Holy Days & Celebrations
There are nine full Holy Days, eight of which commemorate specific events in Bahá’í history. On these nine days, work should be suspended. Children are usually granted absence from school for these days.
New Year (“Naw Rúz”) is at the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere, and usually falls on 21st March. There are no Bahá’í rituals as such, but the month of fasting comes to an end at Naw Rúz, so there is often a big party.
Bahá’u’lláh was born in Teheran on November 12th, 1817, into a noble family. His father was a minister in the court of the Shah. The date of Bahá’u’lláh’s birth is often celebrated with a party, beginning with prayers and finishing with refreshment and entertainment.
The Báb was born on October 20th, 1819. His birthday is celebrated on this day, often with readings from his own Writings and from accounts of his childhood in Shiraz.
The Báb declared that he was the promised Qa’im which Shi’a Muslims were expecting, in his own home in Shiraz, Persia, after sunset on 22nd May, 1844. This event is therefore celebrated within the same 24 hours – late on 22nd or during daylight on 23rd. Passages from the story, as related by his first disciple, are often read. [It is of historical interest that Bahá’u’lláh’s eldest son, `Abdu’l-Bahá, was born at some time within the same 24 hour period.]
Noon on 9th July, 1850 was the time of the “Martyrdom of the Báb”. An entire regiment was lined up, in three ranks, to shoot him and one of his disciples. This is commemorated at noon on this date, and is naturally a more solemn event.
There are three holy days in the Ridván period: The First Day of Ridván (April 21st) celebrates the day in 1863 when Bahá’u’lláh first announced that he was the Messenger of God for this age. The Ninth Day of Ridván (April 29th) was the day his family was able to join him in the Garden of Ridván, near Baghdad. The Twelfth Day of Ridván (May 2nd) was the Day he and his family started on their enforced journey to their next exile, in Constantinople.
In addition to these nine, there are two other holy days commemorating `Abdu’l-Bahá, but work need not be suspended on these. All of these events can be held in private homes, but for larger numbers a town hall, community centre or school may be hired.
There are nineteen months in the Bahá’í year, and nineteen days in each month. This totals 361 days, not the astronomical 365. The remaining four days (five in a leap year) are called the “Ayyám-i-Há”, and are special days for exchanging presents, visiting friends and having parties.