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    Zoroastrian Pilgrimage, Part 2

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    Iran - Zoroastrian Pilgrimage, Part 2

    Overview:

    From amongst the numerous Yazdi pilgrimage sites, there are six major pirs.

     

    The Six Pirs and Pilgrimage Calendar

     

    Pilgrimage Days

     

    Pilgrimage Site

    Gregorian Calendar

    Zoroastrian Calendar

    Site Dedication

    Pir-e Herisht

    March 27-31

    Mah Farvardin. Ruz Amordad-Khorsheed

    Royal Maid Morvarid

    Pir-e (Mah) Seti

    June 14

    Mah Khordad. Ruz Ashtad

    Queen, Shahbanu Hastbadan

    Pir-e Sabz (Chak-Chak)

    June 14-18

    Mah Khordad. Ruz Ashtad-Mahraspand

    Princess Nikbanu

    Pir-e Narestaneh

    June 23-27

    Mah Tir. Ruz Aspandmard-Adar

    Prince Ardeshir

    Pir-e Banu

    July 4-8

    Mah Tir. Ruz Meher-Bahram

    Princess Banu Pars

    Pir-e Naraki

    August 3-7

    Mah Amordad. Ruz Meher-Bahram

    Nazbanu, governor's daughter

     

     

     

    While most of the pilgrimage sites are accessible throughout the year - weather permitting and subject to local variations - certain days of the year are set aside by local residents as special visit days for each site and have effectively constitute a pilgrimage calendar. These days are noted in the table. Some pilgrims make the trip to the sites a day trip while others will stay at the sites between the days noted in the calendar. During the appointed days, the pilgrims often engage in feasting, music and dancing.

     

     

     

    Age of the Pirs

    Some of the structures at Seti Pir are thought to date back at least to the start of the Sassanian era (c. 224-649 CE) and possibly earlier. Another pir, the Pir-e Blashgerd is thought to date back to the reign of one of the three Parthian kings named Balash or Volakhsh (51-147 CE) (Varjavand at fravahar.org).


    Responsibility for the Pirs

    While the residents of the various Yazdi Zoroastrian dehs, villages or neighbourhoods, visit all six major pirs, the responsibility of their maintenance as well as the organization of festivals held at each pirs, is the responsibility of a specific village anjuman (community council). For instance the anjoman of Sharifabad, the oldest of the Zoroastrian villages, is responsible for Pir-e Sabz, one of the better known and most frequented pirs, and Pir-e Herisht as well. The khadem that is the guardian or keeper of the fire temple at Sharifabad is also the khadem of Pir-e Sabz and Pir-e Herisht.

     

     

    Associated Legends

    The legends surrounding the significance of the pirs are invariably associated with the Arab invasion of Iran in 636 CE. The last Zoroastrian Iranian king was the hastily installed young prince Yazdegird III (reign 633-649 CE). Arab Muslim rule of Iran commenced with the defeat Yazdegird's armies by the Arabs in 649 CE.

    The women of the royal family fled before the advancing Arab army towards Khorasan. They were determined to avoid capture for that would mean a fate worse than death. If captured, they would either be forced to 'marry', that is become a sex slave of an Arab leader, or they would be humiliated, tortured and put to death, or be made to suffer both indignities. In addition, the royals wanted to keep their Persian-Aryan bloodlines free of Arab contamination.

     

     

    The queen, two princesses and their ladies-in-waiting, fled to Khorasan via Yazd, but they were pursued relentlessly. They had reached Yazd by the time the pursing hordes closed in on them. There, in an effort to evade their pursuers, they decided to split up. However, the strategy bought them only temporary relief. Eventually, they were trapped in their respective hideouts and they chose death over capture.

    In fleeing and seeking to hide, the royals carried the hope that one day Iran would be freed from the vestiges of the Arab conquest, and that the ancient Iranian-Aryan civilization could be restored to the land. This sentiment is embedded in the Atash Bahrams, the ever-burning victory fires that have been kept burning by Zoroastrians ever since. The Atash Bahram housed in a temple in Udvada, India, is called Iranshah or the King of Iran, the king in waiting. In building a fire for religious ceremonies, six pieces of wood are placed on top of the fire urn in the shape of a throne.

     

     

    In all cases, the members of the royal entourage were on the verge of capture when they either chose death (for instance by leaping into a well) or were taken into the womb of mother earth. In the cases where the rock opened by creating a portal for entry, this often happened in full sight of the Arab pursuers who were frozen in astonishment. The portals closed before the Arabs could gather their wits. The sites where the royals left this existence are today's pilgrimage sites, the pirs, to which Zoroastrians journey and offer prayers in remembrance.

     

     

    However, some legends state that the sites where the royals disappeared into the womb of the earth were not originally known to the people. The were discovered through visionary dreams in which the spirit of an aged and saintly person, a pir, appeared, informing or guiding the recipient of the vision about the sites. The recipients of the visions were invariably people in need. Other sites were found by shepherds who also received these visions.

