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At the court of Ispahan in 1692, J. B. Tavernier happened to be present

at the procession of 'Ashura' on the month Moharram 10, in which each group
bore Imam Hossein's coffin and his two sons surrounded by lamenting followers.
After the ceremony had been over in several hours there occurred many quarrels
caused by their encounter, which lasted for the rest of the day.(1) On the 13th
day of Nou Ruz, that is, sizdah be-dar, people from the two villages in the
district of Taleqan (west of Qazvin) vilified each other across the valley, then
would become reconciled with each other as if there were nothing just before.(2)
H. L. Rabino, in his Les provincescaspiennesde la Perse: le Guilan, mentioned a
curious custom which existed till the end of the last century; whenever a stranger
was welcomed to a village, they put out the lights and began to fight one another
in the dark, holding stones in their waistbands, until they became exhausted.(3)
On the last day of the year which is followed by the new year or, formerly,
around the 10th or the 13th days of the new year resulting from the error in
the solar and lunar calculations of one year,(4) a stranger believed to have a kind
of mana used to come to this world from the world beyond and there were a kind
of mock battle or real one in ancient civilizations on the global extent. At this
juncture, the stranger, mostly in human figure, visited this world with swarms
of his followers.(5) We see in Yast 13.37 and 49 that fravasis come to this world
in swarms on the Hamaspathmaeda days, the last five days of the year, through
the 5th day of the new year which was also caused by the error of the calculations
mentioned above.
In ancient Iran, when the king was to ascent the throne he ought to become
a Vrthraghna, dragon-killer, according to mythological traditions. Of course,
the rite involved a mock battle between the king and the disguised dragon; in
Sahnama, Faridun disguised himself as a dragon to selectthe pluckiest one out
of his sons to make him rule Iran.(6) Accession would take place on the new

year's day. On this day all the creatures were to be revived and freed from
death and old age as well. Ohrmazd as the protagonist would resuscitate the
dead fighting with Ahriman as the antagonist and continue to create cosmos

out of chaos adjusting the creatures to the cosmic law if they deserve well. These
facts somehow reflect the creation ritual pattern in the ancient Near East in
terms of comparative religion.
Imagine that the king or Ohrmazd performed a play with the dragon or
Ahriman on the stage. Although we do trace hardly the existence of the sacred
drama, mock battle, hierosgamos(7) and recitation of the creation except for the
struggle for the ethical victory between good and evil in the Zoroastrian religion
we can reconstruct some of these aspects in the light of a plenty of evidences
outside the Iranian world.
In Babylon during the new year's festival, after Marduk went into the
mountain the city fell into a tumult because of him, and they made fighting with-
in it.(8) Herodotus tells us that in Bubastis in Egypt during Artemis' festival
and in Heliupolis during Ares' festival there were vilification and fighting with
the fists.(9) In Libya during Athena's festival girls from the two tribes would
fight across a river.(10) There are many Japanese as well as Greek examples
which are omitted for the sake of brevity.(11)
In Y. 31. 3 and 19 the word rana- 'Kampfer'(12) which seems to be a guna
form of Aryan *rana- 'battle' occurs in dual form, and so the spada- 'Heer' in
Y. 44.15.(13) Ahura Mazdah seems to stand apart from the two opposite forces
as if he were a creator of both of them, but in Y. 44.15 they are referred to the
forces of Mazdah Ahura and Angra Mainyu at the end of the world.(14) Has
this eschatological scene never brought on the stage? No reference has been
made as to the realization of the scene so far nor as to what chapters of Avesta
were recited on the stage. It is highly probable that the sacred drama was
brought to the stage every year on the Hamaspathmaeda day to welcome the
new year in. Av. hamaspamaedaya- will be segmented as hama-spa-maeda-ya- like

OP hama-pitar- 'von einem und dem selben Vater abstammend' and hamatar-
<*hama-matar- 'von einer und der selben Mutter abstammend.'(15)

There were six annual festivals in ancient Iran except for the new year's
festival which followed immediately the sixth festival. These festivals were
called gahanbars in Pahlavi after the unknown Old Iranian word(s). It is
interesting that the sixth gahanbar was the most important because it took place
at the end of the year and was immediately followed by the new year, and that
only the sixth festival has been called gahanbar par excellence. In ancient
Egypt there were also six annual festivals which were respectively dedicated to
six deities.(16) However, we do not know exactly on which days of which


months these festivals took place so far as Herodotus gives us information.

