by Renny Lea, Chairperson
The Baha’is of Northern Door will celebrate their new year on the first day of spring. Baha’is follow a solar calendar containing 19 months of 19 days each, with the extra four or five intercalary days known as Ayyam-i-Ha, or “days of joy” held between the 18th and 19th months to complete the solar year. The 19th month is a month of fasting for Baha’is, with abstention from food and drink from sunrise to sunset for all those who are able.
In the Baha’i calendar, months and days are given Arabic names for the attributes of God (for example, Jamal meaning “beauty,” Sharaf meaning “honor” and Nur meaning “light”), and the Baha’i “days” begin at sunset. On the first day of each month, the Baha’i community gathers (virtually right now) for a spiritual feast of fellowship, unity and peace.
This year, the Baha’i year 178 B.E. (Baha’i Era) will start on the Gregorian calendar’s March 20. The Baha’i era was inaugurated in 1844 with the declaration of the Bab (meaning the “Gate”) – regarded by Baha’is as the messenger of God – who proclaimed the closing of the present era and promised the coming of one who would open the next era.
The tenets of the Baha’i faith include the oneness of God, of humanity and the common foundation of all religions. Principles include the independent investigation of truth, the elimination of prejudice, the equality of women and men, and the agreement of science and religion, among others. These are familiar principles today, but they were very new in the 19th century.
During its history of fewer than 200 years, the Baha’i faith has become the second most widespread religion after Christianity. In Door County, the numbers are still quite small, with Baha’is scattered between Washington Island and Sturgeon Bay.
Anyone who is interested in taking part in the virtual Naw-Ruz (new year) celebration is welcome. Please send an email to [email protected] to receive a link.