Mandaean New Year – Karsa

Mandaeanism is one of the oldest gnostic religions to date. It is believed to be at least 2,000 years old. Mandaeans are a small religious and ethnic group that follow the teachings of John the Baptist. They were mainly settled in Iraq and Iran, however, due to persecution and the on-going war, Mandaeans were forced to flee and are now settled in different countries all around the world.  

As with many other religions, Mandaeans have a different new year than that of the “norm”. The Mandaean New Years, otherwise known as the Karsa, is held on the 16th of July this year. The Mandaean New Year’s Eve, or the kanshi uzahly, is often spent by flowing rivers where Mandaeans get baptised and cleansed going into the New Year. However, due to the cold weather in July in Australia, many opt to stay home to clean their house, prepare food and fill up water for later use.  

Hear from Jamal, one of our amazingly dedicated volunteers who tells Rachel from our marketing team about Karsa.

Within those 36 hours, most Mandaeans, mainly the most religious, teach their stories from the beginning of time and follow in Adam’s path. This includes fasting, not from food, but from evil; to not do, speak or see any evil, nor walk the wrong path. 

It is believed that the 36 hours marks the time it took for the “spiritual soul” to create the world and Adam, the first man. Thus, the spirits of light that usually guard us from evil, leave to visit God to pay their compliments during this time, consequently, leaving us susceptible to evil or harm. Therefore, Mandaeans spend those 36 hours in their homes, away from plants, animals, and non-Mandaeans, and refrain from any activities that might injure them, or make them bleed. They also fill up water to use throughout those 36 hours to reduce pollution during this time.  

The Karsa is often spent and celebrated with family. It begins at dusk, on the 16th of July this year, with the sun setting and the first star appearing, and is marked with Dawn and the break of light, 36 hours later. After the Karsa, Mandaeans spend the next few days celebrating and visiting each other. 

Wishing all those that celebrate today a Happy New Year, my your time of reflection and prayer bring you guidance and safety for the year ahead.