Bahá’í Faith Community Commemorates Twin Holy Birthdays:The Báb and Baháʼu'lláh
Jaya Raju Thota, India
( JRT, India)
Bahá'í Communities all across the Indian Sub-Continent and around the world commemorate the 202nd Anniversary of the Birth of the Báb, the Prophet-Herald of the Bahá'í Faith and the 204th Anniversary of the Birth of the Blessed Beauty Baha'u'llah, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá'í Faith on November 6 and 7, 2021 (4, 5 Qudrat, 178 B.E.).
This year the Twin Holy Birthdays fall on November 6 and 7, and next year, in 2022—when Baha’is will mark the 203rd Anniversary of the birth of the Báb and 205th Anniversary of the birth of Baha'u'llah —they will fall on October 26th and 27th (11, 12 ‘Ilm 179 B.E.). Just as the Bahá'í teachings reconcile and unite the religions, so too do they unite and reconcile the world’s calendars, adapting the lunar and solar observances into one.
The Universal House of Justice, the global governing body of the Bahá'í Faith, wrote:
The adoption of a new calendar in each dispensation is a symbol of the power of Divine Revelation to reshape human perception of material, social, and spiritual reality. Through it, sacred moments are distinguished, humanity’s place in time and space reimagined, and the rhythm of life recast.
A “Manifestation of God” is a Bahá'í concept used to define an intermediary between God and humanity, or what is commonly referred to as a Messenger or Prophet. The term “ Twin Manifestations” refers to the unprecedented Revelation of the Báb and Baháʼu'lláh in rapid succession of one another.
Every Faith commemorates the birth of its Founder with great joy—but the Bahá'ís around the world double that joy when they observe the Twin Holy Days.
Baháʼís commemorate the births of both the Báb and Baháʼu'lláh, the two Divine Messengers of God associated with the Baháʼí Revelation,
in quick succession—one right after the other.
Baháʼís believe that the Báb, whose title means “ The Gate,” opened the way for the advent of a new age of fulfillment and maturation for all humanity.
The notion of “Twin Manifestations of God” is a concept fundamental to Baháʼí belief, as the mission of the Báb and Baháʼu'lláh are inextricably linked:
The Báb’s primary mission—to herald the arrival of a divinely-inspired spiritual Educator He referred to as “ He Whom God shall make manifest,” who eventually appeared in the person of Bahá'u'lláh. For this reason, both the Báb and Baháʼu'lláh are revered as Central Figures of the Baháʼí Faith. Together these twin Luminaries would usher in an Age of peace and justice promised in all the world’s religions.
Like John the Baptist, the Báb instructed His hopeful followers to prepare for the appearance of that new Prophet. He also announced the coming of a new Era in human history, one that would witness the emergence of a just, unified, peaceful world civilization.
The Bábi Faith burned bright for six years, until the martyrdom of its Founder, the Báb, in 1850 plunged the young Faith into disarray. Though the Báb was a Manifestation of God and the Founder of a great religion, He also perceived Himself to be a Forerunner and had ardently urged His followers to seek out the second Manifestation, cryptically referred to as “ He Whom God shall make manifest,” who would emerge “in less than the twinkling of an eye” after His own mission, to complete the unique appearance of twin Manifestations in a single age.
The Báb’s revelation, which lasted only six years until his execution by a fearful government, nevertheless paved the way for the coming of Baha’u’llah.
"The Báb said that whenever 'He Whom God will make manifest' appears, accept Him. He never said don't accept Him until after the lapse of 1000 years. Also Bahá’u’lláh says that in the year 9 of the Bábí Dispensation the time was ripe for the Revelation of 'He Whom God will make manifest.' As the Báb was not only a Manifestation but a Herald of this Bahá’í Faith, the interval between His revelation and that of Bahá’u’lláh was of shorter duration. His Dispensation in a sense will last as long as Bahá’u’lláh's lasts."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, December 27, 1941: Dawn of a New Day, p. 94).
There is no contradiction between Bahá'u'lláh's statement in the Íqán about the renewal of the City of God once every thousand years, and that of the Guardian in the Dispensation to the effect that the Bahá'í cycle will extend over a period of at least 500,000 years.
For centuries, the peoples of the world have awaited the Promised Day of God, a Day when peace and harmony would be established on earth.
