The Current Status of Sabians (Interesting)

General World History and its relation to Islam.
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Dr. Shabbir
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The Current Status of Sabians (Interesting)

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Who Are the Mandaeans/Sabian, People of the Book?

The Mandaeans (Sabians in Arabic) are a religious sect of great antiquity that still exists in limited numbers in the border territories of southern Iraq and Iran . Neither Christian , Moslem, Jewish nor Zoroasterism, the Mandaean religion contains a variety of ancient elements that attest to their antiquity. Adherents to the faith can be found in the cities and villages in the lands of the lower Euphrates , the lower Tigris , the rivers that surround the Shatt-al-Arab, and in the adjacent Iranian Province of Khuzistan (once called Arabistan).

Their religion is a proto-religion in which they descended from Adam who was the first to receive the religious instructions of the Mandaeans. Their last great teacher and healer was John the Baptist. The origins of both the people and of the religion are one of the continuing mysteries of Mandaean research.

Other names used for the Mandaeans

Christians of Saint John

It was through the Portuguese monks that the name Christians of Saint John or Chrsitiani S. Ioannis . The first time this term is used is in a report dated 1555 written by the Portuguese monks of Ormuz. Upon seeing their baptismal rites and hearing the stories of John the Baptist, the Portuguese called the Mandaeans “Christians of St. John” or Christiani di San Giovanni. Assuming that these people were simply the last remnants of John the Baptist followers and that they simply had not heard the word of Jesus, the monks decided all the Mandaeans needed was a little prodding to become good Catholicss.


We first seee this term in the the writings of Muhammad ‘ ibn Ishaq ‘ibn ‘al-Nadim (died 995 AD). ‘Ibn al-Nadim wrote about a baptizing sect that he calls Sabat al-bata’ih—the Sabians of the Marshs. He also calls them informally al- Mughasilah “the Baptists” or “ones who wash themselves”.


By the Mandaean Society in America



It is not easy to speak about the origin and the history of the Mandaeans, because it is hardly discussed at all in their literature. They themselves believe that, as their religion was founded by the World of Light, they were not concerned with the history of this world. Up to the present day only one Mandaean text has emerged which refers, but in a very confused manner, to their history. It is the “Diwan of the great Revelation, called ‘ Inner Haran’” (“Haran Gawaita”).

In “Haran Gawaita” there is a description of the Nasoraeans staying in the “Median hills”, where they escaped under king Ardban from the rulers. King Ardban has been identified with the Parthian king Artaban III , IV or V. This seems to point to the existence of a legendary tradition which describes how the community, or part of it, penetrated into the Iranian territory of that time, that is during the period of the later Parthian kings, in the first or second centuries A. D. This same text describes how a Mandaean community was established in Mesopotamia and discusses its further history under the Sassanian rulers.

This tradition also includes events of the persecution of the community in Jerusalem by the locals in the course of which the city was destroyed as a punishment; the reference is probably to A. D. 70.

The emigration of the early Mandaean community from the Jordan valley in Palestine into eastern territories, brought about because of persecutions by locals, must have taken place during the second century A.D. at the latest, because several Mesopotamian and Parthian elements presuppose a fairly lengthy stay in these regions. The emigrants went first to Haran , and the Median hills, and then entered the southern provinces of Mesopotamia .

In the third centry, Mani , the founder of Manichaeism, had connections with the Mandaean community and was probably influenced by it in his system. The Manichaean ‘Psalms of Thomas’ show clearly both the friendly and the hostile relations between the two rival religions. In the ninth book of the ‘right-hand’ Ginza , the Mandaean holy book, there are polemics against the followers of Mar Mani . The pre-Manichaeam existence of a Mandaean tradition is more than assured today.

‘Haran Gawaita’ attests to the foundation of a community in Baghdad , i.e. In Mesopotamia, and the appointment of Mandaean governors in this region. In contrast to the Parthian rulers, under whom the Mandaeans obviously prospered, relations with the Sassanians were bad. The same scroll refers to considerable reduction in the number of the Mandaean Temples at that time. It is also clear from the inscription of the Zoroastrian high priest Kartar that those practicing non-Iranian religions – and the Mandaeans were among these – were persecuted during the reign of King Shahpur I.

