last night when the sun set, it was time to initiate the festivities. our youngest son lit 2 candles and we asked the children to hide in the pantry while my husband hid the gifts around the house. before finding the gifts, he read a special rhyme to each of them, giving them a clue where the gift was hidden. he times them on a stopwatch and makes it a game so that at the end of 4 nights, the child with the fastest time gets to be the first to choose one of three balloons which have different amounts of money hidden inside.
after opening the simple gifts each night, we do a fun activity together and eat delicious homemade cookies and cakes together. last night the fun activity was dancing together and making it like a party with the lights out (except for the blinking Christmas lights that we use only during Ayyam-i-Ha). the other activities we have planned are a treasure hunt, a hand-painting poster, watching a movie together and eating dinner at a restaurant.
each day, the children will get to write down on a 9-pointed star a service they performed for someone. the only requirement is doing it with joy. at the end of Ayyam-i-Ha we will read them out loud and celebrate a great sense of purposefulness and reward for doing good by helping others, especially those who are poor and needy.
while the children are at school, i have planned a gathering with a group of mothers in my neighborhood to bring them baked sweets and sobolo (a local sweet drink) while we hang out together. all of them are struggling to survive and working very hard to support their families and raise their children. it is this group of women with whom i will be hosting a gathering in our home for discussing the significance of mothers in the sight of God and their role in the spiritual education of their children. i am looking forward to this next month.
another way for me to be of service this year is to buy Ghanaian meals prepared on the roadside and distribute them to various people i know who are struggling for their survival and whose lives are full of needs. when visiting them, i will bring some of the cookies we made as well.
in a relatively short time in our new neighborhood, by the grace of God, i have felt able to connect with almost everyone i've met. it is this spot on earth where God intended me to live at this time in my life, so i make every effort possible to be a channel of His love through being genuinely kind, caring, generous and joyful. it feels like a blessing to have met these souls, as if they are a gift from God from whom my heart gets to experience great joy. for me, Ayyam-i-Ha are the days of extending my heart to as many souls as i can with whom i have had the bounty of meeting, especially those whose lives experience such material hardships..
below are the descriptions of Ayyam-i-Ha in the Baha'i Writings:
- Days outside of time’ festival reveres eternal essence of God.
- From sunset Feb. 25 to sunset March 1, Baha’is will be exchanging gifts, getting together with friends and family, and engaging in acts of charity – activities that characterize the festival of Ayyam-i-Ha.
- The festival comes toward the end of the Baha’i year, which is divided into 19 months of 19 days each. These “intercalary” days, between the 18th and 19th months of the Baha’i calendar, are necessary to align the calendar with the 365-day Gregorian solar calendar.
- Ayyam-i-Ha means “Days of Ha.” “Ha” has several meanings in Arabic, including reference to God or the “Essence of God.” Baha’is celebrate the sacred days of Ayyam-i-Ha through acts of love, fellowship, unity, charity and goodwill.
|our family's hands|
- The intercalary days of Ayyami-i-Ha “stand apart from the ordinary cycle of weeks and months and the human measure of time,”. “Thus Ayyam-i-Ha can be thought of as days outside of time, days that symbolize eternity, infinity and the mystery and unknowable Essence of God Himself.”
- Baha’u’llah has said of Ayyam-i-Ha: “It behoveth the people of Baha, throughout these days, to provide good cheer for themselves, their kindred and, beyond them, the poor and needy, and with joy and exultation to hail and glorify their Lord, to sing His praise and magnify His Name.”
- Appropriately, Ayyam-i-Ha spiritually sets the stage for the annual Baha’i Fast, which goes from March 2 to March 20. Naw-Ruz, the Baha’i new year, begins on March 21, the first day of spring.