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Zoroastrianism / Mazdaism
Ahura Mazda
Zarathustra (Zoroaster)
aša (asha) / arta

Angels and demons

Overview of the Angels
Amesha Spentas · Yazatas
Ahuras · Daevas
Angra Mainyu

Scripture and worship

Avesta · Gathas
The Ahuna Vairya Invocation
Fire Temples

Accounts and legends

Dēnkard · Bundahišn
Book of Arda Viraf
Book of Jamasp
Story of Sanjan

History and culture

Calendar · Festivals


Zoroastrians in Iran
Parsis · Iranis
• • •
Persecution of Zoroastrians

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Aban (Ābān, var: Āvān) is the middle Persian name for the Zoroastrian concept of "the waters", Avestan āpō, corresponding to Vedic āpas.

"To this day reverence for water is deeply ingrained in Zoroastrians, and in orthodox communities offerings are regularly made to the household well or nearby stream." (Boyce, 1975:155)

Abans, a crater on Ariel, one of the moons of Uranus, is named after aban.


In the Avesta

In the seven-chapter Yasna Haptanghaiti , which interrupts the sequential order of the Gathas and is linguistically as old as the Gathas themselves, aban is revered as the Ahuranis, wives of the Ahura (Yasna 38.3). Although not otherwise named, Boyce (1983:58) associates the mentioned Ahura with Apam Napat (middle Persian: Burz Yazad), the divinity of waters. In Yasna 38, which is dedicated "to the earth and the sacred waters", aban is not only necessary for nourishment, but is considered the source of life ("you that bear forth", "mothers of our life"). In Yasna 2.5 and 6.11, aban is "Mazda-made and holy".

In the Aban Nyaishes, also known as the Aban Yasht, aban, though nominally the object of devotion, is not characterized at all as a divinity, which is remarkable since the Yashts are generally named after the divinities which they praise. In that hymn, aban is literally 'the waters', and veneration is directed at Aredvi Sura Anahita, who achieved a significant degree of prominence during the reign of Artaxerxes II (r. 404-358 BCE) and subsequent Achaemenid emperors. Although (according to Lommel, 1954:405-413 and Boyce, 1975:71) Aredvi is of Indo-Iranian origin and cognate with Vedic Saraswati, during the 5th century BCE Aredvi was conflated with a Semitic divinity with similar attributes, from whom she then inherited additional properties. (Boyce, 1982:29ff)

In the Avesta, aban is implicitly associated with [Spenta] Armaiti (middle Persian Spendarmad), the Amesha Spenta of the earth (this is explained in Bundahishn 3.17). In Yasna 3.1, which is linguistically as old as the Gathas, and which Boyce asserts (1983:58) was composed by Zoroaster himself, the eminence of Aban is reinforced by additionally assigning guardianship to another Amesha Spenta Haurvatat (middle Persian: (K)hordad).

In tradition and folklore

In the Indo-Iranian context

In Indo-Iranian philosophy, aban was considered a chemical element (viz. earth, fire, water, air), grammatically feminine in Avestan and other Indo-Iranian languages, and characterized as female. The element, whether as waves or drops, or collectively as streams, pools, rivers or wells, was represented by the Apas, the group of (proto-)Indo-Iranian divinities of water.

As a cosmogonical concept

According to the Bundahishn ('Original Creation', an 11th or 12th century text), aban was the second of the seven creations of the material universe, the lower half of everything.

In a development of a cosmogonical view alluded to in the Vendidad (21.15), aban is the essence of a "great gathering place of the waters" (Avestan: Vourukasha, middle Persian: Varkash) upon which the world ultimately rested. The great sea was fed by a mighty river (proto-Indo-Iranian: *harahvati, Avestan: Aredvi Sura, middle Persian: Ardvisur). Two rivers, one to the east and one to the west, flowed out of it and encircled the earth (Bundahishn 11.100.2, 28.8) where they were then cleansed by Puitika (Avestan, middle Persian: Putik), the tidal sea, before flowing back into the Vourukasha.

From among the flowers associated with the yazatas, aban's is the water-lily (Bundahishn 27.24).

Calendrical dedication

In the Zoroastrian calendar, the tenth day of the month is dedicated to aban (Siroza 1.10). Additionally, Aban is also the name of the eighth month of the year of the Zoroastrian calendar (Bundahishn 1a.23-24), as well as that of the Iranian calendar of 1925, which follows Zoroastrian month-naming conventions.

The Zoroastrian name-day feast of Abanagan, also known as the Aban Ardvisur Jashan by Indian Zoroastrians (see: Parsis), is celebrated on the tenth day (Aban Roz) of the eighth month (Aban Mah). The celebration is accompanied by a practice of offering sweets and flowers to a river or the sea.

See also

  • āpas, the Vedic concept of the "the waters"
  • Ab-Zohr, the culminating rite of the Yasna service.
  • Yazatas, divinities in Zoroastrianism
  • Ablution


  • Boyce, Mary (1975). History of Zoroastrianism, Vol. I. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 90-04-10474-7. 
  • Boyce, Mary (1982). History of Zoroastrianism, Vol. II. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 90-04-06506-7. 
  • Boyce, Mary (1983). "Aban". Encyclopaedia Iranica I. New York: Mazda Pub. 58. 
  • Lommel, Herman (1927). Die Yašts des Awesta. Göttingen–Leipzig: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht/JC Hinrichs. 
  • Lommel, Herman (1954). "Anahita-Sarasvati". Asiatica: Festschrift Friedrich Weller Zum 65. Geburtstag. Leipzig: Otto Harrassowitz. 405-413. 
  • Girshman, Roman (1962). Persian art, Parthian and Sassanian dynasties. London: Golden Press. 
  • Aban Yasht, as translated by James Darmesteter in
    Müller, Friedrich Max (ed.) (1883). SBE, Vol. 23. Oxford: OUP. 
  • Yasna 38 (to the earth and the sacred waters), as translated by Lawrence Heyworth Mills in
    Müller, Friedrich Max (ed.) (1887). SBE, Vol. 31. Oxford: OUP. 
  • Anklesaria, Behramgore Tehmuras (1956). The Greater Bundahishn. 
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Aban". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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