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Happy New Year! No, we’re not three months late—because today, on the vernal equinox, people all over the planet celebrate New Year’s Day, including the Baha’is.
Have you ever heard of Naw-Ruz? It means “new day” in Farsi, the language of Persia, and multiple regions and religions celebrate it as a holy day, including Zoroastrians, many Muslims, and all of the world’s Baha’is.
Naw-Ruz, observed around the globe for more than three thousand years, occurs when the sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day—at the moment spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere.
Like most happy holy days, the Baha’i New Year celebration usually includes singing, eating, dancing and socializing. In Baha’i communities everywhere, it brings a warm, diverse and fascinating group of people together to celebrate, have fun, enjoy each other’s company and joyously welcome the exciting, unlimited possibilities of a new year. If you visit your local Baha’i community today, you’re likely to find a party.
But Naw-Ruz also represents something much more important than celebrating the turning of another new year: it symbolizes the advent and the arrival of an entirely new revelation:
The Revelation which, from time immemorial, hath been acclaimed as the Purpose and Promise of all the Prophets of God, and the most cherished Desire of His Messengers, hath now, by virtue of the pervasive Will of the Almighty and at His irresistible bidding, been revealed unto men. The advent of such a Revelation hath been heralded in all the sacred Scriptures. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 5.
The Baha’i teachings explain that Naw-Ruz represents “the Day of God,” when a re-awakening of the spirit occurs, a spiritual springtime dawns, and the light of a new revelation shines equally upon the entirety of God’s creation:
It is new year—that is to say, the rounding of the cycle of the year. A year is the expression of a cycle (of the sun). But now is the beginning of a cycle of Reality, a New Cycle, a New Age, a New Century, a New Time, and a New Year. Therefore, it is very blessed.
The rising of the sun at the equinox is the symbol of life, and likewise it is the symbol of the Divine Manifestations of God, for the rising of the Sun of Truth in the Heaven of Divine Bounty established the signal of Life for the world. The human reality begins to live, our thoughts are transformed and our intelligence is quickened. The Sun of Truth bestows eternal life just as the solar sun is the cause of terrestrial life.
This period of time is the Promised Age … Soon the whole world, as in springtime, will change its garb … The New Year hath appeared and the spiritual springtime is at hand. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 9, p. 345.
Baha’is believe that the advent of the twin messengers who founded the Baha’i Faith—the Bab and Baha’u’llah—ushered in a new age. Since then, the spiritual potency, the deep knowledge and the world-shaking ideals of the Baha’i teachings have spread across the globe. Those ideals, infused with love, compassion and unity, are now awakening a new spirit of life:
… the former springtime has returned; the world is resuscitated, illumined and attains spirituality; religion is renewed and reorganized, hearts are turned to God, the summons of God is heard, and life is again bestowed upon man. For a long time the religious world had been weakened and materialism had advanced; the spiritual forces of life were waning, moralities were becoming degraded, composure and peace had vanished from souls, and satanic qualities were dominating hearts; strife and hatred overshadowed humanity, bloodshed and violence prevailed. God was neglected; the Sun of Reality seemed to have gone completely; deprivation of the bounties of heaven was a fact; and so the season of winter fell upon mankind. But in the generosity of God a new springtime dawned, the lights of God shone forth, the effulgent Sun of Reality returned and became manifest, the realm of thoughts and kingdom of hearts became exhilarated, a new spirit of life breathed into the body of the world, and continuous advancement became apparent. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 94.
So Naw-Ruz, one of the happiest days of the entire Baha’i year, celebrates not just the new year but an entirely new era in human evolution. We now have the capacity, the power and the spiritual guidance, the Baha’i teachings promise us, to unite humanity and end the scourges of war, hunger and misery.
For Baha’is, then, Naw-Ruz isn’t just a party—it serves as a profound reminder of the unity of all the messengers of God, the spiritual springtime they each brought to humanity, and the joyous arrival of the newest one.