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Transitioning to the new Baha’i Calendar

This is an explanation of the changes to the Bahá’í Calendar that were enacted by the Universal House of Justice in July 2014. A separate page contains a more general description of the Baha’i Calendar.

Summary

General: The dates of 19-day Feasts and Holy Days are not the same year-to-year any more (ie: with respect to the “Gregorian” or Western Calendar). However, with the exception of the “Twin Holy Birthdays” and the last month of the year, the dates of all 19-day Feasts and Holy Days will follow one of two patterns; based on whether the calendar starts on March 20th or March 21st. As before the “intercalary days” can vary from year to year – similar to the pattern for well-known “leap years”.

The details:

  • Naw Ruz is now fixed at the time of the Vernal Equinox at Tehran, Persia. In the West, this will occur each year on either March 20 or March 21. The entire Calendar can shift from year to year based on this start date.
  • The 19-day Feasts (First day of the month): If Naw Ruz falls on March 21, the 19-day Feast days remain the same but if it falls on March 20th, they shift one day earlier.  Ala,  the month of Fasting is an exception; it starts 19 days before the upcoming Vernal Equinox.
  • Holy days: In a year when Naw Ruz falls on March 21, the Holy Days – except for the Twin Holy Birthdays – look almost identical to before (but the Declaration of the Bab is on the 24th instead of the 23rd) and if Naw Ruz falls on March 20 they all shift one day earlier.
  • Ayyam-i-Ha: It’s best to get these dates from a table prepared by a committee at the Baha’i World Center (Click here to download).
  • Twin Holy Birthdays: These can fall on any day from mid-October to mid-November and the calculation is beyond the reach of most of us who are not astronomers.  It’s best to get these dates from a table prepared by a committee at the Baha’i World Center (Click here to download).

 

Why does this make sense?

Up until 2014, the Baha’is in Moslem Countries and Western Countries observed 19-day Feasts and Holy days using completely different Calendar systems. The changes enacted in 2014 will mean that the entire world will be using a single Calendar. That Calendar will not be tied to either the Islamic Calendar or the Western (“Gregorian”) calendar; it is the wonderful Bahá’í Badí‘ Calendar! Furthermore, the time of the celebration of the Birthdays of the Twin Manifestations shows special regard for the actual interval of time from the Vernal Equinox at the time of their respective births and for the fact that They were born into a culture that used a Lunar Calendar.

It is significant to note that neither the “Gregorian” Solar calendar nor the Islamic Lunar Calendar were established by Jesus or Muhammad. The origins of the Badí‘ calendar, however, can be traced directly to the Bahá’í Writings.

More on the Twin Holy Birthdays

Transporting the Twin Holy Birthdays from the Lunar calendar to the Solar one presented a special challenge.  The Birthdays of the Bab and Bahá’u’lláh occurred, respectively, on the first and second day of the Islamic Lunar month of Muharram but they occurred two years apart. Bahá’u’lláh revealed that “These two days are accounted as one in the sight of God”.  The anniversary of these birthdays occurs one day apart only when viewed in the context of the Islamic Lunar Calendar.  Thus, by fixing the date for this celebration after the lapse of “eight new moons” from the time of the Vernal Equinox, the calculation of the date of the “Twin Festivals” on a Solar Calendar is now permanently based on a series of Lunar intervals.

Edited Feb. 28, 2016