Celebrating Righteous Power

January 13, 2024, is Roj Hormuzd of Mah Sheherevar, as per the Shehenshahi calendar. Shehrevar (Avestan Khshathra Vairya) is the sixth month of the Zoroastrian calendar and represents Ahura Mazda’s strength, power and ‘desirable dominion’. Shehrevar uses these qualities righteously to usher peace and Ahura Mazda’s ‘desirable dominion’ in this world.

To invoke Shehrevar is to aspire for qualities of good leadership and exercising authority with righteousness and responsibility. Shehrevar embodies virtues of industry and hard work. His rival is Bushyasp, the demon of sloth and laziness.

Shehrevar’s Hamkara or co-workers are Khurshed, Meher, Asman and Aneran. Khurshed (Avesta Hvare-khshaeta) Yazata presides over the sun and represents life sustaining energy while Meher Yazata (Avesta Mithra) embodies qualities of light (dispeller of darkness), friendship and love. Mithra is also the guardian of oaths, covenants and promises. Mino Asman presides over the sky and embodies qualities of vastness while Mino Aneran (Avesta Anaghra roacha) presides over endless light and thus represents infinity.

As human, there’s much we can imbibe from Shehrevar and his four Hamkara. To begin with, power is good as long used for good and promoting peace. While Khurshed Yazata inspires us to be life sustaining, Meher Yazata inspires us to be instruments of light over darkness (of ignorance, injustice and want). Mino Asman and Mino Aneran remind us that the cosmos is vast and infinite and we are merely a speck of dust at a universal level. Therefore, despite having power, we need to remain humble.

Righteous Power
Shehrevar is visualized as wearing a battle helmet, wielding a spear and a shield, and is the role model for every Zoroastrian, in terms of Divine Strength (to do good) and Righteous Power (to right the wrongs). Peace cannot be ushered by those without power and violence cannot be curbed by the weak. Therefore, strength and power, from a Zoroastrian point of view, are positive, as long as employed righteously.

Khshathra Vairya means ‘Righteous Power’ and represents the ‘Power’ to settle in peace. The Vohu-khashatra Gatha (Vohu = Good and Khashatra = Power or Strength) elucidates the power of doing good deeds. It says: “That man, who performs all his actions as an act of worship through Asha’s Law, is deemed as the best by Mazda Ahura. Those who have been in the past and who are such at present, I shall, with reverence, recall them by name, and shall try to reach their high position by righteous deeds.” This Gatha relates to Yasna 51, wherein Zarathustra elucidates that excellence comes through righteous actions performed as acts of worship. Thus, righteous actions are the best form of worship and such actions reap strength and empowerment.

Shehrevar is a Pahlavi term for ‘the best rule’, which comes with Divine Strength and Righteous Power. Shahenshas or kings of ancient Iran were all inspired by this Divinity and ruled their vast kingdom on the principles of justice and equality – eg. Cyrus the Great and Queens Pourandokht. Evil cannot be resisted by a weak body or a weak mind. Therefore, Zoroastrianism views weakness and disempowerment as an affliction of evil. Khshathra Vairya is a cosmic prototype for the world of Ahura Mazda, i.e. heaven which would be peaceful and ruled by just kings using their strength and righteous power.

Iranian Father’s Day
Many believe that Cyrus the Great was born on Roj Shehrevar of Mah Shehrevar (though this cannot be historically proved) according to the calendar of that time. Today, all Iranians perceive Cyrus as a father figure and therefore observe the fourth day of Shehrevar as ‘Father’s Day’.

Metals And Minerals
Among the good creations of Ahura Mazda, Shehrevar presides over metals and minerals. The human body itself requires various metals and minerals, albeit in small quantities, to stay healthy and strong. For example, the lack of iron can make one anemic or feel very weak, while lack of calcium leads to osteoporosis or weakening of the bones. Thus, Shehrevar grants strength and power through minerals that we ingest while drinking pure mineral water and various foods.

In earlier times, devout Zoroastrians used to recite the Setayash of Shehrevar Ameshaspand before consuming meals. Setayash is derived from the term Satudan, meaning praise in the Pahlavi language. The object of this short Pazand prayer was to seek Shehrevar Ameshaspand’s blessings for strength and energy from the food one consumed.

According to the Shahnameh or the Book of Kings, it was Shah Jamsheed who discovered the use of metals during the Peshdadian dynasty. Gold and silver was used so extensively during Achaemenid times that even Greek historians have written how roofs of homes in the inner most city of old Ecbatana (modern Hamadan and summer capital during Achaemenid rule) were tiled with these noble metals!

Wise Use Of Metals
In the Pahlavi book – Zarathushtnameh, it is stated that after receiving Divine Revelation from Ahura Mazda, when Zarathushta was counselled by each of the Amesha Spenta, Shehrevar’s message to mankind, through Zarathustra the messenger of Ahura Mazda, was: “Use metals wisely”. In other words, use metals for peaceful and progressive purposes, not violent or regressive purposes.

During Achaemenian times, fire altars were made of stone; we witness their ruins to this date near Naqsh-eRustom in South Iran. However, in India, Parsis enthrone the Holy Fire on a metal afarganyu or vase. The Holy Fire is referred to as ‘Atash Patshah’ or the Fire King – only appropriate that the holy fire is enthroned on a metal afarganyu, symbolizing Shehrevar’s strength and power.

When priests offer baj, they use metal rods for ritual power. During higher liturgical ceremonies, the water that is ritually purified and energized and poured back into the agyari well from which it is drawn, is collected in a metal karasyo or tumbler.

Shehrevar Roj and the entire Shehrevar month are considered most auspicious for purchasing utensils, religious implements, metal items, trading in metals as well as doing charity, gifting even utensils to the poor and needy. It is also believed that a child born on Shehrevar Roj will enjoy good fortune and nobility through life.

The Feast Of Shehrevar
Traditionally, ‘Sharivargan’ or the parab of Shehrevar, would be celebrated in ancient Zoroastrian Iran by lighting fires (fire is energy and therefore a source to good health, strength and the warmth of friendship) and reciting the Gatha, especially Yasna 51. The day would also be spent helping empower the weak and doing general acts of charity and kindness.

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