Bahai Calendar and the Bahai Observances

The Bahai Calendar

It is a fact that all major religions have their own special calendar; the same goes for the Bahai religion. The Baha'i calendar exists in order to organize the special events and activities that adherents celebrate within the year. The history of the Bahai calendar can be traced back to the ministry of the Bab (from the years 1844 to 1853), and was since ratified by Bahaullah. The year 1844 A.D., the year of the Bab's declaration, is the main epoch of the calendar, such that year 2007 of the Western Calendar is considered as Era 163.

The Bahai calendar (also known as the Badi Calendar) is one of the most interesting calendars mainly because this solar calendar is divided into nineteen distinct months with nineteen days each (with 4-5 intercalary days added to complete the 365 days). It starts on the 21st of March, which coincides with the first day of spring and astronomically fixed with the Spring equinox.

Bahai calendar months (as well as the days of the week) are all named after the attributes of God. It is even more interesting because the Bahai week begins with a Saturday, and their days always begin and end at sunset. Listed below are the nineteen months of the Bahai calendar:
  • 1 Baha Splendor 21st of March
  • 2 Jalal Glory 9th of April
  • 3 Jamal Beauty 28th of April
  • 4 Azamat Grandeur 17th of May
  • 5 Nur Light 5th of June
  • 6 Rahmat Mercy 24th of June
  • 7 Kalimat Words 13th of July
  • 8 Kamal Perfection 1st of August
  • 9 AsmaNames 20th of August
  • 10 Izzat Might 8th of September
  • 11 Mashiyyat Will 27th of September
  • 12 'llmK nowledge 16th of October
  • 13 Qudrat Power 4th of November
  • 14 Qawl Speech 23rd of November
  • 15 Masail Questions 12th of December
  • 16 Sharaf Honor 31st of December
  • 17 Sultan Sovereignty 19th of January
  • 18 Mulk Dominion 7th of February
  • 19 'Ala Loftiness 2nd of March

The First Days of the Bahai Month

The Bahai calendar contains the most significant dates of the Bahai faith. The first day of every Bahai month is special to the Bahai religion. On these days, Bahai communities gather and hold a worship service that they call a Nineteen Day Feast. These gatherings are held for prayer, consultation and fellowship, and it is also through this worship service that the social and spiritual affairs of the community are discussed.

Bahai Fasting Month

On the other hand, the last month of the Bahai calendar is devoted to Fasting. During the Ala month, Baha'is who are between 15 to 70 years old do not eat nor drink from sunrise to sunset and are required to set aside time for their prayers and meditation.

Bahai Holidays

The Baha'is also practice nine holy days wherein all adherents do not work. These Bahai holidays are anniversaries of the most central figures of the Bahai faith. Among the Bahai Holy Days are as follows:
  • March 21 Naw Ruz or New Year's Day
  • April 21 1st Day of Ridvan
  • April 29 9th Day of Ridvan
  • May 21 2th Day of Ridvan
  • May 23 Declaration of The Bab
  • May 29 Ascension of Baha'u'llah
  • July 9 Martyrdom of The Bab
  • October 20 Birth of the Bab
  • November 21 The Birth of Baha'u'llah
  • November 26* The Day of The Covenant
  • November 28* The Passing of Abdul Baha

In addition to the Holy Days, the Baha'is have two more holidays (marked with '*' above) wherein work is not suspended. The intercalary days of the Bahai calendar (known as the Ayyam-i-Ha) fall on the last four (or five in a leap year) days before the last Bahai month of the year, and are devoted to spiritual preparations for fasting. This is also considered by the Baha'is as a time of charity, hospitality and generous gift-giving.