(a) Holy Days and the Fast


Dates (please see Resource Documents - Badi Calendar Table)

Holy Day or occasion

Date

Work suspended?

Time of commemoration, if feasible

Naw-Rúz

March 21

Yes

 

Ridván Festival

April 21-May 2

 

 

The first day

April 21

Yes

About 3.00 p.m on 21 April.

The ninth day

April 29

Yes

 

The twelfth day

May 2

Yes

 

Declaration of the Báb

May 24

Yes

On May 22, at about two hours after sunset

Ascension of Baháulláh

May 29

Yes

On 29 May at 3:00 a.m.

Martyrdom of the Báb

July 10

Yes

On 9 July, at about noon

Birth of the Báb

November 9

Yes

 

Birth of Baháulláh

November 10

Yes

 

Day of the Covenant

November 26

No

 

Ascension of ‘Abdul-Bahá

November 28

No

On 28 November, at 1:00 a.m.

Ayyám-i-Há (Intercalary Days)

February 25-March 1

No

 

Period of Fasting

March 2-March 20

No

 

“The other anniversaries* the believers are free to gather at any time during the day which they find convenient.”

From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Baháí Administration, p. 56

* Those listed above without a specific time of day stated in the column headed, “time of commemoration”.

Descriptions

Naw-Rúz—March 21

Separate Celebrations for Naw-Rúz Feast and Nineteen Day Feast

“The Naw-Rúz Feast should be held on March 21 before sunset and has nothing to do with the
19-day Feast. The 19-day Feast is administrative in function whereas the Naw-Rúz is our New Year, a Feast of hospitality and rejoicing.”

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 46

References for further reading:

Days to Remember, pp. 15-23

Prayers and Meditations, pp. 67-69

(See also this chapter, section entitled “Events Commemorated on Their Gregorian Anniversar­ies.”)

Ridván Festival— April 21-May 2

“Rejoice with exceeding gladness, O people of Bahá, as ye call to remembrance the Day of
su­preme felicity, the Day whereon the Tongue of the Ancient of Days hath spoken… .”

Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 35

The word Ridván means Paradise. For twelve days, April 21 through May 2, Bahá’ís celebrate the period in 1863 when Bahá’u’lláh resided in a garden in Baghdád, which was later called the “Garden of Ridván” During this period Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed His Mission as God’s Messenger for this age.

References for further reading:

Days to Remember, pp. 25-43

Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 27-35; pp. 319-322

God Passes By, pp. 148-159

Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 111-112

Celebration of First, Ninth and Twelfth Days of Ridván

“As regards various matters you raised in your letters, the reason we commemorate the 1st, 9th and 12th days of Ridván as Holidays (Holy Days) is because one is the first day, one is the last day, and third one is the ninth day, which of course is associated with the number 9. All 12 days could not be holidays, therefore these three were chosen.”

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, June 8, 1952, Lights of Guidance, 1983 edition, p. 230

“The Guardian would advise that, if feasible, the friends should commemorate … the first day of Ridván, at about 3:00 p.m. on 21 April.”

Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 56

Declaration of the Báb—May 23

Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad declared Himself to be the Báb, or ‘Gate of God’, to Mullá Husayn-i-Bushrú’í on May 23, 1844. This date marks the beginning of the Bahá’í Faith, the Bahá’í Era (B.E.) and the Bahá’í calendar.

“The Guardian would advise that, if feasible, the friends should commemorate … the anniversary of the Declaration of the Báb on May 22, at about two hours after sunset.”

Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 56

References for further reading:

Bahá’u’lláh, The King of Glory, pp. 26-31

Days to Remember, pp. 45-64

God Passes By, pp. 3-12

Nabíl’s Narrative, pp. 47-96

World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 123-128

Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh—May 29

Bahá’u’lláh died May 29, 1892 at the Mansion of Bahjí near ‘Akká, Israel. He was seventy-four.

