Sunrise, Sunset,...And Finally... Naw Ruz!

Did you spend the last 19 days getting up before dawn to chug water?

Did you learn that it's better to eat protein in the morning instead of a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios?

Were you praying at around 3 in the afternoon, asking God to PLEASE remove the smell of microwave popcorn from your vicinity?

Were you ready to pass out when your colleague came over to your desk with the popcorn and said, "You want some of this? It's kettle corn popcorn. It's delish!"

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you just might be a Baha'i, and you are probably celebrating the end of the Baha'i month of fasting and the fact that today is Baha'i New Year...or Naw Ruz as we call it.

If you have no idea what the heck I'm talking about, that's ok. The long and short of it is that the last month of the Baha'i calendar, March 2-20th, is a fast. What does that mean, you ask? Well, for 19 days, Baha'is over the age of 15 don't eat or drink between sunrise and sunset. Yes, that means no food or water during the day. No midday soy chai lattes with a shot of sugar-free vanilla.

Of course, anyone who's pregnant, nursing a baby, sick, over the age of 70, travelling or working at a job that requires really heavy labor (more than pushing the green button on the copier), is exempt from fasting. While I was travelling to New Orleans I was exempt, but the rest of the time, I was pretty hungry and pretty cranky at around 3 in the afternoon. And at 4. And 5...after the time change, I was a bit annoyed that sunset didn't happen till like 7 pm.

Every year, I talk to quite a few other Baha'is who tell me how the just LOVE fasting and it's their favorite time of year. I am not one of those people and I don't know if I ever will be. Fasting is a really hard thing for me to do. I don't know if it's because deep down I'm super individualistic and I think I deserve to have what I want when I want it, regardless of the consequences for anyone else. I don't know if I lack discipline and so when I do fast, I mentally rebel. I don't know but I find that I can only write about it now that it's over. I guess I just didn't want to whine about wanting to kill whoever made the microwave popcorn.

If I don't really enjoy it, why fast at all? Well because it's not really about the food. Or at least, half of it's not about food...and that's the half that I actually do like. You see, it's equally about prayer and meditation and becoming reacquainted with where I am spiritually. It's about being less selfish and less focused on all the materialistic aspects of the world. Fasting made me pay attention to what I was doing, raised my consciousness of how I was spending my time, what I was thinking about, what was going on in the world and what I need to be doing to be a positive force for change instead of a lethargic complainer.

Plus, it's really an interesting exercise in resisting temptation. The funny thing is that there was many a night where sunset came and suddenly, I wasn't hungry anymore. I wondered if it was because I could eat. During the day, I had to ask myself, can I really turn down that awesome smelling popcorn just because my religious beliefs tell me that I should? For me, the answer is yes. I know there are some folks out there that think that's silly. But, I just don't think that God is for dummies. I have to believe in more than myself and Paris Hilton's dumb behind.

In any case, now it's all done. It's Baha'i New Year and believe me, I was PSYCHED to go to Starbucks today at 12:30 in the afternoon and get my chai. Whoo hoo! And, I have another chance to make some New Year's resolutions!

To everyone out there, Happy Naw Ruz from yours truly.


none said…
Interesting. I've never heard of it. I'll have to do some reading.

I've fasted before because I've forgetten to eat but I can see how if it was a consious decision how it could be difficult.
Dena said…
happy naw-ruz, liz! thanks for the insight and your take on the baha'i fast. it's nice to hear about someone else's struggles and spiritual gains during this time of year.
Ingrid said…
happy naw ruz, liz.
Moby Dick said…
I just missed Naw Ruz by that much.

Here at the Church of Dippy'Do we believe the New Year begins April 1st.

Fortunately Bunny Wabbit (Bu'Wa) week is just around the corner.
Sundry said…
Watching the office manager at work and Steven Colbert observe lent and now your post has made me think about the concept of self-denial as a spiritual practice. I think it offers one the chance to use the body's natural processes to remind one to consider aspects of one's faith. And to establish one's private relationship with faith...a bit of separation from worldly things.

Not being a practitioner of faith myself (I went to a fairly Calvinist church as a kid), I have been considering establishing "tech-free" days in my life. I get a little too plugged into popular culture and I want to have my brain to myself for a day now and again.

It might also serve the purpose of getting me to think about spirituality. Every time I want to plug in, give a moment to how I believe the world works. I am wary of religions, but I do believe myself to be a spiritual creature in some ways...connection to the universe and nature.

Not that you really needed this confession on your blog. Thanks for the stimulating posts, as always.
Leili said…
Happy Naw Ruz, my dear sister.
the last noel said…
When I fast, I've done it for spirtitual reasons. Um, sometimes, I cheat and say as long as what I digest is only liquid, it's allowable. Then I find myself liquifying fries and a burger.
Liz Dwyer said…
I'm trying to think if there's ever been a time when I've actually forgotten to eat. Hmm. Um, no. Hey, can this count? There've been times when I've been so lazy that I know I'm hungry but I don't actually feel like getting up to make myself something to eat. But, I've NEVER forgotten it was time to eat.

This post was actually the second one. The first one got accidentally deleted. In this one I left out the stories of what a space-cadet driver I turned into during the Fast. Now I believe there should be a special exemption for Angelenos that spend over 2 hours in the car every day.

Merci, and to you as well!

Ok, so you'll also be celebrating my husband's birthday on April 1st. Good for you.

I think the tech-free thing is a good idea. Let me know how it goes for you. I've been thinking about how to continue the lessons about detachment and discipline that I was trying to learn while fasting. So, I forced myself to have a no-blogging-zone from last Friday till tonight. It was VERY hard to do but I think it was good for me.

All the better because we're on the same continent again.

First I laughed out loud. Then I said to myself, "Love how Noel always keeps it real!"

And then I reread the, "liquifying fries and a burger" part. Um, EWWW! ;)

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