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.
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)
The Baha’i New Year, Naw-Ruz, was celebrated on 21st March. Leaders of the three main political parties in Britain and the First Minister for Scotland have been sent to the Baha’i community to mark the occasion.
A special reception was held at the House of Commons which was attended by over 90 people including MPs, a peer, and officials from a number of departments, as well as members of all the other major faiths in the UK.
From the Prime Minister:
“I am very pleased to be able to send my best wishes to the Baha’i
community on such a special occasion as Naw-Ruz. I am sorry that I
cannot be with you at this festival of hope and celebration.
“I warmly commend all that the Baha’i community does for social
cohesion and better inter-faith relations, which makes such a
valuable contribution to our society. Your commitment to tackling
discrimination and promoting our shared humanity is particularly
important. I hope that this work will become increasingly well-known.
“I trust that all members of the Baha’i community will find in Naw- Ruz a true time of renewal, giving them strength and inspiration for
the year ahead.”
[Signed] Tony Blair
From the Rt. Honourable David Cameron MP, Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition:
I would like to wish all members of the Baha’i community a very Happy New
There is no doubt that your faith’s belief in the breaking down of barriers
that separate people is a lesson to us all, as we face the national and
international challenges of our day.
The importance you place on principles such as social justice, and the need
to tackle prejudice, has stood the test of time. These principles are as
vital today as they were a century and a half ago.
May I commend also your belief in the value of individual human initiative,
the importance of family life, and the need to strengthen communities and to review and advance society as a whole.
The Naw-Ruz celebration is, itself, an occasion for families and friends to
be brought together. May I once again extend my good wishes to you all at
[Signed] David Cameron
From Sir Menzies Cambpbell MP, leader of the Liberal Democrat Party:
“On behalf of myself and the Party I now have the honour to
represent, I send all my best wishes to the Baha’i community in the
United Kingdom – and indeed around the world, on this very special
celebration of Naw-Ruz.
“I have enormous respect and admiration for both the philosophy and
culture which the Baha’i faith embraces and represents. Particularly,
I am proud of the work you do in conjunction with my fellow Liberal
Democrat Parliamentarians regarding human rights abroad. I know that
in Iran there is much to do before the Baha’i faith can live without
fear of intimidation or persecution. However, I am confident that
this end will be achieved through our collective effort.
“Please accept my very best wishes for now and the future.”
[Signed] Menzies Campbell
From the First Minister for Scotland, Jack McConnell MSP:
7 March 2006
First Minister of Scotland
I am delighted to offer you greetings from Scottish
Ministers for Naw-Ruz, the Baha’i New Year, which
your community will be celebrating on 21 March.
I hope this year will prove to be peaceful for all our
faith communities with a reduction in religious tensions
around the world and at home. In Scotland, we are
committed to addressing such issues by working
closely with our faith communities in an atmosphere
of honesty, inclusion and respect.
We will continue to promote Scotland’s multicultural
and multi-faith society and our Government values the
support of the Baha’i community.
I wish you all a Happy New Year.
[Signed] Jack McConnell