Badi’ (Baha’i) Calendar in stained glass

Artists: Heather MacLeod of Brownfield, Maine and Nathan Macomber of Eaton, New Hampshire

“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.” (Universal House of Justice 10 July 2014 letter to the Baha’is of the world)

The architectural challenge was to create a stained glass structure that would enhance the light coming into the Gathering Room from the 2 skylights above.

The creative challenge was to create a piece of art that would represent the elements of the Badi’ Calendar in a beautiful way.

The Badi’ (Baha’i) Calendar is a solar calendar consisting of 19 months of 19 days each with 4 or 5 intercalary days, depending on the moment of the solar equinox. “Badi’” is Arabic for wondrous or unique. The Baha’i community follows this calendar. The Bab created the elements of this new calendar between the years 1844-1852. (see Appendix I)

The Baha’i Era began on 21 March 1844, the year the Bab proclaimed His new religion. This calendar represents the year 173 B.E. (2016-2017); chosen because it is the year the house was completed.

The design combines symbolism taken from the Baha’i Writings and artistic inspirations of the artist. The following is a brief description of some of the symbols used in this artwork.

Design elements

There are 19 stained glass panels, with 19 days marked in each panel.

“The first month is the month of the Point, and the months belonging to the Letters of the Living revolve around it. Among all the months, the month of the Point resembleth the sun, while all other months resemble mirrors which reflect the radiant lights of that supreme month, in such wise that naught is seen in them but that month. God hath called that month the month of Baha (Splendour, Glory), meaning that therein lieth the splendor and glory of all months, and He hath singled it out for Him Whom God shall make manifest. Each of its days is related by God to one of the Letters of Unity.” (The Bab, Persian Bayan 5:3 taken from Saiedi, Nader “Gate of the Heart,”p. 328)

The panel representing Baha, the first month, is oriented towards Bahji, the Point of Adoration, in Akka, Israel.

The central disc of hand blown glass was created by Nathan Macomber of Eaton, New Hampshire. The color was chosen to represent, in part, the sun. The disc is also a symbol for God.

The Baha’i symbol carved into this disc includes two five-pointed stars, symbolizing the persons of the Bab and Baha’u’llah Who are the two central figures of the Baha’i Faith. The calligraphy lines represent the realm of God, the realm of the Messengers from God, and the realm of creation, with a line joining all three symbolizing the Word of God. The lines also spell out, in Arabic, “God is Most Glorious” (see Appendix II for a better and longer explanation)

1. Word of God descending: The 3 clear crystals in each of the 19 panels represent the Word of God traveling from God to the world of creation.

2. Four elements: The colored circles represent the four elements: fire, air, water and earth. The first three months are the fire of God (yellow/orange), the next four months are the air of eternity (transparent color tones). The subsequent 6 months are the waters of divine unity (blue tones)…and the last 6 months pertain to earthly existence – the element of dust (earth tones) This symbolism is taken from the Persian Bayan 5:3 as quoted in Gate of the Heart by Nader Saiedi, p. 75.

3. Arches: The crimson-colored arches symbolize the Arc of the Covenant, the Crimson-colored Arc.

4. Green turban: The green areas near the bottom of each panel symbolize the green of the Bab’s turban.

5. Days: The 19 triangles at the bottom margin of each of the 19 panels represent the 361 days of the year. The colors chosen for the 361 days generally follow seasonal coloration for New England, with some specialty choices of the artist’s whimsy.

6. Soltices & equinoxes: The 4 orange triangles below the ‘days’ represent the 2 equinoxes and 2 soltices. (March 20 vernal equinox, June 20 summer soltice, September 22 autumnal equinox, December 21, 2016 winter soltice)

7. Gregorian months: The 12 slanting lines of copper at the very lowest margin of the structure represent the Gregorian (western) months

Additional symbolism

Triangles with stars represent Baha’i Holy Days. Eleven special days are represented: the 9 designated Holy Days and the 2 days commemorating ‘Abdu’l-Baha.

The Red/stars represent the Holy Days related to Baha’u’llah: Baha’ullah’s Birth, the Festival of Ridvan, and Baha’u’llah’s Ascension.

Green/stars represent the Holy Days related to the Bab: The Bab’s Birth, Declaration, Martyrdom, and Naw Ruz (New Year)

Blue/stars represent ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s birth and Day of the Covenant.

Ayyam-i-Ha Intercalary Days Four (4) intercalary days hang just outside of the structure making up the total of 365 days in this 173rd year of the Baha’i Era. Every five years or so there are 5 intercalary days.

