Bahá’í New Year Celebration, Naw-Rúz, Begins at Sundown Thursday

Followers of the Bahá’í faith, will welcome in the New Year, otherwise known as Naw-Rúz, as the sun sets on March 20.

Bahais Celebrate Naw-Ruz

This celebration originated in Persia more than 3000 years ago. After recognizing 19 days of fasting from sunup to sundown, the participants in this yearly ritual will abstain from working to celebrate their New Year. In accordance with the coming of spring, this festivity commonly embraces notions such as renewal, fellowship, refreshing, and cleansing. Just like spring tends to welcome new growth and new life, the New Year celebration is a time to embrace a fresh start.

To mark the conclusion of the fasting period, Bahá’ís usually host social gatherings and serve large meals. Food items that are associated with good luck, fortune, and new beginnings are commonly served at these large meals. This is typically a time to recognize the importance of relationships and to honor affection, closeness, and good will. Bahá’ís fellowship, send greetings, and catch up with old acquaintances during this time.

One of the most relevant traditions of the Naw-Rúz is the haft-sin table, which customarily includes decorations that begin with the letter ‘S.’ The haft-sin, a tradition having Persian roots, is native to Iran. These exhibitions are often very ornate and well planned to serve as an aesthetically pleasing decoration that represents this New Year celebration. The most common constituents of the haft-sin table include harvesting plants, seeds, apples, coins, garlic cloves, vinegar, and a time-honored condiment that is eaten during the celebration feast. Some families incorporate other items such as hyacinth, berries, dried fruits, candles, colored eggs and other religious artifacts. All of the items chosen to display on the haft-sin table have a significant spiritual and sacred meaning that exemplifies the primary essence of the New Year appreciation.

Although there are no specific ceremonies or customary rituals that are necessarily associated with the Naw-Rúz celebration, participants do honor this occasion by forgoing work and school so they may focus on the observance of this tradition. Some areas of the world celebrate by hosting festivals, parades, musical performances, bon fires, and other themed gatherings. For example, many American Bahá’ís will celebrate the holiday with a potluck. India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Iraqi Kurdistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan are all countries that recognize this celebration as a cultural holiday, and many others observe this occasion on their official calendars.


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