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     jcal - displays a calendar


     jcal [-pVjy13] [[month] year]


     JCal displays a simple calendar.  If arguments are not specified, the
     current month is displayed.  The options are as follows:

     -1      Display single month output.  (This is the default.)

     -3      Display prev/current/next month output.

     -j      Display Julian dates (days one-based, numbered from Farvardin 1).

     -p      Display year based on Pahlavi epoch.

     -y      Display a calendar for the current year.

     -V      Display calendar version.

     A single parameter specifies the year (1 - 9999) to be displayed; note
     the year must be fully specified: “cal 85” will not display a calendar
     for 1385.  Two parameters denote the month (1 - 12) and year.  If no
     parameters are specified, the current month’s calendar is displayed.

     A year starts on Far 1.


     True solar year, also known as tropical year, was a still later
     discovery.  One has to take equinox or solstice into account to keep an
     accurate track of the solar year.  The equinoxes are the two
     intersections of the sun’s apparent annual path with the celestial
     equator. The sun reaches the vernal equinox on 1st of Farvardin, on or
     about 21st March, the summer solstice on 1st of Tir, on about 22nd June,
     the autumnal equinox on 1st Mehr, on or about 23rd September, and the
     winter solstice on 1st of Dey, on or about 22 December. Because the two
     planes, the path of the sun and the celestial equator move in opposite
     directions, the equinoxes and solstices do not occur at the same points
     every year. This anti-clock movement of the intersection point is called
     precession. It moves one degree in 72 years, one Zodiac sign of 30
     degrees in 2,156 years and one circle in 25,868 years. For further
     information on calendar, solar or tropical year, precession, and other
     astronomical data, refer to any good encyclopedia or a publication on
     astronomy and astrology.  The tropical year, based on the four seasons,
     is precise. It is 365.24224 solar days (365 days 5 hr 48 min 45.5 sec),
     and the tropical lunar year is 354.36708 solar days, a difference of
     10.87516 solar days.  We need not go far to find a workable calendar. Of
     all the present calendars, the official Iranian calendar, based on the
     astronomical system, is the most scientific calendar in use and bears the
     names of what are known as Zoroastrian months. It rightly has the vernal
     equinox (on or about 21st March) at the beginning of the spring and the
     year. The fourth month begins on the summer solstice (on or about 22
     June), the seventh month on the autumnal equinox (on or about 23
     September), and the ninth month on the winter solstice (on or about 22
     December).  In the true seasonal year, the first half contains 186 days
     and the second half about 179.242 days. This means that the first six
     months are of 31 days each, the following five months of 30 days each,
     and the last month of 29 days, but which automatically becomes of 30 days
     in the so-called "leap" year. The four seasons begin on the first days of
     the seasonal quarters.  This is exactly what the Iranian calendar
     follows: The first six months are of 31 days each, the next five months
     of 30 days each and the last month is of 29 days but of 30 days in the
     leap year. Reports indicate that the Central Asian republics may follow
     suit.  Historical evidence that the five Gatha days were added at the end
     of summer proves that the early "Zoroastrian" calendar had this fact in


