Baha’i: Donate, volunteer during Intercalary Days

Volunteering is a common activity during Ayyam-i-Ha (Intercalary Days). Photo in public domainSUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26: Christmas in February?

Ayyam-i-Ha begins for Baha’is today, in a four- or five-day celebration that resembles the charitable nature, gift giving and joy of the Christian Christmas. (Get a more in-depth perspective at Planet Baha’i.) As the Baha’i calendar consists of 19 months of 19 days each, there is a period of four or five intercalary days “left over;” the Bab, the founder of the Baha’i faith, instituted this period so that the Baha’i calendar would keep pace with solar seasons throughout its 365 days.

Each month in the Baha’i calendar is named after an attribute of God. Rather than placing these special days at the very end of each year’s calendar, they are tucked between the Baha’i month 18, called Mulk (or “Dominion” in one English translation) and the final month 19, called Ala (“Loftiness” and the month of fasting), which prepares for the Naw-Ruz (or New Year). Even this period of Ayyam-i-Ha holds a special meaning. The name translated literally means “Days of Ha”—honoring “Ha,” both an Arabic letter and a symbol used in Baha’i writings to mean “essence of God.” (Wikipedia has details.) During the Intercalary Days, Baha’is rejoice over the excellence of God. By giving gifts, donating to charity and volunteering for others, Baha’is embody unity under God.

During most years, Ayyam-i-Ha lasts four days; this year—and other leap years—it lasts five days. Ayyam-i-Ha always precedes the fasting month of Ala. (Looking to explain Ayyam-i-Ha to kids? Try some help from InCultureParent. Bonus: This online magazine includes a Baha’i craft.)

Koreans will soon have a first opportunity to read the writings of Baha’u’llah in their native language in the culmination of a major project to translate sacred writings into Korean. The book, “Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah,” will be published this month. (Check out the press release here.)

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