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This week, starting at sunset on February 25th, Baha’is everywhere will begin celebrating the five Intercalary Days – when the Baha’i world rejoices, gives thanks and prepares for the Baha’i Fast.
If you’ve thought about connecting with your local Baha’is and haven’t yet, you’re invited to the parties, gatherings and service projects that will happen during the next five days. You’ll find joy, celebration, festivities, gifts, parties and charitable humanitarian work during the holy days Baha’is call Ayyam-i-Ha.
The phrase Ayyam-i-Ha literally means “the days of Ha” – and the Arabic letter Ha, equivalent to the English letter H, has several spiritual meanings, one of them symbolizing the essence of God.
Each of the 19 Baha’i months has a name that refers to one of the attributes of God – beauty, light, mercy, splendor, honor, etc. At the end of the 18th Baha’i month in the annual calendar, in the final days of February, the Baha’i calendar features four or five extra intercalary (or “inter-calendar”) days. Those days, devoted to charity and celebration, flexibly adjust the calendar every year to synchronize it exactly with the Earth’s orbit around the sun.
Since each one of the 19 Baha’i months lasts 19 days, and 19² = 361 days, the four days remaining (or five, in a leap year like this one) in each solar year commemorate the transcendence of God over his attributes:
So this annual Baha’i festival of Ayyam-i-Ha, also called Intercalary Days, doesn’t occur in any particular month – instead, Baha’is set aside those days to celebrate the transcendence and oneness of God with hospitality, love and unity.
Ayyam-i-Ha also stands for one of the unique characteristics of the Baha’i Faith – its focus on joy and happiness coupled with justice:
… we are all inhabiting one globe of earth. In reality we are one family and each one of us is a member of this family. We must all be in the greatest happiness and comfort, under a just rule and regulation which is according to the good pleasure of God, thus causing us to be happy, for this life is fleeting.
We ask God to endow human souls with justice so that they may be fair, and may strive to provide for the comfort of all, that each member of humanity may pass his life in the utmost comfort and welfare. Then this material world will become the very paradise of the Kingdom, this elemental earth will be in a heavenly state and all the servants of God will live in the utmost joy, happiness and gladness. We must all strive and concentrate all our thoughts in order that such happiness may accrue to the world of humanity. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West
Baha’is have several prayers for the feasting, rejoicing and charity of the annual holy days of 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.
The world’s Baha’is will begin celebrating Intercalary Days as soon as the sun sets on February 25th – please join us!