From sunset on February 24 to sunset of February 28, Baha’is and their friends in more than 100 000 localities in virtually every country around the world will be celebrating the festival of Ayyam-i-Ha (or the “Days of Ha”). The days mark a special time in the year intended by Baha’u’llah, the Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith, for good cheer, charity, giving praise to God, and often includes giving gifts.
The festival of Ayyam-i-Ha is also known as the period of intercalary days in the calendar used by Baha’is. Referred to as the Badi calendar, the year consists of 19 months of 19 days each. The remaining 4 or 5 intercalary days in excess that constitute Ayyam-i-Ha (the duration varies according to the timing of the vernal equinox) were designated by Baha’u’llah to be celebrated prior to the last month of the year which is a 19 day period of fasting, from sunrise to sunset.
Baha’i homes and centres across Canada will welcome friends, neighbours, and families to join the community in celebrating Ayyam-i-Ha. With no prescribed forms for celebrating and observing these days, each local community, indeed each family and individual, will express their faith in a diverse array of acts of service, devotion, and hospitality.
This year’s celebrations of Ayyam-i-Ha will be the third since the international governing council for the Baha’i community, the Universal House of Justice, declared in July of 2014 that the alignment of the Badi calendar with the vernal equinox would be observed worldwide. In 2017, the vernal equinox will take place on March 20, meaning that the Baha’i new year, known as Naw-Ruz, will commence on that date and end the period of fasting.
In the course of preparing for this years’ celebration of Ayyam-i-Ha, Baha’is are also thinking of two significant anniversaries: later in 2017, the 200th Anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s Birth; and in 2019, the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of the Bab, the Herald and Forerunner of Baha’u’llah. In part to facilitate their worldwide celebration, the observance of these two holy days, in contrast to the rest of the calendar, was fixed according to a lunar calculation. In 2017, these Twin Birthdays will be observed on October 21 and 22.
Though Baha’i holy day celebrations and observances have always been open for all to attend, this year the Baha’i Community of Canada is opening doors and hearts to friends and neighbours in anticipation of the upcoming 200th-anniversary events. Tens of thousands of Canadians, from this country’s diverse cultures and races, are expected to participate. In all the upcoming celebrations, the Baha’i community is striving to reflect a fundamental tenet of Baha’u’llah’s teachings: “The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”