A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Ayathrem Gahambar (Herding time). Start of Zoroastrian seasonal religious festival to 16 October with gathering in worship to celebrate with a communal Jashan ceremony, one of the Zoroastrian liturgies that can be performed outside the confines of a fire temple. Jashan is from the Avestan yasna, denoting a ceremony with offerings, enacted for the wellbeing of both the spiritual and physical worlds, with a priestly exchange of flowers, symbolising the passage of the soul (urvan) from one life to the next, and joyous fellowship over food. The seasonal gahambars (gahanbars, festivals of the proper seasons), occur 6 times yearly and each is celebrated over five days, the last day usually being the one observed. Due to the peculiarities of the Shahenshahi and Kadmi variants of the Zoroastrian calendar, the seasonal festivals may actually be celebrated many months in advance and are therefore said to reflect the 6 primordial creations of Ahura Mazda, the highest divinity of the religion. The festivals are known as the Amesha Spentas, immortal, holy, bounteous and furthering the class of divine entities emanating from Ahura Mazda. Later Middle Persian variations of the term include the contraction Ameshaspand and the specifically Zoroastrian Mahraspand and Amahraspand. The other five gahambars are: Maidyarem Gahambar (Mid-winter) 31 December-4 January; Hamaspathmaidyem Gahambar (Mid-path-of-all) 16-20 March; Maidyozarem Gahambar (Mid-spring) 30 April-4 May; Maidyoshahem Gahambar (Mid-summer) 29 June-3 July; and Paitishem Gahambar (Harvest time) 12-16 September. The gahambars are joyous occasions with rich and poor assembling to worship, eat and share food communally, new friendships being formed and old disputes resolved. Image: zacla.org.
St Mobhí Clárainech (Bearchán) (d544). Feast Day commemorating the death of the early Christian Leinster Irish monastic saint, counted as one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. He was the Abbot of the Glass Naoidhen monastery in Glasnevin, Fine Gall (Fingal) on the bank of the River Lifè, where he was a teacher of Columba (Columcille), Canice, Comgall, and Ciarán. The huts of the pupils had been to the west bank of the river but, one night when the bell was rung for matins, there was a hard frost with the river frozen over and Columba passed over fully-dressed. “Bravely hast thou acted, O descendant of Niall,” said Mobhí. “God is competent,” said Columba, “to relieve us of this difficulty.” The students on their return from the church found all the huts placed on the east bank of the river, near the church where Mobhí taught. After his death, St Columba said of Mobhí’s girdle: “The girdle was not closed upon bravery of dress, it was not opened for satiety; it was not closed on a lie. Dlom Fíacc ocus Fiachraig onme, mor in máinsin, moBií, balc a ṁbúaid sin, in clárainech cáinsin (declare Fiacc and Fiachre at the same time, great is that treasure. Mobí, strong that triumph. That fair flat-faced one.” Mobhí miraculously cured this facial deformity by thrice bathing his face in St David’s baptismal water. It was St Mobhí who, with his dying breath, gave St Columba permission for founding the School of Derry. Image: marcheladimitrova.com.
St Eadwine (Edwin of Northumbria, Æduinus) (584-633). Feast Day commemorating the death of the 616 first Christian king of Bernicia and Deira who was born in Deira, Northumbria, was the successor to Æthelfrith, won the throne with the support of Rædwald, king of East Anglia and was baptised in 627. Edwin died a martyr at the 633 Battle of Hæthfelth (Hatfield Chase) against Penda, the pagan king of Mercia and the British ruler Catguollaun (Cadwallon ap Cadfan) King of Gwynedd, Wales. Edwin’s realm was divided at his death between his nephews Osric in Deira and Eanfrith in Bernicia, both of whom reverted to paganism and were killed by Cadwallon. Eventually, Eanfrith’s brother Oswald defeated and killed Cadwallon and united Northumbria once more. After his death, Edwin came to be venerated as a saint by some, although his cult was eventually overshadowed by the ultimately more successful cult of Oswald, who was killed in 642 in battle with the pagan Mercians and the British, thus allowing both of them to be perceived as martyrs. However, Bede’s treatment of Oswald clearly demonstrates that he regarded him as an unambiguously saintly figure, a status that he did not accord to Edwin. Perhaps the most significant legacies of Edwin’s reign lay in his failures: the rise of Penda and of Mercia; and the return from Irish exile of the sons of Æthelfrith that tied the kingdom of Northumbria into the Irish Sea world for generations. Venerated in Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic Churches, Anglican Communion. Patron of converts, poor homeless vagrants, homeless people, kings, parents of large families. Image: catholicsaints.info.