The Nineteen Day Fast
|Fast Facts: The Nineteen Day Fast|
The Bahá'í Nineteen Day Fast was instituted by Bahá'u'lláh. He decreed that if capable, Bahá'ís between the ages of 15 and 70 should fast 19 days at the end of the year, going without food or drink from sunrise to sunset.
The annual fast takes place during the Bahá'í month of Alá (meaning Loftiness), which is from March 2 to March 20 or 21 on the Gregorian calendar. The month of Alá immediately precedes the Bahá'í New Year. The period of fasting is therefore viewed as a time of spiritual preparation and regeneration for the new year.
The Nineteen Day Fast brings together the Bahá'ís of local community for prayer, reading of scriptures, discussion of community activities, and enjoyment of one another's company.
Shoghi Effendi explained the Nineteen Day Fast this way:
It is essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires. (Directives of the Guardian, 1973).