The Baha’i Fast is coming soon! Although fasting is not obligatory until age 15, it is still possible to include children in the Fast by using it as a time to explain what Fasting is, talk about the importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting for spiritual health, and explain the purpose of Baha’i Laws.
These quotations may be helpful:
[learn_more caption=”Cling firmly to obligatory prayer and fasting…” state=”close”][quote]
Cling firmly to obligatory prayer and fasting. Verily, the religion of God is like unto heaven; fasting is its sun, and obligatory prayer is its moon. In truth, they are the pillars of religion whereby the righteous are distinguished from those who transgress His commandments.
(Baha’u’llah, The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)
[learn_more caption=”Unsealed the choice Wine…” state=”close”][quote]
Think not that We have revealed unto you a mere code of laws. Nay, rather, We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers of might and power. To this beareth witness that which the Pen of Revelation hath revealed. Meditate upon this, O men of insight!
(Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 21)
Some families have found that having a visual element to accompany an explanation of the Fast and what Fasting means, helps children understand and feel a part of the Fast a bit more. Following are a few examples.
From Shima: In order to make the fasting period something special for my children as well, we made these mine with 19 gems, and inside them are short quotations from the Bahá’í writings.
From Chelsea: The day before the Fast starts, we will collect sticks for a “tree” which we put in a vase. Then during family prayers on each morning of the Fast, we connect one flower ornament to the tree so that by Naw Ruz there are 19 flowers. In order to help remind us of the purpose of the Fast, there is a short quotation about the Fast on a leaf for each flower so that we can discuss the quote during family prayers.
To read more about how the tree was constructed and to see all 19 quotations, click here.
From Penina: This is our Baha’i Fast countdown calendar. When you turn over the number it is the name of the Baha’i day. The Baha’i days are the same as the Baha’i months, ie. first day on the month is Baha, second is Jalal, etc.
From Negeen: We made a variation on the Ayyam-i-Ha countdown calendar: we put the “Happy Ayyam-i-Ha” on a removable felt rectangle (shown as deep blue) with double-sided tape so that we could replace it with other felt rectangles with texts such as “Happy Fasting” and the names of the Baha’i months. This way, the calendar can stay up year-round by simply replacing one month’s rectangular text box with another text box.
From Omalley: Our family has a Fast tradition that which started a few years ago when the kids were young. It has become something the kids look forward to every year. During Ayyam-i-Ha, I set out candles on the coffee table. I use a glass display plate and place a large candle in the center surrounded by 18 smaller tea light candles. My favorite candles smell like rose which reminds me of the Shrines in Haifa and Akka. Each night of Fast, before bed when it is totally dark, we turn off all the lights in the house and light the number of candles that matches the number of days of Fast. On the first night of Fast, we light one candle; on the second night, we light two candles; and so on. We save the large candle in the middle for the last night, the 19th day of Fast. On the final night of Fast, all the candles are lit and it is a beautiful sight. It is very special to say prayers each night by candlelight and I hope it is a tradition the boys will share with their own families in the future. (More on this tradition can be found here).
From Carol: This is a simple thing, but helps “count” the momentum of the fast. I did it because this is my younger son’s first year of fasting. Each evening before we say prayers my son adds a candle. Each night we can see the passage of this special time with the increased amount of light we get from the display. I added some shells and stones and other small things.
What other ideas do you have for helping children understand the Baha’i Fast?