Naw-Ruz means `New Day’ and is both the Bahá’í and Iranian new year, occurring on the date of the vernal equinox, about March 20-21. The spring equinox (also called the March equinox or vernal equinox) falls on Tuesday, March 20, 2018, at 16:15 UTC (9:15 am Pacific Time). This event marks the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. As one of the Baha’i holy days, work should be suspended.
This year marks year 175 B.E. (Baha’i Era) since the Báb, the ‘Herald of the Days of Days’, announced His Mission and will be celebrated after sunset March 20. Happy Naw-Ruz dearest lovers of the Abha Beauty!! Let this be a great year of self-improvement, community building, teaching and developing deeper bonds of love and unity.
John Walbridge further explains the meaning of this Baha’i holy day in his article ‘Naw-Rúz: The Bahá’í New Year‘:
“In the Badi` calendar of the Bab, Naw-Ruz is the day of Baha of the month of Baha, a day called by the Bab `the Day of God’ (yawmu’llah). It was also the `Day of the Point’ (yawm-i-nuqtih) — i.e. the day of the Bab. Finally, it was a day associated with Him Whom God shall make manifest, the Promised One of the Bab. The remaining eighteen days of the month were associated with the eighteen Letters of the Living, an indication that the Bab envisioned the Naw-Ruz festivities encompassing the nineteen days of the month of Baha, just as the traditional Iranian Naw-Ruz festivities last thirteen days. During Naw-Ruz the Bab permitted the use of musical instruments and other luxuries prohibited at other times. During the night of Naw-Ruz each believer was to recite 361 times the verse `God beareth witness that there is no God but Him, the Ineffable, the Self-Subsistent’; and during the day, `God beareth witness that there is no God but Him, the Precious, the Beloved’. Fasting was prohibited during the whole month of Baha. During the six years of His mission, the Bab and His followers observed Naw-Ruz, although it is difficult to say how much this represents a distinctively Babi holy day. Bahá’u’lláh adopted the Babi holy day of Naw-Ruz as the feast day following the fast and stressed that it is associated with the Most Great Name, bearing as it does Bahá’u’lláh’s own name. `Abdu’l-Bahá explained the significance of Naw-Ruz in terms of the symbolism of the new life of spring. Bahá’u’lláh defines Naw-Ruz as the Bahá’í day on which the vernal equinox occurs. Thus, even if the equinox should occur just before sunset, that day — which in the Bahá’í calendar began at the moment of sunset on the previous day — is Naw-Ruz. At present, however, Naw-Ruz is fixed as 21 March for Bahá’ís in all countries outside the Middle East, regardless of exactly when the equinox occurs.
“Naw-Ruz is one of the nine Bahá’í holy days on which work is to be suspended. It is generally observed with a meeting for prayer and celebration — often combined with a dinner since the sunset on which Naw-Ruz begins ends the last day of the Bahá’í fast. As with all Bahá’í holy days, there are few fixed rules for observing Naw-Ruz, although Iranian Bahá’ís often follow Iranian traditions. Many Bahá’ís use Naw-Ruz as a day of gift-giving. Bahá’ís do not usually observe Naw-Ruz for longer than one day. Since Naw-Ruz is the first day of a Bahá’í month, it is also the day of a nineteen day feast. It is not permitted to combine this feast with the observance of the holy day.”
Bahá’u’lláh, in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, defines Naw-Rúz as the day on which the vernal equinox occurs. The exact timing of Naw-Rúz for Bahá’ís worldwide depends on the choice of a particular spot on the Earth and was left to the Universal House of Justice, the governing body of the Bahá’ís to decide. In 2014, the Universal House of Justice chose Tehran as the particular spot. Since Bahá’í days start at sundown, if the equinox occurs just before sunset, the day which started on the previous sunset is Naw-Rúz. Thus Naw-Rúz could fall on either March 20, 21st or 22nd of the Gregorian calendar, though these dates are pre-calculated years in advance. All dates in the Bahá’í calendar are set in relation to Naw-Rúz and thus may shift on the Gregorian calendar by a day or two depending on the timing of the vernal equinox.
In a talk given by Abdu’l-Bahá in 1916, the Master tells us the significance of Naw-Rúz:
”This day is the anniversary of many historical events…From time immemorial this day has been consecrated, for in this there is a symbol. At this moment the sun appears at the meridian and the day and night are equal. Until today the north pole has been in darkness. This sacred day when the sun illumines equally the whole earth is called the equinox and the equinox is the symbol of the divine messenger. The sun of truth rises on the horizon of divine mercy and sends forth its rays on all…This is the beginning of the spring. When the sun appears at the equinox it causes a movement in all living things. The mineral world is set in motion, plants begin to sprout, the desert is changed into a prairie, trees bud and every living thing responds, including the bodies of animals and men. The rising of the sun at the equinox is the symbol of life and the human reality is revivified; our thoughts are transformed and our intelligence is quickened. The sun of truth bestows eternal life, just as the solar sun is the cause of terrestrial life…The day of the appearance of God’s messenger on earth is ever a sacred day, a day when man commemorates his lord…Among the ancient Persians this day was looked upon as the holy day of the year – a day when hospitals and charitable institutions were founded, collections for the poor were made and every effort put forth that it might not be allowed to pass without leaving some divine trace and throughout Persia one sees these historical traces…May a powerful influence remain in your hearts, signs of eternal joy and happiness that will illumine the kingdom in this city. May the breezes of the Holy Spirit waft upon you, that your intelligence may progress and your souls rejoice in your lord. Thus will you become eternal beings shining in the divine kingdom. (‘Abdu’l-Baha on Divine Philosophy’*, p.74-76)
Read our interview with artist Joe Paczkowski and view more of Joe’s artwork here!
*NOTE: Re: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on divive Philosophy- Eunice Braun, in ‘Know Your Baha’i Literature’ (1968), writes: “In 1936 the Guardian wrote to the NSA not to make a new edition of this work because ‘this book has in large part been taken from notes recorded at the time but which do not constitute an authentic text of the Master’s word’s.’” (page 11) At the same time, the book concludes with the colophon “Approved by Baha’i committee on publications.” William Collins, in his ‘Bibliography of English-Language Works on the Babi and Baha’i Faiths’, writes: “[this is] a collection of wisdom attributed to Abdu’l-Baha. Sources are not indicated for most of the items and some of the quotations are questionable, thus lessening the value of this compilation. It does, nevertheless, give a sense of how early Western Baha’is were introduced to the teachings of their faith.”