Members of the Bahá'í Faith to welcome in the New Year
Bahá'ís in Bermuda and around the world will next Saturday celebrate Naw-Ruz, the Bahá'í New Year.
Naw-Ruz aligns with the spring equinox, the time when the sun crosses the equator line in a northerly direction; it signals the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.
Apart from it being the first day of the Bahá'í calendar year, it is also one of nine holy days for those who observe the Bahá'í Faith. This is a festive occasion with times for prayer meetings, music, feast, and dancing.
Shyama Ezekiel-Fagundo, a member of the Smith's parish Bahá'í community and a public relations representative for the organisation, explained how the local Bahá'í community will be observing the holy day.
“There really is no set way to celebrate. The Bahá'í Faith is a global faith, and every culture has its own way of celebrating. We read from the scripture and always incorporate prayers and then each community will choose to recognise the occasion in the best way that suits them.
“Ordinarily in Bermuda we would get together to break our fast but due to Covid that will not be happening. We will gather on Zoom or in small groups outdoors instead.”
Bahá'ís have been celebrating this holiday since ancient times as a symbol of new life and personal renewal. The phrase Naw-Ruz is Persian for “new day” and comes at the end of a 19-day period of fasting. During this time healthy members between the ages of 15 and 70 fast from sunrise to sunset each day.
“The purpose of the fasting is to develop and increase our compassion. We give up something to learn what is like to be without.” Ms Ezekiel-Fagundo explained.
“We are a small community but a community of action. We are not just introspective. Introspection is important to us, but we are also concerned with the well being of others and how we can improve the community for everyone.”
The Baha’i Faith has its origins in Iran, formerly Persia, in the mid-19th century. While Iran was a predominately Muslim country, there were small communities of Christians and Jews who came together to form the first members of the Bahá'í Faith.
Today the Bahá'í Faith is in thousands of locations around the world and their teachings inspire individuals and communities to work toward personal and collective advancement. Their core beliefs include the oneness of God and religion, the oneness of humanity, the integration of service and worship, the value of education, and the centrality of justice for all.
In Bermuda, the Bahá'ís offer opportunities to study and reflect on spiritual topics, arrange meetings for communal worship and provide classes for young people which emphasise moral education.
Ms Ezekiel-Fagundo has been a member of the Bahá'í Faith since she was 21 years old, although she comes from a mixed background – Jewish and Hindu.
“Independent investigation is very important in our faith. You don’t adopt the faith of your parents. At age 15, when you are seen as spiritually mature, you are encouraged to learn more and investigate your faith for yourself and make a decision about your spirituality. This is an important part of the Bahá'í Faith.”
Next Saturday, March 20, the local Bahá'í community will relaunch their informational website, www.bermudabahai.org, as part of their virtual Naw-Ruz celebrations