Sacred Texts  Asia  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

Sacred Books and Traditions of the Yezidiz, by Isya Joseph, [1919], at



In addition to the festivals mentioned above is the one observed on New Year's day, the first Wednesday in April. On this day, the Yezidis say, no drums are to be beaten, for God sits on the throne, holding a conference at which he decrees the events of the year. They also stick wild scarlet anemones to the entrance

p. 175

of their houses. The refraining from the sound of instruments of pleasure on the part of orientals signifies a state of contrition. Hence, it is very likely that the Yezidis entertain the view that on this day God is decreeing their destiny for the coming year; that they must now, therefore, adjust their relation to him with sincere sorrow for sin. If this is so, the significance of the hanging of the flowers at the entrance of their houses can be taken as intended to propitiate the Evil Principle, and to ward off calamity during the coming year. Such a belief has a parallel in many religions. According to Babylonian mythology human destiny was decreed on New Year's day and sealed on the tenth day thereafter. It was therefore necessary to placate the deity, or at least to make sure of one's relation to him, before this particular day. The New Year period was held, therefore, to be of special importance because of the bearing on individual welfare by reason of the good or the evil decision of the gods. Our modern custom of wishing our friends a Happy New Year has perhaps some connection with this idea. 7

The Day of Atonement (Lev. 23: 27; 25: 29) had a most important place in the Jewish ecclesiastical year. This was the occasion of a thorough purification of the whole nation and of every individual member thereof in their relation to Yahweh. It was designed to deepen afresh the national and individual sense of sin and dread of the judgment of God. According to Talmud (Mišna, Roš hašana, vol. I, 2)

p. 176

[paragraph continues] Roš hašana is the most important judgment day, on which all creatures pass for judgment before the Creator. On this day, three books are opened wherein the fate of the wicked, the righteous and those of the intermediate class are recorded. Hence prayer and works of repentance are performed on the New Year from the first to the tenth that an unfavorable decision might be averted (Jewish Ency., art. Penitential Day). R. Akiba says: "On New Year Day all men are judged; and the degree is sealed on the Day of Atonement (Ibid, art. Day of Judgment).

Moreover, the red lilies of the doors of the Yezidis remind us at once of the blood sprinkled on the doorposts of the dwellings of the Israelites ir Egypt as a sign for the Destroying Angel to pass over. This notion is found also in a similar practice among the Parsees of India, who hang a string of leaves across the entrances to their houses at the beginning of every new year.

In the light of what has been said, the Yezidis' idea in giving food to the poor at the grave on the day of Sarsal (New Year day), is to propitiate God on behalf of the dead, who are, according to their belief, reincarnated in some form or other. 8


175:7 The Hibbert journal, ibid.

176:8 For different interpretation of the Yezidi New Year, see Brockelmann in Z. D. M. G., vol. 55, p. 388.

Next: Notes on Chapter III