Montreal, March 21, 2023 – Bahá'ís from different parts of the city such as Saint-Laurent, Coeur de l’Est and Centre-Ville, celebrated the New Year of the 180th Bahá'í Era!

Nasseem, a youth from DDO had the idea of having a display showing the preparation for Naw-Ruz and “ haft seen”  installation with the hope that it will spark the curiosity of whoever chooses to visit, to explore independently all that interconnects us interculturally through this holiday. The organization of Naw-Ruz was created out of a need to empower the children of immigrants living in the diaspora under assimilation, who might feel estranged, and encourage connection to heritage, customs, language and homeland. The goal is to amplify and adapt ancient traditions, and build an accessible community for diaspora misfits. Nasseem works in collaboration with other organizations, like Maktaba Bookshop, to create opportunities for connection.

Naw-Rúz is the first day of the Baháʼí calendar year and one of eleven holy days for adherents of the Baháʼí Faith. It occurs on the vernal equinox, on or near March 21, which is the traditional Iranian New Year.

The traditional Nowruz holiday, from which the Baháʼí holiday derives, has been celebrated since ancient times in Iran, and is observed by culturally-adjacent peoples in Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iraq, Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and Tajikistan. The Báb, the founder of Bábi Faith, and then Baháʼu'lláh, the founder of the Baháʼí Faith, adopted the day as a holy day and associated it with the Most Great Name of God. The Baháʼí holiday as now calculated does not always fall on the same day as the traditional festival (but may differ by one day), and does not incorporate a number of Persian cultural practices associated with the traditional holiday, but is a religious event featuring readings from Baháʼí scriptures.

It is new year, wrote Abdu’l-Bahá —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.

This day in Persia inaugurates a feast which continues for thirteen days and in which all take part, rich and poor alike. They adorn themselves with new clothes and their houses are open to all. Money is distributed, music is played and the houses are decorated with flowers, for it is a fete; work is put aside and enjoyment invited. Travelers in Persia feel this transformation, for the country is in a state of complete renewal. A town which seemed dead yesterday comes to life today. People who looked anxious yesterday, today have faces shining with gladness. The poor man of yesterday, with sordid garments, is well dressed today and the whole national life is infused with joy. From time immemorial this day has been consecrated, for in this there is a symbol. At this moment the sun appears at the meridian and the day and night are equal. Until today the north pole has been in darkness. 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 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. Among the ancient Persians this day was looked upon as the holy day of the year - a day when hospitals and charitable institutions were founded, collections for the poor were made and every effort put forth that it might not be allowed to pass without leaving some divine trace and throughout Persia one sees these historical traces. I am spending this New Year’s Day in Paris. I hope for considerable results from this fact. May a powerful influence remain in your hearts, signs of eternal joy and happiness that will illumine the kingdom in this city. May the breezes of the Holy Spirit waft upon you, that your intelligence may progress and your souls rejoice in your lord. Thus will you become eternal beings shining in the divine kingdom.

Sources: – ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Volume 9, p. 345.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 74-76


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