Islam renewed oppression, in spite of its toleration of the Sabians as a “people of the book”. In this way, the afflicted community retired more and more into the inaccessible marshes of southern Iraq and the river districts of Khuzistan, where the Mandaeans are even now to be found.

In the beginning of the twentieth century, however, the Mandaeans have returned again to the large cities ( Baghdad and Basra ), where they found opportunities to gain an education, earn money, and raise themselves socially.


The religious community of the Mandaeans today number, though difficult to determine, about 70,000 members who live in groups of varying size along the rivers of Iraq and Iranian Huzistan. Up into the 20 th century their range of distribution was predominantly in smaller market towns and villages of the marshland in southern Iraq , the Batiha, which corresponds to the ancient region of Mesene (Maisan). As a result of recent wars, political and religious persecution, some of them have chosen to live in other parts of the world. Their present-day centers are Baghdad , Basra , Nasiriya, and Ahwaz . Their Arabic neighbors call them “Subba”, meaning “Baptists”; they call themselves “Mandaee” (Gnostics). What distinguishes them from the surrounding peoples is their religion and religious tradition, written in a sematic (East Aramaic) dialect with its own script.


We are indebted to T. Noldeke and M. Lidzbarski for the fundamental study of the language and literature of the Mandaean community. The former wrote the standard grammar (1875), the latter edited and translated the most important Mandaean works. Attempts were repeatedly made to gain access among the Mandaeans to better understand their texts. But it was the English scholar Lady Drower who was the first to succeed in opening up these almost inaccessible sources. By her exquisite skill and unceasing energy, she succeeded in taking exact notes of the cultural and religious manifestations of the Mandaeans. Also, she obtained and published a number of, up until then, unknown manuscripts, which were in part accessible only to the priests.


The extent of the Mandaean literature, considering the relative smallness of the community, is surprising; it forms a remarkable body of gnostic writings, the authors of which are not known to us by name. This extensive written tradition has a purely religious character. It comprises liturgies, prayers, hymns, commentaries, legends, theological-mythological tractates and priestly speculations.

The most important works of the Mandaean literature are the following:

The Ginza , which means the ‘Treasure’. It is consisting of two main parts, the right Ginza and the left Ginza . The first part is a collection of eighteen tractates, predominantly preachy mythological and cosmological content. The second and smaller part consists essentially of the hymns for the mass for the dead. It is really a book which is devoted only to the soul and its ascent (masiqta) to the World of Light.

The Book of John (drasha dyahya), a mixed collection (perhaps a supplement to the Ginza ) of thirty-seven sections of varying size, chiefly mythological in content, among which are tractates about John the Baptist.

The canonical prayer book (Qolasta), which means ‘collection’, contains songs and prayers together with directions for religious ceremonies, above all for baptisms and masses for the dead.

Thousand and Twelve Questions ( Alf trisar shuiale ), a collection which consists of seven parts and is intended for priests only.

The chronology of the Mandaean literature is beset by difficulties, since it offers scarcely any specific historical references. However, some researchers can date it between the pre- Christian period and the third century A. D.


The Mandaean Community is divided into priests and laity. There are three different ranks of priests. They include ordinary priests (tarmide, ‘disciples, pupils’), bishops or 'treasurers’ (ganzibre) and the ‘head of the people’ (rishama). At the present time, Rishama Abdullah Negim of Baghdad is the only one that holds such an office. For a while, the number of priests seemed to be shrinking to half a dozen or less. However, in recent years, many young educated Mandaeans have entered the priesthood. The priest acts as the representative of heavenly messengers and angels (uthre) and thus he is equated with them repeatedly in the rituals.

The most important ceremonies, and also the oldest, are baptism (masbuta) and ‘ascent of the soul ceremonies’ (masiqta).

