Zoroastrian winter festival begins in Iran’s Kurdistan province

People from many parts of Kurdistan gathered in the village of Hawraman Takht in western Iran on Friday for the start of the traditional winter festival of Pir Shalyar – a 700-year-old ceremony associated with Zoroastrianism.

Pirs are pilgrimage sites in the Zoroastrian faith – an ancient belief system that predates all the major monotheisms. Its influences can still be found in Kurdish, Persian, Yezidi, and even Hindu traditions, particularly the Nawroz spring celebration.

In Zoroastrian legend, a man named Pir Shalyar cured a sick princess after many physicians failed to help her. The princess’ father agreed to let Pir Shalyar marry his daughter in a ceremony held on the 40th day of winter.

The celebration takes place over a period of three weeks. In the first week, children distribute walnuts, telling people that the ceremony is coming.

At dawn on the Wednesday of the second week, children sing songs from the rooftops of their homes. After sunrise, cows and sheep are sacrificed. In the evening, people play the daf drum and pray.

On the final day of the celebration, bread shaped like the sun is made from wheat and walnuts and taken to the tomb of Pir in Iran’s Kurdistan province.


Photos by Nazm Manya

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One comment

  • Something not right in this article, our religion, (Zoroastrianism) has no animal sacrifice as my grandfather used to say, which is one of the reasons the Muslim priests didn’t accept it as a religion, when they took over Ancient Iran… they said must have animal sacrifice.. so the clever Zoroastrian priests then and there made up one, Meherizes Zoroastrian Iranis (Kadmi) just celebrated this festival, 29th Jan, day named Meher and month same name..
    “After sunrise, cows and sheep are sacrificed” is not right. This is man made. Not required by the prophet Zarathushtra

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