Saturday, March 20, 2010

Naw Ruz - Baha'i 101

Alright, alright. I didn't forget.

Earlier, someone had asked me to begin writing what she called "Baha'i 101". Now, I can't really use that title, because the US NSA has it. To see their version, you can click here.

But today, I was asked "What is Naw Ruz?"

Well, that seems like a simple question, because you can just say "It's the Baha'i New Year", and be done with it. But then I got thinking, is that all? I mean, I just published two other articles on Naw Ruz, and yet I never really talked much about it.

Simply put, Naw Ruz literally translates as "New Day", and is celebrated on the spring equinox, that first day of spring. It is a celebratory time that goes back millenia in many different cultures, although some will try and claim it as their own. But really, let's get serious, tons of different cultures have celebrated the equinox. It is, after all, one of the most natural holidays out there, so to speak.

In the Zoroastrian tradition, which I didn't know until just a few moments ago, some say that the first Naw Ruz fell on the sixth day of Creation, which, as we all know, is the day that God is supposed to have created human beings. I'm sure we can all read something allegorical into that one, if we try.

In the Badi calendar, the calendar used in the Baha'i Faith, Naw Ruz coincides with the day Baha/Baha. That is, it is the first day of the first month. In case you haven't noticed by now, the Badi calendar is made up of 19 months of 19 days each, which totals 361, and so we add 4 days of Ayyam-i-Ha, or 5 in a leap year, tomake up the rest of the solar calendar. The names of the months, by the way, are the same as the names of the individual 19 days in each month, hence 1/1 is Baha/Baha.

The first bird that we see on that day in North America, incidentally, is called "Baha Baha Birdie", and is usually a robin. (I expect an e-mail from a Counsellor or an Auxiliary Board member any moment reminding me to be a bit more respectful) (Just kidding)

Baha'u'llah, Whom I consider something of an authority on the subject, says that Naw Ruz is "a festival unto those who have observed the fast for love of Thee and abstained from all that is abhorrent unto Thee." Quite the "reward", that.

He goes on to ask "that the fire of Thy love and the heat produced by the fast... may inflame them in Thy Cause, and make them to be occupied with Thy praise and with remembrance of Thee." To me, this always seems like He is asking that the fast be a springboard for our teaching work, and that it really take off beginning on Naw Ruz.

In addition to this, 'Abdu'l-Baha clearly likens this celebration to the Day in which we live, when He says "The springtime of God is at hand. This century is, verily, the spring season." He even says, "If we are not happy and joyous at this season, for what other season shall we wait and for what other time shall we look?"

This is "a day of joy, a time of happiness, a period of spiritual growth". Time and again this day, Naw Ruz, is referred to in terms of joy and happiness and growth.

And that, dear Reader, is what I wish for you and all of yours on this joyous and festive day.

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