My God, my Fire and my Light! The days which Thou has name the Ayyam-i-Ha in Thy Book have begun, O thou Who art the King of names and the fast which Thy most exalted Pen hath enjoined unto all who are in the kingdom of Thy creation to observe is approaching. I entreat Thee, O my Lord … to grant that unto every soul may be assigned a place within the precincts of Thy court, and a seat at the revelation of the splendors of the light of Thy countenance.
– Baha'u'llah, Baha'i Prayers pg 236.
March 3, 2005 – This quote is part of a special prayer Baha'is say during the intercalary days of Ayyam-i-Ha from sunset on Feb 25 to sunset on March 1. Literally, Ayyam-i-Ha means the days of "Ha" which Baha'u'llah, the Prophet Founder of the Baha'i Faith described as the "days of giving" before the Fast which was described as the "season of restraint". During Ayyam-i-Ha Baha'is celebrate with special activities, community service, sharing, gift giving and hospitality. A few years ago in Hungary, Baha'is celebrated with a musical program and costume party for children in Budapest at the Hungarian Culture Foundation building. In other countries, Baha'i youth and their friends arrange to visit senior citizen homes, hospitals, arrange blood drives and beach clean up activities. Over the past few years, similar activities have been held by Baha'i communities in the Virgin Islands. During this special time, youth and children attending Baha'i classes have participated in beach cleaning activities, visited the Lucinda Millin Senior Citizen Home and delivered homemade cookies to children in local hospitals.
Several special Ayyam-i-Ha activities were celebrated this year throughout the Virgin Islands. Activities started just after sunset on Feb. 25 at the home of St. John residents Alan and Magda Smith. They hosted a "musical" Ayyam-i-Ha party with dulcimer selections by St. Thomas resident and music teacher, Norma Schwartz. Norma also taught the multi-age group present some folk dances from various cultures. Visitors shared sing-a-longs and played a variety of instrument including drums made by former St. Thomas resident Susan Wakelee. The group then got some tips on quelbe music and dancing from a former dance member. Quelbe dancing will be taught during the annual Baha'i Spring School from March 25-27 at Cinnamon Bay Campground on St. John.
On St. Croix there was an Ayyam-i-Ha party in Herman Hill, Christiansted, on Feb. 26. On Feb. 27 in La Grande Princesse a prayer breakfast was scheduled at the home of Doug Covey, followed by a Study Circle. Also on Feb. 27 there were Devotions at the Frederiksted Baha'i Center in Smithfield.
The St. Thomas Baha'i community hosted a party at the home of Judi Bryant on Feb. 26. Ayyam-i-Ha activities continued on Feb. 27 with devotions and potluck breakfast at the Harmer home.
These Ayyam-i-Ha activities focus on sharing and hospitality and are joyous occasions. Baha'is use this time as a spiritual "prelude" to the Baha'i month of Ala or Loftiness, which is for fasting from food and drink from sunrise to sunset for Baha'is ages 15 to 70.
The Baha'i calendar consists of 19 months with 19 days. The remaining days (of the 365 for the western calendar) are these "intercalary days" or the ones which remain at the end of one calendar and the beginning of the next.
Most major religions participate in some form of fasting or official time of restraint from certain foods and or activities. For Muslims, that time is Ramadan, for many Christians that time is Lent. Health professionals believe that periodic fasting is beneficial for the body for good hygiene, purification and also gives the body a chance to slow down. For Baha'is, fasting is a "symbol of self restraint." The physical hunger serves as a reminder to abstain from self-appetites and self-desires and provides the opportunity to rely more completely on God and His teachings, which is our "spiritual food."
For more information on the Baha'i Faith and local activities call 340-774-3648 or visit the Web site.
Editor's note: This article was prepared by Tanya Ward Benjamin, national public information officer for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the Virgin Islands. Call 776-2105 or 690-4826 if you have questions about this article.