For over 6 years a group of friends in East Vancouver have been teaching and learning about the spiritual education of children and youth in the neighborhood of Strathcona. Participants in Baha’i children’s classes and junior youth empowerment groups have come from many different cultural and religious backgrounds.
On February 23, participants in a children’s class in Strathcona celebrated Ayyam-i-Ha with a festival. Ayyam-i-Ha is a time in the Baha’i calendar devoted to gift-giving, hospitality, and service to others, and it extends over a four-day period of time.
The celebration took place in a local community centre with twenty-two children. Several youth from a neighbourhood group that takes place at the same time offered their assistance as a service. The event started off with some group songs and prayers, followed by an interactive presentation about Ayyam-i-Ha given by a neighbourhood youth.
The youth asked the children questions like “What are you thankful for?”, “How could you bring joy to your family?” and “How can you help someone who is in need?” which helped centre the celebration around themes of joy and service.
Following the presentation, the children were divided into two groups where they would each participate in an art activity that further promoted the spirit of joy and service of the Ayyam-i-Ha festival. The children made beautiful flowers and decorated paper birds with the quote “Joy gives us wings” to gift to their loved ones.
The children and youth played a dance and freeze game, and a fun Ayyam-i-Ha gift giving game that involved fishing for a gift basket.
The children were very excited to return home with their gifts and new creations to give to their families at home. After the festival the youth reflected on things that went well and what could be done differently next time.
The youth serving as the children’s class teacher shared how fun and simple the festival was. She shared how the extra time in planning and visiting the homes of families before the festival contributed to the spirit of the event. She shared that she learned a lot about the Festival of Ayyam-i-Ha, and how much she loved being with the children and seeing the smiles on all their faces.