From Feb. 26–March 1, Baha'is prepare for their important fasting period through celebration, hospitality, charity and gift giving. This period is called Intercalary Days or Ayyam-i-Ha.
From March 2–20, Baha'is observe their annual 19-Day Fast by refraining from eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset. As in many world religions, the fast is a time for reflecting on one's spiritual progress and making an effort to detach from material desires. Baha'is between ages 15 and 70 rise before dawn to eat breakfast and pray. At sunset, they enjoy a customary meal, often joining friends to break the fast. Fasting exemptions are made for illness, pregnancy, nursing mothers, extended travel and arduous physical labor.
After sundown on March 20, Baha'is celebrate Naw-Ruz, the start of their New Year. This is an ancient Persian festival celebrating the "new day" and for Baha'is, it marks the end of the 19-Day Fast and is one of nine Baha'i holy days on which work and school are suspended. Baha'is observe Naw-Ruz through prayer, meditation, readings from Baha'i scripture and festive gatherings.
The Bahai Faith is the youngest of the world's independent monotheistic religions and one of the fastest-growing with a significant presence throughout the United States. Baha'is view the world's major religions as part of a single, progressive process through which God reveals His will to humanity. Major Baha'i tenets include one loving creator, the oneness of humanity, equality of men and women, eradication of prejudice, harmony of science and religion, universal education and world peace. To learn more about the Baha'i Faith in America, check www.bahai.us.