1st July Zoroastrian rain-festival - even though we seem to have had so much recently we still need in abundance for the survival of our planet. It is customary for Zoroastrians to tie rainbow-colored ribbons around their wrists in the days prior to the festival and to toss those ribbons into a stream. Zoroastrianism is a very ancient religion of the Middle East and still practiced widely in India. It is part of the heritage of religions that brought Hindu and Buddhist philosophy across from India to the Middle East which were the forerunners of Christianity and Islam.
Known as the Jashn-e Tirgan, the festival is a celebration to Tishtrya and the rains. Tigan refers to the archangel, 'Tir' (meaning arrow) or 'Tishtar' (lightning), referring to thunder storms that bring much needed rain that boost harvest and avert drought. (The bootids meteor shower also ends on 2nd July every year).
Tishtrya is the benevolent divinity associated with life-bringing rainfall and fertility. Tishtrya is involved in a cosmic struggle against the drought-bringing demon Apaosha. According to the myth, in the form of a pure white horse did battle with the demon who, in contrast, had assumed the form of a terrifying black horse. Apaosa soon gained the upper hand over Tishtrya, who was weakened from the lack of sufficient prayers and sacrifices from humankind. She called upon the Creator Ahura Mazda, who himself intervened by offering a sacrifice to the overwhelmed god. Infused with the power brought by this sacrifice, Tishtrya was able to overcome Apaosa, and his rains were able to flow to the parched fields and pastures unabated by drought.
This story serves to underscore the importance of votive offerings and sacrifice in religious tradition. (In modern terms prayers and rituals such as Communion). During the Greek Achaemenid period Tishtrya was merged with the Semitic Nabu-*Tiri, and thus came to be associated with the Dog Star, Sirius, which is a big part of the Egyptian and other creation myths such as the Dogon people in Africa. During the Hellenic period, Tishtrya came to be associated with Pythian Apollo, patron of Delphi, and thus a divinity of oracles.
For background information on Zoroastrianism see this very easy to read website.
Thanks to Joanna Bristow Watkins who compiled this particular piece for the Creating Balance & Harmony Training we are doing together. This course is currently full but we will probably run it again later in the year.