    On the spiritual plane, the pirs are invariably associated with the veneration of the arch-angel of the earth and the guardian of the rights of women, Spenta Armaiti - Spendarmard or Esfand in the modern vernacular. Associated as well is the angel Anahita, guardian of the waters. The two angels would have been the protectors of the royal women, including all women in need, as well.

     

     

    Stories of Hidden Treasure & Vandalism

    Rumor has it that the fleeing royals carried their most valuable jewelry with them. If the rumors were true, then the jewels could be hidden at the pirs or somewhere close by. The quest to find the jewels, treasures that would fetch great wealth, has led to the pirs being repeatedly vandalized. Or perhaps some loyal subjects who gave the royals sanctuary, have the jewels in safe keeping, waiting to return them to their rightful heirs.

    There are sixty or so pirs in the province of Yazd that are raided periodically by vandals who dig up the structures on the site looking for buried artefacts and treasure (Varjavand at fravahar.org). Rumors of large treasures of gold hidden at the pirs motivate these destructive and senseless vandals. Unfortunately, the rumors are fuelled by reports of the discovery of royal gold articles, articles that were melted down to destroy any evidence of their origin. Varjavand adds, "One only can shrug with pain at what treasures of art and culture have been lost thus due to ignorance."

    http://untoldpersia.com/ContentView/Pid/60375/title/Chak-Chak-(Pir-e-Sabz-Shrine)--Yazd-Iran

    http://untoldpersia.com/ContentView/Pid/60402/title/Seti-Pir-(Asadan-Castle)-Maryamabad-Yazd-Iran

    http://untoldpersia.com/ContentView/Pid/60403/title/Pir-e-Herisht-Sharifabad-Yazd-Iran

    http://untoldpersia.com/ContentView/Pid/60405/title/Pir-e-Narestaneh-Yazd-Iran

    http://untoldpersia.com/ContentView/Pid/60401/title/Pir-e-Naraki-Mehriz-Yazd-Iran

    http://untoldpersia.com/ContentView/Pid/60404/title/Banu-Pars-(Pir-e-Banu)-or-Mazraey-e-Meher-Aqda-Yazd-Iran


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    Patrimonito

    This workshop is designed according to the UNESCO World Heritage Education Programme in order to give young people a chance to voice their concerns and to become involved in the protection of our common cultural and natural heritage. It seeks to encourage and enable tomorrow’s decision-makers to participate in heritage conservation and to respond to the continuing threats facing our World Heritage. The idea of involving young people in World Heritage preservation and promotion came as a response to Article 27 of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention). Furthermore, Patrimonito means 'small heritage' in Spanish and the character represents a young heritage guardian. Patrimonito has been widely adopted as the international mascot of the World Heritage Education Programme.
    Date: 29th December
    Number of trainees: 7
    Duration: 3 hours

    The workshop of "Patrimonito" was held on 29th of December. Participants arrived around 10:30 and they were welcomed by hot chocolate and Persian cup cakes. After a little introduction by trainers and trainees, the process started by making two groups and letting them choose a name for their group, each group was accompanied by a mentor then each group was given some images of world heritage sites in Iran and some descriptions, each group was asked to match images and descriptions, the mentor was guiding them throughout the activity. All trainees were participating actively and trying to remember their experiences about their travels to these places. When they were done with the activity, the mentors started giving the answers and a brief explanation about each site; mentors were using trainees’ ideas and experiences to complete their tasks.

    Shortly after that, the second part started which was a presentation done by two of mentors. The aim of this presentation was to define the value of these world heritage sites and duties of each person as a "Patrimonito", and what happens if there is no "Patrimonito" and nobody cares about our tangible or intangible heritage. In this part trainees started questioning and understanding the whole concept of being a "Patrimonito", they also added their own suggestions on how to protect our heritage and by the end of this part, they were completely aware about their role as a "Patrimonito".
    Now it was a best time to have a short break, during the break trainees were introduced to some of intangible heritages as they were served by traditional food and snacks and even they way of serving was according to traditions and everyone had this opportunity to discuss about intangible heritage while enjoying some traditional food and snacks.
    When the break was done, everyone was asked to choose a heritage either tangible or intangible and they had to introduce their chosen heritage to a tourist by making a postcard using what they have learnt. They were given all of necessary tools such as color papers, color pencils, glue, scissors, images of heritage and a mentor was with them in order to help them completing the task.

    When they were done, they handed out their postcards and with the mentors they sat together and spent a few minutes asking and answering about what they have learnt. Then they were told to say their vows for protecting their heritage and caring about it, the mentor said the vow and the trainees repeated after her and they officially became a "Patrimonito".

    The last but the best part was when they were given the certificates, and they were told that since they are aware of the value of the heritage and they know how to protect it, they are chosen as "Patrimonito" and they should continue their mission by introducing the value of heritage to others. They were granted certificates and labels and the workshop of "Patrimonito" was finished by taking some memorial photos.