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God desireth not to see… any soul deprived of joy and radiance. He indeed desireth that under all conditions, all may be adorned with such purity, both inwardly and outwardly, that no repugnance may be caused even to themselves, how much less unto others. – The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 95.
If you know any Baha’is, you might want to join them in the joyous and radiant celebration of the Twin Holy Days they’ll happily observe on November 1st and 2nd— the birthday of the Bab, the forerunner of Baha’u’llah and the founder of the Babi Faith; and the birthday of Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith.
Like the observance of the day of the birth of any prophet of God, these days mark one of the happiest and most delightful times of the year all across the global Baha’i community.
Baha’u’llah, in his Most Holy Book, asks the Baha’is to celebrate a feast of unity, joy and commemoration on each of these two special days, which makes them second in importance in the Baha’i calendar to the two “Most Great Festivals”—which commemorate the Declaration of Baha’u’llah in the garden of Ridvan in 1863 and the Declaration of the Bab in Shiraz in 1844.
Baha’is believe that the Bab, whose title means “the gate,” opened the way for the advent of a new age of fulfillment and maturation for all humanity. His primary mission—to herald the arrival of a divinely-inspired spiritual educator the Bab referred to as “He Whom God shall make manifest”—would pave the way for the coming of a new messenger of God. Like John the Baptist, the Bab instructed his hopeful followers to prepare for the appearance of that new prophet. He also announced the coming of a new era in human history, one that would witness the emergence of a just, unified, peaceful world civilization.
So why do Baha’is call these Holy Days “twins?” Because, according to the Muslim calendar in use when they were born, the birthdays of the Bab and of Baha’u’llah fall on successive days—the Bab’s birthday on the first day of the month of Muharram and Baha’u’llah’s birthday on the second day of that same month, respectively. In the Most Holy Book, Baha’u’llah wrote:
All Feasts have attained their consummation in the two Most Great Festivals, and in the two other Festivals that fall on the twin days… Thus hath it been decreed by Him Who is the Ordainer, the Omnisicient. – p. 59.
In the Middle East, Baha’is have traditionally observed those Holy Days in accordance with the Muslim lunar calendar, and celebrated them together on consecutive days, counting them as one two-day festival. Baha’u’llah himself observed them this way.
In that lunar calendar, however, the Twin Holy Days move every year, because each new month begins with the appearance of a new moon. (In relationship to the solar calendar, the Muslim calendar “loses” about eleven days every year—since twelve lunar cycles amount to approximately 354 days, which falls short of a full solar cycle.)
Baha’u’llah was born two years before the Bab. In the Western solar calendar, their birthdays fall about three weeks apart. That means Baha’u’llah’s birthday (2 Muharram of the year 1233 A.H.)—fell on 12 November 1817 A.D., while the Bab’s birthday (1 Muharram of 1235 A.H.)—fell on 20 October 1819.
In the United States and in Western countries, Baha’is have always observed the two birthdays on November 12 and October 20, the historical dates fixed for these days on the solar calendar. But last year a significant shift took place in that practice. Baha’is all over the world, including the Western countries, began celebrating these joyous holy days according to a new, unique melding of the solar and the lunar calendars. Instead of relying solely on either calendar, Baha’is now celebrate the Twin Holy Days eight lunar months from the Baha’i New Year, which occurs on the vernal equinox of the solar year, usually March 21.
This year, in 2016, the Twin Holy Days fall on November 1 and 2, and next year, in 2017—when Baha’is will mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah—they’ll fall on October 21 and 22. Just as the Baha’i teachings reconcile and unite the religions, so too do they unite and reconcile the world’s calendars, adapting the lunar and solar observances into one.
Would you like to celebrate with us? Of course, when Baha’is celebrate these happy occasions, everyone is invited—including you. At the worldwide Baha’i gatherings for the birth of the Bab today, and the birth of Baha’u’llah tomorrow, happiness and good cheer will prevail. Music will play, friends will come together, children will laugh and warm fellowship will fill the air. Refreshments will definitely be served!
The Twin Holy Days signal a joyful, celebratory season of the Baha’i year, when the Baha’i community comes together to commemorate the advent of their two prophets of God, the Bab and Baha’u’llah, the twin founders of their Faith, and to hail the beginning of a new era in human unity. Happy Birthday of the Bab!