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Baha's to celebrate new year festival on first day of spring

The world's youngest religion will celebrate one of the planet's most ancient holidays next week.

The event, known as Naw Ruz in the Farsi language, literally translated, means "new day."

Baha'is in the Arlington area will gather Tuesday to commemorate the event, which coincides with the first day of spring. There are about 80 Baha'is in Arlington and 35 in Grand Prairie.

"It is a time that is marked by rebirth and charitable deeds and a renewed spirit. It's very different than the calendar new year that is marked by drinking," said Mallous Rohani of Grand Prairie.

Mrs. Rohani will be the mistress of ceremonies at a large Baha'i gathering in North Dallas with representatives from the area's 47 Baha'i Spiritual Assemblies who are expected to attend.

Arlington Baha'is will gather at the Baha'i House of Worship at 723 E. Border St. for a much smaller celebration.

"Baha'is will get together on March 21 all over the planet to celebrate this new year. It's a very joyous occasion," said Nadia Moayyad, secretary of the Arlington Spiritual Assembly.

The gatherings will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Sundown marks the official beginning of the new day on the Baha'i calendar, so that's when the celebration begins.

A feast, singing, fellowship and readings from the founder of their faith, Baha'u'llah, will mark each gathering.

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'i faith reports there are at least 5 million Baha'is in 187 countries. The teachings of Baha'u'llah have been translated into 800 languages. There were only 400,000 Baha'is in 1963.

"The Baha'i community is literally the most diverse you can find religiously and ethnically because we promote the diversity of man, " Mrs. Moayyad said.

The spiritual readings at each Naw Ruz event were written by Baha'u'llah, a Persian nobleman in the mid-1800s. His name means "the glory of God."

The son of a wealthy government official, he turned down a powerful government position and instead devoted his life to philanthropic work. In 1844, he narrowly escaped a death sentence for supporting a movement that spoke against the established Islamic religion in Persia, which is now Iran.

Baha'u'llah was banished to a prison in Teheran, where he began writing the hundreds of books that would become the basis of the Baha'i faith.

Baha'u'llah's followers believe he was the latest in a series of prophets sent by God. He followed spiritual leaders such as Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed, according to his followers.

"The manifestations of God came and taught us the principles that we needed at that time. Baha'u'llah was the latest, and by no means the last. There will be more manifestations of God because humanity is ever growing and ever changing," Mrs. Moayyad explained.

The main points of his teachings include promoting gender equality, ending racial and ethnic strife, encouraging economic justice, pursuing world peace and establishing a united global commonwealth.

"When we have the oneness of mankind, it will be a golden age. That's when we will have peace all over the world," Mrs. Moayyad said.

Baha'is believe that all the world's religions have one source, God, and the only true differences are the social customs associated with each religion.

"Baha'is believe in God. There is only one God," Mrs. Moayyad said. "All religion comes from the same source. They all come from God. The spiritual foundations of all religions are the same, but certain social aspects of it are going to change."

According to the book ITALPersian Myths by Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis, Naw Ruz was established to celebrate Jamshid, a famous king in Persian mythology.

According to the mythological poem, "Shahnameh," Jamshid received the divine glory that gave him a famous throne upon which he sat like a shining sun. Naw Ruz was established to celebrate the day the divine glory came to the king.

Modern-day celebrations of Naw Ruz can last up to 13 days in Iran, where it marks the beginning of the season of growth.

The festival marks the beginning of the new calendar year, which is 19 months of 19 days each. It is also the end of a time of spiritual introspection. The 19 days leading up to Naw Ruz are a time of fasting and prayer for Baha'is.

"It's a time to deepen and grow spiritually. Prayer is the greatest part of this time," Mrs. Moayyad said.

Baha'is also will use the time to honor the changing of the seasons.

"It's about new beginnings. It's a very fresh and beautiful time of the year," Mrs. Rohani said.

Shelly Moon can be reached at or 817-435-4232.

©Copyright 2001, Arlington Morning News

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