“The Day of the Covenant Nov. 26th, and the Day of the Ascension, Nov. 28th, anniversaries of the birth and the Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá must be observed by the friends coming together, but work is not prohibited. In other words the friends must regard observance of these two anniversaries as obligatory – but suspension of work not to be regarded as obligatory.”
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, January 21, 1951)
“…regarding the declaration of the Báb and the birthday of the Master; the Báb declared His Mission on the fourth day of the month of Jamadi I, two hours and eleven minutes after sunset, corresponding with the evening of May 22nd. But as the Bahá’í day begins after sunset, and not after midnight as in the West, the Báb’s declaration is celebrated on the fifth day of Jamadi I, corresponding to the 23rd of May. “Abdu’l-Bahá was born in the course of that same night, but the exact hour of His birth has not been ascertained.”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada November 25, 1936)
‘Abdu’l-Bahá told the Bahá’ís that this day was not, under any circumstances, to be celebrated as His day of birth. It was the day of the Declaration of the Báb, exclusively associated with Him. But as the Bahá’ís begged for a day to be celebrated as His, He gave them November 26th, to be observed as the day of the appointment of the Centre of the Covenant. It was known as Jashn-i-A’zam (The Greatest Festival), because He was Ghusn-i-A’zam – the Greatest Branch. In the West it is known as the Day of the Covenant.
(H.M. Balyuzi, Abdu’l-Baha – The Centre of the Covenant, p. 522)
The vehicle in this resplendent Age for the practical fulfilment of these duties is the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh; it is, indeed, the potent instrument by which individual belief in Him is translated into constructive deeds. The Covenant comprises divinely conceived arrangements necessary to preserve the organic unity of the Cause. It therefore engenders a motivating power which, as the beloved Master tells us, “like unto the artery, beats and pulsates in the body of the world”. “It is indubitably clear”, He asserts, “that the pivot of the oneness of mankind is nothing else but the power of the Covenant.” Through it the meaning of the Word, both in theory and practice, is made evident in the life and work of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the appointed Interpreter, the perfect Exemplar, the Centre of the Covenant. Through it the processes of the Administrative Order — “this unique, this wondrous System” — are made to operate.
(The Universal House of Justice, 1988 Dec 29, Individual Rights and Freedoms, p. 2)