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Baha'i New Year

To introduce the Baha’i faith and their New Year.

by Lucy Fletcher

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To introduce the Baha’i faith and their New Year.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need 12 cards with the months of the year written out one on each (January to December).
  • The words Naw-Rúz and Baha’i written on a board or card for all to see.
  • Some cards with the Baha’i months of the year written on them (you could just have examples of a few, as there are 19 months and the children may not understand all of the meanings): 1 Splendour; 2 Glory; 3 Beauty; 4 Grandeur; 5 Light; 6 Mercy; 7 Words; 8 Perfection; 9 Names; 10 Might; 11 Will; 12 Knowledge; 13 Power; 14 Speech; 15 Questions; 16 Honour; 17 Sovereignty; 18 Dominion; 19 Loftiness.
  • A packet of crisps or biscuits; a hat and a party popper – or alternative party equipment.

Assembly

  1. Choose 12 volunteers to come to the front. Give them each a card with a month of the year written on and then ask them to arrange themselves into the right order. Give them a minute to complete the task (you can either time them with a clock or the assembly can count out loud to 60 seconds).
  2. Once they have completed the task read the months out aloud with all the children. Explain that we use this calendar to show the passing of time. We have 12 months in the year starting with January. It is based on a calendar made by the Romans.

    However, not all communities (groups of people) follow this calendar. Other cultures have New Year at different times of the year – can they think of any? (They will probably know the Chinese New Year.)
  3. The Baha’i faith is one religion which has its own calendar. In Baha’i tradition there are 19 months of the year, each with 19 days. Each month is named after a quality of God in the Baha’i faith (they are listed above). You can then give out some or all of the names to volunteers.

    Ask the volunteers to hold them up and try to explain what some of the words mean. Say that instead of your birthday being on 1st August, for example, it would be on the 1st of Perfection. (Exact dates of each month can be found on www.bahai.us/welcome/principles-and-practices/bahai-calendar/ if you wanted to work out individual dates.)
  4. Look at the last month, which is Loftiness; this means high and grand. In this last month in the year people in the Baha’i faith fast; they do not eat or drink for the whole 19 days of Loftiness between sunset and sunrise. Does this remind them of any other religions? (They may suggest Lent from Christianity or Ramadan from Islam.) You could at this point open a packet of crisps/biscuits and share it out between the first 18 volunteers, but leave out the last volunteer, as they are fasting. Although in fact, only people over 15 years old are allowed to fast, so maybe they can have theirs later!
  5. This leads up to the first month of their year, Splendour. (The person holding this card could be given a hat and a party popper to provide a visual clue for the celebrations.) They start their New Year on 21 March, which is the first day of Spring. This usually involves a party which starts with prayers, a dinner and entertainment, such as music and dancing. The Baha’i day starts when the sun goes down, instead of midnight.

    The New Year celebrations are called Naw-Rúz (show this word written out). Naw-Rúz is a holy day, so no work is done.
  6. The Baha’i faith is one of the youngest of the world's major religions and there are not as many traditions as there are for other faiths. It was founded by Baha'u'llah (pronounced ‘buh-howluh’) in Iran in the nineteenth century.

    Baha’u’llah or The Bab is recognized by the Baha’i community throughout the world as the Messenger of God. His roots were in Islam, but Muslims did not accept him so he began his teachings and the Baha’i faith was born. This is could be said to be similar to how Christianity started; Jesus was not accepted by the Jews as the Son of God, so Christianity was developed as a new religion through Jesus’ work.
  7. Baha’is believe in one God, but they also accept other religions and recognize that the Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad were also messengers of God. They aim to work together with other communities to create peace in the world.

Time for reflection

Reflection

Just like the people who follow the Baha’i faith, we can all appreciate the new beginnings that the start of Spring brings with it.

Quietly imagine all the new things Spring brings: new life with young lambs and chicks; the trees and flowers starting to wake up after winter; and the sun gradually giving us more light and warmth during the day.

Maybe the Baha’i New Year could be a fresh new start for you too. What would you like to do better from now on?

 

Prayer

Let us say thank you for all these exciting changes that are happening

that give us all a chance to make a fresh, new start.

Thank you.

Amen.

Song/music

‘Thank you, Lord, for this new day' (Come and Praise, 32)

Publication date: March 2007   (Vol.9 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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