By ELAINE GALE
The Bahai holiday of Ayyam-i-Ha begins at sundown Thursday, leading into a 19-day period of fasting that ends with a New Year celebration.
Also known as the Intercalary Days, Ayyam-i-Ha is a stretch of four days devoted to gift-giving, charitable acts and spiritual preparation for the fast.
The Bahai faith spun out of a Persian Islamic sect called Babi in the late 1800s. The religion is an amalgam of world religions that includes Muslim, Christian and Jewish theology.
Bahaism teaches that although God is unknowable, he is revealed in the teachings of Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus Christ and Mohammed. Bahais observe nine holy days during the year. There are more than 5 million adherents of Bahaism worldwide, including 130,000 in the United States.
Since the Bahai calendar consists of 19 months, each with 19 days, there are four days left over--five in a leap year. These extra days are known as intercalary days.
During a leap year, the celebration lasts from Feb. 26 through Feb. 29. This year, Ayyam-i-Ha lasts from Feb. 26 through March 1.
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