Nature Worship and Nature Myths
 IF fire were a female principle, water was masculine, and as we have noticed, they were somehow very closely associated as sister and brother in the Armenian fire-worship. It is possible that this kinship was suggested by the trees and luxuriant verdure growing on the banks of rivers and lakes. As we know, reeds grew even in the heavenly sea.
Many rivers and springs were sacred, and endowed with beneficent virtues. According to Tacitus (1), the Armenians offered horses as a sacrifice to the Euphrates, and divined by its waves and foam. The sources of the Euphrates and Tigris received and still receive worship (2). Sacred cities were built around the river Araxes and its tributaries. Even now there are many sacred springs with healing power, usually called "the springs of light," and the people always feel a certain veneration towards water in motion, which they fear to pollute. The people still drink of these ancient springs and burn candles and incense before them, for they have placed them under the patronage of Christian saints.
The Transfiguration Sunday, which comes in June, was connected by the Armenian Church with an old water festival. At this time people drench each other with water and the ecclesiastical procession throws rose water at the congregation during the Transfiguration Day rites. On this day the churches are richly decorated with roses and the popular name of the Festival is Vartavar, "Burning with Roses" (3).
 It is also reported that in various parts of Armenia, the Vartavar is preceded by a night of bonfires. Therefore it can be nothing else than the water festival which seems to have once gone hand in hand with the midsummer (St. John's, St. Peter's, etc.) fires in Europe, at which roses played a very conspicuous part (4). It is barely possible that the Armenian name of this festival, "Burning with Roses," preserves some allusion to the original but now missing fire, and even that flowers were burnt in it or at least cast across the fire as in Europe. In Europe the midsummer water festival was observed also with bathings and visits to sacred springs. In parts of Germany straw wheels set on fire were quenched in the river; and in Marseilles, the people drenched each other with water. There can be little doubt that the water was used in these various ways not only as a means of purification from guilt and disease, but also and principally as a rain-charm. Frazer, who, in his Golden Bough, has heaped together an enormous mass of material on the various elements and aspects of these festivals, has thereby complicated the task of working out a unified and self-consistent interpretation.
The custom of throwing water at each other is reported by al-Biruni (5) of the Persians, in connection with their New Year's festival. As the Persian new year came in the spring, there can be little doubt that the festival aimed at the increase of the rain by sympathetic magic (6). In fact, even now in certain places of Armenia the tillers returning from their first day of labour in the fields are sprinkled with water by those who lie in wait for them on the way. So it may be safely assumed that in Armenia also in ancient times the Navasard brought with it the first water-festival of the year. In certain places like the region of Shirak, flying doves form a part of the Vartavar celebrations. Whether this has some reference to an old Astghik (Ishtar) festival, is difficult to say. It is quite possible that as in Europe, so also in ancient Armenia,  love-making and other more objectionable rites, formed an important feature of these mid-summer celebrations.
The great centre of the Armenian Navasard and of the water festival (Vartavar) was Bagavan, probably because both had the same character. The fact that Bagavan was also a centre of fire-worship emphasizes once more the close association of these two elements which we have already pointed out.
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