Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
Introduction to Jashn-e Sadeh
Sadeh is a mid-winter celebration observed by Iranians from the ancient time. It includes preparing a large bonfire and is therefore also known as Adur-Jashan (Feast of fire). The bonfire is to drive back the winter in defiance of Ahriman. Sadeh has a complex history, and two different traditions are to be noted.
Sadeh among Zoroastrian Communities
Zoroastrians of Yazd celebrate Sadeh on Ashtad ruz of month Azar. This is the 100th ('sad' in Persian) day before Norooz. According to the Fasli calendar, this would place it on Dec 11.
The other day, observed by Kermani Zoroastrians, is Aban ruz of month Bahman (hundredth day after the gahanbar of Ayathrima, held to be the beginning of winter), January 24.
The main preparation is the gathering of wood, and everyone in the community is expected to contribute (Perhaps there is some connection here with the custom of wishing on candles at birthdays):
Shâx-e shâx-e (h)armanl'A branch, a branch...!
Har kas shâx-e be-dehadWhoever gives a branch,
Khodâ morâd-esh be-dehad! May God grant his wish!
Har kas shâx-e na-dehadWhoever does not give a branch,
Khodâ morâd-esh na-dehad! May God not grant his wish!'
People begin to gather an hour before sunset, a spot near a stream seems to be preferred. following the lighting of the fire is proceeded by an Afrinagan-e Do Dahman, a ceremony of blessing for the whole community, and Atash Niyayesh (fire litany).
Although it is mentioned in the Qissa-i Sanjan, Sadeh does not seem to have much significance among modern Parsi Zoroastrians. The prolific Parsee writer Dr. J.J. Modi does makes a very brief note of it in his Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Parsees (1922, p. 464). He gives the date as ruz Aban, mah Deh (= December 25 by Fasli reckoning!) He says the fire is to symbolize the approach of winter which necessitates the kindling of fires.
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British Institute of Persian Studies