Bahá’ís should obviously be encouraged to preserve their inherited cultural identities, as long as the activities involved do not contravene the principles of the Faith. The perpetuation of such cultural characteristics is an expression of unity in diversity. Although most of these festive celebrations have no doubt stemmed from religious rituals in bygone ages, the believers should not be deterred from participating in those in which, over the course of time, the religious meaning has given way to purely culturally oriented practices. For example, Naw-Rúz itself was originally a Zoroastrian religious festival, but gradually its Zoroastrian connotation has almost been forgotten. Iranians, even after their conversion to Islám, have been observing it as a national festival. Now Naw-Rúz has become a Bahá’í Holy Day and is being observed throughout the world, but, in addition to the Bahá’í
observance, many Iranian Bahá’ís continue to carry out their past cultural traditions in connection with this Feast. Similarly, there are a number of national customs
in every part of the world which have cultural rather than religious connotations.
(From a letter dated 26 May 1982 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)
Happy the one who entereth upon the first day of the month of Bahá, the day which God hath consecrated to this Great Name. And blessed be he who evidenceth on this day the bounties that God hath bestowed upon him; he, verily, is of those who show forth thanks to God through actions betokening the Lord’s munificence which hath encompassed all the worlds. Say: This day, verily, is the crown of all the months and the source thereof, the day on which the breath of life is wafted over all created things. Great is the blessedness of him who greeteth it with radiance and joy. We testify that he is, in truth, among those who are blissful.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 59)
I am extremely glad to see you on this Nau Rooz occasion. This day is the anniversary of many historical events, among them the victory of the Persians over the Arabs who invaded Persia and were successfully repulsed. This day in Persia inaugurates a feast which continues for thirteen days and in which all take part, rich and poor alike. They adorn themselves with new clothes and their houses are open to all. Money is distributed, music is played and the houses are decorated with flowers, for it is a fete; work is put aside and enjoyment invited. Travelers in Persia feel this transformation, for the country is in a state of complete renewal. A town which seemed dead yesterday comes to life today. People who looked anxious yesterday, today have faces shining with gladness. The poor man of yesterday, with sordid garments, is well dressed today and the whole national life is infused with joy. From time immemorial this day has been consecrated, for in this there is a symbol. At this moment the sun appears at the meridian and the day and night are equal. Until today the north pole has been in darkness. This sacred day when the sun illumines equally the whole earth is called the equinox and the equinox is the symbol of the divine messenger. The sun of truth rises on the horizon of divine mercy and sends forth its rays on all. This is the beginning of the spring. When the sun appears at the equinox it causes a movement in all living things. The mineral world is set in motion,, plants begin to sprout, the desert is changed into a prairie, trees bud and every living thing responds, including the bodies of animals and men. The rising of the sun at the equinox is the symbol of life and the human reality is revivified; our thoughts are transformed and our intelligence is quickened. The sun of truth bestows eternal life, just as the solar sun is the cause of terrestrial life. The day of the appearance of God’s messenger on earth is ever a sacred day, a day when man commemorates his lord. Among the ancient Persians this day was looked upon as the holy day of the year - a day when hospitals and charitable institutions were founded, collections for the poor were made and every effort put forth that it might not be allowed to pass without leaving some divine trace and throughout Persia one sees these historical traces. I am spending this New Year’s day in Paris. I hope for considerable results from this fact. May a powerful influence remain in your hearts, signs of eternal joy and happiness that will illumine the kingdom in this city. May the breezes of the Holy Spirit waft upon you, that your intelligence may progress and your souls rejoice in your lord. Thus will you become eternal beings shining in the divine kingdom.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 74-76)
The Iranian friends have a number of traditional ways of celebrating Naw-Rúz, and there is no reason why they should cease from these, but none of the friends should get thereby the impression that they are integral parts of the Bahá’í Naw-Rúz.
(Universal House of Justice to an individual, 31 July 2016)