Baptism takes place on Sundays (habshaba), the first day of the week, which is for the Mandaeans, a holiday. Baptism consists of a threefold complete immersion in the white sacral robe (resta), a threefold “signing” of the forehead with water, a threefold draught of water and the crowning with a myrtle wreath. There follows on the bank an anointing of the forehead with oil, a simple communion of bread and water, and the handshake of “truth” (kushta). Baptism can take place only in flowing (=living) water, hence in rivers. All rivers fit for baptism bare the name Jordan (Yardana). It is believed that these Jordans are fed from the celestial World of Light. The chief purpose and significance of baptism is first that the Mandaean, by immersion in the Jordan , enters into close communion with the World of Light, thus receiving a share of salvation. And secondly, receives a purification from transgressions and sins. Thus as once in the primeval times beings of light first baptized Adam , the Mandaean believes that at his baptism the World of Light is present and takes an active part. Without baptism, no Mandaean (or his soul) may pass on to the next world.

The other important rite, the mass for the dead, or rather the ascent of soul to the World of Light. It is a characteristic feature of the Mandaean religion to resolve the problem of death by firm belief in the after life of the soul. For the Mandaeans, the fate of the soul is a chief concern. An extensive number of ritual performances are developed with this aim in view. These include, among few other rituals, certain ceremonial meals. Meals in memory of the dead, like baptism ceremonies, belong almost to every Mandaean feast and thus reveal an important side of the religion. The mass for the dead has a symbolic value in connection with the rebirth of the soul, and helps the soul in its dangerous journey through “places of detention” or purgatory (matarata) to the World of Light.


The Mandaean worldview is stamped by gnostic dualism. A World of Light (nhura) and a World of Darkness (hshuka) exist in mutual hostility. The World of Light is a world of light and brilliance, of goodness and truth, and eternity without death. Heading the World of Light is a sublime being, The King of Light “Life” (Haii). Countless number of light beings “angels” (uthra) surrounds this God. The World of Darkness is a similar construction to the World of Light, but it stems originally from the chaos or ‘dark waters’. The World of Darkness is full of evil and falsehood. Hostile relations between light and darkness, life and death, good and evil have always existed. These relations led to the creation of the earthly world (Tibil). Earth was created as a result of joint actions from darkness and light. Basically, it was an evil act with the interference by the World of Light to tilt the balance in its favor. The Mandaean literature narrates different versions as to how this took place.

The high point of creation is the creation of the first man Adam , whose body ( adam pagria ) was produced by the evil beings, the wicked spirit-ruha- and the planets.

(“We shall capture Adam and seize him And detain him with us in the world.

We shall install him in our assembly, We shall seize and lay hold of his heart.”) ginza Rba-Right III

This purpose is prevented by the beings of light, in that they create for Adam a “companion”, the soul or ‘inner’ (hidden) Adam (adam kasya), and impart to him the secrets of the world.

This event produces one of the major themes of Mandaean mythology. From the primeval couple Adam and Eve descend the Mandaeans; they comprise the ‘family of Life’ for their souls derive from the World of Light and ever since they have had to take up their residence in the ’darkness’ or bodily (earthly) world.

The redemption of Adam is held to be a prototype of redemption in general. This event stands at the center of the Mandaean concern. After the soul’s fall into the body of Adam, Manda dHaii – the ‘Knowledge of Life’ a personification of redemptive knowledge; gives the Ginza to Adam, revealing the ‘mysteries’ of cosmos to him. Adam is therefore assisted to knowledge and redemption. Redemption consists in the happy return of the soul to the World of Light, and every instruction has this object in view.


A few words may be devoted to the Mandaean ethics and morality. Unlike other gnostic sects they recognize no strict religious demands or for that matter free thinking. Monogamy and having children are directly prescribed, dispensing of alms (zidqa) is necessary for salvation, and also other works, observance of food laws, ritual slaughter, and rules pertaining to purification, to which belong the baptisms and lustrations. The Mandaeans are taught to love their neighbours. Among other things, a reservatio mentalis is sanctioned when oppressed by alien religions. A detailed ‘moral code’ is found in the first two sections of The Right Ginza.

Mandaean belief system

Below is a very simple list (using English terminology) of the Mandaean belief system.

