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Preethi

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. She was part of Baha'i Blog's founding team and served as Editor for a few years before having to relinquish the role. She still pokes her nose in to work on Baha'i Blog from time to time, proving she's unable to stay away for too long!

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The Day of the Covenant

Abdu'l-Baha as a young man (Photo: Baha'i Media Bank)

Abdu’l-Baha as a young man (Photo: Baha’i Media Bank)

On November 26, Baha’is around the world celebrate what is known as The Day of the Covenant.

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.

But what exactly is the Day of the Covenant, and why do we celebrate it on November 26?

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The Birth of Baha’u’llah

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!

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Finding Peace in Life’s Tests

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!

‘Abdul-Baha said:

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!

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3 Tricky Truthfulness Scenarios

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.

Or so I thought.

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New Documentary: Education Under Fire

You may have already heard about the recent sentencing of seven Baha’i educators in connection with their involvement in the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE) in Iran.

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.

For those unable to attend a screening, there are a number of other videos available on the campaign website, including a video appeal by President Ramos-Horta of East Timor, on behalf of Iran’s Bahai’s.

You can find out more about the campaign on its website: www.educationunderfire.com

We Have A Winner!

A big CONGRATULATIONS to Janet, the winner of Baha’i Blog’s 1000 Facebook Followers Giveaway!

(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!

Also, do remember to share the blog and its articles with your friends and encourage them to follow us on Baha’i Blog’s Facebook page for regular updates, or sign up to our Mailing List. The more readers we have, the more effective Baha’i Blog is as a tool for connecting Baha’is from all over the world and for acting as a one-stop resource for all things Baha’i. It’s as simple as that!

Once again, a HUGE thanks for the fantastic response and constant support. Stay tuned for more!

4 Ways to Achieve Prayerfulness

Image by shioshvili (Flickr)

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.

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Six Months of Baha’i Blog: Your Favourite Posts Are….

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….

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5 Unique Baha’i Apps for Android

5 Unique Bahai Apps for AndroidSome time back, we published a post about 5 Unique Apps for the iPhone. For all the Android users among our readers – we haven’t forgotten about you! There are a number of really cool Baha’i apps for Android out there as well!

Here are 5 great Baha’i apps for the Android users out there. They’re all incredibly useful and, even better, free! Be sure to grab a copy and support our community of awesome Baha’i app developers.

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Create in Me a Pure Heart: An Interview with Luke Slott

Create in Me a Pure Heart, Luke Slott

The “Create in me a pure heart” prayer by Baha’u’llah has long been one of my favourite prayers for spiritual growth. Whenever I read this prayer, my mind is drawn to the beauty of its imagery, and regardless of how I was feeling when I began reading the prayer, I begin to feel a profound tranquility.

Luke Slott’s beautiful musical rendition of this prayer is befitting and always reminds me of one of my favourite lines from the prayer: “Let Thine everlasting melodies breathe tranquility on me”.  So you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover that Luke’s rendition of Create in Me a Pure Heart is merely part of a larger project: an album of devotional music! (Not to mention the beautiful album artwork by Shirin Sahba!)

I decided to catch up with Luke to find out more about his devotional album, his future plans, as well as his thoughts on being a Baha’i musician.

Baha’i Blog: So tell us a bit more about yourself and how you started making music.

When I was 12 years old, my father, who was a jazz trumpet player, gave me a gift of one of his trumpets and started giving me lessons. After about a year of teaching me at home, my dad insisted that I get a classical music education at an established institute. So I enrolled for trumpet lessons at the College of Music & Drama in Dublin. Around the same time, I started taking piano lessons at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and guitar lessons with a local teacher. In my teens, I started writing songs and for a few years I played in a rock band with some school friends. Continue reading