     Evidences from the Avesta and the Vedas show that the Indo-Iranians, like
     many other people, followed a lunisolar year for their animal husbandry
     and agricultural purpose.  The names of the six Gaahaanbaars, six parts
     of the Vedic year and the Achaemenian months, as seen below, show that
     the calendar was based on various seasonal phases of the year.  The
     Gathas speak of the paths of the sun and the stars, and speaks about the
     waxing and waning phases of the moon, a sure sign of an accurate
     lunisolar year. The language used is astronomical, and it confirms the
     reports written in ancient Middle Eastern and Mediterranean writings that
     Zarathushtra was an outstanding astronomer also.  It also confirms the
     statement in post-Sassanian Iranian astronomy books that Zarathushtra
     built an observatory in Zabol, Sistan (eastern Iran) and that it was
     inaugurated on 21st March 1725 BCE, the day King Vishtaspa and his
     courtiers converted, chose the Good Religion and joined the
     Zarathushtrian Fellowship.  It also provides us with the clue that the
     Good Religion was founded by Zarathushtra, exactly twelve years earlier
     on vernal equinox of 1737 BCE.  The Vispered, dedicated only to the six
     seasonal festivals, the "Gaahaanbaars", also shows that the early
     Zarathushtrian calendar was almost the old Indo-Iranian lunisolar
     calendar with its waxing and waning lunar phases. The month was based on
     moon’s phases, and the year was calculated on the solar basis.  The
     difference was corrected by an intercalation of eleven days at the end of
     the year on the Hamaspathmaidhaya Gahanbar of the vernal equinox. This
     was 0.12484 day or 2.99616 hours shorter. Only a further intercalation of
     one day after eight years (precisely after 8.010253 years), could keep
     the seasonal festivals in their proper places. How did the Gathic people
     correct it, we do not know. We know this much that no complaint has been
     recorded by them about the festivals drifting away from their relevant
     agricultural seasons.  Sometime during the later Avestan age, the year
     was made into a purely solar year of 365 days with twelve months of
     thirty days and the five "Gatha" days as the intercalary period. Should
     we believe a 9th century Pahlavi tradition, the correction of five hours
     and a fraction was made good every four years, or the community had to
     wait for 40 years to intercalate 10 days or still more for 120 years to
     add a thirteenth month of 30 days. The usual reference to one month
     intercalation at the end of 120 years only reminds us of the disorder
     that prevailed during the last days of the Sassanian Empire and its
     subsequent fall.


     A point about intercalation in a ‘‘leap’’ year: The precise time of
     vernal equinox is determined by the International Meridian, at present
     Greenwich. The usual way is to count the year of 365 days and 6 hours.
     Four 6 hours, or one day, is added to bring back the year on the right
     track. This fourth year is called the ‘‘leap year’’ because it leaps one
     day ahead. But the actual length of the year is 6 hours but 5 hours 48
     minutes and 45.5 seconds, a difference of 11 minutes and 14.5 seconds.
     This amount to one day in 128 days. It was to correct this that the leap
     years are those eras which are divisible by 400. Even this makes the
     Christian or Common year 26 seconds longer than the tropical year.  The
     Iranian calendar does not have this problem. Its new year begins exactly
     at the beginning of the equinox. Although the formal Iranian year of the
     present days has its leap year, it should never worry about it.  All it
     has to do is to see that if the right times falls after midnight 0 hours
     00 minutes and 01 seconds to 0 hours 00 minutes and 00 seconds -- the
     first day of the year also begins with it. This is because the Avestan
     day begins with the ‘‘Ushahin Gaah,’’ the Dawn Time, which begins from
     midnight. Yes, the Iranians have been counting their day from midnight
     for, at least, 3738 years and it is the West that has adopted it very
     late in our times. The Iranian calendar DOES NOT need a leap year at all.
     It is automatically within the right time. I hope that one day the
     authorities concerned would realize this FACT and amend the calendar by
     eliminating the so-called leap year.


     Each of the twelve Avestan months and thirty days were named after a
     deity, some of them old Aryan gods and goddesses discarded by
     Zarathushtra but reintroduced later by authoritative priests, and some of
     them Gathic principles personified by the same priests into divine
     entities, all now called yazatas, meaning "venerated, venerable."  "Year"
     in general was called "yaairi" or "yaari", but the intercalated solar
     year was known as "saredha", Old Persian of the Achaemenians "tharda",
     and Pahlavi and modern Persian "saal" (compared Sanskrit "sharad",
     autumn, year).  This calendar is followed to this day by Iranian
     Zartoshtis and some Parsis. It is called Fasli, a modern Persian-Arabic
     word meaning "seasonal" However, majority of Parsis use Shahenshahi, the
     "Imperial" calendar. The Parsis have not intercalated since 1126 CE.  It
     now begins in the last week of August 21st, full seven months plus one
     day earlier. The Iranian Zoroastrians, who follow the Qadimi Calendar,
     have abandoned intercalation since 1006 CE and the 365-day year has now
     forwarded their new year day by eight months. As seen, the two calendars
     are neither precisely "Gathic" nor astronomically scientific. So is the
     present Zoroastrian era of 1370 followed by the Shahenshahis, Qadimis and
     Parsi Faslis. It is based on the ascension of the last Sassanian king
     Yazdegerd III (632-642 CE + 10 years of wandering until his murder by
     Khosrow the miller) and has no religious significance at all.
     Fortunately, with the exception of a minute number, mostly residing in
     India, all Iranian Zoroastrians have given up the Qadimi calendar in
     favor of the Fasli one, and they reckon the Zarathushtrian Religious Era
     as the beginning. At present there is a move to unify all Zoroastrians,
     at least in North America and Europe, to adopt the Fasli calendar.


