February 26 – March 1, inclusive, should be days of
- preparation for the Fast
- giving of presents
Ayyam-i-Ha, or Intercalary Days, are the four days (five in a leap year) between the Baha’i month of Mulk (February 7 – February 25) and the last month of the Bahá’í year, ‘Ala’ (March 2 – March 20), which is the month of fasting. As the Baha’i calendar consists of the 19 months with 19 days each, the intercalary days provide an extra four days (or five in leap years) to complete the solar cycle.
During Ayyam-i-Ha, Baha’is strive to show extra love, fellowship, and charity. Ayyam-i-Ha is also a time when Baha’is give and receive gifts, particularly to children.
Ayyám-i-Há means the “Days of Há.” “Há” is the Arabic letter corresponding to the English “H”, and one of the three Arabic letters which make up the word “Bahá.” Both Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb followed the Arabic tradition of assigning numerical values to letters, and of giving spiritual meanings to both. The numerical value of “Há” is 5, the sum of the numerical values of the letters in the “Báb,” and the maximum number of intercalary days.
“Há” is also the first letter of an Arabic pronoun commonly used in Arabic religious writings to refer to God, or “the Divine Essence.” “Há” by itself is used as a symbol of “the Essence of God,” and was the subject of many an Arabic essay on its mysteries. In Bahá’u’lláh’s Tablet of All Food the realm “beyond which there is no passing,” or the realm of the Divine Essence is designated as “Háhut.” In the Báb’s interpretation of the letter “Há” (quoted by Bahá’u’lláh in the Kitáb-i-Iqán), the Báb speaks of martyrdom in the path of God and warns “even if all the kings of the earth were to be leagued together they would be powerless to take from me a single letter…
Bahá’u’lláh has designated the intercalary days “amid all the nights and days” as manifestations of the letter Há”–that is, as Days of the Divine Essence. These extra days stand apart from the ordinary cycle of weeks and months and the human measure of time. They are not “bounded by the limits of the year and its months”–just as the infinite reality of the divine Essence of God is unbounded and cannot be captured or comprehended within the cycle of time or any other human measurement.
Thus Ayyám-i-Há can be thought of as days outside of time, days that symbolize eternity, infinity, and the mystery and unknowable Essence of God Himself. Contemplation during these days of the timeless mystery of the Essence of God provides us the “joy and exultation” with which to “sing His praise and magnify His Name (Karla Jamir).”
Baha’u’llah has said of Ayyam-i-Ha:
“It behoveth the people of Baha, throughout these days, to provide good cheer for themselves, their kindred and, beyond them, the poor and needy, and with joy and exultation to hail and glorify their Lord, to sing His praise and magnify His Name.”
“My God, my Fire and my Light! The days which Thou hast named the Ayyam-i-Ha (the Days of Ha, Intercalary days) in Thy Book have begun, O Thou Who art the King of names, and the fast which Thy most exalted Pen hath enjoined unto all who are in the kingdom of Thy creation to observe is approaching.
I entreat Thee, O my Lord, by these days and by all such as have during that period clung to the cord of Thy commandments, and laid hold on the handle of Thy precepts, to grant that unto every soul may be assigned a place within the precincts of Thy court, and a seat at the revelation of the splendors of the light of Thy countenance.
These, O my Lord, are Thy servants whom no corrupt inclination hath kept back from what Thou didst send down in Thy Book. They have bowed themselves before Thy Cause, and received Thy Book with such resolve as is born of Thee, and observed what Thou hadst prescribed unto them, and chosen to follow that which had been sent down by Thee. Thou seest, O my Lord, how they have recognized and confessed whatsoever Thou hast revealed in Thy Scriptures. Give them to drink, O my Lord, from the hands of Thy graciousness the waters of Thine eternity. Write down, then, for them the recompense ordained for him that hath immersed himself in the ocean of Thy presence, and attained unto the choice wine of Thy meeting.
