the Nineteen-Day Fast
Good minds borrow, great minds steal. On considerations of fasting in early March.
Before one can write about a thing, one must study its orthography:
The accent marks above the letters, representing long vowels, derive from a system of transliterating Arabic and Persian script that was adopted by Baháʼís in 1923, and which has been used in almost all Baháʼí publications since. Baháʼís prefer the orthographies Baháʼí, the Báb, Baháʼu'lláh, and ʻAbdu'l-Bahá. "Bahai", "Bahais", "Bahaʼi", "the Bab", "Bahaullah" and "Bahaʼullah" are often used when accent marks are unavailable.
the Newslettr cannot transliterate Arabic script, we simply copy the usage of others. We prefer the non-diacritical form Bahai as an adjective, and leave the histories to others.
Recently, the Newslettr discussed calendar systems, and in particular a proposed convention for observing the sabbath on the Doomsday (i.e. the day of Dominus):
The Bahai liturgical calendar consists of nineteen tisatsars1 of nineteen days each, plus a few intercalary days. The last tisatsar of the year ends on the day of the vernal equinox, and is a fast2 month.
We have been pondering advising such a fast on a slightly different timeframe: from the Last Day of February to the astronomical moment of the Vernal Equinox. This is, roughly, 21 days.
Much like Ramadan, this is a daytime-fast only. One is permitted to eat (and engage in other forbidden3 activity) after sundown and before sunrise, but not while the sun is up.
Conclusion 1: You will quickly learn whether you prefer: to wake up before sunrise, to be hungry all day, or to ignore religious prescriptions.
There are advantages to a fixed season for the fast, as opposed to the Islamic calendar system used for Ramadan. In particular, the seasonal impact at mid-latitudes is minimized. Here at Latitude 41, sunrise becomes approximately 30 minutes earlier4, and sunset becomes approximately 20 minutes later, during the period of the fast.
But on the day of the vernal equinox, the daytime is almost 12 hours almost everywhere on earth. There are no long marches of 19-hour fasts, and no “cheat decades” where one must only fast for 7 hours.
Caveat 2: If you want to know whether the calendar should be different in antipodal locations such as Australia, you can either wait, or go to Australia yourself to do research.
Anyhow. Spring has sprung. The weather outside is quite delightful. And I am going to go eat lunch.
If it’s 19 days long, it is neither a month nor a week. We coin the word tisatsar inspired by the Arabic for nineteen. I don’t think the word will catch on.
A month where one abstains from food, not a month that passes more quickly than normal.
While one is supposed to abstain from sexual relations during the Ramadan fast, according to Wikipedia this is not a requirement during the Bahai nineteen-day fast.
Currently, they change the clocks to Summer Time.