ĀBĀN MĀH, the eighth month of the Zoroastrian year, dedicated to the Waters, Ābān. From the 5th to the beginning of the 11th century A.D., as a result of the second Sasanian calendar reform (see Calendar, Zoroastrian), Ābān Māh became the twelfth month of the religious “leaping” (wihēzag) year, with five epagomenae, the Gāthā days, set between it and Āḏar Māh (q.v.). The last five days of Ābān Māh were accordingly celebrated, for this half millennium, as the lesser Farvardīgān (q.v.), as Bīrūnī noted (Āṯār, p. 224). The tenth day of every Zoroastrian month is also dedicated to the Waters, and so the tenth day of the eighth month, Ābān Rūz of Ābān Māh, is their name-day feast, called Ābānagān (see Bīrūnī, loc. cit.). The veneration of the Waters tended, however, to become identified with the veneration of Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā; and so this feast is also known as Ābān Ardvīsūr Jašan, “the feast of Ardvīsūr of the Waters” (see K. N. Seervai and B. B. Patel, “Gujarat Parsis,” Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency IX/2, 1899, p. 216). On this day Zoroastrians go to stream, lake, or sea, pray, and make offerings to the Waters. Among the prayers said are the Ābān Niyāyeš and the Ābān Yašt, both of which are devoted to Arədvī Sūrā. The services solemnized by the priest have the regular dedication (xšnūman) of the tenth day, the day of “the good, Mazdā-created Waters; of the water Arədvī Anāhitā [sic], the righteous; of all Mazdā-created waters and of all Mazdā-created plants” (Sīrōza 1.10). Bīrūnī (loc. cit.) records two legends by which scholar-priests brought Ābānagān, like all other major feasts except gāhānbārs, into connection with the Iranian epic tradition. According to one, it was on this day that Zav, son of Tahmurasp, became king. “He ordered channels to be dug and to be well maintained.” There is at least a connection between this legend and water; but the association of the second one with Ābānagān seems arbitrary. The latter relates that, on this day, the people of the seven climes heard Frēdōn had fettered Bēvarasp and had assumed authority over the world, reestablishing order everywhere.
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Originally Published: December 15, 1982
Last Updated: July 13, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 1, pp. 59-60
Mary Boyce, “Aban Mah,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/1, pp. 59-60; available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/aban-mah (accessed online at 10 January 2014).