Commemoration of the ancestral custom of setting up a fir on “Panji” in Mazra-e Kalantar, Yazd
Tash-boon (fire on the roofs), the last ritual of the 5 days of Panji, based on the ancient calendar of our ancestors, is lit on the roofs of Zoroastrian houses in the village of Mazra-e Kalantar.
Marking the end of the 5 days of Panji in Mazra-e Kalantar, or “Mazra”, the tradition of “Tash-boon”, or setting fire on the roofs of houses, began on the morning of the 6th (New Year), with the chanting of Avesta and the lighting of the first fire on the roof of Darb Mehr (fire temple) of the village, at 5:20 am. This ceremony on the roofs includes lighting a lantern, a vase full of evergreen plants or boxwood, a bowl of water, a try full of variety of fruit, a pile of firewood for burning, and some incense to be put on the fire. The fire on the roofs are lit one after another and with every flame the melody of Avesta can be heard. When the flams start dying down, some of the fire is put on a apargoni and a member of the family takes it to the village fire temple and hands it to the dahmobed to be added to the pile of fire made by fire brought from all the houses. This fire from the houses will be united with the fire of the fire temple. In this way all families have a share in keeping the fire of the fire temple. This ancient tradition is meant to spread joy and solidarity. This year the Panji began on Monday, Tir 21, lasted for 5 days, and ended with the celebration of the new year (old calendar) on the morning of saturday Tir 26, 1400.
According to the Zoroastrian calendar, there are 12 months each year and 30 days each month. The last five days of the year are called the “panjeh,” also known as the “mah gatabio.” Because once every 4 years the year has 366 days and it is a leap year, that extra day is called “Avardad”. According to the modern calendar, the Panjeh or Panji is held on the 5 last days of the solar year, before Nowruz. Over the centuries, with the invasion of Iran by the Arabs and other foreigners, the Zoroastrians were forced to escape and disperse due to countless pressures. These scatterings caused the emergence of two new and old calendars. The old calendar is without counting the leap years. In villages like Mazra-e Kalantar, Panji is celebrated according to the old calendar and now-a-days it falls towards the last 10 days of the month of Tir. In ancient Iran, celebrations were held on various occasions. “Celebration” is a form of worship. One of the characteristics of all Zoroastrian ceremonies is that they all have religious and spiritual foundation and all of them are meant to honor the useful creations of Ahura Mazda on one hand, and to enjoy and share your happiness with other.
Photos by Firouzeh Manouchehri