Gahambars are a celebratory festival that is inspired by the unity of people and spirituality. They also celebrate noble deeds such as radih and rastih. Translated, this literally means charity and honesty. Gahambars are steeped in rich Parsi tradition and during the festival regard is given to heaven, earth, flora, water, man and fauna. The festivities run their course over five days. It is aimed at bringing the Parsi community together and reminding them of how to live their lives as dictated by God. Gahambars are celebrated six times a year and each Gahambar has a different significance.
The first Gahambar of the year is Maidyozarem. This Gahambar focuses on heaven and has a particular emphasis on the creation of the stars. The next Gahambar is Maidyoishem and it focuses on water – this takes place sixty days after the first and focuses on the creation of water. The third is called Paitisayyem and has a specific focus on earth and all that we take from it (via harvest) takes place seventy-five days after the second. The fourth is called Ayathrem and focuses on both flora and fauna that sprung forth from the earth – generally takes place at the start of winter. The fifth Gahambar is known as Maidhyarem and takes place around the middle of winter. It signifies the creation of animals and their subsequent evolution from primitive life forms such as bacteria and single celled organisms.
The last Gahambar is known as Hamaspathmaedem. I find this the most interesting as this was considered the start of the new year for those who are of Parsi origin prior to the implementation of the Gregorian calendar. It represents mankind’s evolution as a species. Each of the Gahambars is designed to bring the Parsi community together in celebration and unity. It gives praise to those who have undertaken charitable and honourable work throughout the Parsi community and allows Parsi people who have not socialised since the previous Gahambar to reconnect.
The Gahambar festival itself is made up of four liturgical services over the duration of the first four days. The fifth day is all about celebrating and social interaction. There is a great feast during the fifth day and people acknowledge the importance of the seasons and the requirements of leading the life of a Parsi. During the fifth day there is also a wide variety of prayers such as Afrin, the Baj, the Yasna and the Pavi.