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samedi 20 décembre 2014


December 21st, 2014, it would be the night of YALDA, celebrated in most of the Persian Speaking Middle East and Central Asia, also spilling into the Indian Subcontinent.
But one usually associates YALDA with Iran. It is the longest night and it also signifies new life and optimism, and symbolically escaping from Darkness (of time and thinking or narrow-mindedness as you want to interpret)
It is also the Winter Solstice
It is an universal phenomenon, observable from all parts of this planet and obviously there would be celebrations or suspicions or superstitions on the parts of the descendants of the indigenous people. Also the "modern man" may have incorporated some of these ancient beliefs into the modern symbolism, Yalda is one of them. Most people celebrate Christmas as the day of the birth of Jesus, but it is a symbolic incorporation of pre Christian European celebration of the birthday of a God, into the Christian Europe. Its proximity to 21st, itself an ancient celebration of the symbolic arrival of light is significant.
Pomegranate, Watermelon and the Colour Red are all symbolic, perhaps of the redness of the rising sun? Whilst the ancient Iranians noted the occurrence of the Solstice the Zoroastrians may not have celebrated it because of the Length of the Night signified for them the longer presence of Evils to be afraid of.
The association of Night with Bad Spirits is seen in many cultures. I see this significance of it among my medical practice with the HoCank, UmonHon and Lakota Indians. They tend to finish their dinner very early and are very reluctant to eat at night. When asked, an elder told me: In the darkness, you do not know who are you are eating with, since you do not know who is present.
While there are fewer archeological remnants of the builders of ancient north America, some are well preserved, such as in this serpent, which signifies the passage of sun through heavens on solstice and equinox
 A very well known Road Man of the Native American Church, a Hocank, playfully referred to himself as Your Humble Serpent. He authored a book by that same name, which is a good introduction to the Hocank ways of thinking. ( a good anthropological description of Hocank is by the Jewish anthropologist, Radin written nearly 100 years ago)
I was told of this phenomenon whilst visiting Chichen Itza, from Miami ( a short plane ride) during my university days. I have always remembered the story on my repeated visits. Lately it has become a social phenomenon with thousands of people congregating on Dec 21st the KukulCan temple (The Castle or El Castillo) at Chichen Itza
The ancient structure is so constructed that on the day of Solstice the shadow of a Serpent appears on one of its sides.
The prehistoric sites of Stonehenge has also an alignment to the Sun and attracts visitors on these special days.
The archeological site at Carnac in France is older than Stonehenge but I don't know about the alignment with the sun, even though the parallel rows of stones stretch out for miles.
( I hope to be there in a few days time, passing by, on my way to Quiberon)
Whilst the one at Chichen Itza was impressive enough, the smaller archeological ruins at Dzibilchaltun left a more lasting impression. (thanks to Nicte-Ha currently of Cologne, for accompanying me there). There was a heavy spiritual connection to the world around here, as one could feel the subterranean waters of the Yucatan peninsula bubbling a few meters away.

While some of these ancient customs have been trivialized by modern day travelers, the seriousness of Yalda in Iran has never faded. The Diwan Hafez, the beautiful poems of Hafez, which most Iranians read on a regular basis and there are no houses in Iran without a copy, will be present while the various sweets and food are tasted in the company of family and friends.
Yalda is of Syriac, proto Aramaic origin, thus it is a foreign word to Farsi. Interestingly enough in Hebrew, Yalda, means a girl but also means birth, or giving birth.
I am including here a link to a site called Israel loves Iran, which lets the citizens of each of the countries to communicate peacefully with each other. I thought it is good to remember these souls on the spirit of Yalda.
A symbolic message to all those who harbour any sort of hatred towards other groups because of differences in belief, ideology, religion or politics: The True Morning will not come until this Yalda Night of Darkness has gone!

when I sent this message to an Iranian friend, this was the reply:
Yes, we believe that days becoming longer than nights is a sign that the life becomes better.

Today is 20 December 2014
This is how I plan to celebrate YALDA
First of all, read Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, take the book given to me by my yoga teacher, YMC in KL, and adivinate by reading a page at random and trying to absorb the meaning. This is what many Iranians do with the book of Hafez. But one must not do it more than thrice, lest you make the Master angry!
Since Yalda also means food and celebrations, but with whom else but my dearest friends in Miami, Mordecai and G, an Italian resto has been chosen and at least two of us would settle for a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough.

These notes on Yalda are dedicated to מאמר זה מוקדש לילדה הקטנה של.
 ייתכן שהיא תגדל להעריך את
התרבות של איראן וכמובן ישראל