Bahá'í Naw-Rúz

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Naw-Rúz in the Bahá'í Faith is one of nine holy days for adherents of the Bahá'í Faith worldwide and the first day of the Bahá'í calendar occurring on the vernal equinox, around March 21.[1] Nowruz, historically and in contemporary times, is the celebration of the traditional Iranian new year holiday and is celebrated throughout the countries of the Middle East and Central Asia such as in Iran, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. Since ancient times it has been a national holiday in Iran and was celebrated by more than one religious group.[1] The Báb, the founder of Bábism, and then Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, adopted the day as a holy day and associated it with the Most Great Name of God.[1][2]

Significance[edit]

The Báb, the founder of Bábism, instituted a new calendar that was composed of 19 months, each of 19 days.[3] Each of the months is named after an attribute of God; similarly each of the nineteen days in the month also are named after an attribute of God.[3] The first day and the first month were given the attribute of Bahá, an Arabic word meaning splendour or glory, and thus the first day of the year is the day of Bahá in the month of Bahá.[1][4] The day was called the Day of God by the Báb, and was associated with He whom God shall make manifest, a messianic figure in the Báb's writings.[2] The remaining eighteen days of the first month were then associated with the eighteen Letters of the Living, the Báb's apostles envisioning a celebration that would last nineteen days.[1]

Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith who is recognized as the messianic figure expected by the Báb, adopted the new calendar and the use of Naw-Rúz as a holy day.[1] The day follows the Bahá'í month of fasting, and he explained that Naw-Rúz was associated with the Most Great Name of God,[1][4] and was instituted as a festival for those who observed the fast.[5][6]

The symbolic notion of the renewal of time in each religious dispensation was made explicit by the writings of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh and the calendar and the new year made this spiritual metaphor more concrete.[7] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'u'lláh's son and successor, explained that significance of Naw-Rúz in terms of spring and the new life it brings.[1] He explained that the equinox is a symbol of the Manifestations of God, who include Jesus, Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh among others, and the message that they proclaim is like a spiritual springtime, and that Naw-Rúz is used to commemorate it.[8]

Celebration[edit]

Naw-Rúz is one of nine Bahá'í holy days where work and school must be suspended;[3] the only one that is not associated with an event in the lives of either the Báb or Bahá'u'lláh.[4] It is usually a festive event observed with meetings for prayer and music and dancing.[9][10] Since the new year also ends the Bahá'í month of fasting the celebration is often combined with a dinner.[10][11] As with all Bahá'í holy days, there are few fixed rules for observing Naw-Rúz, and Bahá'ís all over the world celebrate it as a festive day, according to local custom.[1] Persian Bahá'ís observe many of the Iranian customs associated with Nowruz such as the Haft Sîn, but American Bahá'í communities, for example, may have a potluck dinner, along with prayers and readings from Bahá'í scripture.

In the northern hemisphere Naw-Rúz marks the coming of spring.

Date[edit]

Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas defines Naw-Rúz as the Bahá'í day on which the vernal equinox occurs.[1][12] Since Bahá'í days start at sundown,[11] if the equinox occurred just before sunset, the day which started on the previous sunset is Naw-Rúz.[1] Thus Naw-Rúz could fall on either March 20, 21st or 22nd.[13] The implementation of the exact timing of Naw-Rúz for Bahá'ís worldwide depends on the choice of a particular spot on the Earth and has been left to the Universal House of Justice, the governing body of the Bahá'ís.[13] Currently Naw-Rúz is fixed on March 21 for Bahá'ís that reside in countries outside the Middle East, regardless of exactly when the equinox occurs.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Walbridge, John (2004-07-11). "Naw-Ruz: The Bahá'í New Year". Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  2. ^ a b MacEoin, Denis (1994). Rituals in Babism and Baha'ism. Cambridge: British Academic Press. pp. 33–34. ISBN 1-85043-654-1. 
  3. ^ a b c Esslemont, J.E. (1980). Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era (5th ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 178–179. ISBN 0-87743-160-4. 
  4. ^ a b c Lehman, Dale E. (2000-03-18). "A New Year Begins". Planet Bahá'í. Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  5. ^ Bahá'u'lláh (1991). Bahá'í Prayers. Wilmitte, IL: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 261. 
  6. ^ Bahá'u'lláh (1992) [1873]. The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 25. ISBN 0-85398-999-0. 
  7. ^ MacEoin, Dennis (1989). "Bahai Calendar and Festivals". Encyclopædia Iranica. 
  8. ^ `Abdu'l-Bahá (1913-03-21). "Star of the West" 4 (1). p. 4.  republished in Effendi, Shoghi; The Universal House of Justice (1983). Hornby, Helen (Ed.), ed. Lights of Guidance: A Bahá'í Reference File. Bahá'í Publishing Trust, New Delhi, India. ISBN 81-85091-46-3. 
  9. ^ McMullen, Mike (2003). Neusner, Jacob, ed. World Religions in America: An Introduction (3rd ed.). Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. pp. 266–267. ISBN 0-664-22475-X. 
  10. ^ a b BBC (2006-08-07). "Naw-Rúz". BBC. Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  11. ^ a b Mullins, Sandy (2007). "Naw Ruz (The Baha'i New Year)". BellaOnline: The Voice of Women. Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  12. ^ Bahá'u'lláh (1992) [1873]. "Questions and Answers". The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 118. ISBN 0-85398-999-0. 
  13. ^ a b Universal House of Justice (1992). "Notes". The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 177–178. ISBN 0-85398-999-0. 

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