From sunset Monday (Feb. 25) until sunset Friday (March 1), Baha’is will be enjoying the festival of Ayyam-i-Ha.
This period is celebrated in a manner much like Christians observe Christmas, during which friends and family unite for a loving season of joy, charity, good will, hospitality and fellowship.
It marks the end of the Baha’i year, which is divided into 19 months of 19 days, leaving four or five days (five in leap years) left over. These days are to align the Baha’i (Badi) with the Gregorian calendar, thus allowing the Baha’i calendar to be solar, too. These days are also called the intercalary days -- the days “outside of time.”
These are the “days of Ha”, Ayyam-i-Ha. (Ha is an Arabic letter that corresponds to the number 5, the maximum number of days to be celebrated.) It also corresponds to the English letter H, the conceptual meaning of which is the transcendence of God over all his attributes. It is “Splendor”, “Glory”, “Light”, “The Essence of God and his Oneness” (Unity.) And so we demonstrate unity at this time. We are Baha’is (Ba-Ha-I-“People of the Light”.)
Baha’u’llah, “The Glory of God”, the founder of the Baha’i faith, had this to say regarding Ayyam-i-Ha. “It behooveth the people of Baha, throughout these days, to provide good cheer for themselves, their kindred, and beyond them, the poor and needy, and with joy and exultation, to hail and glorify their Lord, to sing his praise and magnify his Name.”
It is in this spirit of joy that Baha’is move into the 19-day fast, which extends from March 2 to March 20. This is a time of purification and preparation for Naw-Ruz -- the Baha’i New Year, which takes places on March 21 (the spring equinox.)
This series of holidays prepares us to enter the New Year unified, purified, and ready to face the New Year with joy and optimism.