“The Guardian would advise that, if feasible, the friends should commemorate … the anniversary of the Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh on 29 May at 3:00 a.m.”

Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 56

References for further reading:

Bahá’u’lláh, The King of Glory, pp. 420-429

Days to Remember, pp. 65-91

God Passes By, pp. 221-233

Martyrdom of the Báb—July 9

In 1850, Mírzá Taqí Khán, Grand Vizier of the new Sháh, Nasiri’d-Dín, ordered the Báb executed. On July 9, the Báb was brought before a firing squad in the barracks square of Tabríz, along with a young follower. When the smoke cleared, the Báb was nowhere to be seen. He was later located in the room He had occupied, finishing a conversation with His amanuensis. The commander of the Armenian regiment, Sám Khán, refused to fire a second time and another regiment had to be found. This time their bullets killed the Báb. His remains were hidden by the Bábis and in 1899 transferred to the Holy Land. In 1909 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself interred the Báb’s remains in the
sep­ulchre on Mount Carmel known as the Shrine of the Báb.

“The Guardian would advise that, if feasible, the friends should commemorate … the anniversary of the Martyrdom of the Báb on 9 July, at about noon.”

Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 56

References for further reading:

Days to Remember, pp. 93-112

God Passes By, pp. 49-60

Hour of the Dawn: The Life of the Báb

Nabíl’s Narrative, pp. 500-526

Birth of the Báb—October 20

The Báb was born Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad on October 20, 1819 in Shíráz, Iran.

References for further reading:

Days to Remember, pp. 113-122

Hour of the Dawn: The Life of the Báb, pp. 189-193

Nabíl’s Narrative, pp. 72-76

Birth of Bahá’u’lláh—November 12

 

Bahá’u’lláh was born Mírzá Husayn-’Alí on November 12, 1817 in Tihrán, Iran. His mother was Khadíjih Khánum and his father Mírzá Buzurg-i-Vazír.

References for further reading:

Bahá’u’lláh, The King of Glory, pp. 9-25

Days to Remember, pp. 123-132

Nabíl’s Narrative, pp. 12-13

Day of the Covenant—November 26

November 26th is dedicated to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the Centre of the Covenant. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asked the friends not to observe His birthday, May 23, as “this blessed Day must become known as the Day of the Declaration of His Highness the Supreme [the Báb].” The friends then asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá if they could have a day to celebrate which would be exclusively associated with Him. After many supplications to Him, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave them November 26. It was referred to as the Fête Day of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, or as “The Feast of the Appointment of the Centre of the Covenant.”

Many years later, in enumerating the Bahá’í Feast Days and Holy Days, Shoghi Effendi
in­structed that November 26 should be observed as the Day of the Covenant by the believers throughout the world, and should be referred to by that name.

References for further reading:

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Centre of the Covenant, by H. M. Balyuzi, pp. 9, 523

Days to Remember, pp. 157-165

Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—November 28

‘Abdu’l-Bahá died in Haifa, Israel, November 28, 1921.

“… The anniversaries of the birth and ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá are not to be regarded as days on which work is prohibited. The celebration of these two days is however obligatory.”

Shoghi Effendi, The Bahá’í World, Vol. IX, p. 346

“The Guardian would advise that, if feasible, the friends should commemorate … the Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on 28 November, at 1:00 a.m.”

Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 56

References for further reading:

Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Days to Remember, pp. 137-156

Ayyám-i-Há—February 26-March 1

In the West, the Intercalary Days (Ayyám-i-Há) are the four days of the year (five days in leap year) which fall between the eighteenth and nineteenth months of the Bahá’í Calendar (Mulk and ‘Alá’), February 26 to March 1. These days are set aside for hospitality, gift-giving, special acts of charity, and preparing for the Fast. In Nabíl’s Narrative, the purpose of these days is explained:

“Bahá’u’lláh designated [the] days as the ‘Ayyám-i-Há’[Intercalary Days] and ordained that they should immediately precede the month of ‘Alá’, which is the month of fasting. He
en­joined upon His followers to devote these days to feasting, rejoicing, and charity. Immedi­ately upon the termination of these intercalary days, Bahá’u’lláh ordained the month of fast­ing to begin.”

