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Beginning on the night of February 25th, 2016, Baha’is around the world will celebrate four days of festivities, gifts, parties, service projects and charitable humanitarian work, during the Baha’i holy days called Ayyam-i-Ha. Unique in all the world’s calendars and religious observances, these holidays combine parties and fun with service to others; and prepare Baha’is spiritually for the annual Baha’i fast.
The Persian phrase “Ayyam-i-Ha” describes the days in the annual Baha’i calendar when Baha’is rejoice, give gifts, do charitable work and prepare for the nineteen-day Baha’i fast that always follows Ayyam-i-Ha.
In the Arabic alphabet, the letter “Ha” has several spiritual meanings, and one of them symbolizes the essence of God. The days of Ha, then, have a special significance in every Baha’i year, standing for the happiest and most celebratory qualities of the Creator. That’s why, in most Baha’i communities around the world, you’ll find Baha’is having parties and celebrations during the Intercalary Days.
The Intercalary Days have a unique place in the Baha’i calendar, which uses a new and completely different approach to marking the days of the year and accounting for the rotation of the earth and its journey around the sun. The Baha’i calendar has a unique system of nineteen months, each made up of nineteen days.
At the end of the 18th Baha’i month, in the final days of February and on the first day of March, the Baha’i calendar inserts four or five extra intercalary (or inter-calendar) days. Those days—besides their devotion to charity and celebration—flexibly adjust the calendar every year to synchronize it exactly with the earth’s rotation and its orbit.
Baha’is have several prayers for Ayyam-i-Ha. This one, filled with beautiful, symbolic language, asks God to grant “every soul… a place within the precincts of Thy court:”
My God, my Fire and my Light! The days which Thou hast named the Ayyam-i-Ha in Thy Book have begun, O Thou Who art the King of names, and the fast which Thy most exalted Pen hath enjoined unto all who are in the kingdom of Thy creation to observe is approaching. I entreat Thee, O my Lord, by these days and by all such as have during that period clung to the cord of Thy commandments, and laid hold on the handle of Thy precepts, to grant that unto every soul may be assigned a place within the precincts of Thy court, and a seat at the revelation of the splendors of the light of Thy countenance.
These, O my Lord, are Thy servants whom no corrupt inclination hath kept back from what Thou didst send down in Thy Book. They have bowed themselves before Thy Cause, and received Thy Book with such resolve as is born of Thee, and observed what Thou hadst prescribed unto them, and chosen to follow that which had been sent down by Thee.
Thou seest, O my Lord, how they have recognized and confessed whatsoever Thou hast revealed in Thy Scriptures. Give them to drink, O my Lord, from the hands of Thy graciousness the waters of Thine eternity. Write down, then, for them the recompense ordained for him that hath immersed himself in the ocean of Thy presence, and attained unto the choice wine of Thy meeting.
I implore Thee, O Thou the King of kings and the Pitier of the downtrodden, to ordain for them the good of this world and of the world to come. Write down for them, moreover, what none of Thy creatures hath discovered, and number them with those who have circled round Thee, and who move about Thy throne in every world of Thy worlds.