image source: The Life of Bahá’u’lláh

image source: The Life of Bahá’u’lláh

Last weekend I went to help with the preparation of Torshi for the upcoming Norouz Bazaar in PV.  Low and behold I ran into one my friends, Shohreh, who had also stopped by to help.  When she was offered tea and cake she refused saying that she was fasting.  My first question was “fasting? fasting for what?”

It was a good question I tell ya, because I learned something new that day that I was not aware of about how the Baha’i fast for 19 days leading up to Norouz.

Later Shohreh jan sent me an email since I had expressed an interest in writing about this tradition on my blog as part of my effort to introduce and share the various religions and ethnic groups that exist in Iran.

The celebration of Norouz holds great importance for the Baha’i not only because it represents the beginning of the new year, but also because it is a cultural celebration. The meals that is enjoyed for the new year is Sabzi Polow Mahi, Rice with fresh herbs and fish., just like the rest of the Iranians.

Below is the email, which I am very happy to share the with rest of you!

You showed interest in Bahai Fasting tradition, so here is a summary of how Bahai Calendar works and fasting is observed:

Bahai Calendar is a solar calendar made up of nineteen months of nineteen days started from the declaration of the Bab in 1844.  Total days in the year comes to 361 days.  There are four days left and five days in leap years.  These extra days we call Intercalary days, which commences before the fasting begins.   Intercalary days are days of celebration, thanksgiving, eating and feeding the poor.

Bahai months and days of the week are named after attributes of God like this month is called Baha/Splendor.  Of course, it is a very special month being the Fasting and Norouz!  Forgot to say that Bahai week starts on Saturday.

After the Intercalary days, Fasting period starts from March 2nd – 1st. day of Norouz  (19 days) during which we abstain from eating and drinking from sun rise to sunset.  I wash hands and face to be cleansed before saying the morning/evening prayers and the special fasting prayer that has been written by Bahaullah; the founder/Prophet of The Bahai Faith.

There are many tablets written about the reason for fasting. My personal feeling is that through fasting I learn detachment, patients and learn to focus more on my inner strength and be more in touch with the real me which is my soul.  I find it interesting that I feel stronger and free mentally and emotionally and the physical weakness really doesn’t come to account.  It is a liberating feeling!!  As I mentioned yesterday, it is period of meditation, prayers which feeds your soul.  I know if this period was not set aside as a religious observance, most likely I would never follow it and consequently won’t find out a lot about myself and my strength and weaknesses.

Best of wishes to all for a blessed fast!