Spring has sprung! It’s clear after a bitterly cold winter, many of us have impatiently awaited its arrival, when the stillness of a snow-covered city melts away and vibrant life emerges from the soil.
For me and other followers of the Baha’i Faith, the start of spring has a special significance. Sunset on March 20 marked the beginning of the Baha'i year — Naw-Ruz — which translates to “new day.”
Naw Ruz takes place after 19 days of fasting, a period dedicated to meditation and prayer, when those who are able abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset.
This physical abstinence is symbolic of a spiritual readjustment that Baha’is strive for while abstaining from such physical desires.
In many ways, these adjustments to our inner life mirror those taking shape outwardly as the seasons change.
“At the time of the vernal equinox in the material world a wonderful vibrant energy and new life-quickening is observed everywhere in the vegetable kingdom; the animal and human kingdoms are resuscitated and move forward with a new impulse,” Baha'i writings state. “The whole world is born anew, resurrected.”
This earthly rejuvenation is not only symbolic of the spiritual awakening associated with this time of year, but also magnifies the significance of the day in which we live, one that is rife with opportunity for growth and transformation — a veritable “Divine Springtime.”
“Likewise, the spiritual bounty and springtime of God quicken the world of humanity with a new animus and vivification,” the Baha'i Faith teaches us. “All the virtues which have been deposited and potential in human hearts are being revealed from that Reality as flowers and blossoms from divine gardens.
“It is a day of joy, a time of happiness, a period of spiritual growth.”
Baha’is believe this springtime began in the middle of the 19th century, in Persia, amidst abounding injustice and oppression, when the prophet-founder of the Baha’i faith, Bahá’u’lláh, spoke of the necessity of unity among nations and the good of the world.
He faced untold adversity in voicing this message of harmony and concord.
“… Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth … The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens,” he wrote.
Other Baha’i teachings include: the fundamental oneness of humanity; the inherent nobility of man; the abolition of all forms of prejudice; the equality of men and women; the elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty; the harmony of science and religion; and the independent investigation of the truth, to name but a few.
So, as we welcome the relief of warmer days, I’d like to leave you with a message of hope and spiritual well-being from the Baha'i writings — that this springtime may be reflected in our hearts and that this new year will waft beauty and sanctity over a bewildered and chaotic world.
“I beg of God that this divine spiritual civilization may have the fullest impression and effect upon you. May you become as growing plants. May the trees of your hearts bring forth new leaves and variegated blossoms. May ideal fruits appear from them in order that the world of humanity, which has grown and developed in material civilization, may be quickened in the bringing forth of spiritual ideals.”
Happy Naw Ruz!
Mariyam Salmanzadeh is in her final year of journalism at the University of South Australia in Adelaide. She is in Sudbury working with the Junior Youth Empowerment Program, an initiative of the Baha'i Faith.