* A monotheistic belief system
* Adam was the first Mandaean who received the religious instructions directly from God.
* Last Prophet or teacher is John the Baptist
* Only God may take a life - no Mandaean may ever take a life
* The Mandaeans do have an elaborate baptism ritual system.
* Marriage and children are held in great esteem
* There are strict dietary requirements
* The Mandaeans have no symbols, no idols, and no images that can be used to pray to
* Sunday (with the exception of specific religious holidays) is their holy day
* Please refer to Mandaean values pages to get a learn about their moral belief system
* Their language is called Mandaic and Modern Mandaic is still spoken in Iran among the lay people. Also all the priests still speak Mandaic.

Mandaean Moral Values

"And when ye , my chosen ones give alms, do not proclaim it to anybody. If ye proclaim it to anybody ye do not give. When ye give alms with your right hand do not tell your left hand: when you give alms with your left hand, do not tell your right hand. He who gives alms and proclaim it - to him the reward shall be denied and it shall not abscribed to him."

"Blessed are they that listen and believe"

"all things whatsoever that are hateful to you, do not ye do them to your neighbor"

"Honor thy mother and thy father and thy elder brothers as thy father"

"Perfect and faithful: do not deviate from your words and love not lies and falsehood. "

"If ye have children...then teach them, when they have grown up the wisdom of truth and let them wander the road of Kusta (truth): if ye do not teach them ye will be deem guilty in the house of judgment: if ye teach them and they do not learn they have to account for their sins themselves"

"Take a wife and found a family, so that the world may multiply through you"

"Love not gold and silver and the possessions of this world, for this world will come to nothing and perish and its possessions and its works will be abandoned. "

"Give bread, water, and shelter to poor and persecuted people who suffer persecution."

"Do not commit adultery or fornicate, do not sing or dance. Do not let your heart be fettered by Satan ’s singing, which is full of magic, deception, and seduction ... "

"Do not eat the blood of animals, not one dead, not one pregnant, not one casting its young, not one standing (or, what has fallen), and not one which a wild animal attacked. But slaughter with iron and rinse, wash, purify, cook, and eat it."

Do not worship Satan , the idols, the images, the error, and the confusion of this world: whoever worships Satan falls into the blazing fire until the day of judgment, until the hour, the hours of release, as long as the sublime King of Light desires it."

Where In The World Are The Mandaeans

The Mandaeans have for the last 2000 years resided along the banks of the Lower Euphrates and Tigris rivers in Southern Iraq and in Khuzestan ( Iran ) along the Karun River . Mandaeans today may also be found in the larger cities such as Bagdad and Ahwaz .

In the last few years the Mandaeans have been migrating to the United States , Canada , Europe , Australia , and New Zealand due to a number of conditions that exist in both Iraq and Iran .

Tne important item that must noted is that while the Mandaeans are often referred to as the "Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran " this term is simply a geographic title. The Mandaeans lived along the river sytems that now encompass the Iraq- Iran border and when the area was divided into countries the Mandaeans were split. Much in the same way as Berlin --when the wall went up there were families on both sides and both sides were basically of the same ethnic makeup.

he Mandaeans no matter in which country they are now located are of the same basic ethnic, cultural, and religious makeup. Many even have the same genealogical ties due to intermarried across this "wall" that now divides family members.

Mandaean Holidays

* The Mandaean New Year
* Dehwa Hanina
* Parwanaiia or Panja (Banja) (Benja)

The Mandaean Great New
The Mandaean Great New Year will begin on 30 Akhir Paiz or Qam Gadia ( July 21, 2000 Friday). (1) This day is called Kansia Uzahila (New Year’s Eve) which literally means sweeping and cleaning. (2) Traditionally there is much preparation leading up to New Year’s eve. The house is cleaned from top to bottom. All animals own by Mandaean families must before sunset are boarded with non-Mandaean caregivers. A Mandaean may not touch any animals from sundown till 36 hours has passed. All food and any slaughtering of sheep and chicken are finished before sunset. Water, enough for the next 36 hours, is drawn in the house and covered. All day long the priests are busy conducting baptisms and all faithful Mandaeans are baptized. (3)

