WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2: Baha’is will rise early today for a morning meal, partaking in the first 24 hours of the annual Nineteen-Day fast. For the next 19 days—also known as Ala, the final month of the Baha’i calendar year—Baha’is will fast from food and drink between sunrise and sunset. As they give up food, devotees are supposed to reflect on their spiritual quests and goals, meditating and reading Baha’i literature. (Read more, and find resources, at the Official Website of the Baha’is of the United States.) In essence, the Nineteen-Day Fast is a “cleaning out period” of the soul before the Baha’i New Year begins.
Not all Baha’is spend these next weeks fasting, of course; those under age 15, older than age 70, pregnant or sick are forbidden from fasting. Today’s modern world makes fasting particularly complex, unfortunately, as was pointed out by an author on PlanetBaha’i: Some devotees work odd shifts and can’t observe a day fast; diabetics question the health consequences of a daylong fast; and others wonder whether chewing gum is permissible. (Official fast info is at Baha’i.org.) Yet as long as the fasting person is genuine and tries his best, experts conclude that the rest should be “left to God.” After all, if a faster spends all of his time worrying over rules, he is missing the whole point of the fast!
And so, today, we wish all of the Baha’is around the world a blessed fasting period.