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All Bahá'í communities around the world use a calendar which was first described in the writings of the Báb. Its use was later confirmed by Bahá'u'lláh, who also filled in its details, such as specifying that the "Year 1" as counted in the Bahá'í calendar corresponds to 1260 A.H. (1844 C.E.), the year in which the Báb's ministry began.

This system of timekeeping, also known as the Badí' Calendar, divides the year into nineteen months of nineteen days each, yielding a total of 361 days. Closer correlation to the solar year is regained by adding four days to create an intercalary period between two of the nineteen-day months. The intercalary period is increased to five days in a leap year. The pattern of leap years matches the one used in the Gregorian calendar. This pattern may be permanent, or may be a temporary measure to simplify conversion between the two calendars.

The Months

Each month is named after an attribute of God, using nineteen names of God mentioned in a prayer used by Shí'ih Muslims during the Islamic month of fasting.

The Bahá'í year begins on the twenty-first day of March, as reckoned on the Gregorian calendar. The months proceed as follows:

(listed with: Arabic name; English name; first day)

  1. Bahá (Splendor) - 21 March
  2. Jalál (Glory) - 9 April
  3. Jamál (Beauty) - 28 April
  4. 'Azamat (Grandeur) - 17 May
  5. Núr (Light) - 5 June
  6. Rahmat (Mercy) - 24 June
  7. Kalimát (Words) - 13 July
  8. Kamál (Perfection) - 1 August
  9. Asmá' (Names) - 20 August
  10. 'Izzat (Might) - 8 September
  11. Mashíyyat (Will) - 27 September
  12. 'Ilm (Knowledge) - 16 October
  13. Qudrat (Power) - 4 November
  14. Qawl (Speech) - 23 November
  15. Masá'il (Questions) - 12 December
  16. Sharaf (Honor) - 31 December
  17. Sultán (Sovereignty) - 19 January
  18. Mulk (Dominion) - 7 February
  19. 'Alá' (Loftiness) - 2 March

The period of 26 February to 1 March comprises the intercalary days, also known as the Festival of Ayyám-i-Há, which Bahá'ís celebrate with social gatherings, charitable giving, and the exchange of gifts.

Each day of the month is also named, using the same system as the names of the months. So, for example, the final day of the year would be called the day of 'Alá' in the month of 'Alá'.

The Week

The Bahá'í week consists of seven days, each of which, like the months, is named after an attribute of God. These names are:

(listed with: Arabic name; English name; day in standard week)

  1. Jalál (Glory) - Saturday
  2. Jamál (Beauty) - Sunday
  3. Kamál (Perfection) - Monday
  4. Fidál (Grace) - Tuesday
  5. 'Idál (Justice) - Wednesday
  6. Istijlál (Majesty) - Thursday
  7. Istiqlál (Independence) - Friday

Bahá'ís anticipate observing Istiqlál (Friday) as their day of rest at some point in the future. In most Bahá'í communities, this is not yet practical, so it is seldom seen.

The Years

The Badí' Calendar also tracks cycles of multiple years. The passage of nineteen years forms a cycle called a Váhid; the passage of nineteen Váhids (361 years) forms a cycle called a Kull-i-Shay'. The nineteen years of each Váhid are named as follows:

  1. Alif (the letter "A")
  2. Bá' (the letter "B")
  3. Ab (Father)
  4. Dál (the letter "D")
  5. Báb (Gate)
  6. Váv (the letter "V")
  7. Abad (Eternity)
  8. Jád (Generosity)
  9. Bahá (Splendor)
  10. Hubb (Love)
  11. Bahháj (Delightful)
  12. Javáb (Answer)
  13. Ahad (Single)
  14. Vahháb (Bountiful)
  15. Vidád (Affection)
  16. Badí' (Beginning)
  17. Bahí (Luminous)
  18. Abhá (Most Luminous)
  19. Váhid (Unity)

It is interesting to note that the passage of nineteen full Kull-i-Shay' cycles would require 6,859 solar years.

In case this is not complicated enough, there is also a possibility that in the future, some of the Bahá'í Holy Days will be observed according to their occurrence in the lunar year used in Islam. However, in most of the world, at the present time all Bahá'í Holy Days are observed on their dates in the solar calendar.

Holy Days

Each year, there are nine Holy Days on which work is to be suspended (if possible), and on which Bahá'í students are not to attend school. Bahá'í communities hold an observance or celebration on each of these days, as appropriate, and are also urged to use the resulting free time for activities that benefit humankind. Briefly, these nine occasions are:

  • 21 March: Festival of Naw-Rúz (New Year)
  • 21 April: First Day of Ridván
  • 29 April: Ninth Day of Ridván
  • 2 May: Twelfth Day of Ridván
  • 23 May: Declaration of the Báb
  • 29 May: Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh
  • 9 July: Martyrdom of the Báb
  • 20 October: Birth of the Báb
  • 12 November: Birth of Bahá'u'lláh

There are also two anniversaries which Bahá'ís observe as Holy Days, but without suspension of work or studies. These are:

  • 26 November: Day of the Covenant
  • 28 November: Ascension of `Abdu'l-Bahá

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