Qawltas Celebration

By @kurdistanipeople

Edited by Brendan S.

Based on mythological narrations and texts of Yarsan, the occasion of Qawltas goes back to Azeri Yarsanis. However, celebration of Qawltas is also widespread among the Kurds. Mostly, it is celebrated by families such as Miri, Shah Hayasi and Atash Beygi, among which there are many Azeri-speaking followers. However, other families such as Aali Qalandaris pay special attention to this religious holiday.

Sultan Sahak’s Tomb in Sheykhan of Pawa, Eastern Kurdistan.

The mythological narrative of this celebration is that some of the Azeri companions of Sultan Sahak, named Qoli, Shabedin, Shakeh, Shahnazar, Issa, Shahmurad and Pira Delavar, moved from Azerbaijan to Hewramn to reach the Sultan "in Pardivar" but near Mount "Shahu" in the present-day city of Pawa in Eastern Kurdistan. The fatigue of the road overcame them and they say: “If Sultan Sahak is rightful, he shall come to greet his servants.” According to Yarsan beliefs, Sultan Sahak, who is the manifestation of the essence of truth, is aware of what they are saying; So he gets angry with them and sends "Mustafa Davudan" to greet them. Mustafa Davudan in Yarsanism is the essence of Azrael and the manifestation of the wrath of truth. Therefore, with the permission of the Sultan, Mustafa went to greet them in the form of a black cloud and began to snow. The Azeri companions of the Sultan remained under the snow for three whole days in "Shahu", but due to the intercession of "Pir Benjamin" and the trial of "Davud", they were pardoned and saved by order of the Sultan. This trip took place during “ Çilley Gewre", or the first 40 days of winter.


Qawltas fasting begins from 14-17th days of “Çille", as the Sultan said:

“O Davud, the fasting days of Yarans is in the middle of winter, from 14th to 17th of the month. Their celebration is for your pleasure, to fast in the name of Qawltasan”.

It should be noted that this date always occurs between January and February of the solar calendar, although it is not fixed due to lunar calculations and varies during this period.

Yarsanis play Tembur.

Those Yarsanis who observe the three days of fasting of the companions of Qawltas believe that, by order of Sultan Sahak as thanks for the salvation of these companions, three days of fasting called "Qawltas fasting" has become obligatory or recommended. In the days of Khavandkar, they fast for three days, and then on the third night of these days, they announce the “Eid” and celebrate.


Note that unlike the days of Khavandkar, where the vow ceremony is usually held on the same night of Eid, this ceremony is held on five consecutive nights during the days of Qawltas. However, the rites of vows and ceremonies are the same as the usual rites of Yarsan. One ounce of rice and a rooster with ghee every night, holy bread "Gêrdeh", sacrificed sheep, fruits, sugar, candy, etc are taken to “the Jam" (praying room) and are all consecrated and blessed by prayers.

The Jam.
Food served in Yarsani celebrations.

On the day of Eid, which is the day of feast after fasting, Yarsanis visit each other in the Jam and congratulate each other.