20th March at Sunset vs Spring Equinox
Praised be Thou, O my God, that Thou hast ordained Naw-Ruz as a festival unto those who have observed the fast for love of Thee and abstained from all that is abhorrent unto Thee.”
For Baha’is in the west, the festival of Naw-Ruz is always March 21st (from sunset on the 20th), in Iran the new year celebration of Naw-Ruz starts at whatever time the Spring (Vernal) Equinox occurs, which will be at 3:14pm in Tehran tomorrow (or 11:44 GMT).
The Baha’i calendar also places Naw-Ruz at the same time as the Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere, but rather than beginning at the time of the equinox, the Baha’i Naw-Ruz celebration is intended to be celebrated on the Baha’i day (sunset to sunset) during which this occurs.
“The Festival of Naw-Ruz falleth on the day that the sun entereth the sign of Aries, even should this occur no more than one minute before sunset.”
However, this aspect of the calendar has not been implemented yet and was left for the Universal House of Justice to implement. Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, stated that this would require that a particular spot on earth be chosen as the standard for fixing the time of the spring equinox. Otherwise the festival of Naw-Ruz would fall on different days according to where you lived in the world, for example this year Naw-Ruz would fall on March 20th for Baha’is living in Iran, Europe and the USA but would fall on March 21st for Baha’is living in Australasia.
The Universal House of Justice, aware that Baha’is in Iran use the time of the Spring Equinox to determine the start of Naw-Ruz, have stated that they do not see this as an urgent matter and that, until such a time as this has been decided upon, the Baha’is of the West should observe Naw-Ruz on 21st March (from sunset on the 20th), whatever day the spring equinox may fall upon.
“Grant, O my Lord, that the fire of Thy love and the heat produced by the fast enjoined by Thee may inflame them in Thy Cause, and make them to be occupied with Thy praise and with remembrance of Thee.”
(All quotes from Baha’u’llah, Kitab-i-Aqdas and Baha’i Prayers)