In this part, how Mehregan is celebrated nowadays is discussed. As mentioned in the previous part, Mehregan is one of the two most ancient Iranian festivals known, dating back at least as far as the earliest Aryans (Iranians). The word "Mehr" (in Mehregan) in the Persian language means kindness. Mehr represents knowledge, love, light and friendship. Mehregan is an Iranian festival celebrated in honor of Mithra, the divinity of covenant, and hence of interpersonal relationships such as friendship, affection and love. The festival falls on the 196th day of the Iranian year (10th Mehr. 2nd Oct.).
For this celebration, the participants wear new clothes and set a decorative, colorful table. The sides of the tablecloth are decorated with dry marjoram. A copy of the Khordeh Avesta ("little Avesta"), a mirror and a sormeh-dan (a traditional eyeliner or kohl) are placed on the table together with rosewater, sweets, flowers, vegetables and fruits, especially pomegranates and apples, and nuts such as almonds or pistachios, sometimes a scale for showing the equality of day and night. A few silver coins and lotus seeds are placed in a dish of water scented with marjoram extract.
A burner is also part of the table setting for kondor/loban (frankincense) and espand (seeds of Peganum harmala, Syrian rue) to be thrown on the flames.
Seven types of fruits are seen at the tablecloth, pomegranate, apple, grape, pear, senjed (fruit of the lotus tree), quince and citron. There is also a kind of special nuts at this table. There are some grains such as: pea, been, lentil and chickling vetch to dedicate last year harvest and next year plan. In Mehregan all families join together for observance and pray.
At lunchtime when the ceremony begins, everyone in the family stands in front of the mirror to pray. Sharbat (juice drink) is drunk and then—as a good omen—sormeh is applied around the eyes. Handfuls of wild marjoram, lotus and sugarplum seeds are thrown over one another's heads while they embrace one another.
In some of the villages in Yazd, Zoroastrians still sacrifice sheep for Mehr. These sacrifices are done on the day of Mehregan and for three days afterwards. The sacrifice should be done during the hours of sunlight. The sheep is placed on three stones in the furnace, representing the good words, good deeds and good thoughts, and barbecued. After this special ritual, the sheep, including the skin and fat is taken to the fire temple'. The fat is thrown on the fire to make the flames burn fiercely and then the participants pray. This celebration continues for the next five days.
Roasted mutton is this day's special dish. Sometimes this meal is distributed freely to all local people including the non-Zoroastrians. Other kinds of food and delicacies are also prepared to be shared by all (including dogs, which are venerated amongst Zoroastrians). There are special cookies which are prepared for this day and distributed in feast.
At the sunlight of the first day of festival prayers gather near the biggest spring of the village and pray for dead people. Then they go to village's houses singing and dancing. Each house's host opens the house door for them and give some Mehregan's nuts to them and then they go to the temple of village and give the gathered nuts and gifts to the man who preserved the temple's fire last year and ask him to preserve the fire for the next year also and that man distributes nuts.
The greatest observance is the lighting outside this temple of a huge fire just after the sunset.
In the evening, bonfires are lit and prayers are recited for receiving divine blessings. Fireworks are also set off, following which families sit down for a lavish dinner. The rest of the days will be spent feasting, praying, singing and partying.
Mehregan was a celebration of life, seasons changing, God, and joy. In Zoroastrianism, happiness is very important and is considered as a holy virtue that must be attracted. Thus, this religion has always had many feasts and celebrations.
The festival symbolically ends with bonfires and fireworks, but should not be confused with Sadeh, which likewise celebrates with bonfires but occurs at the end of the calendar year.
No matter what the origins, Persians all over celebrate this festival in the fall signifying the season of harvest and thanksgiving. Friendships are renewed and families are visited.
The festival is also a reminder of the cornerstone of the religion of Prophet Zoroaster -- good words, good deeds and good thoughts.
The people of the community, as a tradition, gather to celebrate and welcome the coming of spring and winter. Celebrations end with bonfires, fireworks, and rejoicing on this merry occasion.
In 1960s, the Postal Service in Tehran issued a series of stamps to commemorate Mehrgan Festival.
Many times, even today when a child is born on Mehregan, the parents will name the child with a name starting with "Mehr" such as MehrDokht or MehrDad or MehrBanu.