Our new blog series invites members and friends of WIN to prepare a ‘festival diary’, exploring the history and significance of specific rituals or outlining the routine of religious celebrations, as a window into the lived experience of people of different faiths. This week’s author is Jaleh Alaee from our Barnet WIN group. Her piece explores the festivals of Ayyam-i-Ha and Naw-Rúz, where she says ‘everything is love, music and song.’
Ayyam-i-Ha: The Intercalary Days
Ayyam-i-Ha has been translated into English as “Intercalary Days” which literally means that they are days inserted into the calendar. The four days left over (or five every fourth year) are called intercalary days and are special days dedicated to extra hospitality before the last month, which consists of nineteen days of fasting sunrise to sunset, leading up to the New Year.
Baha’u’llah (the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith) has reduced rituals and ceremonies to a minimum for Bahá’ís so everyone celebrates Ayyam-i-Ha differently. Many communities and families share meals together and some exchange gifts. Ayyam-i-Ha celebrations can be elaborate and complex or they can be humble and simple. The beauty of these days is that little is required to make good cheer when you are in the company of friends and surrounded by an atmosphere of love. This is a period dedicated to socialising, being hospitable, giving generously to the poor and needy, and preparing for the upcoming month of fasting.
Naw-Rúz: The Bahá’í New Year
Naw-Rúz translates to “New Day” in English and is the Bahá’í New Year. Every year Bahá’ís from all over the world and of all cultural backgrounds celebrate Naw-Rúz, the beginning of a new year in the Bahá’í Calendar. Naw-Rúz marks the end of the 19-day Bahá’í Fast, which is a period of reflection and profound spiritual reinvigoration. Naw-Rúz is a celebration of a “spiritual springtime” that symbolises both individual renewal and mankind’s revitalisation. Bahá’ís do not usually observe Naw-Rúz for longer than one day.
The roots of the Bahá’í faith began in 1844 and the 21st of March of that year is regarded as the start of the Year 1 of the Bahá’í Era. The Bahá’í year consists of 19 months of 19 days each, with the addition of certain intercalary days (four in ordinary years and five in leap years) between the eighteenth and nineteenth months in order to adjust the calendar to the solar year. The months are named after the attributes of God: Splendour, Glory, Beauty, Grandeur, Light, Mercy, Words, Perfection, Names, Might, Will, Knowledge, Power, Speech, Questions, Honour, Sovereignty, Dominion and Loftiness.
The Bahá’í New Year is astronomically fixed by the position of the earth in relation to the solar configuration, commencing at the March equinox (March 20th or 21st) in the northern hemisphere, when the sun enters the sign of Aries. The Bahá’í New Year is usually a festive event observed with meetings for prayer and music and dancing. Since the New Year also ends the Baháʼí month of fasting, the celebration is often combined with a dinner.
If you would like to submit your own festival diary, please contact email@example.com