Moreover, they were observed in different towns respectively. Therefore it
seems that the Iranian annual festivals and Egyptian ones have no relation
whatever even though some of religious and calendrical aspects have somethings
in common each other.
Several etymons have been suggested as to the word gahanbar. H. S. Nyberg
has interpreted it as gasan-bar(17) 'Gatha-tragend, Epitheton der sechs gas genann-
ten grossen Jahresfeiern'.(18) Parsee scholars have, on the other hand, proposed
valuable suggestions. J. J. Modi has analyzed gahambar as *gatu-hambar and,
following K. R. Cama, compared hambar with Av. ham-bairya- concluding that
the word meant 'collection (ambar) of time (gah),' that is, 'the full time,' 'the
proper (season) time.'(19) Parsee and New Persian gahanbar is interpreted in
this way, but how about Pahlavi gahanbar? Old Persian form should have
been *gavam *hampara- or *gavam *para-. in OP gau- shows that the

word occurred in gen. pl. as *gavam not as *ganam, cf. OP nom. tuvam 'thou'

(Av. tum, Ved. t(u/vam) and acc. uvam (Av. am, Ved. tvam). Like

Av. pasvam<pasu- 'livestock' OP gen. pl. *gavam rather inherited IE *-u-om.

OP gau- 'place' (Av. gatu-, Skt. gatu- 'motion, course, path') is analyzed as

*ga+tu-, which means, according to E. Benveniste,(20) not the action of going

(*gd-) but the capacity of going, the destination.

*gatu- seems to have been a fixed position of the ecliptic and the solar

position of a day as an astronomical terminology. Solar obrervations were

important in determining the times for agriculture and cattle breeding as well
as the five gahs of day for making offerings. Pahl. and NP gah have two meanings,
'place' and 'time', just like Arabic mahall. The ecliptic was divided into 360

degrees to correspond approximately with the sun's daily change of position

among the stars throughout the year. According to Iranian civil year which
consisted of 365 days each without an intercalary day every four years, there
occurred many inconveniences as to collection of taxes during Sassanian and
early Islamic periods(21); the Iranian Nou Ruz had been held on the basis of the
civil calendar during these periods as Tabari remarked, but the Pahlavi and
Persian tradition says that the Iranian Nou Ruz coincides with the vernal equi-
nox just as Easter does with the early spring. It is supposed that there should
have been a kind of the sacred year on the basis of astronomical calculation
of the ecliptic borrowed from the Babylonians.
According to the Avestan Afrinakan i Gahanbar each of the six gahs of the

Vol. X 1974 13
year was called ratu-, corresponding to Skt. rtu- meaning 'any settled point of time,
fixed time.' Ratu, therefore, was not a product of calculationt of days after each
other ratu through the 365-day vague years but of astronomical observation.
We have two astronomical terms, *gatu- and *rtu-, for the almost same thing.
IE had *ga- 'go' and *er- 'sick in Bewegung setzen, in die Hohe bringen, cf.
Lat. orior'.(22) Skt, rtu-, rta- and rti- (Av. ratu-, asa- and asi-) are from the same
IE root,(23) cf. Skt. udu-patha-<*rtu-patha- 'Firmament' (=Strasse der Sterne),
udu-pah<*rtu-pah 'Mond', and so on.(24) We do not know exactly what
difference existed between the two terminologies, gatu- and rtu-. The most
important thing is that the names for the gahs were for the most part attributed
to seasonal or agricultural ideas, not interchangeable with any other settled

point of time of the year.

OP *hampara- in *gavam *hampara- is cognate with Av. ham-par-' voll mach-

en'(25) and Skt. sampara- 'bringing to an end, accomplishing, leading to a goal'

and OP *para- with Av. and Skt. para- 'crossing over, end.' Then the whole
meaning of the gahanbar is that which fulfills the fixed point of the ecliptic, say
According to the Avestan Afrinakan i Gahanbar, intervals between each
gah are 45, 60, 75, 30, 80 and 75 amounting to 365. If these numbers were
resulted from calculation of days there should have been inconsistency between
each gah's name and its representing season through years. If these are re-
garded as divisions of the ecliptic consisted of 360 degrees for each day we come
to get surplus 5 out of account. Each interval's quotient by 15 is 3, 4, 5, 2, 5
plus 5 and 5. The position of '5 plus 5' conincides with Av. maiyairya- 'mid-

year' which implies that the year began on maiyoisam- 'mid-summer'. But

the starting point of calculation is not the mid-summer but the Nou Ruz im-
mediately after the sixth gahanbar. If the second gahanbar and the fifth gah-
anbar were the summer solstice and the winter solstice (the interval between
them is 185!) respectively, the new year never falls on the vernal equinox.
For example, the time 105 days before the last day of the 'mid-summer' cor-
responds to the 8th of March.(26)
The ecliptic had 24 divisions, and each division had its own seasonal name
as the moon had 28 mansions and their own names respectively. But the sun's
orbit of 360 degrees, with a day for each degree, left some 5 days, more ac-
curately 51/4 days, of every year out of account. These days which were out of
account were certainly the origin of trouble, which the Pahlavi literature called


duzitak or truftak.(27) Original meaning of them was, it seems to me, 'stolen

from the sun's orbit of 360 degrees' to attain cosmos from among chaoses. Then
the 'sixth' gahanbar, completely different in character from other five ones,
was itself the duzitak which followed the anaran day of the last month: one

