In her professional life, Preethi has dabbled in various combinations of education, community development and law. At heart, though, she's an overgrown child who thinks the world is one giant playground. She's currently on a quest to make learning come alive for young people and to bring the world's stories and cultures to them, with educational resources from One Story Classroom.
Do Baha’is celebrate Christmas? This question is a bit of a tricky one to answer because Christmas means different things to different people.
Based on the understanding of Christmas as a commemoration of the birth of Christ, the day is clearly of significance to Baha’is, who believe that Christ was a Manifestation of God. Baha’is do not, however, celebrate Christmas within their communities as one of the Baha’i Holy Days.
While the principle of progressive revelation means that Baha’is believe in the divine origin of the other world religions (and consequently, the significance of each of their Holy Days), the Baha’i Faith is an independent religion with its own Holy Days. Baha’is – while believing in the divine origins of all other world religions – follow the teachings of Baha’u’llah, whom we believe to be the latest in the line of Messengers sent from God with laws to address the needs of humanity in this day and age.
That being said, however, Baha’is are free to participate in the celebrations observed by their friends and family who adhere to other religions. Christmas is a tricky one because of what it has come to represent in much of Western society – the true meaning of Christmas is, unfortunately, often lost amidst the Christmas tree decorations, Santa-and-elf motifs and endless Christmas sales advertisements. Continue reading →
Abdu’l-Baha as a young man (Photo: Baha’i Media Bank)
Baha’is around the world celebrate what is known as The Day of the Covenant on 4 Qawl, according to the Baha’i calendar.
The other Holy Days, commemorating days of historical significance in the Baha’i Faith, are fairly easy to understand. We celebrate anniversaries of the birth and declaration of both The Bab and Bahá’u’lláh. We commemorate the martyrdom of the Bab and the ascension of Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. We also celebrate Naw Ruz to mark the beginning of the Baha’i New Year.
Tehran, Iran, the Birthplace of Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Baha’i Faith. (Photo taken by Effie Baker in 1930. Courtesy: Baha’i Media Bank)
194 years ago, on 12 November 1817 in Tehran, Baha’u’llah was born.
As followers of Baha’u’llah’s faith, we are familiar with the profound wisdom of His writings and the dramatic events of His life. But there is a mystery that remains around His early years.
This is true of all other Manifestations of God too. I often marvel at the images of “baby Jesus” that we see in the ubiquitous nativity scenes every Christmas. It’s difficult to imagine that the Manifestations of God, who revealed teachings that revitalised entire human civilizations and who suffered the greatest tribulations while demonstrating the qualities of God, were once children!
In times of difficulty, it is only natural that we turn to our closet friends and loved ones for support.
They lovingly listen as you talk endlessly about the same thing. They remain patient and kind with you as you struggle to work through your thoughts and emotions, regardless of how ridiculous some of the things you are saying might be. They let you cry on their shoulder without commenting on the tear splotches and mascara stains you leave on their shirt. They give you amazing advice – with a wisdom that comes from knowing you inside-out, and an honesty that comes from wanting to see you overcome the test. And most importantly, they pray with you – and, for you.
This process is how we gain the insight and encouragement we need to resolve our situations.
But more fundamental than all of that, I think, is the ability to change the way we look at all of life’s tests that come our way. One of my closest friends – one of the wisest and strongest people I know – has, in the relatively short time that we’ve been friends, not only been a rock in times of adversity, but has always encouraged me to embrace life’s tests and to find beauty in them. This is perhaps the most valuable skill I could ever hope to learn and an ability that I feel that every person needs to continually nurture in themselves and others!
Be not troubled because of hardships and ordeals; turn unto God, bowing in humbleness and praying to Him, while bearing every ordeal, contented under all conditions and thankful in every difficulty.
Changing our perspective doesn’t make the test, in itself, go away, but it allows us to stay grounded even when the strong waves of emotion and doubt hit us, and allows us to remain hopeful even in the darkness and dreariness of our pain and anxiety!
Nobody likes a liar. As kids, we were taught by our parents not to lie. In the school playground, getting caught telling a tall tale would see us subjected to poetic taunts about our pants catching fire. And as adults, we live in societies in which telling a lie under oath can have legal consequences.
The value placed on honesty isn’t specific to any culture, religion or ideology. Truthfulness is a universal virtue.
Also universal, however, is the harmless white lie – the cherished caveat, the exception to the rule. It’s where we find ourselves bending the truth, just slightly, to get out of an uncomfortable or difficult situation. It’s where we say what we think needs to be said, rather than what we know to be accurate, because we’re trying to avoid hurting a person’s feelings or offending them.
It’s not dishonesty, per se. White lies are justified under the circumstances and necessary, even! We’ve all been in those situations where telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth would be disastrous. Those situations where we need to tell a little white lie.
Education Under Fire is a new documentary, co-presented by Amnesty International, that profiles the persecution of the Baha’is of Iran, and looks at the struggles and resilience of the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education. The Education Under Fire campaign led to the creation of a powerful letter co-authored by Nobel Peace Prize laureates José Manuel Ramos-Horta and Desmond Tutu, which calls for the Iranian government to respect education opportunities and the human rights of Iran’s estimated 300,000 Baha’is, the nations largest religious minority.
For our readers in the United States, the documentary debuts tomorrow (October 28) at Columbia University, and will then be screened at campuses and Amnesty International events around the US.
(The winner for this competition was picked using the Random Number Generator on www.random.org)
Janet is the winner of some awesome albums from Andy Grammer, Luke Slott, Tahereh Etehad and MANA. (Janet, we’ll be in touch shortly with more information on how to collect your prize!)
Thanks to everyone else for all the comments, “Like”s and for sharing the link with your friends. We’ve really appreciated all the kind words of support and encouragement, as well as the useful feedback, which we’ve been getting from so many readers over the past week!
We wish we could give prizes to everyone who commented and responded, but stay tuned for more exciting developments and giveaways over the next few months.
Baha’i Blog was started as an online resource for Baha’is and friends of the Faith, as well as to support Baha’i blogging efforts. We’ve come a long way in just six months thanks to the support and encouragement of our readers and contributors.
Please remember to share your thoughts with us in the comments and “Like” our articles if, well… you like them! Our writers work tirelessly and a little interaction, encouragement and support is always tremendously appreciated!
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Once again, a HUGE thanks for the fantastic response and constant support. Stay tuned for more!
When I first became a Baha’i, the concept of obligatory prayer was new to me. I went from only saying prayers when I needed divine intervention to rescue me from impending academic doom (i.e. every semester, during exam period) to trying to fulfil the various spiritual obligations for a Baha’i life. Obligatory prayer, 95 Allah’u’Abhas, reading from the scriptures at morning and night, remembering to bring myself to account each day – talk about a spiritual regime! For an undisciplined soul like mine, it felt like spiritual boot camp!
Nearly two years later, I still find myself struggling – particularly with obligatory prayer.
Having just passed the six-month milestone just days ago, we’ve decided that it’s time for another round-up of Baha’i Blog’s top 10 posts in the past three months! Before we get around to your favourite posts so far, here are some interesting stats of where we’re at.
As of now, we have:
43,195 pageviews to date
970 followers on Facebook (and we’re gonna be doing something pretty cool when we hit 1000 – stay tuned to find out more!)
readers from 171 countries out of the world’s 196 (up from 129 countries just three months ago)!
The top 10 posts on Baha’i Blog based on our stats were….