The Baha'i Calendar

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Since we're nearing the end of 2020 on the Gregorian Calendar in a week or so I thought it would be of some interest to post here some information on the Baha'i Calendar. The Baha'i Calendar originated in Persia and had it's beginnings in the year 1844 AD and 1260 AH of the Muslim Calendar. It began with Naw-Ruz (otherwise known as the Vernal Equinox or March 21st) or the Badi (Baha'i) New Year.

There are nineteen months in the Baha'i year named after attributes of God with nineteen days in each month. There is still a seven day week with days also having names that correspond with an attribute of God. One significant difference between the Gregorian and the Baha'i Calendar is that the Baha'i day begins and ends at sunset.

Days of the Week
Each day of the week has its own name. In the Bahá'í calendar, Friday is the day of rest. Coincidentally (or not) its name is "Independence". The week, in the Bahá'í calendar, is still seven days though, technically, it begins on Saturday and ends on Friday. In order to maximize utility and avoid considerable confusion, we have omitted this structure on the visual Bahá'í calendar.

Days of the WeekBahá'í DayArabicTranslation
Saturday Jalál جلال Glory
Sunday Jamál جمال Beauty
Monday Kamál كمال Perfection
Tuesday Fiḍál فضال Grace
Wednesday ‘Idál عدال Justice
Thursday Istijlál استجلال Majesty
Friday Istiqlál استقلال Independence

Learn more at
The Baha'i Calendar - (Badi Calendar) - More Information
 
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We'll be sharing more about the Badi (Baha'i) Calendar tomorrow!
 
There are nineteen months in the Baha'i Calendar and each month is named after an attribute of God:

Months of the Year
Each of the 19 months of the Bahá'í year was given one of the names of God from the Islámic tradition. The intercalary days are, as their name would suggest, separate and are not contained within any of the months. Each day of the month has the same name as the corresponding month (e.g. the ninth day of any Bahá'í month would be named Asmá, the twelfth would be named ‘Ilm, and so forth). The last month of the Bahá'í year is designated as a month of fasting. Fasting takes place from sunrise to sunset, during which no food or drink can be consumed.

Calendar DatesBahá'í MonthArabicTranslation
Mar 21 – Apr 8 Bahá بهاء Splendour
Apr 9 – Apr 27 Jalál جلال Glory
Apr 28 – May 16 Jamál جمال Beauty
May 17 – Jun 4 ‘Aẓamat عظمة Grandeur
Jun 5 – Jun 23 Núr نور Light
Jun 24 – Jul 12 Raḥmat رحمة Mercy
Jul 13 – Jul 31 Kalimát كلمات Words
Aug 1 – Aug 19 Kamál كمال Perfection
Aug 20 – Sep 7 Asmá' اسماء Names
Sep 8 – Sep 26 ‘Izzat عزة Might
Sep 27 – Oct 15 Mashíyyat مشية Will
Oct 16 - Nov 3 ‘Ilm علم Knowledge
Nov 4 - Nov 22 Qudrat قدرة Power
Nov 23 - Dec 11 Qawl قول Speech
Dec 12 – Dec 30 Masá'il مسائل Questions
Dec 31 - Jan 18 Sharaf شرف Honour
Jan 19 - Feb 6 Sulṭán سلطان Sovereignty
Feb 7 - Feb 25 Mulk ملك Dominion
Feb 26 - Mar 1 Ayyám-i-Há (Intercalary Days) ايام الهاء The Days of Há
Mar 2 - Mar 20 ‘Alá' (Month of fasting) علاء Loftiness

Note that the last month of the Baha'i calendar is a nineteen day Fast in which we abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. There are exemptions from the Fast. You must be at least fifteen years of age and if you are travelling:

Regarding those engaged in heavy labour Baha'u'llah has stated, "it is most commendable and fitting to eat with frugality and in private."[1][2]

  • Those who are ill.
  • Those who are younger than 15 or older than 70.
  • Those who are engaged in heavy labour.
  • Women who are pregnant.
  • Women who are nursing.
  • Women who are menstruating (instead they must perform an ablution and recite the verse Glorified be God, the Lord of Splendour and Beauty 95 times a day).[1]
Exemptions are also given to those travelling during the fast. Exemptions are given when the travel is longer than 9 hours (or 2 hours if travelling by foot).[2] If the traveller breaks their journey for more than nineteen days, they are only exempt from fasting for the first three days. Also if they return home, they must begin fasting right away.[1]

Nineteen-Day Fast - Wikipedia.

I have a son who was born in the Baha'i month of "SHARAF" or honor and gave him that name as a "middle name".
 
The Báb has, moreover, in His Writings revealed in the Arabic tongue, divided the years following the date of His Revelation into cycles of nineteen years each. The names of the years in each cycle are as follows:





1. Alif A.
2. Bá' B.
3. Ab Father.
4. Dál D.
5. Báb Gate.
6. Váv V.
7. Abad Eternity.
8. Jád Generosity.
9. Bahá Splendour.
10. Hubb Love.
11. Baháj Delightful.
12. Javáb Answer.
13. Ahad Single.
14. Vahháb Bountiful.
15. Vidád Affection.
16. Badí' Beginning.
17. Bahí Luminous.
18. Abhá Most Luminous.
19. Váhid Unity.


Each cycle of nineteen years is called a Váhid. Nineteen cycles constitute a period called Kull-i-Shay'. The numerical value of the word Váhid is nineteen, that of Kull-i-Shay' is 361. Váhid signifies unity, and is symbolic of the unity of God.

