Image by a4gpa (Flickr)
I don’t like the word “stress”. It’s a Madison Avenue word. It’s something that can be cured with flavoured coffee and bath bubbles.
These words, spoken by the fictional President Josiah Bartlett, are – in my not-so-objective, The-West-Wing-obsessed opinion – one of the best encapsulations of how our society deals with stress.
We all know what it’s like to constantly have too much to do and too little time to do it. We’re constantly overworked, sleep-deprived, trying to catch our breath and fatigued. We live in a society that is overwhelmingly anxious and unhappy.
But perhaps what is more dangerous than all of that is our acceptance of these levels of stress as normal. Getting by on four hours of sleep and bucketfuls of coffee is something of a badge of honour in many circles. In a world where there are so many things to do, if you’re getting enough sleep, you’re probably just not doing enough. Or that’s what we’re encouraged to believe anyway.
If you’ve never visited one of the seven Baha’i Houses of Worship, it’s really worth doing. Not only are they a serene place to pray and meditate, but are also simply stunningly beautiful to look at. The temples are spread out across the world, with an eighth currently under construction in Chile and sites chosen in forty five more countries.
Abdu’l-Baha has said that:
…the original purpose of temples and houses of worship is simply that of unity–places of meeting where various peoples, different races and souls of every capacity may come together in order that love and agreement should be manifest between them . . . that all religions, races and sects may come together within its universal shelter …Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 65
It’s been about 16 years since the internet really started going mainstream, and these days we take it very much for granted that most organizations will have a website. Baha’i communities around the world have been slowly but steadily getting online for some time now. What is exciting to me as a web designer is that through further iterations some of our online Baha’i sites are actually starting to get pretty useful and full-featured. Continue reading
UNICEF's State of the World's Children 2011 Report
Every year, UNICEF publishes it’s flagship report “State of the World’s Children”. This report – read by thousands of people in governments, the United Nations, the media and the general public – typically examines a key issue affecting the welfare of children and strongly influences policy-makers and practitioners working in the field of children’s rights around the world.
So, it is exciting to see how policy-making at both the national and international levels will respond to the bold statement underlying the entire report: Young people, truly, can change the world.
The report , titled “Adolescence – An age of opportunity”, begins to question many of the assumptions that have been made about adolescents by society and implores policy-makers to recognise both the incredibly vulnerability of adolescents, where investments into their well-being and development have not been made, as well as the tremendous capacity of these very same individuals, where those investments have been made. (Download the State of the World’s Children 2011 report or watch the UNICEF video summaring the report.)
Ever so often, we’ll be putting up posts for our ‘Common Questions Series’. As the name suggests, these are questions about the Faith that we often get. You know those ones – where you kinda, sorta, maybe know the answer but aren’t sure if you know enough to give the asker a full response? Yeah, those ones. Baha’i Blog has decided to make a collection of those questions, which will hopefully be as helpful to you, our readers, as it is to us!
We’ve been getting a few questions recently about Naw-Ruz and its origins as a Baha’i Holy Day, so we’ll start with that!
Image by Baha’i Views / Flitzy Phoebie (Flickr)
Is Naw-Ruz an Iranian holiday or a Baha’i Holy Day?
Naw-Ruz (which in Persian literally means “New Day”) is a New Year holiday for both Iranians and Baha’is celebrated on the first day of spring but the significance and celebrations between the two are slightly different.
Baha'i Leaders in Iran Sentenced to 20 Years
According to a report by Iran Press Watch, the Appeals Court in Iran has sentenced seven Baha’i leaders to 20 years in prison. This sentence, which was initially handed down in August 2010 by Iran’s Revolutionary Court, was reduced on 15 September 2010 from 20 to 10 years. This change has since been ignored, with the 20 year sentence being affirmed today. Continue reading
Image by matio_svk (Flickr)
I’m a big fan of new years. I’ll admit it. I celebrate the new year as many times in a year as I possibly can. Growing up in a country with four officially recognised ethnic groups, I milked the multiple calendars for all they were worth. I would attend midnight mass every New Year’s Eve. I would line up for my ang bao and scarf down bakkwa every Chinese New Year. Diwali was yet another opportunity for festive fun. (One year, looking for an additional opportunity to celebrate, I attempted to appropriate the Russian Orthodox New Year. This was, however, met with some skepticism from my friends.) So the recent addition of Naw-Ruz as another new year that I get to celebrate has been a source of joy, as you might imagine.
Why the new year fixation? Simply put, I love new beginnings. I love turning a new page in the diary. I find peace in pausing for a breath and thinking about all that has been and marching forward with a plan of attack – boldly stepping into a new day.
Naw-Ruz. A new day.
Image by Mamchenkov (Flickr)
The Baha’i Fasthas just ended. I’ve been fasting for 20 years now and I’m embarrassed to say that I still find that I have to constantly remind myself that the Fast is not just about the food! Okay, so for those of you who don’t know me, you should know that ohhhh I love food! My family and I are renowned for talking about how much we like food and the different types of food we like, even while sitting around a table and having a meal together. In fact, there’s even a Tablet written by Baha’u’llah to my family some generations back, which relates to – you guessed it – FOOD!
Most of us identify the Baha’i fast with the act of not eating or drinking between sunrise and sunset. But as Shoghi Effendi explains, there’s much, much more to it than that:
It is essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires.Shoghi Effendi, Directives of the Guardian
Photo by Layli for Nineteen Days
A very cool collaborative art project that takes place every year during the Baha’i Fast is Nineteen Days, a project started by friends and fellow bloggers Leila and Amy.
For each of the nineteen days of the fasting month, the pair invite Baha’i photographers to share their special moments at sunrise and sunset, caught as the photographers begin and end their days of fasting. The imagery is often haunting, evocative and serene. Each day’s post is accompanied by quotes from the Baha’i writings as well as comments from the photographer.
Every year, as Baha’is, we gather for eleven holy days including the festive celebratory days like Naw Ruz and Ridvan, as well as the more commemorative days that mark the Ascension of the Bab and Baha’u’llah. And like everything in the Baha’i Faith, hosting these gatherings is something that is open to one and all.
The first time I hosted a holy day, I wasn’t totally sure what to do. There were twenty people attending and, beyond gathering some prayers, I didn’t know what else could go into a holy day celebration. Since then I’ve been compiling ideas so that next time I’ll be ready!
Listed below are sixteen ideas for your next holy day event listed below. If you have some suggestions of your own, I’d love to hear them in the comments!
Photo by Madcowk (Flickr)
1. Run a Drum Circle
A drum circle is a fun way to bring a community together. It simply entails getting everyone some sort of percussion instrument, setting a steady beat and sharing rhythm! If you have access to them, African Djembe drums will give you a real throbbing beat, but you can make do with all sorts of make-shift percussion. If you have someone with a good sense of rhythm to lead the circle, this can work well. A simple introductory activity is to have the leader tap out a beat and then have the other participants ‘reply’ with the same beat.