I implore Thee, O Thou the King of kings and the Pitier of the downtrodden, to ordain for them the good of this world and of the world to come. Write down for them, moreover, what none of Thy creatures hath discovered, and number them with those who have circled round Thee, and who move about Thy throne in every world of Thy worlds. Thou, truly, art the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Informed. Baha’u’llah
“It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.” Bahá’u’lláh
“The most vital duty, in this day, is to purify your characters, to correct your manners, and improve your conduct. The beloved of the Merciful must show forth such character and conduct among His creatures, that the fragrance of their holiness may be shed upon the whole world, and may quicken the dead, inasmuch as the purpose of the Manifestation of God and the dawning of the limitless lights of the Invisible is to educate the souls of men, and refine the character of every living man–so that blessed individuals, who have freed themselves from the murk of the animal world, shall rise up with those qualities which are the adornings of the reality of man. The purpose is that earthlings should turn into the people of Heaven, and those who walk in darkness should come into the light, and those who are excluded should join the inner circle of the Kingdom, and those who are as nothing should become intimates of the everlasting Glory. It is that the portionless should gain their share of the boundless sea, and the ignorant drink their fill from the living fount of knowledge; that those who thirst for blood should forsake their savagery, and those who are barbed of claw should turn gentle and forbearing, and those who love war should seek instead for true conciliation; it is that the brutal, their talons razor-sharp, should enjoy the benefits of lasting peace; that the foul should learn that there is a realm of purity, and the tainted find their way to the rivers of holiness. Unless these divine bestowals be revealed from the inner self of humankind, the bounty of the Manifestation will prove barren, and the dazzling rays of the Sun of Truth will have no effect whatever. Wherefore, O beloved of the Lord, strive ye with heart and soul to receive a share of His holy attributes and take your portion of the bounties of His sanctity–that ye may become the tokens of unity, the standards of singleness, and seek out the meaning of oneness; that ye may, in this garden of God, lift up your voices and sing the blissful anthems of the spirit. Become ye as the birds who offer Him their thanks, and in the blossoming bowers of life chant ye such melodies as will dazzle the minds of those who know. Raise ye a banner on the highest peaks of the world, a flag of God’s favour to ripple and wave in the winds of His grace; plant ye a tree in the field of life, amid the roses of this visible world, that will yield a fruitage fresh and sweet.” Selections … `Abdu’l-Bahá Pages 11-12
“O ye roses in the garden of God’s love!” Selections … `Abdu’l-Bahá Page 266
“In short, it behooves us all to be lovers of truth. Let us seek her in every season and in every country, being careful never to attach ourselves to personalities. Let us see the light wherever it shines, and may we be enabled to recognize the light of truth no matter where it may arise. Let us inhale the perfume of the rose from the midst of thorns which surround it; let us drink the running water from every pure spring.” Paris Talks* Pages 133-134
Promulgation of Universal Peace* Page 24
“Be like a well-cultivated garden wherein the roses and variegated flowers of heaven are growing in fragrance and beauty. ”
“The essential joyousness of the Bahá’í religion finds expression in numerous feasts and holidays throughout the year.
In a talk on the Feast of Naw-Rúz, in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:—
“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., should be suspended.
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. …
Today there is no result or fruit greater than guiding the people. Undoubtedly the friends of God, upon such a day, must leave tangible philanthropic or ideal traces that should reach all mankind and not pertain only to the Bahá’ís. In this wonderful dispensation, philanthropic affairs are for all humanity without exception, because it is the manifestation of the mercifulness of God. Therefore, my hope is that the friends of God, every one of them, may become as the mercy of God to all mankind.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 1912 Feast of Naw-Rúz, Alexandria, Egypt
“The Feasts of Naw-Rúz (New Year) and Riḍván, the Anniversaries of the Birth of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, and of the Báb’s Declaration (which is also the birthday of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá) are the great joy-days of the year for Bahá’ís. In Persia they are celebrated by picnics or festal gatherings at which music, the chanting of verses and tablets, and short addresses suitable to the occasion are contributed by those present. The intercalary days between the eighteenth and nineteenth months (that is, February 26 to March 1 inclusive) are specially devoted to hospitality to friends, the giving of presents, ministering to the poor and sick, et cetera.
The anniversaries of the martyrdom of the Báb and the departure of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá are celebrated with solemnity by appropriate meetings and discourses, the chanting of prayers and Tablets (Esselmont 1980:182-183).
O Thou kind Lord! Thou hast created all humanity from the same stock. Thou hast decreed that all shall belong to the same household. In Thy Holy Presence they are all Thy servants, and all mankind are sheltered beneath Thy Tabernacle; all have gathered together at Thy Table of Bounty; all are illumined through the light of Thy Providence. O God! Thou art kind to all, Thou hast provided for all, dost shelter all, conferrest life upon all. Thou hast endowed each and all with talents and faculties, and all are submerged in the Ocean of Thy Mercy. O Thou kind Lord! Unite all. Let the religions agree and make the nations one, so that they may see each other as one family and the whole earth as one home. May they all live together in perfect harmony. O God! Raise aloft the banner of the oneness of mankind. O God! Establish the Most Great Peace.
Cement Thou, O God, the hearts together. O Thou kind Father, God! Gladden our hearts through the fragrance of Thy love. Brighten our eyes through the Light of Thy Guidance. Delight our ears with the melody of Thy Word, and shelter us all in the Stronghold of Thy Providence. Thou art the Mighty and Powerful, Thou art the Forgiving and Thou art the One Who overlooketh the shortcomings of all mankind.