The Báb has, moreover, stated that this system of His is dependent upon the acceptance and good-pleasure of `Him Whom God shall make manifest'. One word from Him would suffice either to establish it for all time, or to annul it forever.
 
There are also what we Baha'is call "Intercalary Days" or Days of "Ha".... these are four or five days in a leap year and they involve gift exchanges and parties. I'm adding some details from the Bahaipedia:

Intercalary daysare specific days inserted into a calendar to ensure that the calendar functions properly. As the day is defined by a rotation of the Earth, and a year is defined by the Earth's circuit of the sun, any solar calendar needs to use the relationship between these two figures. In practice, the Earth takes approximately 365.25 days to circle the sun. The 0.25 days, which do not allow the calendar to fit exactly into a certain number of days each year, add up, over a period of time, to days rather than hours. If left untouched, the calendar would move through the seasons. (This actually was happening in the Christian world, until the time of Pope Gregory, who sanctioned a reform of the system, but without getting the agreement of the Eastern Orthodox churches.) The Gregorian calendar now solves this problem by adding a day (February 29th) every four years. (0.25 x 4 = 1 day). February 29th, therefore, is an intercalary day.

In the Badi (Bahá'í) calendar, the Ayyám-i-Há are the intercalary days which make the calendar work. Interestingly, the Ayyám-i-Há period covers the end of February, so the Bahá'í calendar is not upset by the insertion of February 29th in a leap year! The Ayyám-i-Há are to be a period of visiting, of parties and the giving of gifts. Over time, having this special period should prevent the commercial exploitation of the Holy Days, which has happened in some religions.

Since the above text was written, there has been a further implementation of the Bahá'í calendar, clarifying the time of Naw-Ruz in each annual cycle.

Intercalary Days - Bahaipedia, an encyclopedia about the Bahá’í Faith
 
There are also what we Baha'is call "Intercalary Days" or Days of "Ha".... these are four or five days in a leap year and they involve gift exchanges and parties. I'm adding some details from the Bahaipedia:

Intercalary daysare specific days inserted into a calendar to ensure that the calendar functions properly. As the day is defined by a rotation of the Earth, and a year is defined by the Earth's circuit of the sun, any solar calendar needs to use the relationship between these two figures. In practice, the Earth takes approximately 365.25 days to circle the sun. The 0.25 days, which do not allow the calendar to fit exactly into a certain number of days each year, add up, over a period of time, to days rather than hours. If left untouched, the calendar would move through the seasons. (This actually was happening in the Christian world, until the time of Pope Gregory, who sanctioned a reform of the system, but without getting the agreement of the Eastern Orthodox churches.) The Gregorian calendar now solves this problem by adding a day (February 29th) every four years. (0.25 x 4 = 1 day). February 29th, therefore, is an intercalary day.

In the Badi (Bahá'í) calendar, the Ayyám-i-Há are the intercalary days which make the calendar work. Interestingly, the Ayyám-i-Há period covers the end of February, so the Bahá'í calendar is not upset by the insertion of February 29th in a leap year! The Ayyám-i-Há are to be a period of visiting, of parties and the giving of gifts. Over time, having this special period should prevent the commercial exploitation of the Holy Days, which has happened in some religions.

Since the above text was written, there has been a further implementation of the Bahá'í calendar, clarifying the time of Naw-Ruz in each annual cycle.

Intercalary Days - Bahaipedia, an encyclopedia about the Bahá’í Faith
The concept of Leap Years was known from antiquity, not surprising since the main occupation of mankind was agriculture. The Roman calendar incorporated Leap Years, Having an extra day every four years, since an estimated 700 BCE. The beginning of a year was originally the Winter Solstice. When Julius Caesar had The Egyptian-Greek astronomer Sosigenes revise the calendar (different month structure for example, the earlier calendar having 10 months) it was discovered that the Solstice was actually happening 7 days earlier than the calendar said it should. If there had been no Leap Years in the earlier calendar, it would have been out of sync with the seasons by some 160 days, definitely noticeable.

The reason there was a discrepancy at all is that the solar year is in fact slightly less than 365.25 days long. By the late 16th century, the discrepancy between the Julian calendar and the seasons was 14 days, enough to matter for agricultural matters. The Vernal Equinox was taking place on March 11 instead of March 25 n the Julian calendar. When Pope Gregory XIII revised the calendar, he advanced the date by only 10 days instead of 14. This made the Vernal Equinox March 21, the date it was in 325 CE at the Council of Nicaea. In addition, the ‘century rule’ was added to skip Leap Year every century year unless the century number was divisible by four, 1600 and 2000 were Leap Years. 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not. This will keep the calendar and the seasons synchronized for many thousands of years.

Since it was the Pope promulgating this change, Protestant or Orthodox Christian countries were slow to adopt it, resulting in different dates for the same day in different countries. Russia was the last country to change, with Isaac Asimov lamenting the loss of his birthday, since it got skipped over when the change took place. The Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar still uses the Julian calendar which is why Eastern Orthodox Christmas and Easter are not the same days as the other Christian ones. Since the Julian calendar does not use the century rule, the difference from the Gregorian calendar continues to change over time.
 
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Thanks Miken for your post...

Yes it's an interesting historical study to appreciate how the variations in the calendars have occurred!

My purpose here was to share the Baha'i calendar and how it came about largely through the Bab (Siyyid Ali Muhammad) and indicate how this relates to the Baha'i community today!
 
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