"And any person who is not baptized on Kansia uzahila on the eve of the Great New Year will incur great punishments will be struck seventy blows But every person who is baptized it will be counted for him as seventy baptisms." (4)

Just before the sun sets, every Mandaean performs the three-fold immersion (tamasha). Everyone retires to their house or a relative’s house. No matter what purpose or reason, for the next 36 hours no Mandaean leaves his (or her) house. (5)

The reason for the 36-hour period is the time period that the Mandaean will be without their natri or guardian spirits nor the uthri are in attendance. All of the uthri and natri have gone to pay homage to Mara Rba Kabrina, the Lord of Greatness. For it is on Great New Year Day that the creation was completed.

“...the two days preceding the Assembly and Purification (sweeping and cleaning) of the Great New Year that is the two day at the end of the year are void. Moreover the eve of the Great Feast – that is New Year – with the day of the festival of the Great New Year and the night and day that follow it cover the period in which the Mighty Great Mana created himself, so that it is a good day upon which the worlds and ages wait upon Him. ...”(6)

“New Year’s Day commemorates the Creation for Mana Rba Kabira, The Great Mana, the Lord of Greatness, completed his work of creation on this day. Therefore all spirits of light, whatever they may be, leave their posts and go to visit him and pay their compliments. Abathur ‘closes his door’, Nidbai and Shilmai forsake their guardianship of the running waters; Hibil, Shitil, and ‘Anush depart; the dwellers in Mshynia Kushta with Adam Kasia at their head and their guardian spirit Shislam Rba (the dmutha of Hibil Ziwa)- all rise into the infinite world of light. Swiftly as these creatures of light move, the long journey takes them twelve hours. They reach their goal at dawn of the New Year and spend that day in the bliss of contemplating perfection. The journey back covers the next night.” (7)

“With us Subba a great feast takes place about the time that the dates ripen. It is called the Dehwa Rabba and its eve, or dakhala, is called the Kanshi Zahla . The Kanshi Zahla lasts for two nights and the day between, and during that time all the Mandaeans remain in their houses, taking with them enough water and food to last over the period. They keep their fowls, dogs and cats, cows and buffaloes shut off in a place apart from the dwelling-rooms of the house. For during those two nights and a day the 'uthri of the sun, moon, and water go to Olma d Anhura, the World of Light, and while they are absent every Mandaean must remain in his house and his animals must be shut up. When the melki and 'uthri return, we go our and feast, wash in the river, and rejoice.” (8)

While the earth is left unguarded, Ruha and her followers can influence and try to harm mankind. (9)

"Nevertheless, Ruha the Faulty came on the day of the Great New Year whilst the Earth was denied and attacked any person who drinketh of its waters, he will become their portion so that on that day souls are not permitted by Manda-d-Hiia to dip their hands into running water. Any person who putteth his hand his hand into running water during those thirty-six hours will be cursed with Sislam –Rba and his body will be polluted." (10)

"He who dippeth his hand into flowing water on New Year’s Day will become a portion of fire: if however they baptize him with fifty baptisms, clothed in a new ritual garments, then he will be delivered from that evil which is cast upon the Jordan" (11)

So the Mandaeans take extra precautions to avoid any contact with Ruha or her associates. For the entire 36-hour period no adults, especially males, sleeps in order to avoid pollution. Children are of course allowed to sleep. (12)

"Every man, who controls himself for the space of thirty six hours that is for 2 nights and a day -- will be belong to Me - be Mine - the Father of the ‘uthras." (13)

Care is also taken to see that no insects get into the food or water. If this should happen the food and water is polluted and cannot be touched. The same idea also goes for the Mandaeans. If a Mandaean becomes polluted due to the touching of an insect or animals or any other method, they usually remove themselves from the rest of the people until the 36 hours is over. During this time the priests are busy consulting the Sfar Malwasha . Lay Mandaeans are busy playing games, telling stories, and eating. (14)

New Year’s Day this year is on 1 Awwel Sitwa or Qam Daula which is July 22, 2000 Saturday. (15) The day is called Dahwa Rba (Great feast) (16) or The Day of Lacking because no rituals may be performed. (17)

