Baha’is celebrate Naw-Ruz—which means New Year’s Day—on the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, the vernal equinox.
In 2017—174 years after the beginning of the Baha’i Faith—Baha’is all over the world will joyously welcome Naw-Ruz on March 20th as the annual, celebratory feast of the spiritual and physical springtime.
At the equinox, when the sun shines equally on all parts of the Earth, Baha’is will smile and hug each other warmly, gathering to eat, drink and laugh together. (That may have something to do with food, because the annual 19-day Baha’i fast comes to a close on the day before Naw-Ruz.)
Baha’is annually prepare for the coming of the new year by practicing detachment from the material world. The Baha’i Fast symbolically cleanses the detritus of the old, in the same way the winter storms wash away last year’s dead leaves to get ready for spring. With that kind of inner cleansing, abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset every day, the Baha’i Fast has a powerful impact on those who practice it, emptying their stomachs as it fills their souls:
Fortunate are ye to have obeyed the commandment of God, and kept this fast during the holy season. For this material fast is an outer token of the spiritual fast; it is a symbol of self-restraint, the withholding of oneself from all appetites of the self, taking on the characteristics of the spirit, being carried away by the breathings of heaven and catching fire from the love of God. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 69-70.
But for Baha’is, Naw-Ruz isn’t just the end of the Fast and an excuse for a party. It serves as a reminder of the oneness of all the messengers of God, and the spiritual equinox they each brought to humanity. Abdu’l-Baha explains that Naw-Ruz represents “the Day of God,” when a re-awakening of the spirit occurs and the light of a new revelation shines equally upon the entirety of God’s creation:
Soon the whole world, as in springtime, will change its garb. The turning and falling of the autumn leaves is past; the bleakness of the winter time is over. The new year hath appeared and the spiritual springtime is at hand. The black earth is becoming a verdant garden; the deserts and mountains are teeming with red flowers; from the borders of the wilderness the tall grasses are standing like advance guards before the cypress and jasmine trees; while the birds are singing among the rose branches like the angels in the highest heavens, announcing the glad-tidings of the approach of that spiritual spring, and the sweet music of their voices is causing the real essence of all things to move and quiver.
O my spiritual friend! Dost thou know from what airs emanate the notes sung by those birds? They are from the melodies of peace and reconciliation, of love and unity, of justice and security, of concord and harmony. In a short time this heavenly singing will intoxicate all humanity; the foundations of enmity shall be destroyed; unity and affection shall be witnessed in every assembly; and the lovers of the love of God at these great festivals shall behold their splendour.
Therefore, contemplate what a spirit of life God hath given that the body of the whole earth may attain life everlasting! – Star of the West, Volume 4, pp. 1-2.
If you’d like to get together with some happy souls on March 20th, you’re invited to join any local Baha’i community to mark the advent of the new year, share some sustenance and celebrate the joy of all things made new.