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Bahá’í Feasts and Holy Days

BAHÁ’Í FEASTS AND HOLY DAYS

Nineteen Day Feasts
Please note that throughout the blog I have chosen to use simplified characters instead of proper accents, apostrophes and hyphens, that are actually inaccurate spellings since so much of the semantic web automatically generates computerized translations that are worse than improper spelling. The following however copied from  a publication by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States entitled Developing Distinctive Baha’i Communities: Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies 1998) is I believe accurate:.

Work in Process

Naw-Ruz March 21 (work and school should be suspended) The date refers to the Bahá’í day, so celebrations must have ended by sunset March 21 but can begin at any time after sunrise March 20.

Ridvan Festival April 21-May 2

  • The first day April 21 (work and school should be suspended) The date refers to the Bahá’í day, which begins at sunset on the preceding day and ends at sunset on the date listed.
  • The ninth day April 29 (work and school should be suspended) The date refers to the Bahá’í day, which begins at sunset on the preceding day and ends at sunset on the date listed.
  • The twelfth day May 2 (work and school should be suspended) The dates above refer to the Bahá’í day, which begins at sunset on the preceding day and ends at sunset on the date listed.

Declaration of the Báb May 23 (work and school should be suspended)

Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh May 29 (work and school should be suspended)

Martyrdom of the Báb July 9 (work and school should be suspended)

Birth of the Báb October 20 (work and school should be suspended)

Birth of Bahá’u’lláh November 12 (work and school should be suspended)

Day of the Covenant November 26

Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá November 28

Ayyam-i-Ha (Intercalary Days) February 25-March 1

Period of fasting March 2-March 20

/// Note: The dates above refer to the Bahá’í day, which begins at sunset on the preceding day and ends at sunset on the date listed.

Descriptions
Naw-Ruz — March 21
/// References for further reading:
Prayers and Meditations, Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 67-69

Separate Celebrations for Naw-Ruz Feast and Nineteen Day Feast
The Naw-Ruz 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-Ruz is our New Year, a Feast of hospitality and rejoicing.

Shoghi Effendi, in Directives from the Guardian, p. 46

/// (See also in this Chapter, Section entitled “Events Commemorated on Their Gregorian Anniversaries”)

9.2 Holy Days, the Nineteen Day Feast, and Special Events

Ridvan Festival — April 21-May 2
Rejoice with exceeding gladness, O people of Baha, as ye call to remembrance the Day of supreme felicity, the Day whereon the Tongue of the Ancient of Days hath spoken. . . .

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

/// The word Ridvan 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 Baghdad, which was later called the “Garden of Ridvan.” During this period Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed His Mission as God’s Messenger for this age.

/// References for further reading:
Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 27-35; pp. 319-22

Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 111-12

God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, pp. 148-59

Celebration of First, Ninth, and Twelfth Days of Ridvan
As regards various matters you raised in your letters, the reason we commemorate the 1st, 9th and 12th days of Ridvan as Holidays (Holy Days) is because one is the first day, one is the last day, and the 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.

Letter written on behalf of the Guardian, dated June 8, 1952, to an individual believer, in Lights of Guidance, p. 230

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

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

Declaration of the Báb — May 23
/// Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad declared Himself to be the Báb, or “Gate of God,” to Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru’i 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

9.3 Martyrdom of the Báb — July 9

/// References for further reading:
Bahá’u’lláh, The King of Glory, H.M. Balyuzi, pp. 26-31

God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, pp. 3-12

Nabil’s Narrative, Abridged, pp. 47-96

The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, Shoghi Effendi, pp. 123-28

Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh — May 29
/// Bahá’u’lláh ascended to the Abha Kingdom on May 29, 1892, at the Mansion of Bahji 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, in Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 56

/// References for further reading:
Bahá’u’lláh, The King of Glory, H.M. Balyuzi, pp. 420-29

God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, pp. 221-33

Martyrdom of the Báb — July 9
/// In 1850, Mirza Taqi Khan, Grand Vizier of the new Shah, Nasiri’d- Din, ordered the Báb executed. On July 9, the Báb was brought before a firing squad in the barracks square of Tabriz, 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, Sam Khan, 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 Bábís and in 1899 transferred to Palestine. In 1909 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself interred the Báb’s remains in the sepulcher 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:
God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, pp. 49-60

Nabil’s Narrative, Abridged, pp. 500-26

9.4 Holy Days, the Nineteen Day Feast, and Special Events

Birth of the Báb — October 20
/// The Báb was born Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad on October 20, 1819, in Shiraz, Iran.