Avestan year was consisted of twelve 30-day months and the duzitak. In case
of that Hamaspathmaedaya was called the only gahanbar par excellence and
the meaning of the gahanbar would be 'that which conveys gah to the further
side, the new year.' Otherwise, there would be only five gahanbars in the year
except for the vernal equinox which is the settled point in itself. The meaning
of the name of Hamaspathmaedaya, which we shall be treating of later, is dif-
ferent from that of the other five gahanbars in terms of the motive of the nomen-
clature. How to adjust every day life to the astronomical calendar was impera-
tive. There was no other means than that to make one year coincide with the
360-degree ecliptic. In the stage when one year itself was divided into 360
degrees, the Hamaspathmaedaya festival was pushed to the 5th of the new
year retaining yet the last 5 days of the old year as we see in Yt. 13. 49. The
fact that the fifth gahanbar had the surplus 5 demonstrates that at the time of
the compilation of the Afrinakan it had still remained a residue from older
times under the influence of Mithraic cult or so which put the end of the year
around the winter solstice.
When the sacred calendar had to be observed the vernal and autumnal
equinoxes were the criteria. Av. Paitishahya-, 180 degrees after the new year,
was the autumnal equinox. Moiyoisam had 105 degrees from the vernal

equinox and Madiyairya had, formaerly, 105 degrees from the autumnal equi-

nox, each being one division ahead of the summer and winter solstices; in the
Avestan calendar there were no gahanbars corresponding to the summer and
winter solstices. K. R. Cama's theory of the gahanbar which was reviewed
by W. Jackson(28) was not based on the division of the ecliptic but of seasons.
Did the gahanbars belong to the luni-solar calendar? From the Old
Persian calendar we can deduce a conclusion that in ancient Persia there pre-
vailed a kind of luni-solar calendar arranging years by means of the principle
of the Metonic cycle which was observed in Mesopotamia.(29) The quotient
of 15 for each gahanbar except for that of Maiyairya is, at first sight, suggesting

the new moon and full moon days, but if so, some incongruities of season occurred
due to an intercalary month inserted every two or three years. The idea of the

gahanbar was also prevalent among the ancient Persians, as the etymology

Vol. X 1974 15
has demonstrated, in order to adjust the calendrical season to the astronomical
one, and even to live according to the asa-, arta- and rta-. Asa had the mean-
ing to keep a way of life according to the sacred calendar.
The month dedicated to Spanta Armaiti the earth goddess, the last month
of the year was followed by Hamaspathmaedaya festival. The name of the god-
dess was borrowed by the Armenians from Pahlavi spandaramat in a form of
Spandaramet as the goddess of fertility identified with Dionysos. The goddess
symbolized death and rebirth of the vegetation cycle.(30) Av, armaiti- is a guna
form of what is cognate with Skt. aramati- (ara-+mati-) 'proper thinking.' Skt.
ara- is the stem of aram 'readily.' Here, *ar- denotes 'to be active,' not IE*ar-
but IE*er-. To be active was a virtue. Old Persian words siyata and artava to
be found in X Ph 47-8 both had the meanings of certain kinds of the state of
mind, which were encouraged by the Zoroastrian religion. The phrase ran:
'Happy, may I be when living, and when dead may I be blessed.'(31) Iranian
*arta- (Av. asa-, Skt. rta-) may have meant to be in the state of activity comple-

tely in accord with the astronomical and universal law after getting to cosmos
out of chaos. Whereas Av. asi- 'lot, reward' seems to deviate far from the original
meaning of 'activity,' it has its cognates such as Av. -rti- 'Energie' and Skt.

rti- 'Angriff' which still have kept the original meaning. Av. asi- may have been

not the 'proper thing (IE *ar-)' but the 'energy that comes here from the
heavens far beyond.'
OP siyata- (Av. syata-) does not seem to be 'quietus,' judging from Modern
Persian sad, which rather denotes the state of hilarity. OIr. syata- had the
IE root *kei-, *ki-, not *kweye-, *kwiye-; Iranian c or k represented IE *kw.

