On 13 March 2015, Cyclone Pam hit the South Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu, killing 16 people and destroying thousands of homes. Tanna, an island in the south of Vanuatu and with a population of approximately 32,000, was one of the worst affected areas. Tanna island is also one of five locations where – as the Universal House of Justice announced in its 2012 Ridvan Message – a new local Baha’i House of Worship will be built.
Payman and Sima Rowhani, two Baha’is from Vanuatu, have shared the following wonderful account of their visit to the Baha’i friends in Nakayelo Village on Tanna Island, which we are reproducing on Baha’i Blog, with their permission.
While it is clear from their account that the people of Vanuatu are going through a difficult time, it also demonstrates the incredible courage and resilience of the people there. Continue reading
Every year, on March 21st, Baha’is from all over the world celebrate the festival of Naw-Ruz, after nineteen days of fasting. Based on the Badi Calendar, Naw-Ruz is the first day of the Baha’i New Year.
Apart from being a time of joy and celebration, Naw-Ruz, which means “New Day”, also signifies renewal and change. Naw-Ruz, and the nineteen days leading up to it, are a period of deep spiritual significance for Baha’is.
We’ve compiled a list of 8 posts (from Baha’i Blog and some other sources) relating to Naw-Ruz that might help you better understand the significance of this Baha’i Holy Day.
We hope you find these articles useful.
A very happy Naw-Ruz to all our readers! Continue reading
A classroom in Battambang, Cambodia (Photo: Baha’i World Centre)
Education is a fundamental right to which every child is entitled. An education is fundamental to the development of individuals and their continued wellbeing. It allows individuals to realize their full human capacities and to live rich and meaningful lives. Beyond that, however, education also has the potential to shape entire communities. Continue reading
When I made the decision to become a Baha’i nearly five years ago, it was definitely a highlight in my spiritual journey. I’d always been interested in matters of spirituality and had been raised in a religious family by parents who placed our faith at the centre of individual and family life.
As such, the year leading up to my decision to become a Baha’i was marked by a period of intense exploration of the proofs of Baha’u’llah, a deep reflection on my personal beliefs and the application of His teachings in my own life. This period of independent investigation, which Baha’u’llah encourages us to undertake, was exhilarating and when I finally took the seemingly enormous step of calling myself a Baha’i, it was merely a personal affirmation of what I believed and an acceptance that Baha’u’llah’s teachings are divinely inspired.
It was the happiest and most challenging decision I’d ever made, but in hindsight I can see how that decision, rather than being a destination, was merely the beginning of an entirely new phase in my spiritual journey. Continue reading
Christmas is probably the time at which the theme of peace and goodwill seems to be most deeply embedded into society’s collective consciousness. For Christians, who celebrate it as a religious holiday, Christmas is a reminder of the biblical promise of peace found in the Old Testament.
For the many others who merely celebrate it as a cultural holiday, the story of the birth of Jesus as found in the gospels and depicted in the ubiquitous Christmas artwork captures the imagination and imbues many with a determination to practice charity and generosity.
The gospels tell the tale of the shepherds who were watching over their flocks out in the countryside, when an angel appeared to them bearing the good news of the birth of the Promised One.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone roundabout them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2: 8-14, The Holy Bible
Beyond this beautiful and enchanting narrative of peace and goodwill, however, comes the stark reality of what we see in our world.
Image by Leila Barbaro
When I first heard about Mama Papa & Me, I was excited for so many reasons. The education of children is a tremendously important duty in the Baha’i Faith. In fact, ‘Abdu’l-Baha calls it “among the most meritorious acts of humankind”.
So when I found out that Mama Papa & Me focuses on education during the early years, which is now widely recognised among educators as being the crucial years in which the foundation for a person’s lifelong learning and wellbeing is formed, I was fascinated and wanted to know more about their Early Years Education Programme.
And then, when I discovered that Mama Papa & Me’s focus was not just on the early years, but also on helping parents and caregivers develop the capabilities they need as the first educators of their children, I definitely wanted to know more!
Serendipitiously, a family wedding brought me to London, which is where Danielle Pee, the amazingly talented founder of Mama Papa & Me, is currently based. And so I jumped on the opportunity to sit down with her and ask all my questions.
What started as a conversation about education, parenting and the work that Mama Papa & Me is doing ended up becoming a deeper conversation about capacity-building and the Baha’i approach to community development, as well as an illuminating discussion about what it means, in very practical terms, for Baha’is to attempt to contribute towards the advancement of civilization.
I gained so much from my conversation with Danielle, not just in terms of my own professional interest in education and community development, but also personally, as I listened to the story of her own inspiring journey and the many lessons she has learned along the way. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!
Image by Shahrzad Maydani (apresnovembre)
apresnovembre is a blog featuring the fascinating work of Shahrzad Maydani, a Baha’i artist from Toronto. The work on her blog features some of the truly beautiful art that she’s created in response to some of the major tests that have come her way in recent years.
Lemons, which feature quite prominently in her work, as you’ll no doubt notice, are used as a metaphor for life’s tests and difficulties – a clever play on the popular expression “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.
Image by peasap (Flickr)
As someone who was raised with a strong Christian upbringing, the relationship between the Baha’i Faith and Christianity is something I often think about when I reflect on my own journey to becoming Baha’i.
When I became Baha’i, I found myself the recipient of numerous questions and comments from my Christian friends and family members – some of whom were simply curious and interested in knowing more; and others who genuinely couldn’t understand my decision to become Baha’i, knowing how committed I remained to my Christian beliefs.
Similarly, I’ve had numerous conversations with Baha’i friends about conversations they’ve had with their Christian friends about Christianity and the Baha’i Faith. Over the past few years, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on these conversations and trying to understand how to build a bridge of understanding that will facilitate stronger and more meaningful dialogue between Baha’is and Christians.
While this post cannot possibly do justice to the profundity and beauty of the numerous passages in the Baha’i Writings on Christianity, or the scholastic excellence of the numerous publications out there on the Baha’i Faith and Christianity, it summarises 5 strategies that have helped me to provide more useful and meaningful responses to my Christian friends and family members who have asked me about the Faith.
100 years ago, ‘Abdu’l-Baha arrived in America. It was a turbulent time in American history – an election, the struggle for civil rights, American soldiers on foreign soil.
When ‘Abdul-Baha arrived in America, newspapers called him the “Apostle of Peace.”
He “will surely unite the East and West,” the president of Stanford University remarked, “for he treads the mystic way with practical feet.” “There is no doubt, among thinking people,” a famous columnist wrote, “that this man represents, in great degree, the growing and evolving spirit of our times.” “Let him visit any bank, factory, office building, church, and everything is laid aside, and eyes bulge and ears listen until he takes his departure.” 239 Days in America
Now, thanks to a fantastic social media documentary called 239 Days in America, you can feel like you were right there during this fascinating period of history and witnessing it with your own eyes and ears!
239 Days in America follows ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s 1912 journey across North America in real time (but exactly 100 years later), essentially reconstructing this little-known period in history hour-by-hour, for the entire 239 days of ‘Abdu’l Baha’s travels in America. It describes how ‘Abdu’l-Baha reached across political, religious, racial, class and gender divisions within American society with a bold vision of unity. Continue reading