/// References for further reading:
Nabil’s Narrative, Abridged, pp. 72-76

Birth of Bahá’u’lláh — November 12
/// Bahá’u’lláh was born Mirza Husayn-‘Ali on November 12, 1817, in Tihran, Iran. His mother was Khadijih Khanum and his father Mirza Buzurg-i-Vazir.

/// References for further reading:
Bahá’u’lláh, The King of Glory, H.M. Balyuzi, pp. 9-25

Nabil’s Narrative, Abridged, pp. 12-13

Day of the Covenant — November 26
/// November 26th is dedicated to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the Center 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 Bab].” 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 Fete Day of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, or as “The Feast of the Appointment of the Center 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: The Centre of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, H. M. Balyuzi, pp. 9, 523

Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá — November 28
/// ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ascended to the Abha Kingdom 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, in The Bahá’í World, vol. 9, p. 346

9.5 Preparing for the Holy Days

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, in Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 56

/// References for further reading:
The Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lady Blomfield and Shoghi Effendi

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

/// Bahá’u’lláh designated [the] days as the “Ayyam-i-Ha” [Intercalary Days] and ordained that they should immediately precede the month of ‘Ala’, 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.

Nabil’s Narrative, Abridged

/// References for further reading:
Bahá’í Prayers, pp. 236-237

For children: The Ayyam-i-Ha Camel, Cher Holt-Fortin

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 2 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 honor and reverence for Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Local Spiritual Assemblies sponsor the commemorations and ensure that the programs 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.

9.6 Holy Days, the Nineteen Day Feast, and Special Events

/// Other Holy Days — Naw-Ruz, Ridvan, 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-Ruz:

/// 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, in Dawn of a New Day, p. 68

Daylight Saving 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

9.7 Observing the Holy Days

As the Guardian indicated, the commemoration of the Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh should be held, if feasible, at 3 a.m. on 29 May, and that of the Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at 1 a.m. on 28 November. These times should be measured according to standard time in each area. If daylight saving time is being used in the country, the commemorations should continue to be observed according to standard time.

Letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, dated March 15, 1992, to a National Spiritual Assembly

Events Commemorated on Their Gregorian Anniversaries
Until the Universal House of Justice decides upon the spot on which the calculations for establishing the date of Naw-Ruz each year are to be based it is not possible to state exactly the correspondence between Bahá’í dates and Gregorian dates for any year. Therefore for the present the believers in the West commemorate Bahá’í events on their traditional Gregorian anniversaries. Once the necessary legislation to determine Naw-Ruz has been made, the correspondence between Bahá’í and Gregorian dates will vary from year to year depending upon whether the Spring Equinox falls on the 20th, 21st, or 22nd March. In fact in Persia the friends have been, over the years, following the Spring Equinox as observed in Tihran, to determine Naw-Ruz, and the National Spiritual Assembly has to issue every year a Bahá’í calendar for the guidance of the friends. The Universal House of Justice feels that this is not a matter of urgency and, in the meantime, is having research conducted into such questions.

Letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, dated October 30, 1974, to a National Spiritual Assembly

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.

Letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, dated July 7, 1947, to a National Spiritual Assembly

9.8 Holy Days, the Nineteen Day Feast, and Special Events

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    (Compilations, NSA USA – Developing Distinctive Baha’i Communities)