The dawn of this new Day witnessed the appearance of not one but two Manifestations of God, the Báb and Baháʼu'lláh, Whose Revelations released the spiritual forces destined to transform society.
The Festivals of the Twin
Holy Birthdays refer to two successive holy days in the Baháʼí calendar
that commemorate the births of two Central Figures of the Baháʼí Faith.
The two holy days are the birth of the Báb on the first day of
Muharram in the Islamic calendar (20 October 1819) and the birth of Baháʼu'lláh on the second day of Muharram (two years prior, on 12 November 1817).
Prior to 2015 and a decision by the Universal House of Justice, these two holy days had been observed on the first and second days of Muharram in the Islamic lunar calendar in the Middle East, while other countries observed them according to the Gregorian calendar on October 20 (for the birth of the Báb) and November 12 (for the birth of Bahá'u'lláh).
They are observed on the first and the second day following the occurrence of the eighth new moon after Naw-Rúz, as determined in advance by astronomical tables using Tehran as the point of reference.
This results in the observance of the Twin Birthdays moving, year to year, within the months of Mashíyyat, ʻIlm, and Qudrat of the Baháʼí calendar, or from mid-October to mid-November in the Gregorian calendar.
With the birth of the Baháʼí Faith the realization of two related but independent religions arising within one Age was actualized.
'Abdu’l-Baha sets forth conclusively the true relationship between the twin Founders of the Faith, with this illuminating explanation:
"The Revelation of the Báb may be likened to the sun … The station of Bahá'u'lláh’s Revelation, on the other hand, is represented by … the sun’s mid-summer and highest station. By this is meant that this holy Dispensation is illumined with the light of the Sun of Truth shining from its most exalted station, and in the plenitude of its resplendency, its heat and glory."
It has been prophesied that in the time of these two Manifestations the earth will be transformed, the world of existence will be renewed. Justice and truth will encompass the world; enmity and hatred will disappear; all causes of division among peoples, races and nations will vanish; and the cause of union, harmony and concord will appear.
Amongst the devoted followers of the Báb was Mirza Husayn-Ali, who later took the title of Baháʼu'lláh, meaning the Glory of God. Baháʼu'lláh and the Báb never met and only ever exchanged letters.
It was not until 1863, nineteen years after the inception of the Bábi Faith (thirteen since the Báb’s death), that Baháʼu'lláh publicly declared Himself as not only the One promised by the Báb, thus yielding that Faith’s “destined fruit and revealing its ultimate purpose” but indeed, He proclaimed to be the Promised One of all Ages.
To Israel He was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the “Everlasting Father,” the “Lord of Hosts” come down “with ten thousands of saints”; to Christendom Christ returned “in the glory of the Father,” to Shi’ah Islam the return of the Imam Husayn; to Sunni Islam the descent of the “Spirit of God” (Jesus Christ); to the Zoroastrians the promised Shah-Bahram; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha.
All the peoples of the world are awaiting two Manifestations, Who must be contemporaneous; all wait for the fulfillment of this promise.
In the Bible the Jews have the promise of the Lord of Hosts and the Messiah; in the Gospel the return of Christ and Elijah is promised.
In the religion of Muhammad there is the promise of the Mihdi and the Messiah, and it is the same with the Zoroastrian and the other religions.
Further cementing the bond between these two Manifestations is the commemoration of their Twin Birthdays. “The Festival of the Twin Birthdays” or “Twin Holy Days” commemorates the birth of the Báb on the first day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar (20 October 1819) and the birth of Baha’u’llah on the second day of Muharram (two years prior, on 12 November 1817).
In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Baháʼu'lláh wrote that His birthday and that of the Báb "are accounted as one in the sight of God".
The Bahá’í calendar, or Badi (“wondrous” or “unique”) calendar, began March 21, 1844 CE, the year the Faith began.
This solar calendar has 19 months of 19 days. Each year, four or five intercalary days, called Ayyam-i-Ha, are added.
The new year begins on the vernal equinox, March 20 or 21 on the Gregorian calendar.
Years include the notation BE (Bahá’í Era) and days begin and end at sunset.
Bahá’ís observe 11 festivals each year. Nine of these are holy days (including twin Holy days) when work and school are suspended.