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The Legend of Tir and the First Month of Summer in Persia

7/5/06 By Soudabeh Sadigh

The first summer month is called "Tir" in the Persian language, meaning arrow. For Iranians, this name is reminiscent of a long tale of braveries in their ancient land.

Tehran, 1 July 2006 (CHN) -- The first month of summer is called Tir in the Persian language which translates into English as arrow. Choosing of this name was not an accident. There are many customs associated with the month of Tir, which itself is associated with the legend of the arrow.

Tirgan, the summer solstice celebrates the life of Arash Kamangir. Arash is an ancient Persian name which means bright and shining in English, and Kamangir in Persian language means one who gets the arch. Arash was the Persian national hero who sacrificed his life to preserve the territorial integrity of Iran.

Persian legend has it that at the end of a long-lasting war between Iran and Turan, the rulers of both countries determined to make peace and to fix the boundary between their kingdoms. It was determined that somebody should ascend Mount Damavand (Iran's highest mountain, situated 30 kilometers northeast of Tehran with a height of 5671 meters) and from there shoot an arrow towards the east and wherever the arrow lands, that would be the new border between the two countries. Arash, known as the swift arrow, and in modern Persian as Arash Kamangir, was the best archer in the Persian army who volunteered to shoot the arrow. On the bright morning of Tirgan, the first month of summer, Arash stripped naked, faced north, strained his bow as never before, let the arrow fly and rid with the arrow. According to Persian tales, the arrow flew the entire morning and fell at noon, on the 2250 kilometer bank of the Oxus River in what is now Central Asia. And the river remained the boundary between Iran and Turan for centuries until the Mongol hordes poured in to push the Persians southward in the 10th century AD.

Arsah was never seen after that day and his body was never found after his death. However, there are still stories from travelers who were lost in the mountain about how they heard Arash Kamangir's voice and the voice helped them find their path and saved their lives.

Another tale associated with Tir says that during the reign of Afrasiyab, king of Turan, over Persia, it did not rain for 8 years. This made Afrasiyab gather a number of wise men and astrologers to find the reason. At the king's court, someone named Zu Tahmurasp rose, addressed the king, and said: "You turned faithless, because Turkestan had been allotted to you which was entrusted to you by your predecessors, whereas Iran was allotted to us and given to the Persian rulers. You turned away from that covenant and set it aside. It is for this reason, owing to this sin of yours, that it does not rain." And when Afrasiyab asked how this could be ascertained, Zu Tahmurasp said: "I shall throw an arrow from here and where my arrow falls, there will be the boundaries of your territory." Afrasiyab accepted it and entered into a compact. It was the first day of summer that Zu Tahmurasp uttered the name of God and threw the arrow from Persia and that arrow fell in Turan by the command of Lord Ahura Mazda.

In any case, Arash Kamangir has remained one of the most popular and favorite Persian legendary heroes who is the symbol of sacrifice and bravery in the Persian history. He will be alive in the memory of Iranians forever and every year on the occasion of Tirgan Festival, Iranians hold some ceremonies in his commemoration.

This year, the start of the hottest season of the year was concurrent with Soccer World Cup 2006, one of the hottest sport championships which has attracted the attention of millions of people all over the world. This event, brought a large group of soccer teams together in Germany to compete in one of the most exciting and popular championships of the world.

This year, in addition to athletic championships, some cultural and historical attractions of the participant countries were also introduced through different programs and exhibitions to give the chance to people to get familiar with various cultural aspects of different countries.

Iran, who was one of the participant countries in this round of championships, held different cultural programs during the World Cup to introduce part of its cultural and historical values to the world. The programs included movie screenings, slide shows, performing music and displaying of pictures that relate to the country's sport, and its cultural and historical sites. One of the movies which was screened in one of these exhibitions was entitled "Arash Kamangir" which was about the famous dart shooting of this legend to celebrate the memory of this heroic figure in one of the most important sport events of the world.

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