Montreal, March 21, 2021 – Several neighbourhoods celebrated the Bahá’í New year 178 B.E via video conference with joy and happiness. In one community, the refreshments were served via a special courier to the friends who were gathered on line! Stories, songs and video clips of Naw-Rúz celebrations in Iran and other countries of the world were shared.

Celebrations were followed by an all Montreal Community 19 Days Feast. The first day of the month of Bahá (Glory) in accordance with the Bahá’í Calendar. Close to one hundred adults and children participated in the Feast. The program was dedicated to the children and many of them participated in Devotional and musical presentations.

Naw-Rúz (also known as No Rouz, Nowruz, or Noruz), translates to "New Day" in English is the Bahá'í and Persian New Year, which occurs on the date of the vernal equinox. The holiday is fixed as March 21 for Bahá'ís in all countries outside the Middle East, regardless of exactly when the equinox occurs. However, those who celebrate this day culturally, rather than religiously, celebrate on the exact day of the equinox. Naw-Rúz dates back approximately 3,000 years and is rooted in Zoroastrian Faith. Zoroastrian is an ancient Persian religion that predates Christianity and Islam. Millions of people around the world celebrate this holiday.

The Baha’i celebration of Naw-Ruz is one of the nine Bahá'í Holy Days on which work is suspended, and it was established by Bahá’u’lláh, the prophet-founder of the Bahá'í Faith, to mark the feast day following the 19-day month of fasting. (The Bahá'í calendar is made up of nineteen months, and each month consists of nineteen days). The Bahá'í fast is essentially a reflective time of year, where those who are able, abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset.

To Bahá'ís the new year also symbolizes the renewal of time in each religious dispensation.`Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’u’lláh’s son and appointed successor, explained the significance of Naw-Rúz in terms of the equinox and spring-time and the new life it brings. In ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s words:

"… This sacred day when the sun illumines equally the whole earth is called the equinox and the equinox is the symbol of the divine messenger. The sun of truth rises on the horizon of divine mercy and sends forth its rays on all. This day is consecrated to this commemoration. It is the beginning of the spring. When the sun appears at the equinox it causes a movement in all living things. The mineral world is set in motion, plants begin to sprout, the desert is changed into a prairie, trees bud and every living thing responds, including the bodies of animals and men."

The rising of the sun at the equinox is the symbol of life and the human reality is revivified; 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.

The day of the appearance of God’s messenger on earth is ever a sacred day, a day when man commemorates his lord.

"It is New Year … 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. … I wish this blessing to appear and become manifest in the faces and characteristics of the believers, so that they, too, may become a new people, and … may make the world a new world, to the end that … the sword be turned into the olive branch; the flash of hatred become the flame of the love of God … all races as one race; and all national anthems harmonized into one melody. – ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

As with most Bahá'í Holy Days, there are no particular fixed rituals or practices associated with the holiday. With adherents from so many parts of the world, the Bahá'í Faith makes careful attention not to impose one cultural tradition upon other traditions but rather to encourage an organic international Bahá'í culture that emerges based on the Holy Texts and not on personal or cultural traditions. So, on an international level, the celebration is generally observed with a meeting consisting of prayers, feasting and joyful celebration open to all. What that actually looks like from one place to another largely depends on the way in which a Bahá'í family or community chooses to celebrate the Holy Day.

Although celebrated in a different fashion, Naw-Ruz is also celebrated by Iranians and Zoroastrians as the new year. The origins of Naw-Ruz are unknown but it is thought to have begun as a pastoral spring festival. As time turned, Naw-Ruz gradually became a secular holiday in Persia and, as such, continued to be observed even after the spread of Islam in Iran. Muslim kings in Iran, like their Zoroastrian predecessors, celebrated Naw-Ruz with great magnificence.

Though not a Bahá'í tradition, some Bahá'ís from Persian background honour the traditions associated with their cultural heritage by infusing their celebrations with elements of a traditional Persian celebration of Naw-Ruz. These traditions might include families gathering in new or freshly cleaned cloths or the decoration of tables with fruit, cakes, coloured eggs and other treats, as well as symbolic objects such as a holy book and a mirror. Among the best known customs of Iranian Naw-Ruz is the “haft-sin” – which in English translates to the `seven S’s’. These are seven objects whose Persian names begin with the letter ‘S’ such as hyacinths, apples, lilies, silver coins, garlic, vinegar and rue, which are chosen and decoratively arranged on a table.

Persian traditions or not, Naw-Ruz always comes with generous hospitality and a delicious feast to enjoy!



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