At 17:32 GMT tonight (20th March) the sun crossed over the equator into the northern hemisphere. This event, called the vernal equinox, marks the beginning of springtime in the northern hemisphere and, in many traditions, the beginning of the new year.
The Bahá’í new year, starting at sunset on 20th March, is timed to be close to this event. This evening I had the pleasure of getting to our local celebration in Newcastle, a fairly modest affair with a short introduction about Naw-Ruz and the month of fasting that precedes it, followed by a few prayers and then a lot of food, some of which (a cashew nut and almond dhal and two pizzas) I had the joy of preparing and taking along. We share the task of providing food on these occasions, aside from your own dish you have no idea what will be on offer, it’s called a pot-luck dinner. As it happens all of us were expecting many more people than actually showed up, so it’s pizza and dhal for breakfast tomorrow too!
Counting from the date on which The Báb, the fore-runner of Baha’u'llah (who is the prophet founder of the Baha’i Faith), declared His mission in 1844, we have just entered the year 167 B.E. on the Baha’i calendar, and so I take this opportunity to wish all my reader/s a very happy Naw-Ruz, Baha’i or not, may the coming year bring much love, joy and happiness to your heart!
Below is a letter from Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the Baha’is of the United Kingdom:
It gives me great pleasure to send my warm regards to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United Kingdom on the occasion of your annual reception.
I am delighted to send you my best wishes as you celebrate the Baha’i New Year at the reception on 22 March.
The New Year is always a time for spending with friends, family and the wider community, and for looking forward to the months ahead.
It is also a time for considering many of the principles which the Baha’i community hold dear – like social justice, and a concern for the environment – which are of importance to our society today.
[Signed: David Cameron]