     The Gaahaanbaars: The agricultural people were in tune with nature in
     their day-to-day life. They fully knew the solar and lunar movements and
     the changes in the seasons. They had timed their activities to suit the
     climate in which they lived. This timetable was kept in step with
     saredha, the tropical solar year of 365 days, 5 hr, 48 min, and 45.5 sec,
     but differed a little on certain points.  Their activities were scheduled
     to correspond with various phases of their agricultural life on the
     Iranian Plateau. It was divided into six phases. The end of one phase and
     the beginning of other were celebrated as a special time of festivity.
     The six seasonal festivals were: (1) Hamaspathmaidhaya, meaning "vernal
     equinox," the 1st day of Farvardin, the beginning of spring, on or about
     21st March, was to celebrate the end of the old year and the beginning of
     the new year. It was, according to the Avesta, the time to "properly set"
     everything and prepare for the new year.  (2) Maidhyoi-zaremaya (Mid-
     spring), 14th day of Ardibehesht, on or about 4th May, was the time to
     celebrate the occasion for the cattle having delivered their young and
     yielded "abundance of milk" and also for appraising the crops sown in
     late winter or early spring.  (3) Maidhyoi-shema (Midsummer), 12th day of
     Tir, on or about 3rd July, was the beginning of the harvesting season.
     (4) Paitish-hahya (Grain-reaping), 25th day of Shahrivar, on or about
     16th September, marked the end of harvesting.  (5) Ayaathrema (no-
     travel), 24th day of Mehr, on or about 16th October, was to enjoy the end
     of trade caravans and the time to mate cattle before the winter set in.
     (6) Maidhyaairya (Midyear), 15th day of Dey, on or about 4th January,
     heralded the passing of the winter peak and for making preparations to
     meet the spring with agricultural activity.

     Only the first two festivals coincided with the solar seasonal changes.
     The others were purposely put off to meet the living conditions. They
     were not calendarically or traditionally bound but were very practical
     people, a point to note.  Most probably the festivals were celebrated
     with sacrifices to gods and goddesses and by indulging in a joyous
     festivity.  Gahanbars and Zarathushtrians: Asho Zarathushtra, born in an
     agricultural environment, preached and spread his Good Religion among
     people engaged in crop cultivation and animal husbandry. His dynamic
     message introduced a completely new order in spiritual, or better, as he
     put it, mental sphere and purged out all evil and superstitious thoughts,
     misleading words, harmful deeds, and superficial, superfluous rituals,
     but helped to strengthen and promote all the then-existing constructive
     activities of a good living.  And the Gahanbars were one of the
     constructively enjoyable festivals.

Chanting and Feasting:

     Avestan evidences, particularly the book of Vispered, show that the early
     Zarathushtrians turned the Gahanbar into an occasion to fit into their
     new pattern of life. Each festival was traditionally celebrated for one
     and later for five days. They were devoted to reciting, chanting,
     explaining, understanding, and holding questions-and-answers on each of
     the five Gathas of Asho Zarathushtra. The festival was rounded up with a
     feast prepared by collective participation and efforts, and merrymaking.
     A piece in the Avesta directs that all participants should bring whatever
     they can afford;  dairy products, meat, vegetables, legumes, grain, other
     food ingredients, and firewood. If one was not in a position to
     contribute in kind, one might put his or her labor in preparing the food
     in a common pot, or just join the prayers. The food, with a large variety
     of ingredients, was a tasty stew, resembling today’s more sophisticated
     Iranian "aash" or the Parsi spiced "dhansaak", both relished on the
     occasion. Merrymaking was the folk music and dances still observed among
     Iranian tribes all over the Iranian Plateau and beyond.  The
     Zarathushtrian Assembly celebrates the Gahanbars with a relevant Gahanbar
     prayer, Gatha recital and explanation, a brief talk on an interesting
     subject, potluck lunch, friendly conversation, and music and dance.

