Tirgan Celebration (feast of Tiregan, festival of Tiragan, Jashne Tirgan, جشن تيرگان) or the Rain Festival, is an ancient Iranian celebration, which is still celebrated among Iranian Zoroastrians, Parsis of India and some Iranian Muslims in various parts of Iran, including Mazandaran and Arak provinces. The celebration is widely attested by historians such as Abu Saʿid Gardezi (ابوسعید عبدالحی بن ضحاک بن محمود گردیزی), Biruni (بیرونی) and Al-Masudi, as well as European travellers to Iran during the Safavid era. This event is celebrated on the 13th day of the month of Tir, (the 4th month of the Persian calendar) which equates to the 2nd or 3 July in the Gregorian Calendar.
Tirgan Celebration (Jashne Tirgan) is primarily a rain festival and the festivity refers to the archangel, ‘Tir’ (meaning arrow) or ‘Tishtar’ (lightening), referring to thunder storms that bring much needed rain that boost harvest and avert drought. Ancient legend of the Tir (arrow) refers to “Arash of the swift arrow” or ‘Arash the archer’ (Arash-e Kamangir) (آرش کمانگیر ,آرش تیرانداز).
When the kings of the two lands – Manouchehr and Afrasiyab – decided to settle their dispute and to set a permanent boundary between Persia and Turan, they arrived at a mutual understanding that Arash should climb to the tall Mount Damavand’s peak, and from there shoot an arrow toward the east. Wherever his arrow landed, they agreed, would determine the boundary between the two kingdoms.
Arash shot his arrow (Tir) on the 13th day of the Persian month of Tir, which fell on the banks of the Jeyhun (the Oxus) River. Thus, the borders of the two countries were marked.
“We honor the bright, khwarrah-endowed star, Tishtrya, who flies as swiftly to the Vouru-kasha sea as the supernatural arrow which the archer, Erexsha, the best archer of the Persians, shot from Mount Airyo-xshutha to Mount Xwanwant. For Ahura Mazda (اهورامزدا) gave him assistance; so did the waters …,” Tishtar Yasht .
Legend has it that as soon as the border dispute was settled, rain began pouring down on both lands, which had been suffering from an eight-year drought.
Thus this day, the 13th of Tir (July 4th) is celebrated as the Festival of Rain. It is customary for Zoroastrians to tie rainbow-colored ribbons around their wrists for ten consecutive days and toss the ribbons into a stream on the day of the festival.
The Festival of Rain is celebrated by people dancing, singing, reciting poetry and serving delicacies such as spinach soup and ‘sholeh zard’ (saffron flavored rice pudding).