The period of Ayyam-i-Ha in the Baha’i calendar is described as days of “hospitality, charity and gift-giving.” One group of friends in Toronto participated in a few activities this past weekend to honour the occasion.
On Sunday, these friends accompanied the participants in a few children’s classes and youth groups on a visit to a retirement home, where the children and youth performed songs and mingled with the residents for the afternoon. The youth performed individually on instruments they have been learning (including piano, violin, and trumpet), and also sang together several songs on the themes of unity, friendship and kindliness.
One of the youth groups created paintings inspired by a quote from the Baha’i Writings (“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth”), and offered the paintings to the residents.
The evening prior, one of the families hosted a potluck dinner for the group, as well as for families and friends whom they have been hoping to spend more time with. The evening ended with a simple gift exchange between the families.
The period of Ayyam-i-Ha falls near the end of the Baha’i calendar, directly before the period of fasting. The calendar consists of 19 months, each with 19 days. The remaining days are known as this period of Ayyam-i-Ha (or Intercalary Days), when Baha’is engage in “feasting, rejoicing and charity.”
It is also a time of preparation for the period of fasting, which occupies the final month of the calendar. In these last 19 days, Baha’is abstain from food or drink between sunrise and sunset.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá describes the period of fasting in this way: “[T]his material fast is an outer token of the spiritual fast; it is a symbol of self-restraint, the withholding of oneself from all appetites of the self, taking on the characteristics of the spirit, being carried away by the breathings of heaven and catching fire from the love of God.”