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28 February 2007

Festival of Ayyám-i-Há

Happy Ayyám-i-Há! Source: Bill Anderson

Bahá’í children and women singing and dancing in Katumba, Rwanda, 2000. Image source: Media.Bahai.org

BAHÁ’ÍS AROUND the world are now celebrating the cheerful festival of Ayyám-i-Há, a 4-day (5 in leap year) preparation for the annual Fast. Every year, it begins at sunset of 25 February and ends at sunset on 1 March as a time for good will and charity amongst the Bahá'ís, their friends, and families. It is the Bahá'í gift-giving season, just as Christmas is the Christian gift-giving season, but without the mad commercial rush for shopping.

The Bahá'í calendar of 19 months of 19 days needs 4 extra days (5 in leap years) to equal a solar year of 265 days. In revealing this calendar, the Báb, Forerunner of Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, did not say the exact placement of those extra days. Bahá’u’lláh specified them as intercalary days, or days that do not belong to any month. These are Ayyám-i-Há.

Bahá’u’lláh has said of Ayyám-i-Há:

Let the days in excess of the months be placed before the month of fasting. We have ordained that these, amid all days and nights, shall be the manifestations of the letter Há, and thus they have not been bounded by the limits of the year and its months. It behoveth the people of Bahá, throughout these days, to provide good cheer for themselves, their kindred and, beyond them, the poor and needy, and with joy and exultation to hail and glorify their Lord, to sing His praise and magnify His Name, and when they end—these days of giving that precede the season of restraint—let them enter upon the Fast.

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