Sa’dieva Guliston Fatoevna

Associate professor Tajik State Institute of Art and Design, department of languages and humanitarian sciences

Sada is one of the oldest seasonal celebrations of Aryan farmers,  the most important Iranian and Tajik winter festival which is celebrated at end of the 30th and the beginning of the 31st of January of the New Year.

Legends have it that King Hushang, the 2nd king of the mythological Pishdadian dynasty (Pishdad means to give the Law), established the Sadeh tradition. It is said that once Hushang was climbing a mountain when all of a sudden he saw a snake and wanted to hit it with a stone. When he threw the stone, it fell on another stone and since they were both flint stones, fire broke out and the snake escaped. This way he discovered how to light a fire. Hushang cheered up and praised God who revealed to him the secret of lighting a fire. Then he announced: «This is a light from God. So we must admire it.»

According to religious beliefs, Jashn-e Sadeh recalls the importance of light, fire and energy; light which comes from God is found in the hearts of his creatures.

During ancient times, Jashn-e Sadeh was celebrated by lighting fire. For Zoroastrians the chief preparation for Sadeh was and still in some parts is the gathering of wood the day before the festival. Teenage boys accompanied by a few adult males would go to local mountains in order to gather camel thorns, a common desert shrub in Iran. For most, this is the first time they are away from their families. The occasion resembles a ritual of passage to adulthood, a notable step for the boys on the way to manhood. The boys would take the camel thorns to the temples in their cities; and if it were their first time doing this, on their return, a celebration was held at home with the presence of friends and families.

Sada fell not on the winter solstice, but forty days after it, namely on the 10th (Ābān) day of the month of Bahman (on or around 30 January in the Gregorian calendar, if calculated from the modern Solar Hejri calendar; It can be said that 40 days after the onset of a frosty night (early on the tenth Sunday) or after passing a large winter hill, as the reception of firearms and the reverence of Mehra.

The etymology of the word sada is not clear. Islamic authors generally derive it from the numeral ad (one hundred). The most common explanation of the term is that within the five-month period of the “Great Winter,” counted from the first day of the month of Ābān until the end of Esfand, the festival fell on the 100th day of winter, that is the 10th of Bahman (Biruni, Āṯār, tr. Sachau, p. 226; Rāzi, pp. 37-38). According to another, less convincing explanation, “one hundred” stands for 50 days plus 50 nights that separate Sada from Nowruz (Biruni, Āṯār, tr. Sachau, p. 226; Idem, 1954-56, p. 265; Idem, 1983, p. 257; Gardizi, p. 246). The term is also put in connection with the legend on the children of the first man or of the first couple (Gayumarṯ, Mašya, and Mašyāna) whose number reached one hundred on that day (Biruni, Āṯār, tr. Sachau, p. 226; Idem, 1954-56, p. 265; Idem, 1983, p. 257; Gardizi, p. 246; Qazvini, p. 80), or with the number of men rescued from Żaḥḥāk (Biruni, 1954-56, p. 265).

The «Sadeh» celebration is the largest celebration of fire and one of the oldest rituals known in ancient Persia. It is a festivity to honor fire and to defeat the forces of darkness, frost and cold. Until the Arab invasion of Iran in the seventh century, most Iranians in the powerful Persian Empire were Zoroastrians, who celebrated the feast at the start of the 30th January.

The festival is held as a gathering of a city’s dwellers where a big fire is set. The observers help each other gather firewood, making the festival a celebration for cooperation and empathy between people. Today, the fires are not lit outside and all activities take place inside the shrines. The wood gathering activities are reduced though there are efforts to preserve them. However the bulk of the Iranians are becoming more familiar with the occasion. Current Zoroastrians recites various songs and hymns along with flames according to their language and culture. Also, in some areas, they also perform celebrations, games and group shows. Nowadays, the festivities of Sade is held sporadically in some cities and villages of Mazandaran, Lorestan, Sistan and Baloochestan, But in the most cities of Kerman and Yazd provinces, it is celebrated with magnificent glory.

The ceremony is celebrated somewhat like the ancient times in some Iranian cities such as Kerman and Yazd. Jashn e Sadeh is also celebrated every year in the Kushke Varjavand gardens in Karaj (a township of Tehran province) splendidly with the presence of Persian Zoroastrians and others interested in traditional Persian ceremonies. Sometimes the fires are not lit outside and all activities take place inside the Zoroastrian temples. The activities of camel thorn gathering have almost been stopped though there are efforts to preserve the tradition. However, the bulk of the Iranians/Persians are becoming more familiar with the occasion and there are gatherings and celebrations even outside the country on 30 January each year. People will gather and pray, and then they will hold each other’s hands, form a circle, and dance around the fire.

Nowadays Sada became  very important and widely celebrated festival for all the peoples who speak the Tajik — Persian language. This is the «mid-winter» festival, which our ancient Aryan ancestors celebrated with great scale and splendor. The holiday was designed to honor the fire and protect people from the forces of darkness-cold and frost.

Today, the holiday is celebrated throughout Tajikistan, as well as in Iran, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan – where Tajiks and Persians live.


  1. Encyclopedia Iranica
  2. Rahimov D. Iraniaan festival // Chinori purgul/  Dushanbe , 2008.

Аннотация: В статье рассматривается  история происхождения праздника Сада.  Этимология слова  сада до сих пор не ясна. Некоторые исламские авторы считают, что оно происходит от понятия «сотня» сад.  Другие полагают, что оно означает пятимесячный период «Великой зимы». Это фестиваль «середины зимы», который наши предки – древние арии праздновали с большим размахом и великолепием.