On the second day of the New Year (this year -- Sunday July 23, 2000 ) the Mandaeans come out of their homes to visit each other. The first stop is to that of the priest. While it is a time of rejoicing no rituals may be performed, an exception to that rule is funerals. (18)

If a man dies during the 36 hours he is not buried right away. He is washed with the water stored in the house and dressed in the death rasta. When he has taken his last breath he is covered with a white cloth. At dawn on the second day he may be buried. (19)

"It is considered a disaster for the soul of the dead to have passed at such a time and when Pawanaia (or Panja) comes, zidqa brikha and masiqta must be performed over a substitute."(20)

On the 3rd day of the New Year, 3 Awwel Sitwa or Qam Daula , ( Mon 24 July 2000 ) Eid Elkabeer (the big feast) occurs and will last for 4 days. (21)

On the 6th day of the New Year (this year – July 27, 2000 Thursday) is called Nauruz Zota or the Little New Year. (22) On this day:

"...sixth day of the month which is Little New Year is that on which was created an ‘uthra (Pthahill) none of whose works succeeded." (23)

The 6th day and the 7th day are called together Dehwa d-Sislam Rba. The night between these two days is called “the night of power” (24). On this night, if you are truly pious the Gates of Abathur are opened. Through a vision you may obtain what ever you desire. A truly pious man will not ask for material items but for spiritual gifts. The results are not immediately seen but will become apparent in time. On this night all lights and fires are extinguished and food is given to the poor.

During Dehwa d-Sislam Rba the Mandaean priests visit their parishioners and bless the houses by placing a small wreath of willow and myrtle on every lintel. The wreath will remain there for the next year protecting the family within. (25)

On the 15th of the month (this year – August 5, 2000 ) the Mandaeans are allowed to slaughter and eat meat once again. (26)

“For a period of 14 days from New Year’s Day unto the fourteenth day all that thou doest will be of no avail because during that time rituals are not permitted.” (27)

“These are the days which are defiling: I will instruct you about them. From the great New Year’s Day, which marks the Beginning of construction, the beginning of the month of Aquarius perform no baptism for fourteen days and celebrate no mastiqta because the sixth day of the month which is Little New Year is that on which was created an ‘uthra (Pthahill) none of whose works succeeded.” (28)

(1) "The Mandaean Date Calculator "by Aseel N.A. Amarah Version 1.1 1999
(2) Mandaic Dictionary by E.S. Drower and Rudolph Macuch , Oxford : Claredon Press, 1963, pg: 119
(3) Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran by E.S. Drower , Leiden : E.J. Brill, 1962, page:85
(4) Alf Trisar Suialia (1012 Questions) by E.S. Drower : Berlin : Akademi Verlag 1960: page 121
(5) Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran by E.S. Drower , Leiden : E.J. Brill, 1962, page: 85
(6) Alf Trisar Suialia (1012 Questions) by E.S. Drower : Berlin : Akademi Verlag 1960: page 200
(7) Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran by E.S. Drower , Leiden : E.J. Brill, 1962, page: 86
(8) Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran by E.S. Drower , Leiden : E.J. Brill, 1962, page: 330
(9) Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran by E.S. Drower , Leiden : E.J. Brill, 1962, page: 85
(10) Alf Trisar Suialia (1012 Questions) by E.S. Drower : Berlin : Akademi Verlag 1960: page 200
(11) Alf Trisar Suialia (1012 Questions) by E.S. Drower : Berlin : Akademi Verlag 1960: page 121
(12) Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran by E.S. Drower , Leiden : E.J. Brill, 1962, page: 85
(13) Alf Trisar Suialia (1012 Questions) by E.S. Drower : Berlin : Akademi Verlag 1960: page 121
(14) Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran by E.S. Drower , Leiden : E.J. Brill, 1962, page: 86
(15) "The Mandaean Date Calculator" by Aseel N.A. Amarah Version 1.1 1999
(16) Mandaic Dictionary by E.S. Drower and Rudolph Macuch , Oxford : Claredon Press, 1963, pg:107
(17) Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran by E.S. Drower , Leiden : E.J. Brill, 1962, page: 85
(18) Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran by E.S. Drower , Leiden : E.J. Brill, 1962, page: 87
(19) Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran by E.S. Drower , Leiden : E.J. Brill, 1962, page:85-56
(20) Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran by E.S. Drower , Leiden : E.J. Brill, 1962, page: 86
(21) "The Mandaean Date Calculator" by Aseel N.A. Amarah Version 1.1 1999
(22) Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran by E.S. Drower , Leiden : E.J. Brill, 1962, page: 87
(23) Alf Trisar Suialia (1012 Questions) by E.S. Drower : Berlin : Akademi Verlag 1960: page 199
(24) Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran by E.S. Drower , Leiden : E.J. Brill, 1962, page: 88
(25) Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran by E.S. Drower , Leiden : E.J. Brill,1962, page:88-89
(26) Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran by E.S. Drower , Leiden : E.J. Brill, 1962, page: 89
(27) Alf Trisar Suialia (1012 Questions) by E.S. Drower : Berlin : Akademi Verlag 1960: page 119
(28) Alf Trisar Suialia (1012 Questions) by E.S. Drower : Berlin : Akademi Verlag 1960: page 199