Nabíl’s Narrative, Vol. II, The Bahá’í World, Volume XIII, pp. 751-752

References for further reading:

Bahá’í Prayers, pp. 236-237

For children: The Ayyám-i-Há Camel

The Fast—March 2-March 20

Bahá’ís fast for 19 days from sunrise to sunset. In the West, the fast period begins at sunrise March 2nd and extends until sunset March 20.

(See also Chapter 15, section entitled “Fasting.”)

Preparing for the Holy Days

By observing the Holy Days, the believers can show honour and reverence for Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Local Spiritual Assemblies sponsor the commemorations and ensure that the programmes are befitting to the occasions.

Some Holy Days—the Martyrdom of the Báb, the Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh, and the Ascen­sion of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—should be observed in a solemn and reverent manner.

Other Holy Days—Naw-Rúz, Ridván, the anniversaries of the Birth of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, and the Declaration of the Báb—are festive. The general character of the festive Holy Days is de­scribed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in a talk about the Feast of Naw-Rúz:

“All should rejoice together, hold general meetings, become as one assembly, so that the na­tional oneness, unity and harmony may be demonstrated in the eyes of all.

“As it is a blessed day it should not be neglected, nor deprived of results by making it a day
de­voted to the pursuit of mere pleasure.

“During such days institutions should be founded that may be of permanent benefit and value to the people… .”

Preparations for a Holy Day might include a review of the history of the day and study of the lives of the Central Figures. Before the event itself, the Assembly may want to help the community pre­pare for a Holy Day by:

•         Holding a special class on the history of the Holy Day

•         Reviewing the events being commemorated

•         Holding a special meeting for the children so that they can anticipate the day and learn about its significance

•         Discussing plans at preceding Feasts for commemorating the day

When to Observe

Definition of the Bahá’í Day

“With reference to your question in connection with the observance of Bahá’í Holy Days; the Bahá’í day begins and ends at sunset. The night preceding a Holy day is therefore included in the day, and consequently work during that period is forbidden.”

Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, p. 68

Daylight Savings Time

“Regarding your question of the proper time to celebrate or hold our meetings of commemoration: the time should be fixed by counting after sunset; the Master passed away one hour after midnight, which falls a certain number of hours after sunset; so His passing should be commemorated
ac­cording to the sun and regardless of daylight saving time. The same applies to the Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh who passed away about eight hours after sunset.”

Shoghi Effendi, in Principles of Bahá’í Administration, pp. 56-57

Observing the Holy Days

“From time to time questions have arisen about the application of the law of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas on the observance of Bahá’í holy days. As you know, the recognition of Bahá’í holy days in at least ninety-five countries of the world is an important and highly significant objective of the Nine Year Plan [1964-1973],and is directly linked with the recognition of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh by the civil authorities as an independent religion enjoying its own rights and privileges.

“The attainment of this objective will be facilitated and enhanced if the friends, motivated by their own realization of the importance of the laws of Bahá’u’lláh, are obedient to them.”

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 69

“Briefly, every nation has a day known as a holiday which they celebrate with joy. In the sacred laws of God, in every cycle and dispensation, there are blessed feasts, holidays and workless days. On such days all kinds of occupations, commerce, industry, agriculture etc., are not allowed. Every work is unlawful. All must enjoy a good time, gather together, hold general meetings, be­come as one assembly, so that the national oneness, unity and harmony may become personified in all eyes. As it is a blessed day it should not be neglected or without results by making it a day limited to the fruits of mere pleasure. During such blessed days institutions should be founded that may be of permanent benefit and value to the people so that in current conversation and in history it may become widely known that such a good work was inaugurated on such a feast day. There­fore, the intelligent must search and investigate reality to find out what important affair, what phil­anthropic institutions are most needed and what foundations should be laid for the community on that particular day, so that they may be established. For example, if they find that the community needs morality, then they may lay down the foundation of good morals on that day. If the com­munity be in need of spreading sciences and widening the circle of knowledge, on that day they should proceed in that direction, that is to say, direct the thoughts of all the people to that philan­thropic cause. If, however, the community is in need of widening the circle of commerce or in­dustry or agriculture they should start the means so that the desired aim may be attained. If the community needs protection, proper support and care of orphans, they should act upon the welfare of the orphans, etc. Such undertakings that are beneficial to the poor, the weak and the helpless should be pursued in order that, on that day, through the unity of all and through great meetings, results may be obtained, the glory and blessings of that day may be declared and manifest.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, pp. 302-303

