April 20, 2019

Ayyám-i-Há led the way through the Fast and on to Naw-Rúz

Towards the end of an unusually long winter in the Nation's Capital, members of the Ottawa Bahá’í community celebrated Ayyám-i-Há in preparation for the period of the Fast, which began on March 2 and ended just before the Bahá’í New Year, on March 21st, coinciding with the spring solstice.

Ayyám-i-Há, also known as Intercalary Days, are four or five days (depending on whether it is a leap year) of gift giving, donating to the poor and celebrations among family, friends and the community at large. These special days of festivities precede the beginning of the Bahá’í Fast, a sunrise-to-sunset fast that lasts the length of a Bahá’í month, which is 19 days. Along with obligatory prayer, it is one of the important aspects in the life of a Bahá'í, and its chief purpose is spiritual: to reinvigorate the soul and bring the person closer to God.

This year Ayyám-i-Há celebrations were held in more than 10 locations across the city of Ottawa. The celebrations featured the involvement of children to wonderful effect, as well as the joyful attendance of adults, family and friends. In Orléans, the Tanha family hosted a wonderful and well-attended Intercalary Days party that included a delicious potluck meal, a brief explanation on the meaning of Ayyám-i-Há, and warm fellowship.

In West Ottawa, the Foster Farm children's class celebrated with an Ayyám-i-Há party on Thursday, February 28, its regular class time, and invited the parents to attend. There were songs and prayers and a special craft. The youngest child was invited to partake of refreshments first then everybody joined in. The evening finished with good cheer and happiness.

In the Overbrook area, the Ayyám-i-Há celebration took place at the Bahá’í Centre on McArthur. The program involved children and youth who created, coordinated and presented the program themselves. Carmel and Madeline did a wonderful job chairing the program which included prayers, a skit, songs, a story and other actions by the children’s classes in the Overbrook and Donald/Cummings neighbourhoods. How can one not be moved by the children’s beautiful voices singing about unity? The Donald Street junior youth then talked about a service project. Payman, a soon-to-be youth, entertained the happy audience with card tricks, and Bernie, a grandfather of three, made everyone laugh with a few jokes. With joy and energy, the junior youth then taught the audience a quotation with actions, movements and songs before closing with prayers. The celebration ended with a delicious potluck supper. What the children and youth accomplished in such a short time is quite amazing!

Following the end of the Fast, on March 20th, the Ottawa Bahá’í community and their friends celebrated the new year (Naw-Rúz) with a program held at the beautiful Infinity Convention Centre in Ottawa South. Following prayers recited in several languages, the children were again front and centre and performed several dances, including a group of children who performed a colourful and happy Chinese folk dance. The celebration was attended by over 800 people, followed by refreshments and socializing at the end of the program.

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