The Institution of the Nineteen Day Feast:
An Administrative and Social-Psychological Perspective
First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #107
Louhelen Bahá'í Center: Davison, Michigan, USA
October 7–10, 2011
(see list of papers from #107)
One of the innovative measures in the Bahá'í Faith is the institution of the Nineteen Day Feast. This injunction is revealed in the Book of Aqdas (#57). This verse starts with these words" It has been enjoined upon you" which means you are obliged "to offer a feast once in every month". In answer to the question as to whether this injunction is obligatory, Bahá'u'lláh stated that it was not (Q&A 48). However Shoghi Effendi (in a letter written on his behalf) further comments:
Attendance at the Nineteen Day Feast is not obligatory but very important, and every believer should consider a duty and privilege to be present on such occasion. (Note 82)
Although this injunction is revealed in a very concise and brief manner, its significance has been gradually elucidated and unfolded in a number of the writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi.
This monthly gathering was originally instituted by the Báb in Bayán. Bahá'u'lláh, while confirming it in the Book of Aqdas, has clarified its main purpose which is the unifying role of this monthly gathering. `Abdu'l-Bahá has delineated the three main functions of the Nineteen Day Feast, namely praying and meditation, socializing in a loving manner, and promotion of philanthropic affairs. He has further stated that by attending this Feast, the friends "find themselves spiritually restored and educed with a power that is not of this world" (NDF3). Shoghi Effendi incorporated the institution of the Nineteen Day Feast into the structure of the Bahá'í Administrative Order as its first level foundation and a unifying factor within the Bahá'í community. This presentation is an attempt to look at the structure, goals and functions of the Nineteen Day Feast from the social psychological and administrative perspective.
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