Suspension of Work and School

Nine Days Relating to the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh

“… The days pertaining to the Abhá Beauty (Bahá’u’lláh) and the Primal Point (the Báb), that is to say these nine days, are the only ones on which work connected with trade, commerce, industry and agriculture is not allowed. In like manner, work connected with any form of employment, whether governmental or otherwise, should be suspended.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Bahá’í World, Vol. XII, p. 537

Being Excused from Work

“He wishes also to stress the fact that, according to our Bahá’í laws, work is forbidden on our Nine Holy Days. Believers who have independent businesses or shops should refrain from
work­ing on these days. Those who are in government employ should, on religious grounds, make an ef­fort to be excused from work; all believers, whoever their employers, should do likewise. If the government, or other employers, refuse to grant them these days off, they are not required to for­feit their employment, but they should make every effort to have the independent status of their Faith recognized and their right to hold their own religious Holy Days acknowledged.”

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 55

Bahá’í Institutions

“This distinction between institutions that are under full or partial Bahá’í control is of fundamental importance. Institutions that are entirely managed by Bahá’ís are, for reasons that are only too ob­vious, under the obligation of enforcing all the laws and ordinances of the Faith, especially those whose observance constitutes a matter of conscience. There is no reason, no justification whatever, that they should act otherwise… . The point which should be always remembered is that the issue in question is essentially a matter of conscience, and as such is of a binding effect upon all believers.”

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, October 2, 1935, quoted by the
Universal House of Justice,
Wellspring of Guid­ance, pp. 69-70

“The basic principle that institutions that are entirely managed by Bahá’ís are under the obligation of obeying the Bahá’í laws regarding the observance of Holy Days is clear. A problem, however, arises in relation to service institutions and work of a service nature that cannot be postponed.

“There are, of course, many Bahá’í activities that are carried on on the Holy Days in addition to the celebration of the Holy Days themselves, such as the election of Local Spiritual Assemblies on the First Day of Ridván, the holding of the National Convention, which may well coincide with one or more Holy Days, and other praiseworthy activities. It is not this kind of ‘work’ that is
pro­hibited. Thus, there would be no objection to the holding of sessions of a Summer School or Weekend School on a Holy Day—although they might well be modified in form in recognition of the particular day, and would give time for the actual commemoration.

“In light of these considerations, and others drawn from the Sacred Texts, the House of Justice advises that, in the case of the Landegg Conference Centre, the work performed during a Bahá’í Holy Day by the household staff, whether Bahá’í or non-Bahá’í, should be reduced to the minim­um necessary to provide the normal essential services, including, of course, the work needed in connection with the celebration of the Holy Day itself. When the Manager is scheduling the book­ing of the premises to non-Bahá’í groups he should either try to arrange that the period of letting does not include a Bahá’í Holy Day or, if it does, he should explain to the group at the time of booking that there will be limited service rendered by the staff on the Holy Day. Of course, if no events are scheduled at the Centre on a Bahá’í Holy Day, it would be possible to close the Centre on that day.”

