fire in it and praying “Atash Niyayesh” walks towards the pile of wood and lights the fire.
Hirom-bow does not end here. The festival that has started in harmony and unity continues in the same manner. All those who have participated in fire wood collection entertain each other with cool drinks and sweets, sing and dance, after the fire lighting ceremony. Hirom-bow is a festival of joy, unity, correlation and harmony. Hirom-bow starts on Ard Izad day, continues on Ashtad Izad with the lighting of fire, and still continues on Asman Izad, Zamyad Izad and Mantraspand days in rejoice.
Now-a-days the reason that Hirom-bow is celebrated in the month of Farvardin is that since long back it was celebrated according to the old Zoroastrian calendar.
N the old calendar, after the invasion of Iran by Arabs and the overall unrest and chaos that followed, after a few centuries, the Zoroastrians forgot to add one day to the year after every 4 years. This is why the old calendar is different from the recent, accurate calendar that is used today.
In any case, a few years ago, when Ashtad Izad day of the old calendar overlapped with Ashtad Izad of the new calendar, in consultation with mobeds and wise men, it was decided to fix this festival on Ashtad Izad day of the new calendar (the one which counts the leap year). Since then Hirom-bow is fixed for Ashtad Izad day of Farvardin month of the new solar calendar.
Hirom-bow brings with it the old, familiar odour of ancient Iran and Iranians. It is a public festival that has risen from among the people and is carried in the hands of this same people, who gather fire wood together, cry out “shabash” (let’s rejoice together) together and pray the “Atash Niyayesh” together. Hirom-bow is close. May our unity strengthen.