The Baha'i Naw-Ruz

The Báb, the founder of Bábi religion, instituted the Badíʻ calendar composed of 19 months, each of 19 days. The first month, and the first day of each month, are both named Bahá, an Arabic word meaning splendour or glory.

In the Badi` calendar of the Bab, Naw-Ruz is the day of Baha of the month of Baha, a day called by the Bab `the Day of God' (yawmu'llah). It was also the `Day of the Point' (yawm-i-nuqtih) -- i.e. the day of the Bab. Finally, it was a day associated with Him Whom God shall make manifest, the Promised One of the Bab. The remaining eighteen days of the month were associated with the eighteen Letters of the Living, an indication that the Bab envisioned the Naw-Ruz festivities encompassing the nineteen days of the month of Baha, just as the traditional Iranian Naw-Ruz festivities last thirteen days. During Naw-Ruz the Bab permitted the use of musical instruments and other luxuries prohibited at other times. During the night of Naw-Ruz each believer was to recite 361 times the verse `God beareth witness that there is no God but Him, the Ineffable, the Self-Subsistent'; and during the day, `God beareth witness that there is no God but Him, the Precious, the Beloved'. Fasting was prohibited during the whole month of Baha. During the six years of His mission, the Bab and His followers observed Naw-Ruz, although it is difficult to say how much this represents a distinctively Babi holy day. Bahá'u'lláh adopted the Babi holy day of Naw-Ruz as the feast day following the fast and stressed that it is associated with the Most Great Name, bearing as it does Bahá'u'lláh's own name. `Abdu'l-Bahá explained the significance of Naw-Ruz in terms of the symbolism of the new life of spring. Bahá'u'lláh defines Naw-Ruz as the Bahá'í day on which the vernal equinox occurs. Thus, even if the equinox should occur just before sunset, that day -- which in the Bahá'í calendar began at the moment of sunset on the previous day -- is Naw-Ruz. At present, however, Naw-Ruz is fixed as 21 March for Bahá'ís in all countries outside the Middle East, regardless of exactly when the equinox occurs.

Naw-Ruz is one of the nine Bahá'í holy days on which work is to be suspended. It is generally observed with a meeting for prayer and celebration -- often combined with a dinner since the sunset on which Naw-Ruz begins ends the last day of the Bahá'í fast. As with all Bahá'í holy days, there are few fixed rules for observing Naw-Ruz. Many Bahá'ís use Naw-Ruz as a day of gift-giving.

Baháʼu'lláh, in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, defines Naw-Rúz as the day on which the vernal equinox occurs. The exact timing of Naw-Rúz for Baháʼís worldwide depends on the choice of a particular spot on the Earth and was left to the Universal House of Justice, the governing body of the Baháʼís to decide. In 2014, the Universal House of Justice chose Tehran as the particular spot. Since Baháʼí days start at sundown, if the equinox occurs just before sunset, the day which started on the previous sunset is Naw-Rúz. Thus Naw-Rúz could fall on either March 20, 21st or 22nd of the Gregorian calendar, though these dates are pre-calculated years in advance. All dates in the Baháʼí calendar are set in relation to Naw-Rúz and thus may shift on the Gregorian calendar by a day or two depending on the timing of the vernal equinox.

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