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, December 3, 1984
to the National Spiritu­al Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Switzerland

Bahá’í-Owned Businesses

“As you are well aware, not only should Bahá’ís refrain from work on the nine Holy Days, but the shops and establishments owned by Bahá’ís should also be closed on these Days. If government regulations do not require the station to be on the air on a mandatory daily basis, Radio Bahá’í should not engage in regular broadcasts on the nine Holy Days. However, to aid the Bahá’í Com­munity in its observance of any one of these Days, the station may offer at a particular time a spe­cial program suited to such observance. Those wishing to be involved in the production and airing of the program would be rendering a special service.

“You have no doubt noted that since the Bahá’í day begins at sunset and ends at the following sunset, no Gregorian day would be fully taken up by the observance of any one of the nine Bahá’í Holy Days; thus there is time to broadcast regular programs every day of the Gregorian year. The station naturally will inform its listeners of the meaning of each Holy Day well in advance so that they can appreciate the reason for the station’s silence on such a Day.

“The House of Justice feels that this confirmation of the religious character of the station would be a means of teaching, a source of encouragement to the believers and a model for their emulation.”

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, July 6, 1986 to the National Spiritual As­sembly of the Bahá’ís of Chile

“The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 17 November 1975 and in reply to your specific question, ‘May our Bahá’í-owned retail mattress store remain open in the care of our non-Bahá’í employees on the Holy Days when we refrain from working?’, has instructed us to say that in shops or stores owned by Bahá’ís, the fact that they may have non-Bahá’ís in employment does not exempt the Bahá’í owners from closing their businesses on Bahá’í Holy Days.”

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, November 30, 1975 to an individual be­liever

“However, there are certain cases where institutions such as hotels and hospitals owned by Bahá’ís are permitted to continue functioning during Bahá’í Holy Days, since they provide ser­vices which cannot be arbitrarily cut off. It is not clear from your letter whether you will contract the delivery of … to individual homes… . If this should be the case, it would be permissible to hire a non-Bahá’í to deliver … in order to keep your commitments while your shop is closed. As far as the sale to the public is concerned, you are not obliged to keep your shop open for the pur­pose of selling …, unless there would be legal reasons for you to do so. In that event, you should refer the matter to your National Spiritual Assembly for guidance.”

The Universal House of Justice, April 14, 1989 to an individual Bahá’í

Suspension of Bahá’í Administrative Activities

“Concerning the suspension of Bahá’í administrative activities on Bahá’í Holy Days, we have found the texts of the Guardian’s instructions in which he says that the work of Local Assemblies, committees and other institutions of the Faith preferably should be suspended, but that the final decision rests with the Universal House of Justice.

“We feel that the time is not yet ripe to add anything further, and therefore we leave the applica­tion of the above instructions of the Guardian to your National Assembly.”

The Universal House of Justice, July 3, 1969 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States

Children—Being Excused from School

“… Steps should be taken to have Bahá’í children excused, on religious grounds, from attending school on Bahá’í Holy Days wherever possible. The Guardian has said:

‘Regarding children: at fifteen a Bahá’í is of age as far as keeping the laws of the Aqdas is con­cerned—prayer, fasting, etc. But children under fifteen should certainly observe the Bahá’í holy days, and not go to school, if this can be arranged on these nine days.’”

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 70

Whenever possible, steps should be taken to have Bahá’í children excused on religious grounds from attending school on the (nine) Bahá’í holy days. It is the responsibility of the Local Spiritual Assembly and Bahá’í parents to ensure that children observe Bahá’í holy days in ways that are meaningful to them educationally and spiritually.

Generally, it is only necessary to write a letter to the principal asking for recognition. The Holy Days, and a brief explanation for each, should be listed. The letter should point out that these dates are the same each year; hence, they would not always fall on regularly scheduled school days.

The parents are usually requested to send a note in advance of each Holy Day to the teacher or principal, and the children are expected to make up any lost work.

Along with the letter, it is sometimes helpful to include a pamphlet or two and to mention that many principals throughout New Zealand have granted permission for Bahá’í children to be ex­cused from attending classes on our Holy Days.