Vedic Calendar:

     It may be noted that the Indo-Aryans had also six seasons (Sanskrit rtu,
     Avestan ratu) evidently modified to meet the climate in the Indus Valley.
     They were: Vasanta (Spring), Grishma (Summer), Varsha (The Rains), Sharad
     (Autumn), Hemanta (Winter), and Shishira (the Cool season). Persians and
     Other Iranian Calendar: The Achaemenians, Sogdians, Chorasmians, and
     Armenians, all Zoroastrians by faith, had their own names for their
     months. The names of the Achaemenian months, as given in the bas-reliefs
     of Darius the Great are rendered to convey (1) Irrigation-canal-cleaning
     month, (2) Vigorous spring, (3) Garlic-collecting month, (4) Hot-step,
     (7) God-veneration, (8) Wolf-birth, (9) Fire-veneration, (10) Anaamaka --
     Nameless month, and (12) Digging-up. Three names have not been given in
     Old Persian but we have their Elamite pronunciations and all, except two,
     are nonreligious terms. The Achaemenians had numbers instead of names for
     the days of the month. (see Old Persian, Ronald G. Kent, 2nd ed., New
     Haven, 1953).  That confirms that the months as well as the days named
     after pre-Zarathushtrian deities and post-Zarathushtrian personifications
     of Gathic abstracts is a later addition.  There are indications that it
     was done during the reign of Artaxerxes II (405-359 BCE), and that naming
     the months and days in honor of deities were adopted from the Egyptians.
     The names of the Gahanbars, and those of the Vedic, Achaemenian, Sogdian,
     Chorasmian, and Armenian months show that the names of the pre-
     Zarathushtrian and Gathic months must have been based on the seasons and
     social activities, and not on deities.  These old names have, however,
     been so well obliterated by the authoritarian priests that we do not have
     any inkling of what they were.

Later Avestan Calendar:

     The names of the twelve months in modern Persian and their Avestan forms
     with their corresponding Zodiac names are

     1. Farvardin   Fravashi/Fravarti   Aries       21 March

     2. Ardibehesht Asha Vahishta       Taurus      21 April

     3. Khordaad    Haurvataat          Gemini      22 May

     4. Tir         Tishtrya            Cancer      22 June

     5. Amordaad    Ameretaa            Leo         23 July

     6. Shahrivar   Khshathra Vairya    Virgo       23 August

     7. Mehr        Mithra              Libra       23 Sept

     8. Aabaan      Ap                  Scorpio     23 Oct

     9. Aazar       Aathra              Sagittarius 22 Nov

     10. Dey        Dathva              Capricorn   22 Dec

     11. Bahman     Vohu Manah          Aquarius    21 Jan

     12. Esfand     Spentaa Aaramaiti   Pisces      20 Feb

     Note: Of these only those in bold letters are the Gathic "Primal
     Principles of Life," Aazar/Aathra has been mentioned in the Gathas as the
     symbol of the Progressive Mentality (Spenta Mainyu), and "ap" (water) is
     also mentioned in the Gathic texts, but the rest are later Avestan names.


     The early Avestan people had no notion of the week, a period of seven
     days now in universal use as a division of time. Week is a man-made unit.
     Its length has, among various people, been from five to ten days. But
     since the lunar month, one of the earliest ways of reckoning time, is
     alternately of 29 and 30 days with two phases of waxing and waning moon,
     it was quite easy to further divide it and have four quarters of seven
     and eight days accommodated in it. The seven planets visible to the naked
     eye may have also played a part in its formation. That is why weekdays
     are named after celestial bodies. However, the present universal week is
     most probably of Chaldean or Hebrew origin, and has been generalized by
     Jewish, Christian and Islamic persuasion.  The later Avestan solar
     calendar, based on thirty days in a month, has four quarters -- the first
     two of seven days and the last two of eight days. But Avesta and Pahlavi
     do not have any names for each of these quarters or for the weekdays.
     Modern Persian follows the Hebrew pattern of having Saturday as Shanbeh,
     Persianized form of "Shabbath", and then counting from one to five as
     Yek-shanbeh, Do-shanbeh, Se-shanbeh, Chahaar-shanbeh, Panj-shanbeh, and
     under the Islamic influence, Aadineh or Jom’eh for Friday, the day of
     mass prayers.


