Guidance and FAQs

Regarding the Planning of the 200th Anniversary Celebrations for the Birth of the Báb and the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh

Guidance

May 18, 2016 - Letter from the Universal House of Justice addressed to all National Spiritual Assemblies―noted the approach of the bicentenaries marking the elapse of 200 years since the Births of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb, respectively, and the importance of timely planning for befitting commemorations of these auspicious occasions:

November 21, 2016 - Letter from the National Spiritual Assembly addressed to an individual believer:

Information from the Bahá’í World Center

May 2 and May 22, 2017 - Letters describing measures being taken at the Bahá’í World Center to support the friends’ plans for commemorations of the Twin Holy Birthdays

Feast Messages related to the Bicentenary

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Would it be appropriate to hold a single event to celebrate both Birthdays?
    • “In relation to the Twin Holy Birthdays, the beloved Guardian, in a letter written on his behalf to a National Spiritual Assembly, advised that refraining from work and gathering for observances are required on both days. Therefore, holding the celebrations of the Twin Holy Days immediately before and after sunset on the same Gregorian date would not be in keeping with the spirit of the guidance set out above.” 1
    • “But the most distinguishing feature of these bicentenaries will be a tremendous flourishing of activity by Bahá’ís and their friends in local communities.” 2
    • "In keeping with the spirit of the guidance from the Universal House of Justice, the “grand finale” you described should not be a single event in observance of both Holy Days. There must be two separate observances, one on each Day. Of course, one can be larger and more publicized than the other, but, nonetheless, there should be two distinct gatherings." (March 2017 - National Spiritual Assembly)
  2. On what dates do we celebrate these Twin Holy Days?
    • The Bahá’í world will celebrate the Birth of the Báb on October 21, 2017; the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh will be celebrated on October 22, 2017.
    • In 2019, the 200th anniversary of the Birth of the Báb will be celebrated on October 29, 2019; the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh will be celebrated on October 30, 2019.
  3. Whom should we invite?
    • “As indicated in the 29 December message, these Holy Days should be viewed as special opportunities for the friends to reach out to the widest possible cross-section of society…” 2 including these connections:
        • Family
        • Common interest(s)
        • Occupation or field of study
        • Neighbors
        • Acquaintances
        • Community: children’s classes, junior youth groups, devotionals, study circles, and home visits
  4. What kind of celebrations should we plan for these events?
    • Celebrations should be “both uplifting and reverent…” 2
    • Activities might include music, audio-visual presentations, publications, books, etc.
    • Be creative! See the "Ideas for Celebrating" page on this site to learn what other communities are considering and planning.
  5. Will these events involve proclamation?
    • “The believers should understand that mere advertising or proclamation of events to the broader community is not a sufficient response to the guidance of the House of Justice to reach out to the ‘widest possible cross-section of society.’” 3
    • “Rather, it is primarily through meaningful and distinctive conversations and engagement in the pattern of worship and service that the friends can touch the hearts of their fellow citizens and invite them to recall together the lives and sacred missions of two Beings peerless in creation.” 3
  6. Is the focus on national events?
    • “The locus of activity for the bicentenaries is to be at the local level.” 2
  7. Are we just focusing on the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh this year?
    • “It should be noted that, although each anniversary is associated primarily with just one of the Manifestations, in each case the celebrations ought to encompass both of the Twin Birthdays, and events may be spread out across the full length of the two days.” 2
  8. What should our meaningful conversations with others look like?
    • “At the heart of these festivities must be a concerted effort to convey a sense of what it means for humanity that these two Luminaries rose successively above the horizon of the world.” 2
    • “Well beyond questions of venue or other logistics, it is clear that preparations call for the friends to engage in conversations with individuals from all walks of life, find opportunities to share with them the vision of Bahá’u’lláh for the transformation of individuals and of society, and offer to them the priceless opportunity to join with others in their community to commemorate these special anniversaries.” 3
    • “However, the real transformative power of the Faith is likely to be perceived more readily still if people experience how worship and meaningful service are being woven into the fabric of the lives of Bahá’ís everywhere.” 2
    • See the "Establishing Relationships" page on this site for some examples of how others are forming bonds and building relationships with their friends and other contacts.
  9. What impact will these events have?
    • “There is, therefore, every reason to expect that the emphasis given to commemorating these Holy Days will have a considerable and cumulative impact on the work of raising vibrant communities—not least on the enrichment of devotional life.” 2
    • “An important aspect of what must occur is the sense of shared experience and global solidarity arising from so many gatherings being held in a concentrated span of time...” 2

10. Would it be appropriate for the Local Assembly to sponsor an essay contest in the public schools on a topic related to Bahá’u’lláh in celebration of the Bicentenary?

"While your efforts to find creative ways to commemorate the upcoming Twin Holy Birthdays are commendable, the initiative you describe should not be pursued in direct connection with the Bicentenary. The purpose of the Bicentenary is teaching and proclamation of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, which would not be appropriate to undertake in a public school setting. This certainly does not prevent a Local Spiritual Assembly from sponsoring an essay contest on some social issue, with the clear understanding that the intent is to advance discourse on, for example, the oneness of humanity and not to promote the Bahá’í Faith itself, and the essay contest should not be held in conjunction with the Bahá’í Holy Day. In fact, if the Bahá’ís were able to collaborate with other organizations on such an initiative, this would be preferable." (May 2017 - National Spiritual Assembly)


1Letter dated December 23, 2016 – from the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer

2Letter dated May 18, 2016 - from the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies

3Letter dated November 21, 2016 - from the National Spiritual Assembly to an individual believer


U.S. Bahá'í National Center

1233 Central Street

Evanston, IL 60201

Questions? Email us at bicentenary@bahai.us

© 2017 National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States