Looking for Clarity about Dates for Holy Days and Feasts? Two New PowerPoints Will Help Plus Give You a New Song about the Names of the Months
The Wilmette Institute’s popular course The Badí‘ (Bahá’í) Calendar: Reshaping our Material, Social, and Spiritual Reality, offered four times during 2015, has prompted perhaps more presentations and projects than any other course. The latest iteration of the course, which ended in December, is no exception.
Mark Lutness, one of the course’s faculty, created a PowerPoint titled “When Is the Bahá’í Holy Day? According to the Badí‘ Calendar?” Many Bahá’ís have been surprised to note that, while Naw-Rúz was March 21 in 2015, it will be March 20 in 2016, and all holy days that are on fixed days according to the Badí‘ calendar will be one day earlier in 2016, according to the Gregorian calendar, than they were in 2015. Why is this?
Watch Lutness’ PowerPoint! It is graced with clarity and some tongue-in-cheek humor. The PowerPoint first reviews the astronomical phenomena that determine the first day of the Badí‘ calendar (based on what day it is in Tehran, when the sun crosses the equator). Then it gives you the Gregorian dates for the starting days of the Bahá’í months (which vary, depending on the Gregorian day of Naw-Rúz). It also provides similar tables for the dates of the holy days and a clear explanation about when the Twin Birthdays of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb are to be celebrated. You can view the PowerPoint here.
Here’s a hint why the date of Naw-Rúz will “change” (if you think about it in Gregorian terms, anyway): The Gregorian leap year is coming in 2016, but the Badí‘ leap year is several years away. Think of it this way: Naw-Rúz is twenty-one days after February 28. Throw in a leap day on February 29 (as happens in 2016), and Naw-Rúz ends up on March 20 rather than March 21.
The second calendar project was undertaken by Tamara Bond-Williams, a learner in the December 2015 Badí‘calendar course. She created a beautiful, narrated PowerPoint titled “The Badí‘Calendar: A Look at Its Liturgical Significance.” She begins by defining liturgical as “the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular beliefs, customs and traditions.” The Badí‘ calendar is liturgical in that it defines days when feasts occur, includes the days for the period of fasting, marks holy days, and so on. She also notes that the calendar is “salvific” in that it leads us to salvation (presumably defined in a Bahá’í way as personal transformation based on acceptance of the Manifestation and obedience of His laws). The Badí‘ calendar does this by defining time as sacred and assigning mystical and spiritual value to its various divisions.
The naming of the nineteen months of the year and the seven days of the week for attributes of God is one example, but she gives others. She quotes the Báb about the Badí‘ calendar (see Nader Saiedi’s Gate of the Heart 328), where the Báb divides the calendar into four unequal divisions of three months, four months, six months, and six months and then describes each as a sort of distinct spiritual season. The four represent, respectively, fire, air, water, and earth. Saiedi elaborates on these divisions on pages 327–28 and relates them to many other concepts in the Báb’s writings. Bonds-Williams illustrates the mystical significance of each period with beautiful images and passages from Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
The Báb particularly emphasized the first month, the month of Bahá, as the central month that the others revolve around and said that it is “singled . . . out” for Him Whom God shall make manifest (Saiedi 328). Bonds-Williams captured this idea in an artistic project she completed, where a central, yellow solar disc labeled “Bahá” has nineteen months extending from it like the rays of the sun.
The PowerPoint concludes with a hymn that Tamara Bonds-Williams wrote (and sings), accompanied by music composed by her husband Chet Williams, a church musician. The hymn has four stanzas, each about one of the four divisions of the Badí‘ calendar created by the Báb, with a chorus before and after each stanza where one sings the names of the nineteen months and Ayyám-i-Há. (All teachers of children’s classes will want to listen to and learn the song.) For ease of reference, an appendix gives the names of the months and the days of the week in Arabic and English.
The beautiful and informative PowerPoint (complete with audio narration) is available here: https://mix.office.com/watch/1iq38by9m0gus. Click on the start button (a triangle in the lower right corner of the slide) to watch it.
It is not too late to sign up for the next calendar course, The Badi‘ (Baha’i) Calendar: Reshaping Our Material, Social, and Spiritual Reality. It begins on March 10 and runs through April 10. Click here to read more.