     Pahlavi writings tell us that the religious era began from the day
     Zarathushtra proclaimed his Divine Mission to humanity.  This era, based
     on the astronomical calculations that Zarathushtra declared his mission
     on the vernal equinox when, according to the precession, the period of
     Aries is supposed to have begun, comes to be 3738/39 in 2001 CE i.e. 1737
     BCE. It has been called the "Year of Religion" in Pahlavi writings. The
     Zarathushtrian Assembly calls it the Zarathushtrian Religious Era
     (Z.E.R./ZRE) and has, since its establishment in 1990, observed it as the
     beginning of the Zarathushtrian calendar.  The Zartoshti community in
     Iran joined in to observe ZRE as its calendar in 1993, and many Irani
     Zartoshtis in diaspora have also accepted it.  Earlier, each of the
     Iranian kings, following the pattern set by other Middle Eastern rulers,
     particularly the Babylonians, observed a new era from his own ascension
     to the throne.  With as many as 80 rulers on the Iranian throne during
     the thousand and odd years of Achaemenians, Macedonians, Parthians, and
     Sassanians, much confusion in chronology has arisen, and many dates have
     been misinformed, misused, misplaced, misinterpreted, miscalculated, and
     missed.  The Yazdgerdi era reminds one of the last Emperor who got
     overthrown by Arab invaders.  It is not a happy recollection.  Sassanians
     and Two Calendars: The Sassanians continued to maintain both the "yaairi"
     of 365 days and the "saredha" of 365.24224 days.  The first they called
     "oshmurdik" meaning "rememberable, reckonable" and the second "vihezakik"
     meaning "moving, progressive, intercalary."  While the "rememberable" was
     easy for the laity to memorize and count them by names, the "intercalary"
     belonged to the astronomer priests, linked with the imperial court, to
     keep the formal year precise and in tune with the seasons.  The fall of
     the Sassanian Empire fell the astronomer priests of their high position.
     Nevertheless, the intercalary year was, Pahlavi books and the present
     position of the Qadimi and Shahenshahi calendars tell, kept until the
     11th century CE.  The decline of astronomer priests put an end to
     Vihezakik and the lay priests have continued with their "Ushmordik,"
     advancing about one day in every four years out of the season and the
     solar year.  Economic and seasonal revenue collection, however, forced
     the Muslim Caliphs to maintain, evidently by those astronomer priests who
     had embraced Islam, the intercalary year in addition to the Islamic
     calendar of a purely lunar year.  It was this Vihezakik year maintained
     halfheartedly by Muslim rulers, which was improved, perfected and
     formally restored by Omar Khayyam and other Iranian scientists.  It was
     named the "Jalaali" calendar after its patron, Sultan Jalal al-Din
     Malekshah Saljuqi (1072-1092 CE).  The Fasli year, officially observed by
     Iranians -- Zartoshtis, Jews, Christians, and Muslims -- in modern Iran,
     is the "saredha" of the Avestan people, "tharda" of the Achaemenian,
     "Vihezakik" of the Sassanians, and the "Jalali" of Omar Khayyam.  The
     precise solar year also reckoned by all observatories in the world. It is
     the Universal Astronomical and Scientific Year.  It is this Vihezakik
     (Persian "Behizaki") calendar, now called "Khorshidi" (solar), the
     official Iranian calendar, the precise calendar, with its dates numbered,
     that the Zarathushtrian Assembly follows.  It is astronomically precise.
     It is progressively Zarathushtrian.




     No other versions rumor to exist.


     Ashkan Ghassemi <ghassemi AT ftml dot net>