Baha’i Naw-Ruz (New Year) 20th March 2023
Naw-Ruz is one of the 9 Baha’i Holy Days that are celebrated all over the world, annually, by members of the Baha’i Community. On all of the Holy Days work is suspended and school children usually take the day off, if permitted, to celebrate with their family and community. Naw-Ruz (which literally means New Day in farsi) also marks the Vernal Equinox, the day when the sun’s light strikes the Equator directly and illuminates every continent equally, and is the official first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. The Vernal Equinox falls either on the 20th or 21st of March and is one of the oldest celebrations in history. It has been celebrated by many communities as a secular holiday for over 3000 years. As the Baha’i calendar is a solar based one, the Baha’i Naw-Ruz will either be on the 20th or 21st of March depending on the Vernal Equinox.
The Baha’i Naw-Ruz celebration immediately follows a period of 19 days of fasting, a time dedicated to spiritual renewal, when no food or drink is consumed between sunrise and sunset for Baha’is aged 15-70 years and time is devoted to reflection, meditation and prayer. As in nature there is a physical change of season and a time for renewal so, for the Baha’is, Naw-Ruz is the beginning of a new year in both the physical and spiritual sense.
There are two ways in which Naw-Ruz is celebrated. As it is the first out of the 19 Baha’is months (each month being 19 days long) that occur in the Baha’i year, or Calendar, a community 19 Day Feast will be held. This is where Baha’is come together, as they do for all of the other 19 Day Feasts, in a meeting to say prayers and readings, to have a community consultation time and to then enjoy a social time.
The second celebration is separate from the 19 Day Feast and is when Baha’is will gather, often joining several communities together, and invite family, friends and colleagues, to enjoy an evening of music, food, hospitality and various social activities. The celebration will differ according to the country’s customs and cultures. There are no rituals in the Baha’i Faith and Holy Day celebrations such as Naw-Ruz, are therefore left to the individuals and communities to celebrate accordingly. It is however safe to say it is one of the happiest and most joyous of Baha’i Holy Days!