Mehregan Festival in Tajikistan Date in the current year: October 20, 2024

Mehregan Festival in Tajikistan Mehregan is a fall and harvest festival celebrated in Tajikistan on the third Sunday of October. It originated from an ancient Zoroastrian and Persian festival of the same name, which is still celebrated in Iran 195 days after Nowruz.

The history of Mehregan dates back to the 4th century. It was originally a feast honoring Mithra, a Zoroastrian divinity of friendship, truth, justice, covenant, oath, and sunlight. Mithra was one of the yazatas, divine beings worthy of worship and veneration who aided the creator deity of Zoroastrianism Ahura Mazda.

After the Islamization of Iran, Mehregan became one of the two Zoroastrian festivals that continue to be celebrated by the general public to this day (the second one is Tirgan, a midsummer festival originally dedicated to the yazata Tishtrya). Over time, it began to be seen as an autumn and harvest festival.

In ancient Persia, people celebrated Mehregan by wearing their best clothes, exchanging gifts, and hosting feasts. The festive table was traditionally covered with a red cloth; placed on the table were a candle, sweets, spices and incense (rue, ambergris and saffron).

Other items that are still customary placed on the table include a copy of the Zoroastrian religious text Khordeh Avesta (“little Avesta”), a mirror, kohl, rosewater, flowers, vegetables and fruits (typically apples and pomegranates), nuts, an incense burner for frankincense and Syrian rue, and a dish of water scented with marjoram with lotus seeds and silver coins placed inside.

In present-day Iran, Mehregan is celebrated on October 2 (on the 196th day after Nowruz, the Persian New Year that begins on the spring equinox). The Tajik version of the festival is also celebrated in October, but on a different date — the third Sunday of the month.

Tajiks have preserved the tradition of celebrating the autumn harvest festival for millennia, although the name “Mehregan” was obviously not used during the Soviet era to avoid religious associations, since the Soviet Union was officially an atheist state. In 1995, Mehregan was officially revived, which was reflected in the Law on Holidays. In 2009, it was declared a national holiday and received its current date, the third Sunday of October.

Mehregan is celebrated with agricultural exhibitions and festivals held throughout Tajikistan, where local farmers can show off their crops. The largest exhibition takes place in the Tajikistani capital of Dushanbe. It features farmers from all over the country.

In addition to buying vegetables, fruits, nuts, dried fruits and honey at affordable prices, visitors of the exhibition can enjoy traditional dishes, a display of folk arts and crafts, and a cultural program with folk songs and dances.

Tajikistan is the only country that officially celebrates all four ancient Persian holidays honoring the change of seasons. In addition to Nowruz (spring festival) and Mehregan (autumn festival), Tajikistanis celebrate Tirgan and Sadeh. Tirgan, which we’ve already mentioned above, is a festival of summer and rain, while Sadeh is a midwinter festival that honors fire.

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