The Bahá’í calendar, also known as the Badi (“wondrous” or “unique”) calendar, began March 21, 1844 CE, the year the faith was born. A solar calendar with 19 months of 19 days each, the calendar adds four intercalary days in most years (five in leap years), a period called Ayyam-i-Ha. The new year begins on the vernal equinox, March 20 or 21 on the Gregorian calendar, and years include the notation BE (Bahá’í Era). Days begin and end at sunset.
Bahá’ís observe 11 festivals each year, nine of which are holy days when work and school are suspended.
The Bahá’í Faith sees great value in the practice of fasting as a discipline for the soul. Bahá’u’lláh designated a nineteen-day period each year when adult Bahá’ís fast from sunrise to sunset each day. This period coincides with the Bahá’í month of Ala (meaning Loftiness), from March 2 to 20, inclusive. This is the month immediately preceding the Bahá’í new year, which occurs the day of the vernal equinox; and the period of fasting is therefore viewed as a time of spiritual preparation and regeneration for a new year’s activities. Women who are nursing or pregnant, the aged, the sick, the traveler, those engaged in heavy labor, as well as children under the age of fifteen, are exempt from observance of the Fast.
“The fasting period … involves complete abstention from food and drink from sunrise till sunset. It is essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires.”
Source: Bahá’í International Community web site
The Baha’i New Year’s Day coincides with the spring equinox. Naw-Ruz is an ancient Persian festival celebrating the “new day” and for Baha’is it marks the end of the annual 19-Day Fast and is one of the nine holy days of the year when work is suspended.
The word Ridvan (pronounced “riz-wan”) means “Paradise.” For twelve days, April 21 to May 2, Baha’is celebrate the period in 1863 when Bahau’llah, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahai Faith, resided in a garden in Baghdad which He called “the Garden of Ridvan .” During this period, Bahau’llah proclaimed His mission as God’s messenger for this age.
The arrival of Baha’u’llah’s family to the Ridvan Garden and they celebrated today as the Ninth Day of Ridvan.
May 2, 1863 Baha’u’llah, 11 family members and 26 disciples depart for Constantinople at noon. During the journey, they are accorded enthusiastic receptions wherever they stop, being preceded by the government cavalry, flags flying and drums beating.
May 23, 1844 marks the beginnings of the Bahai Faith in Shiraz, Persia (Iran). The Bab, which means the “Gate,” proclaimed on that date that He was not only the founder of an independent world religion, but the herald of a new and greater prophet or messenger of God. This new messenger would usher in an age of peace for all humanity.
May 29 – Ascension of Baha’u’llah
May 29 marks the anniversary of the Ascension of Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith. The day is one of nine holy days in the Baha’i calendar when Baha’is suspend work and school.
Baha’u’llah died after a brief illness in 1892 in the mansion of Bahji outside Akko (also known as Akka or Acre), in what is now northern Israel. After spending most of His life in exile, He was able to live his later years at Bahji in relative tranquility. He was buried in a small stone house adjacent to the mansion. This Shrine is the holiest place on earth for Baha’is, the place toward which they turn in prayer each day.
For a week after Baha’u’llah’s death, writes Shoghi Effendi, “a vast number of mourners, rich and poor alike, tarried to grieve with the bereaved family. . . Notables, among whom were numbered Shí’ahs, Sunnis, Christians, Jews and Druzes, as well as poets, ulamas and government officials, all joined in lamenting the loss. . .” read more at www.bahai.us
On July 9, Baha’is around the world commemorate the date in 1850 that the Bab – one of two main figures in the founding of their Faith – was executed by a firing squad in Iran, then called Persia.
The Bab, whose name means “gate” in Arabic, had declared in 1844 that He was a messenger of God sent to prepare the way for the long-awaited promised one of all religions who would come to establish an age of universal peace. In 1863 Baha’u’llah announced publicly that He was that promised one.
The Bab attracted tens of thousands of followers, and the unease and commotion created by His message led the authorities to put him to death on a charge of heresy. He and a disciple who begged to share His martyrdom were executed by a firing squad of 750 soldiers in a public square in Tabriz.
The remains of the Bab are now entombed in Haifa, Israel, in a beautiful shrine on Mount Carmel. Read more at news.bahai.org
The Twin Holy Birthdays celebrate the births of two central figures in the Bahá’í faith: the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. Known as the “Twin Manifestations of God,” the leaders each revealed his own writings and founded his own religion. The Báb prepared the way for and commanded his own followers to seek out Bahá’u’lláh, and when they did find him, they became Bahá’ís.
Historically, different countries observed the two birthdays at different times: in the Middle East, on 1 and 2 Muharram of the Islamic calendar, and in other countries, on October 20 (the Báb) and November 12 (Bahá’u’lláh) of the Gregorian calendar. As of 2015, Bahá’ís worldwide celebrate the two holy days on the first and second day after the eighth full moon following Nowruz. These days fall within the months of Mashíyyat, ‘Ilm and Qudrat on the Bahá’í calendar (October to November).