Image by matio_svk (Flickr)
I’m a big fan of new years. I’ll admit it. I celebrate the new year as many times in a year as I possibly can. Growing up in a country with four officially recognised ethnic groups, I milked the multiple calendars for all they were worth. I would attend midnight mass every New Year’s Eve. I would line up for my ang bao and scarf down bakkwa every Chinese New Year. Diwali was yet another opportunity for festive fun. (One year, looking for an additional opportunity to celebrate, I attempted to appropriate the Russian Orthodox New Year. This was, however, met with some skepticism from my friends.) So the recent addition of Naw-Ruz as another new year that I get to celebrate has been a source of joy, as you might imagine.
Why the new year fixation? Simply put, I love new beginnings. I love turning a new page in the diary. I find peace in pausing for a breath and thinking about all that has been and marching forward with a plan of attack – boldly stepping into a new day.
Naw-Ruz. A new day.
Image by Mamchenkov (Flickr)
The Baha’i Fasthas just ended. I’ve been fasting for 20 years now and I’m embarrassed to say that I still find that I have to constantly remind myself that the Fast is not just about the food! Okay, so for those of you who don’t know me, you should know that ohhhh I love food! My family and I are renowned for talking about how much we like food and the different types of food we like, even while sitting around a table and having a meal together. In fact, there’s even a Tablet written by Baha’u’llah to my family some generations back, which relates to – you guessed it – FOOD!
Most of us identify the Baha’i fast with the act of not eating or drinking between sunrise and sunset. But as Shoghi Effendi explains, there’s much, much more to it than that:
It is essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires.Shoghi Effendi, Directives of the Guardian
Photo by Layli for Nineteen Days
A very cool collaborative art project that takes place every year during the Baha’i Fast is Nineteen Days, a project started by friends and fellow bloggers Leila and Amy.
For each of the nineteen days of the fasting month, the pair invite Baha’i photographers to share their special moments at sunrise and sunset, caught as the photographers begin and end their days of fasting. The imagery is often haunting, evocative and serene. Each day’s post is accompanied by quotes from the Baha’i writings as well as comments from the photographer.
Every year, as Baha’is, we gather for eleven holy days including the festive celebratory days like Naw Ruz and Ridvan, as well as the more commemorative days that mark the Ascension of the Bab and Baha’u’llah. And like everything in the Baha’i Faith, hosting these gatherings is something that is open to one and all.
The first time I hosted a holy day, I wasn’t totally sure what to do. There were twenty people attending and, beyond gathering some prayers, I didn’t know what else could go into a holy day celebration. Since then I’ve been compiling ideas so that next time I’ll be ready!
Listed below are sixteen ideas for your next holy day event listed below. If you have some suggestions of your own, I’d love to hear them in the comments!
Photo by Madcowk (Flickr)
1. Run a Drum Circle
A drum circle is a fun way to bring a community together. It simply entails getting everyone some sort of percussion instrument, setting a steady beat and sharing rhythm! If you have access to them, African Djembe drums will give you a real throbbing beat, but you can make do with all sorts of make-shift percussion. If you have someone with a good sense of rhythm to lead the circle, this can work well. A simple introductory activity is to have the leader tap out a beat and then have the other participants ‘reply’ with the same beat.
Hello and welcome to the newly relaunched Baha’i Blog! I’m Preethi, your friendly editor, who together with Collis, Naysan and Vahid, make up the Baha’i Blog team. So, what exactly is Baha’i Blog? Baha’i Blog is a project which aims to create a cosy little nook in the blogosphere for Baha’is and friends of the Faith alike. As Baha’is, we all know what it’s like to live with an awareness that you truly do have family (spiritual, if not biological) all over the world. This blog aims to mirror that by creating an online community around the Baha’i Faith and connecting people from all over the world.
Baha’i Blog first found life as a project run by Ryan Lash some years back, but with his hectic travel schedule, Ryan kindly permitted the site to be recreated and relaunched as you see it now. We’ve gone live on Naw-Ruz 2011 and in our first few months will be working on making the blog an online resource where Baha’is and friends of the Faith around the world are able to access a wealth of information. Continue reading
Baha’i actor Rainn Wilson, best known for his role as Dwight Schrute in the hit TV show The Office, talks about the Baha’i Faith with Oprah Winfrey.
You can also read Baha’i Blog’s interview with Rainn Wilson here.
Music video from the album ‘Arise’ by the Dawnbreaker Collective. The initiative was borne from the desire of a number of Baha’i musicians based in the Los Angeles area to create an eclectic collection of Baha’i inspired music which was both conscious and musically awesome.
Music video of the song ‘Armed’ by Devon Gundry. Video produced and directed by Justin Baldoni. Music Produced and Performed by Devon Gundry and Kelly Snook. Mixed and Engineered by Kelly Snook. Words by Baha’u’llah. In Loving Memory of Kathy Grammer. (devongundry.com)
Music video to the song “Backbiting” from MANA’s debut album ‘Reflections On The Life Of The Spirit’. MANA is a Baha’i-inspired music and cultural performance group from the Pacific Islands, based mostly in Australia. The word MANA means ‘the Almighty’ or ‘the Powerful’ and signifies strength of spirit in many languages of the Pacific. All lyrics in the albums are based on the Baha’i Writings and passages found in the sequence of courses developed by the Ruhi Institute.
You can read Baha’i Blog’s post about MANA here.