DAHWA HANINA (EID ALSAGIR) occurs on 18 Awel Ebhar or Qam Tora and will be on Friday 5 November 2004 (1)

Lady Drower in her book The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran writes:

"The 18th day of Taura is the Dehwa Hnina or Little Feast, sometimes called the Dehwa (Dihba) Turma....The feast lasts for three days and baptisms should take place and the dead be remembered by lofani or ritual meals for dead. Dehwa Hnina celebrates the return of Hibil Ziwa from the underworlds to the worlds of light" (2)

(1) "The Mandaean Date Calculator "by Aseel N.A. Amarah Version 1.1 1999
(2) The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran by E.S. Drower Leiden: Brill 1962 (reprint of 1937) page 88

Parwanaiia or Panja
Parwanaiia or Panja is one of the most holy of the religious holidays celebrated by the Mandaean people. The holiday can be called Parwanaiia: (1) or Panja: (2) Parwanaiia or Panja (Banja or Benja) occurs between the 8th & 9th months & lasts for 5 days. (3)

These are the five intercalary days of Parwanaiia, or Panja, the happiest time of the whole year, during which the great baptismal river feast is held. It falls at the time when the river is swollen by melting snows from the north, i.e. during the first warm days of spring. In 1932/ 1933/ 1934/ 1935 Panja fell an April 5th but in I936 it fell on April 4th. (4)

The five days prior to Panja are considered mbattal days:

The last five days of Shumbulta (the Ear of Corn, Virgo) are mbattal for they are dedicated to the five lords of the underworld, Shdum, Hagh, and his consort Magh, Gaf, and his consort Gafan, Zartai-Zartani, and Krun, the Mountain-of-Flesh. These five mbattal days, given over to the Darkness, necessitate the reconsecration of the manda, or cult-hut, during the five ensuing days of light. (10)

Panja is the time when darkness (i.e. evil) has no hold on the earth:

Thereupon come those five days of Parwanaiia that are uncounted in the reckoning of the days nor are they counted or included in a calculation of months of the year). They are the days of vigil, darkness hath no share in them and there is no night in them because night is defiling and night hath no claim in these five days, they are allotted to souls which ascends to the Life our Father. For rays from the world of light stream down to the earthly world. In them (five days) there is no darkness (souls) are awakened and are signed by baptism and they give garments to the departing souls that is to those that depart the body. (16)

Each of the five days of Panja is dedicated to an Uthra, a light being:

Each of the five days is dedicated to a spirit of light and, as the doors of the world of light are open during Panja by night as well as by day, prayers may be at night. On other nights of the year no prayer may be said after sunset. (17)

These five light beings are all manifested from Kings of Kings, who himself, is self-created:

"During those five days the three hundred and sixty-five days of the year were created so that in each one, one day (being?) was created, and then the five days of Pawanaiia which are called (days of) Commemorations. They are (days of) Commemorations of brightness. No darkness is in them: within them darkness has no mandate: on the contrary, mandate, command, and dominion are Mine. They (the five days) are like one single day; night doth not divide them.