OIr, syata- had the same root as that of syav- 'set forth, go' (cf. Av. s(y)avaite,
Skt. cyavate). OP siyata-, like artava, had the meaning of a state of activity
of mind, diligence and hilarity demanded by the religion.
Although in the Gatha there appear so frequently Mazdah, Asa, Vohumanah,
Xsara, Armaiti, it is difficult to find the mutual relationship between them.

In Y. 31.4 there is a mitravaruna or mitrarta type dual form, that is, asica armaiti.
Elsewhere, Armaiti is accompanied by Asa repeatedly; Y. 34. 9-10, 44.6, 46.16,
47.6, etc. Especially in Y. 74.6 Armaiti and Asa attend the battle of two ar-
mies to give good reward to the good one out of them, on the other hand Y. 31.3
where the two armies are mentioned is followed by 31.4 where Asi and Armaiti
are in a dual form as was mentioned above. In Y. 44.6, 11, 16 Armaiti is un-
doutedly related to the future world where Asa is with Ahura Mazdah, and in


Y. 30.7 she gives human body anman-(32) and utayuti-,(32)refreshing and resur-
recting human body at the time it must be the passage from this world to the other
or from the underworld to this world no matter how he is alive or dead. Ar-
maiti, annoted as prthivi by Sayana,(33) was the mother goddess in pre-Zoroastrian
times and retained the former vestiges even in the Zoroastrian times.
The month dedicated to Armaiti was followed by Hamaspathmaedaya,
that is, duzitak which was itself intercalary days different from other gahanbars
and a critical point to adjust onesrlf to the cosmic law. There should have
been some rite of the mother goddess before welcoming the new year as the resi-
due of pre-Zoroastrian times while the mock battle was transformed and incor-
rated into the Zoroastrian doctrine. Just as the Enuma elish was recited at the
Akitu in Babylon during the re-enactment of the creation of the world by Marduk
in the cult drama and the Genesis narrative was similarly sung in the temple at
Jerusalem when the enthronement of Yahweh as the creator was celebrated at
the Annual Festival,(34) it seems reasonable to suppose that the Gatha or a part
of the so called Younger Avesta was recited at the vernal equinox when Ahura
Mazdah being a cosmic figure predominated at the cult drama. The vernal
equinox was so serious because equilibrium was the normal and proper course
finding expression in the primeval emergence of cosmos out of chaos, and sub-
sequently in the regular sequence of the seasons.
There is H. W. Bailey's interpretation of Av. hamaspamaedaya-. Accord-

ing to him; Av. hama- is cognate with Khot. hamaa- 'barley meal,' so hama- may
be taken for 'barley,' -spa- is cognate with Zor. Pahl. spaxr 'feasting,' and -mae-

da- is 'gathering.' He has interpreted Av. hamaspamaedaya- as 'gathering to

the beer-feast' which took place in the cool period of October as the first of
the new year.(35)
OP spamaida- had its Akkadian equivalent madaktu 'Lagerplatz, Station,

Lager.' The OP word occurs in the phrase, uta viiya uta spamaidaya 'both in

the vi- and in the spamaida-' with the Akkadian translation, ina biti u ina ma-

daktum. It is noteworthy that the translation was the contemporary one, and

so it is almost trustworthy. Pahl. spah and Pers. sipah are offsprings of OP spada-
'army.' Persian h goes back to OP and d(37); mih 'great': maista-, gah: gau-,

zirih 'armor': (Av. zraa-), mah 'Media': mada-. Aryan d, dh became Iranian

d() and Ar. t, th became Ir. t, , especially Ir. t became before a consonant.

Iranian media d and tenuis t, were different sounds, but the Akkadian translator

translated OP spamaida- into madaktu. OP spamaida- can be analyzed as spa-

Vol. X 1974 17
maida-. OP maida- may be cognate with Skt, medin- 'associate'(38) or Persian
maidan 'square, field, arena, battle'(39) as Bailey pointed out. Otherwise, R.
Pischel took Skt. medh as a dialectal form of methati 'is angry, is hostile,'(40) cf.

mithatya 'im Kampfe,' mithah 'gegenseitig.'(41)

In Old Persian there is a word which confounds d with; anuvaniya-' bow-

man' (cf. Skt. dhanvan-)(42) should be expected to be *danuvaniya-. There

are examples in Avestan too; the present stem of pad- (=Skt. pad-) has paiya-

and paiya-, and that of raod- (=Skt. rudh-) has raoa- and raoa-. Instability of

Avestan media and tenuis is seen in all explosives.(43) In the Younger Avesta a
occurs instead of a; stayata 'er stellte an als' <sta-, vayus 'Luft'<va- cf. Skt.

vayu-, ayaos (G. S.) 'alt' with G. ayu (NSn) 'Alter' cf. Skt. ayu-.(44) Av. -spa-

seems to be a variant of Ir. *spada wich has its week form *spad-. Ir. *spad-

happens to be Avestan spa-.