Holy Days 2008: Original Spreadsheet

EVENT 2008 DATE FORMAT HOST LOCATION TIME
Feast of Mulk
Dominion
Wed. February 6 Sector 7:30
PM
Feast of Ala
Loftiness
Sat. March 1 Sector 7:30
PM
Feast of Baha
Splendor
Thur. March 20 Sector 7:30
PM
Naw Ruz Fri. March 21 Community HDC 7:30
PM
Feast of Jalal
Glory
Wed. April 9 Community West 7:30
PM
1st Day of
Ridvan
Mon. April 21 Community HDC 3:00 PM
Annual Meeting Mon. April 21 Community LSA 10:00 AM
Feast of Jamal
Beauty
Mon. April 28 Sector 7:30
PM
9th Day of
Ridvan
Tue. April 29 Sector HDC before sunset
12th Day of
Ridvan
Fri. May 2 Sector HDC
Feast of
Azamat Grandeur
Sat. May 17 Sector 7:30
PM
Declaration of
the Bab
Fri. May 23 Community HDC before sunset
Ascension of
Baha’u’llah
Thu. May 29 Sector HDC 3:00 AM
Feast of Nur
Light
Thur. June 5 Community East 7:30
PM
Feast of
Rahmat Mercy
Tue. June 24 Sector 7:30
PM
Martyrdom of
the Bab
Wed. July 9 Community HDC 12:00 PM
Feast of
Kalimat Words
Sun. July 13 Sector 7:30
PM
Feast of Kamal
/ Perfection
Fri. August 1 Community South 7:30
PM
Feast of Asma
/ Names
Wed. August 20 Sector 7:30
PM
Feast of Izzat
/ Might
Mon. September 8 Sector 7:30
PM
Feast of
Mashiyyat / Will
Sat. September 27 Community North 7:30
PM
Feast of Ilm
Knowledge
Wed. October 15 Sector 7:30
PM
Birth of the
Bab
Sun. October 19 Sector HDC 7:30
PM
Feast of
Qudrat Power
Mon. November 3 Sector 7:30
PM
Birth of
Baha’u’llah
Tue. November 11 Community HDC 7:30
PM
Feast of
QawlSpeech
Sat. November 22 Community Central 7:30
PM
Day of the
Covenant
Tue. November 25 ?? LSA ??
Ascension of
‘Abdu’l-Baha
Fri. November 28 Sector HDC 1:00 AM
Feast of
Masail Questions
Thur. December 11 Sector 7:30
PM
Feast of
Sharaf Honor
Tue. December 30 Sector 7:30
PM
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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Greg Billington permalink
    January 8, 2014 2:12 am

    As regards this quote you have about Riḍván,
    As regards various matters you raised in your letters, the reason we commemorate the 1st, 9th and 12th days of Ridvan as Holidays (Holy Days) is because one is the first day, one is the last day, and the 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.

    Letter written on behalf of the Guardian, dated June 8, 1952, to an individual believer, in Lights of Guidance, p. 230

    I find it all over the Internet. I believe all get it from _…Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies_, originally. It gives the same source, _Lights of Guidance_. However, there seems to be no quotes at all in _Lights of Guidance_ about observing Riḍván, especially on p. 230. Can you help? Greg

    • January 8, 2014 4:15 pm

      I think the Internet source would be this one: “Ridvan” by John Walbridge published in Sacred Acts, Sacred Space, Sacred Time: Bahá’í Studies volume 1 Oxford: George Ronald, 1995, in “Notes” at the bottom of the page.
      I’ll check again later.
      Thanks for pointing this out. I’ll usually try to do more inline citations.
      Cheers, Maureen

  2. January 8, 2014 5:01 pm

    Ah, yes. The quote is there, you will note, because I told Jonah to put it there. Afterwards is when I discovered the quote, may, in fact, be apocrypha. Which is why I contacted you. It appears the quote used to be in …Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies, with the same Lights of Guidance source noted, but no longer is. Perhaps National discovered the quote was not really there as well.

    I suggested both quotes at the bottom of the source you sent, in order to correct some, if not errors, then misleading ideas that Mr. Walbridge had in his article. For instance, there appear to be no reasons given in any authoritative document, for why the 1st, 9th and 12th Days are Days to suspend work. The reasons Bahá’ís usually give—the family joined Bahá’u’lláh, etc.–are nonsense, which people made up. If there are reasons, Bahá’u’lláh didn’t give them.

    I know that earlier editions of Lights of Guidance contained letters which both the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice had sent to individual believers, but which were not necessarily meant for wide-spread distribution. The Universal House of Justice had Helen Hornsby remove them in later editions. Perhaps the passage you quote, and which National used to quote, was 1 of these. I don’t know.

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