For the first day belongeth to the King of Kings, Father of all worlds, in it He who is great and lofty created Himself.

The second day is that in which the Lord of (Celestial ) Majesty (Rabuta) created himself.

The third day is Mara d-Rabutha, he who created Manda d Hiia (knowledge of life): in it he created himself.

The fourth day is Mara d-Rabutha, he who is Dmuth-Kusta; he created himself therein.

The fifth day which is the day of Commemorations running streams were distributed, for he Mara d-Rabutha, Divider of running streams, he created himself therein.

For they are five Kings, in them they created themselves and they are the five mysteries of the Beginning in which spirit and soul rejoice (at?) the seven crowns that are placed upon them. (18)

This is a time for religious observation and devotion especially to the souls. At this time all Mandaeans should be dressed in white for this is a religious time:

During Panja every true believer should dress completely in white (this is not observed strictly), and should either wear sandals woven of grass or go barefoot. The latter is usually the custom, though priests tell me that in ancient times it was considered a sin to walk barefoot on the earth, and that the real object of the injunction was that worshippers of the Life should not wear upon their feet the skins of dead animals. (19)

This is also the time when no meat may be eaten except for the lamb that is included in any meals prepared for the dead:

“Then on the two days of Susian and the five days before Parwanaiia and the (fire?) following the Feast of Daima do not slaughter or cook (boil) neither shalt thou grid on the sacred girdle except for a dying person. . (20)

No meat may be eaten except the flesh of sheep sacrificed in the ritual meals for the dead. (21)

This is also the time that the mandi is consecrated and the appropriate steps taken in regards to slaughter and consumption of meat:

... the consecration of the manda involves the sacrifice of a sheep and a dove, described in a later chapter. (22)

Lady Drower wrote about her observation of a re-concencration of a mandi during Panja. For more information on the mandi please click here.

All Mandaeans, that can, are baptized during this time. This is also the time that anyone, who died, especially those under unfavorable conditions, may have lofanis, zidqa brikhas, and dukhranas said for them:

Thereupon Ziwa-Sagia ( Great Radiance) whose brilliance is more dazzling than all the worlds spoke about those nine treasures which we confer upon the soul when the five days of Yawar-Ganziel arrive, when the banner is unfurled in the presence of Abathur and all the souls stand before him each one seeking her share of the masiqtas, commemorations and tabahata. (23)

Panja is a religious festival rather than a season of carnival, and Subba who live far from a priest travel long distances in order to be baptized as many times as their means allow, and join in the lofanis, zidqa brikhas, and dukhranas for the dead. The dead, assembling at the sacred meals and summoned by the mention of their names in the ritual, are refreshed by the spiritual double of the foods, and bless the living. The uneasy souls of those delayed upon the road to the worlds of light because they died an unclean death, or on a mbattal day, or without the proper death-ceremonies and clothing, are represented by proxies at the ceremonies of ahab d mania and others, and clothed, purified, and sustained are furthered on their way through the mataratha. Families save up to pay the fees necessary for these ceremonies; indeed, they regard the barriers between them and their dead relatives, back to distant ancestors and the spirits of light who beget them, as down during the five days of holiness. The soul of a person who dies during this period, when it emerges from the tomb on the third day, passes without hindrance through the mataratha, and the costly death-masiqta is not necessary for such a one. Hence relatives of a person dangeriously ill long that he should die at this time, and I have noted that in a small hamlet three persons died of different diseases in one year at this season. No doubt, if a person is dangerously ill, a baptism in the river might be expected to produce the desired result. The patient himself is anxious to leave the world at this season, for no demons or wild beasts (zangoyi) will have power to harm his soul on its journey, and it accomplishes the long and difficult journey to the Gate of Abathur in a single day. (24)

"The Archives of Mesopotamia" by Julie Abadirad
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