OP and Av. hama- is that of OP hama-pitar- and hamatar<*hama-matar-. Av.

-ya- of Av. hama-spa-maeda-ya- is a suffix.

The meaning of Av. hamaspaamaeda- is 'having the same battlefield (to

attain cosmos out of chaos).' The Avestan epithet to this word arto. karna-

means 'wherefore attaining the state of asa is obligatory' in all likelihood.


(1) H. Masse: Croyances et coutumes persanes, 1938, p. 132.

(2) H. Masse: op. cit., p. 160.
(3) H. Masse: op. cit., p. 165.
(4) E. Imoto: Calendars of ancient Iran (in Japanese), ORIENT (Jap. version), Vol. xi, No.
3-4, Tokyo 1968, pp. 69-90.
(5) E. Imoto: A mock battle in ancient Iran (in Jap.), ORIENT (Jap, version), Vol, xiii, Nos.
3-4, Tokyo 1970, pp. 95-118.
(6) J. A. Vullers: Shah Nameh, Tome 1, p. 75f.
(7) G. Widengren: Die Religionen Irans, 1965, p. 49.
(8) H. Frankfort: Kingship and the Gods, Chicago 1948, p. 324.
(9) Herodotus: II. 60 and 63.
(10) Herodotus: IV. 180.
(11) E. Imoto: cf. A mock battle in ancient Iran.
(12) C. Bartholomae: Altiranisches Worterbuch, 1904, S. 1523.
(13) C. Bartholomae: Air Wb., s. v.
(14) C. Bartholomae: Air Wb., s, an-aocah-.
(15) W. Brandenstein und M. Mayrhofer: Handbuch des Altpersischen, 1964, p. 123.
(16) Herodotus: II. 59.
(17) h instead s is more accurate in the light of the Manichaean transcription, cf. Grundriss
der iranischen Philologie I, 2. Abt., p. 94.
(18) H. S. Nyberg: Hilfsbuch des Pehlevi II, 1931, s. v.
(19) J. J. Modi: The religious ceremonies and customs of the Parsees, 1937, p. 420.


(20) E. Benveniste: Noms d'agent et noms d'action en indo-europeen, 1948, p. 87 f.

(21) H. Taqizadeh: Gahshomari dar Iran-e qadim, Tehran 1316 (H. Sh.), p. 157 ff.
(22) J. Pokorny: Indogermanisches etymologisches Worterbuch I, p. 326 ff.
(23) Otherwise, M. Mayrhofer: Kurzgefasstes etymologisches Worterbuch des Altindischen,
1956, s. rtuh.
(24) Mayrhofer: op. cit., s. vv.
(25) Bartholomae: Air Wb., S. 850.
(26) So took H. Reichelt: Avesta Reader, 1911, p. 117.
(27) Nyberg: op. cit., s. vv.
(28) W. Jackson: Grundriss der ir. Phil II,. p. 676.
(29) Imoto: Calendars p. 80 f.
(30) Reichelt: op. cit., p. 117, Nyberg: Die Religionen des alten Iran, 1938, p. 109 ff., Widen-
gren: op. cit., p. 124.
(31) Kent: op. cit., p. 152.
(32) Bartholomae: Air Wb., s. vv.
(33) Bartholomae: Air Wb., s, armatay-, S. 337 notes.
(34) E. O. James: Myth and Ritual in the ancient Near East, 1958, pp. 67, 169.
(35) H. W. Bailey: AION 1, 1959, p. 137 ff.
(36) C. Bezold: Babylonisches-assyrisches Glossar, 1926, p. 167.
(37) P. Horn in Grundriss der iran. Phil. 1. 2, p. 93 ff.
(38) Bailey: op. cit., p. 139., but Mayrhofer: op. cit., s. medi.
(39) Bailey: op. cit., p. 139., otherwise E. Herzfeld: The Persian Empire, 1968, p. 22 f.
(40) R. Pischel: Vedische Studien 1, p. 103. in Mayrhofer: op. cit., s. medhayuh.
(41) Mayrhofer: op. cit., s. mithah, methati.
(42) Mayrhofer: op. cit., s. dhanuh2.
(43) Bartholomae in Grundriss der iran. Phil. I, 1 Abt., p. 10.
(44) Reichelt: Awestisches Elementarbuch, 1909, p. 69.

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