“Let the days in excess of the months be placed before the month of fasting. We have ordained that these, amid all nights and days, shall be the manifestations of the letter Ha, and thus they have not been bounded by the limits of the year and its months.” (Baha’u’llah, Kitab-i-Aqdas, 16)

Month of fasting: The month of Ala is the month of fasting for Baha’is. The triangles in this month are two-toned, with the color changes in each day tending upwards. Fasting occurs between the hours of sunrise and sunset. In the northern hemisphere, the hours of daylight during these 19 days of the fast grow longer as the month progresses, and these ascending lines symbolize the changing length of the time of fasting.

The angle of slant for the frame equals 45 degrees. 4 + 5 = 9 the numerical value of Baha.

The stained glass calendar was completed in 1 full year.

Appendix I

Writings from the Persian Bayan

“The substance of this gate is that the Lord of the universe hath fashioned all types of years by His behest, and hath ordained that from the inception of the Bayan, each year should equal the numerical value of the words "all things" (kullu shay') [19 x 19 - 361], to consist of nineteen months, where each month equalleth nineteen days, that from the moment of the rising of the sun in the vernal equinox -corresponding to the first sign of the Zodiac, the sign of Aries - till the end of its voyage at the end of winter - corresponding to the last sign of the Zodiac, the sign of Pisces - all beings may traverse through all the nineteen stages of the Letters of Unity.” (The Bab, Persian Bayan 5:3 taken from Saiedi, Nader “Gate of the Heart,” p. 327)

“Thus, He hath destined each day to be the springtime of one of His laws, that the inmates of this paradise may partake of divine delights in the utmost joy possible within the realm of creation. Therefore, during the first three months - the months of glorification - the fire of the hearts of existent beings is kindled. During the next four months - the months of the celebration of praise - the spirits of the contingent beings are created, during which time they are provided for. In the subsequent six months - the months of the exaltation of unity - God causeth the beings to expire, not as a physical death, but the death of negation and life in affir- mation. Finally, in the last six months - which are the months of magnification - the Lord of the universe, glorified and exalted be He, quickeneth those souls who have died to the love of anyone other than Him and have remained steadfast in His love.” (The Bab, Persian Bayan 5:3 taken from Saiedi, Nader “Gate of the Heart,”p. 328)

Appendix II

Explanation of the Baha’i ringstone symbol given by Mr. Abu’l-Qasim Faizi

Appendix III

Holy Days and solar dates

Naw Ruz – 1 Baha - March 20, 2016

First Day of Ridvan - 13 Jalal – April 20, 2016

Ninth Day of Ridvan - 2 Jamal – April 28, 2016

Twelfth Day of Ridvan - 5 Jamal – May 1, 2016

Declaration of the Bab - 8 Azamat – May 23, 2016

Ascension Baha’u’llah - 13 Azamat – May 28, 2016

Martyrdom of the Bab - 17 Rahmat – July 9, 2016

Birth of the Bab – 18 Ilm – November 1, 2016

Birth of Baha’u’llah – 19 Ilm – November 2, 2016

Day of the Covenant – 4 Qawl – November 25, 2016

Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Baha – 6 Qawl – November 27, 2016

Spring equinox = March 20 = 1 Baha

Summer Soltice = June 20 = 17 Nur

Fall equinox = September 22 = 16 Izzat

Winter soltice = December 21 = 11 Masa'il

Appendix IV

Badi’ calendar names of the months

1. Baha Splendour

2. Jalal Glory

3. Jamal Beauty

4. Azamat Grandeur

5. Nur Light

6. Rahmat Mercy

7. Kalimat Words

8. Kamal Perfection

9. Asma Names

10. Izzat Might

11. Mashiyyat Will

12. Ilm Knowledge

13. Qudrat Power

14. Qawl Speech

15. Masail Questions

16. Sharaf Honour

17. Sultan Sovereignty

18. Mulk Dominion

19. Ala Loftiness

Appendix V

Badi Calendar names of the weekdays

1. Jalal Glory Saturday

2. Jamal Beauty Sunday

3. Kamal Perfection Monday

4. FIdal Grace Tuesday

5. Idal Justice Wednesday

6. Istijlal Majesty Thursday

7. Istiqlal Independence Friday

Design and building team:

Heather MacLeod and Joe Keller, Brownfield, ME 04010,

Nathan Macomber,

Donald L. Grose & Associates, 267 Singletary Lane, Framingham, MA 01702,

Chris Kovacs Design, 978-490-0265,

Auburndale Builders, Inc., 617-467-4171,

Nick Falkow, Mike Dutra, Casey McCarthy, Tim Houldcroft, Chris Hammond

David L. Morrisson & Rob Barwis, 128 Sterling Rd., Princeton, MA 01551

Jesse Langford, website design,

Frances Pollitt, 113 Concord Rd., Wayland, MA 01778